There was a small window imbedded high up on the wall, I recall watching the sun set once or twice before through that window. Streams of warm light would pierce through the tightly angled blades of the steel blinds. It used to give me hope- remind me of home. Then I would remember that this world is no longer comfortable, it is no longer a home. Now it seems spiteful, more like rays of burning contempt. Even when the glimmering reflections in the puddles on the floor look more like golden shards in the cracks of the concrete I can only think about how the sun looks the same on water as it does on blood in the darkness.
I turned my attention to Jason's face. All I could see is the way the light that escaped the industrial vent window sat on his cheekbones and then glared into his glazing eyes and moist forehead as the sun descended. He was propped up against the wall, sprawled out and lifeless, drained of his color and absent of energy.
I took my grasp from his hand. There was no light beaming in through the window now. All that was left was a feint glow of auburn red and the whole warehouse was swallowed by darkness and engulfed in the cool chill of the industrial fans that spun silently into the night. I felt Jason's face with the back of my hand. He too, had become cold. My face twisted as I leaned in for one last kiss, I could still feel his feint breath whistle through his chapped lips but there was no repose when I peeled my lips away. I lay my head on his chest until his fragile heart beat slowly diminished and all that was left was the sound of the hush of wind coming in through the vents. Then finally a great relief of tension, his grip around my hand loosened and the pistol that was between us fell to the floor. I dug my face into his chest and filled the bloodied fabric of his shirt with tears.
But then I remembered; there we were in the grass under a sleepy tree in the park by the sea. My head on his chest. I looked up at him, he had a goofy smirk on his face and he was healthy. His bulky headphones around his neck eclipsed the mid afternoon sun. He had a strong face with soft expressive eyes. I could still remember how warm he was, how soft his clothes were on my cheek and how nice he smelled. It was that summer, the summer were everything changed, when everything went to hell.
We assumed that it wasn't any different than any other 'super flu' that always seems to pop up outta nowhere every-other-year. Usually precautions included staying away from tainted meat and try resist digging your fingers into the carcass of a diseased bird, worst case scenario is that you'd have to spend your lunch break at the drugstore getting a vaccination. There always seems to be some sort of global threat that turns out to be some sort of nonsensical media hype that just makes people panic and easy to manipulate to buy and consume like the puppets they are. This wasn't exactly one of those cases. This was different.
It starting getting suspicious when the news reports were telling us to stay out of contact with people who seem disoriented or sick. They were being so vague which might have been what scared me most. They didn't know what they were talking about; they didn't know what they were dealing with, nobody did. It seemed that there was nothing else on the news or the radio that wasn't about this 'super flu'. It was getting serious. However, we were dumb – desensitized by the often misleading epidemic scares. It seems that the media might have cried wolf a few too many times. I'd like to imagine that if they had always been genuine in the first place, maybe so many people wouldn't have died.
Weeks passed and we noticed more and more reported 'attacks'. Apparently some virus was turning people into psychotic killers, or...not psychotic...mindless killers, rather...
They'd always say they “couldn't give us details until further notice.” That promise was never kept. Not much of a surprise.
It was one particular evening, the air was especially still. Jason told me to come see the latest report. Apparently we were supposed to stay inside now; our city was going be going under some sort of lock-down and siege. The anchor man had his eyebrows pushed together; he was repeating the same instructions over and over something along the lines of:
“stay in your household...do not try to leave your homes...do not panic..do not attempt to leave the city or contact loved ones...do not resist the directions given by the inspectors, they will not hesitate to use force if needed, they are here to help you and your family be safe and secure...” the list seemed endless, the instructions where scrolling along the bottom of the screen; often being updated and changed. Always scrolling along continuously, no weather, no traffic, just these...directions.
I hurried outside stepped outside the front door and my bare feet lay scorching on the sweltering sidewalk, but I hardly noticed. There was stale smell in the air, things...didn't feel right. Mr. Whittemore was loading his jeep with camouflaged duffel bags, which I usually notice when he goes hunting with his nephew in October. I heard Jason yell my name but I didn't respond. He ran from the inside of the house to where I was - almost knocking me over - breathlessly he told me that we had to pack up clothes and food and leave. I started to remind him that we were supposed to stay inside until the siege was over. He fixed his eyes onto mine and held his breath and held out his left hand, I automatically held out my hand. Without breaking eye-contact he turned my hand palm-up and placed in it a cold pistol. Then he finally let his breath out and said in a quiet and serious voice, “hold on to this.” then when he trusted my handle on it he let go and proceeded to secure a holster to my waist. I cradled the pistol in my hand, it seemed so foreign to me, not quite the weight I expected either. I’m not sure if I expected it to be heavier or lighter, though. I had no words, I was afraid.