Short fiction


Works of fiction by Ignatius

Breathing

:::Wheeze:::

Hello? Who is it? I think can answer a couple of questions. It's getting harder to breathe, I'm not sure how long I have. I'm getting too weak, and I'm sure that I'll not be able to talk soon. It'sā€¦ I just won't have the strength.

I was fine two days ago, but then yesterday I just collapsed out in the middle of the street. I collapsed. My legs just gave right out from under me. I knew then that I caught it.

:::Wheeze:::

We guess Ben Harden was the first one to come down with this thing. He was in the middle of sweeping up the diner when he starts having a seizure. Normally, I'd say that he was lucky that his daughter, Laura, was there, but not this time. I think if he had the choice, he would have just died right there alone. Well, she rushed him the twenty miles to the nearest the hospital. I don't know how she got the strength to get him into the car, but she got him there. I heard the doctors put him on one of those IV bags right away. They tried to figure out what was wrong, but it didn't do any good. He was dead within 12 hours of arriving there. At some point his wife got there too, so Ben at least got to die with family.

:::Wheeze:::

When his daughter lost control of her hands ā€” couldn't pick up a thing ā€” they new that this must be contagious. They put her into a special room. One of those "isolation" rooms, I guess most hospitals must have a way to do that. Ben's wife, Anne, called the reverend and let him know all about what was going wrong. The reverend told his wife. I don't know why the reverend told his wife. She's one of those "tell the world what's going on" types. Once she knows something, everyone finds out.

:::Wheeze:::

By the time Laura died the doctor who first treated Ben stopped being able to talk, then they knew that something very bad was happening. They locked the doors of that hospital real quick, they did. I heard that they even brought in people in those special bubble suits. You know, those ones they have doctors get into in every movie about people being sick. It even made the local news. They showed pictures of the hospital and even interviewed someone. He had broken his leg and needed to be driven to another hospital two counties over. He was not happy.

Of course, they didn't realize that other people at the diner had caught it too until after the first couple people were already dead.

:::Wheeze:::

I don't know who else caught it. No one does. I figure it was one of the regulars. Shane Tucker maybe? Carl? Who knows? A lot of folks from town are all normally in there. Well, I suppose it doesn't really matter. Someone else in town must have caught it. Maybe someone in town brought it to the diner. Maybe someone from outside of town stopped for a bite to eat. No one really knows, well, no one who will talk to me. The doctors out there might know, but they don't say much. Actually, I haven't heard much after that news report.

:::Wheeze:::

I didn't even know that this had to do with our town until the next day. I noticed that the diner was closed, but didn't think much of it. They generally stay open pretty late, and no one really comes in for morning coffee there.

Sarah Walters came in. She said she was looking for a rake or something. She has no use for a hardware store, so I knew that there must be gossip, and she was excited to tell it. She told me why the diner had closed and that she heard other people hadn't been out and about that morning. I thought that maybe they just slept in, but she insisted that there must be another dozen cases in town. At this point I can't tell if she was just exaggerating (as normal), or if there was something to worry about. Either way, I saw no reason to close down quite yet. After all, a hardware store only makes money when it's open.

No one else came in that day. I think this means that I might have gotten it from Sarah, but maybe I saw someone the day before. I don't know, and it doesn't matter.

:::Wheeze:::

I don't know what will happen next. I hear different people have gone in different ways, but I don't know. I heard that they blocked off the roads out of town, but don't know how good that'll do. The town's pretty big and Shane lives a few miles away. I tried calling him yesterday but I just got voice mail. I've tried calling another couple of people, but no answer there either.

:::Wheeze:::

Listen, I really appreciate your talking with me. It's good that someone cares. Do you know if there are other cases anywhere? Do they know where this came from?ā€¦ You know what? Never-mind. It doesn't matter much anyhow.

:::Wheeze:::

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