Author : A. S. Andrews

Four months ago, it started. Everyone, everywhere, coughing. Day two brought bloody sores and panic, followed by the aches and fever of day three, the vomiting of day four. Day five dawned to thick, red scales, all over, even where your hair and nails used to be. They itched and burned and nothing helped. Day seven, gone. All symptoms vanished, leaving bald heads and bloodied nail beds. Lots of people died, twenty percent they say. More went crazy. Like the theories – aliens, bio-warfare, terrorists, space bugs from the downed satellite.

“Marry me,” you said three months ago. You slipped me your mama’s ring, and Uncle Joe married us.

Two months ago, Uncle Joe left his chapel for the fields, preaching hell and brim fire. Uncle Joe wasn’t the only one.

It’s back. Started a week ago. Difference is, not everyone gets sick the same day. It’s all the same symptoms – coughing, sores, fever, vomiting, scales. Except this time, on day seven, the scales get hard and yellow. And the whites of your eyes yellow and your pupils grow bigger and bigger, until your whole iris is pitch black. People are dying all over, lots of them before they even yellow. Some just disappear. Vaporized, they say.

You’re yellow now, and I have fever. “Let’s go out,” you say, “there’s a party.”

“An end of the world bash?”

You shrug. “Maybe this world.”

We go, we drink, we move through a strange crush of bodies, everyone sick. After, we sit stargazing in Uncle Joe’s field. He’s not preaching today – too weak. The Milky Way glitters above, same as always.

“Uncle Joe – he said to pray,” I say. “When it started up again.”

I think of Uncle Joe’s face, pained and red. He’d clasped his hands together and nodded at me, before another shudder came.

You smile. In the starlight, your eyes are reflective black orbs, surrounded by golden halos. “It’s not over yet,” you whisper. I want to ask what you mean, what you might know, but your soft kiss silences me, the coolness of your scales startling all over again. I close my eyes. “Until death do us part,” you say.

I start to speak, but cough instead. Your hand slips away. When I open my eyes, you’re gone, just like all the others who yellowed. Vanished. I scoop dirt, sifting it through my fingers. It’s gritty and dry, slightly sparkly, smells metallic. No hint of you left.

More theories, no answers. Teleportation, apocalypse, some freak hiding in an underground bunker, laughing. Damn freaks.

Uncle Joe died today.

I’m yellow now, sitting here where we last sat, staring at the stars, thinking of you. I see a shooting star, wish for life. Kiss my ring, it vanishes. Sky pulses, stars flash. The Milky Way shifts, changes, rearranges.

I see it now, written in the stars; my choice. Leave or die. But I have no choice. Wait for me. Until death do us part.


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows