It has been five long years since the Amazon Event and now over nineteen months since the last known victim of Infection died.
I live in Tampa, Florida. The city still reeks of death and decay. Like most places, almost half of our inhabitants are dead from Infection. Those of us alive don’t know if it is good fortune, or following the ‘extreme isolation and zero exposure’ process that we were prescribed, to which we owe our retention of vitality.
I’ve seen a lot of things in my life, but the sight of a meteor slamming into Brazil is indelibly etched into my mind. The sheer size of the rock was unfathomable, it should have wiped out life altogether. But something in the atmosphere caused it to soften on entry and the impact, though devastating, did far less tectonic damage than expected. South America will never be the same again, most of the population there is dead and the landscape is changed forever. The consequences did not stop there however.
The dust from the impact – that is the deadly danger. Something in the dust causes Infection and the air currents carried it across the globe. Once ingested, the body transforms rapidly. Any mammal can be infected. It starts with swelling and angry red sores across the abdomen. Within forty-eight hours the victim starts to have feverish bouts and unbearable itching across the torso. Amazingly that’s only the beginning. We call it the Hundred Hour Infection, or HHI, but everyone knows what you mean if you just say Infection.
Whatever it is, it is clearly alive. For years the entertainment industry told us far more exotic stories of what our first encounter with extra-terrestrial life would be like. Our first space invaders are just microscopic bugs – who would have thought?
Now the daily broadcasts remind us that Infection seems to be over. Scientists have isolated the organism that causes Infection, or so they say. Antidotes are being developed. Finally a semblance of normality is returning, if it can be called that. But something tells me we are not free of our torment yet because this morning I woke up and saw that which I have expected to see these past five years.
The rules are that I must hand myself in. Now that it comes to it, I’m not so sure I can or will. What will they do to me? Is there actually a cure yet?
I’m scared. Why? My stomach is covered in the red swelling. The first case in nineteen months. It is so surreal to think I have alien bugs infecting my body.
I have less than four days to live and no one to turn to. My friends and family are dead. I live in the government provided accommodation like everyone else and I barely remember how to relate to humans.
With nothing better to do, and wanting to hold onto anything familiar, I decide to go to my daily Allocated Labour while I ponder this predicament.
Writing order: Annette Connor (USA), jlabrum (USA), jasmine (NZ), roseyn (Aus), E.L. Russell (USA), Ray Stone (Cyprus), Kalli Deschamps (USA), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Gabrielle Burt (NZ), Sumanda Maritz (Sth Africa)