Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zones

As promised, here’s another excerpt.  It is a continuation of Q is for Quarantine.  These are all part of the new novella The Unanswerable.

Tim McGarth, the news anchor, shuffled through his papers.  “This just in, drop zones have been announced.  I repeat, drop zones have been announced.”  Everyone in the cellar cast brief glances around.  A map came on the screen.

The dead center of Manhattan was blood red.  It got lighter as it drifted out from the center.  The camera switched back to Tim.  He gulped audibly.  He was still in the city, just like us.  Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead.  “Seems as if the only way to contain the virus is to eradicate it.  Everything, folks.”  He loosened his tie.  “I must say, it has been fun, New York.  You gave me the anchor position, and I tell you, if I didn’t have to step on a few toes to get here, it wouldn’t have been the same.”

He ruffled his hand through his hair, messing up the perfect part.  “I think everyone in the studio agrees with me.  It is now time to go and be with your loved ones.  By this time tomorrow, our fabulous city might not have any survivors.  It has been an honor-" he choked on his words, "and a privilege to work with all of you."  The camera zoomed in on his eyes, “I’ll be home soon, honey.”

Tim got up and walked offstage.  A few people that worked in the studio wandered aimlessly around set before a “technical difficulties” message popped up on the screen.

There was an audible groan inside the cellar.  “They can’t do this,” a man stood up.  “They can’t.  We aren’t sick, none of us are sick!”  He slammed his fist against the wall.

Diane held onto our son with both hands.  He tried to wiggle away, but she wouldn’t let him.  “We have to have some faith, Diane.”  I leaned my forehead against her wet cheek.  “I love you.”

I couldn’t keep my own tears from coming to the surface in my eyes.  I had seen too many people try to escape – too many people gunned down by the hazmat suits.  You would think that eminent doom would make someone risk it all, but I couldn’t.  I was too scared that I would lose them – or that they would lose me. 

She pulled me into her arms along with our son.  “I love you too, Matthew.  I always will.”  Her words escaped her mouth with heavy, thick breaths.  This was the beginning of the end.

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