Author : N. Landau

The morning paper on the table declared that the crime rate had tripled since the news that the city had run out of vaccine, and the virus was spreading rapidly. The headline lay between two stale cups of coffee over which the two scientists had made their decision that morning. Today was the day, one of them had said, the day they would bring back Eden to the world. They would cease hunger and poverty, rape and homicide; it was a ‘tabula rasa,’ they called it, a ‘blank slate,’ and its experimental effectiveness was flawless. Today was the day.

The two scientists passionately embraced for a moment before moving to their individual locations, she to the observation window, he to the control panel, and waited. Glancing lovingly over his shoulder, he blew her a kiss before he pressed a small button. The city was silent before she turned to catch the kiss.

Men and women fell like ragdolls onto the pavement. Bodies tumbled card-like down stairwells. Escalators in malls piled prone forms at the tops and bottoms of each flight. Somewhere, an elevator door opened and closed, opened and closed, on the arm of a businessman trying to catch his elevator. The pair of scientists stepped outside, hand-in-hand, to the sound of car alarms and crunching metal as traffic jostled to a halt all around the city. Through the filter on their gasmasks, their words twisted inhumanly.

“Happy birthday” he said to her.

“I love you” she replied.

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