By Lea Anne Stoughton
Vial 8529-A broke with an insignificant tinkle of glass. The panic among the first white-coated victims, however, was quite significant indeed. One might think the split-second hiccup in power to the emergency lock-down protocols was insignificant, but in fact it was the most significant thing to happen that day.
* * *
The nondescript building on the corner of 4th and State, the one that everyone assumed was some kind of insurance company, exploded. The resulting fire produced heat so intense that firefighters could only focus on containing it. The building was empty anyway, they were told, because it was full of bugs.
* * *
A boy, maybe nine or ten years old, sat on the sidewalk outside the shop when the butcher arrived to open for the day. The kid was crying. The butcher glanced around, but he didn’t see any adults that seemed to belong with the kid. He gave a mental shrug and pushed through the door. When the morning rush cleared out, the kid was still sitting there. He sighed and wiped his hands on a towel. The kid ate three hot dogs and would have gone for a fourth if he hadn’t started crying again. The butcher couldn’t get anything from him, not even a name, and soon stopped trying. He watched the kid blubber into his root beer and realized his afternoon was shot.
* * *
Todd! My name is Todd! Todd Strasser. My mom went to work but she didn’t come home. I don’t remember what day. Not yesterday, the day before that. I don’t have a dad. I don’t know what to do. I was going to go to grandma’s but I didn’t know what bus to take and I only had four dollars and some cents in my piggy bank. I’m so scared. What if I’m alone now forever? I don’t want to be alone. Please
don’t make me be alone.
They both fell asleep in front of the TV that droned a constant stream of local news: explosions, the mayor’s latest girlfriend, some flu going around, get your shots people.
* * *
Todd sneezed, a violent phlegmy seizure of such force that he doubled over. The butcher pushed a napkin at him. Everyone was sneezing, it was fucking disgusting. Even the cop who finally picked up the phone was sneezing. Send someone over my ass, half the force was probably home sniffling into their hankies like pussies to avoid dealing with the looters. Even the burrito-smelling Jesus freak who hung out in front of the 7-11 stayed home today.
Todd sneezed again. The butcher shoved another napkin in his hand and wondered what the fuck was going on.
* * *
The hospital’s closed? How can a fucking hospital be fucking closed? Fuck. Come on, kid, I’ll carry you.
* * *
Kid. Todd. Wake up. You gotta eat something. C’mon, wake up, Todd, you little bastard. You gotta eat.
Please, I’m sorry about the bastard thing. Just wake up. Todd.
* * *
The butcher sat among the decaying meat in his one-time freezer and sneezed. The gunshot was insignificant, really, when you think about it.
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This is our new Wicked Short Stories page with submissions from various Authors. Please look for bio-snippets about the Author at the bottom of the various pieces. Enjoy!