We had to survive

February 19, 2014
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Context: A narrative set in a quiet village. Every member if the population is suffering from a virus leaving them lifeless and vacant; similar to the affects of Alzheimer’s. The story follows a lonely doctor who is immune to is, and begins to create his own vaccinations and in doing so, reveals the harsh truths of his past.

Everywhere he looked, the population was poisoned; tainted with vacant minds and broken life forms. He thought about what it used to be like when he could pop out for a carton of milk when Liz asked him to… He remembered how easy it was. He smiled at the thought of getting the bus into work; St Trinity Hospital was only up the road but Liz would need the car and he refused to walk in the winter. There would be so many people packed on that 499 Red-Route that he thought he might suffocate. It made him chuckle… suffocating would be the least of his worries right now.

He had been training to become a doctor for years now, but as he stood looking out of his window, through the gap in the curtains, he wondered if it was all worth it. The village was abandoned- people preferred to stay inside. Occasionally someone would go out, into the street, but they would forget why they left their home in the first place and then they would retreat, like a mouse. Ms Dabney, his neighbour, sat in her rocking chair as always, still as a statue. He used to sit at the window sill for hours watching her bake apple pie, but it hit her just as hit everyone… her neck became swollen and her eyes became glazed.

It was only when her saw people like Mrs Dabney, that he felt a flicker of gratitude. But all too quickly the light would die out, and he would be reminded of every lonely second he had spent since the disease hit and every lonely second still to come. He was supposed to be the lucky one, but it soon became apparent to the uninfected individual that this was not the case. He hadn’t smiles since the day Liz died and did not see the unlikely event occurring anytime soon.

He was nothing more than a fractured jewel amongst the sand.

Overtime, the isolation began to haunt him. He tried to talk to people that did not reply and only counted sheep. Nothing seemed to work. He began to fashion his own vaccinations. When he wasn’t concocting he was contemplating and when he wasn’t calculating, he would cry… but he did not weep. He chose his path- the lonely path: one with bars and rotten food. Was this cowardly?

What arrived after completion wasn’t the same anymore. The butterflies had disappeared. Anticipation was dangerous- it could provide hope.

There weren’t many people left in the village now. He sat in the desk waiting for appointments that he new had not been made and walked over to the coffee machine that he knew would jot work. He used to feel rushed off of his feet, being the only doctor in the village. He would come home with headaches that reverberated in his skull. There was not escape from the screaming children and the worry written on parent’s faces. He would fine the cacophony and the concern pleasing, now.

He glanced at the rota. One appointment. 2.05. He shivered; she would have to be the one. Miss Mary Victem perched on the seat in front of him exactly thirsty seven minutes later complaining of a sprained wrist and yearning for antibiotics.

He hesitated as the needle pressed against her skin, fiercely aware of her Goosebumps. It pierced her soft exterior. Their eyes met momentarily; she looked strangely thankful, but oblivious at the same time. Her obvious innocence made his stomach churn and he had to turn away and force back the guilt. There was no room for it. He had a job to do- ad duty to his fellow men. A race for survival. We had do survive.

Slowly it became a routine- drive home, open the door, wash hands three times exactly, walk downstairs and make a cup of tasteless tea; sit on the same sofa, writing the same letters with the same pen to a different recipient. Today’s letter read#;

Dear Mrs Mary Victem and family,

Forgive me my trespasses and what I have done. Soon, I will muster up the courage and redeem myself by revealing all. I will make sure you understand why I did what I did.

Your Doctor

Liz always said that he had a way with words. How he would love to hear her kind, enchanting voice telling him she loved him and that she had faith, because she did have faith. He wished she didn’t have as much faith in him. How he would love to feel her touch once more, to be held in her embrace, where nothing else mattered but the warmth between them. Maybe if he had valued that more then she would still be here, now. How sick he was of not being sick…

Being alone and healthy came as a pair now, like an inseperable twin and God had made it that way for him. He never thought he was ever a bad person. He occasionally missed a school assignment deadline and frequently collected dangerous objects, but he was certain that he did not deserve this. So what did he do wrong? There were occasions when he considered that this was His idea of a reward? Immunity is supposed to be good. Nobody abuses you with crazy concoctions. Up until this point, he had never disagreed with something so strongly.

It got dark at about five O’clock now, which meant it was probably nearing Christmas. Not that it mattered… people around here didn’t have anything to celebrate anymore. He went back to work- they type of work that mattered- and with nothing but the light from the flickering street lamp outside, he crafted number one hundred and twenty seven.

He pretended to wake up the next morning as if he’d had a decent night’s sleep and found himself standing in front of his bathroom mirror half an hour later. He noticed slight changes in the colouring of his skin tone- it seemed a lot paler. He was so exhausted. The thought of exiting the house made him shudder, but, in a world of damaged souls, it seemed ironic to stay in bed after every individual he knew would be feeling a hundred times worse. At precisely ten thirty nine in the morning he was sitting in front of Mr Joseph Hope with the same needle as before, tearing into his flesh without resistance. There was no eye contact this time, which he guessed made it easier, but, for the fist time, he felt the sting of the stainless steel spire himself, but he did not hesitate- those who hesitate are lost.

Dear Joseph Hope and family,

Time changes your perspective and this time I want to apologize. Soon I will redeem myself by revealing all and I promise you will understand. I can only hope that when you do, you will forgive me, but I will not hold my breath.

Your Doctor

Sometimes he would think about the other road. The inevitable fork would soon appear where he would have to choose. At one end, he could just about make out the blood red post box and the glass cabinet where the pile of letters lay locked and secure. They would soon be obliterated. It would mean a clear head, though, Liz would not be happy. He often thought about joining her- man and wife reunited… Was this cowardly?

He opened the cabinet and pulled out the neat pack of envelopes bound together by a frayed piece of string. He imagined their crisp white colour being hidden by the darkness inside of the crimson cylinder- their expected journey. As he slipped into the front seat of his car, he could feel the fragments of adrenaline pulsing through his arteries.

There was just one post box. It sat where the wishing well used to be – in the centre of an abandoned ton square. He could have put the address in the navigation system, but there wasn’t any need; the journey had been undertaken many times before, he even knew where the most suitably car park would be.

He contemplated what would become of him. He contemplated his legacy. He contemplated his fate. Would he be judged a victim, deprived of freedom, or a victor, victorious until the end?

They would not understand… They would mistake a failed antidote for a lethal poison and his intentions would not mean anything to them. Perspective is all. He noticed his hands were beginning to shake vigorously, out of control, and a felling crept up on him. It was a foreign feeling- a feeling that he had not felt before. That made his spine tingle and his body tense up so aggressively that he almost didn’t flinch when the ear-piercing sirens of a police car surged past him. He swerved to the left. Fighting to gain control, he gripped the steering wheel tight, but the car did not stop and the sirens faded into the background. His muscles relaxed, allowing him to return to a steady pace in the right direction on the correct side of the road, but he found himself on auto drive. At the next roundabout, he took the last exit, going back the way he came.

Standing in his garden, the arctic freeze did not stir him. The har4sh blaze with its magnificent fiery colours did not comfort him. His mind was abnormally clear for the first time in months, regardless of the fact that the disintegrating letters were dissolving into ashes of nothing. They would never been sent. They would never ne received.

He was not sure if this meant he was working with the disease or fighting against it, (friend or foe), but what he was doing felt right. Humanity is the cancer and he would be the cure. The cured one, with a solitary purpose- to cure the rest.

As he contemplated his fate, he remembered the prayer that he used to recite as a young boy in amongst the hoards of innocent boys, unaware of the inevitable future event.

Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

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