(Recipient of an Honorable Mention in Best Horror Of The Year Volume One, edited by Ellen Datlow)
I lifted the blinds a quarter-inch and looked out, the bright, hot afternoon sun hurting my eyes after the cool shadows of my half of the apartment. The car had deteriorated further since the day before, its rear windshield shattered to match the front one. The tires were long gone, as was the hood and most of the engine. It was the only car on the street.
Helen was screaming again. I would have put the stereo on to drown her out, but the power was off again.
"Bobby! Bobby, please! Bobbeeyyyyyâ€”"
She trailed off into a croak. It was painful to hear her dying, thirty feet away. It had been two days since her symptoms began, and even though I was pretty sure she was raving now, pretty sure she'd lost touch with reality, I shivered involuntarily. My sweet girl, dying, behind a flimsy wooden door.
Listening to the news on the radio, I sat on the floor with my back to Helen's door. The TV was mostly reruns and static, when it worked at all. The radio was more reliable.
Despite its volume, I could hear Helen weeping weakly.
The Sweat was a plague, and incredibly contagious. I told myself this over and over. Our entire apartment building was under quarantine, marked by a huge red sticker on the outer door, block letters proclaiming us doomed. Under quarantine, hasty law declared that if I attempted to leave before the twenty-day period was overâ€”for any reasonâ€”I could be shot. By anyone.
So fare thee well, my own true love,
And soon reunited we will be.
It's not the leaving of Liverpool that's ailing me,
But my darling when I think of thee....
...Purchase the issue to read more of this piece and others