Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Virus

This is actually the beginning of The Unanswerables.  The very first scene where Matthew finds out about the virus.

I loosened the tie around my neck when the newscaster was interrupted by that emergency broadcast noise. It immediately said, “This is not a test.” Diane glanced over at me from the kitchen and nodded towards the TV. She continued to cut up broccoli, and I flopped down in front of the television. My son immediately scooted across the floor with his train set in hand and rammed it into my polished shoes. I smiled, reached down, and patted his head. He turned four next week, and he was getting to be very precarious, though he still didn’t talk much.

The television flickered and the newscaster, Tim McGarth, was back on screen. He looked pale, as if during the interruption he had seen death itself. I leaned forward and tossed my tie onto the armrest. Diane hated when I did that, but I didn’t want to miss whatever he had to announce – it looked important.“Folks, I have just received news that there has been a deadly virus…” he paused to swallow. “That has broken out in all major cities across the globe.”

The room spun. I couldn’t have heard that right. The stifling air in my New York apartment was probably getting to my head. I glanced outside. The sun was nearly set over the horizon, casting long shadows from each of the buildings. The city looked fine.

“It is unknown exactly what the virus is, or how it is spreading, but it seems that only the major cities have been infected. As such, New York is now in a state of quarantine. As is Los Angeles –“ I stopped listening. I stared at the screen and watched his mouth move, but all sounds stopped. I looked down at my son, who grinned up at me. His white baby teeth reflected what was left of the natural light.

“Diane?” I said. I took off my polished shoes and tossed them aside on my way to our galley kitchen. She stood over the stove, her blonde hair getting caked across her forehead with the steam from the… whatever she was making. “Diane, I think something’s wrong.”

She narrowed her eyes at me, “Don’t tell me, you put your tie on the couch again and it slid into the seats.” Diane’s face lit up, grinning at the teasing joke.

I frowned. I opened my mouth to explain and a large rumble was heard overhead that shook the whole apartment. The china in our cabinets jingled as it vibrated against each other. Keegan came running in and wrapped his arms around his mother’s legs, almost toppling her over. His blonde hair almost disappeared inside the apron.

“Keegan, what have I told you about-“ Diane began after she steadied herself, but she glanced at my face and stopped. “What’s happening?” She put down the spatula and shut off the stove, picking up Keegan in one scoop. He nuzzled into her neck and mumbled something. “Now, now, it’s okay.”

We walked over to the television, where Tim McGarth was sweating profusely. I couldn’t tell if it was because of the hot lights, or because he was still in shock. I felt that way. “He said there was a virus.” My voice got small at the last word, almost unwilling to admit that it was real.

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