Today's FFF piece didn't seem too compelling once I finished writing it and read it over, however, I can see that it's more of a character sketch and plot idea than it is a full-blown story. After watching the season finale of 24: Live Another Day, I felt compelled to write out a sketch of a character much like Jack Bauer, someone who has nothing and nobody left and who is captured by his enemies and left with little to no hope. I'm not sure how this FFF piece branched from that intention to a plot about a full-blown plague epidemic but I'll take it.
“Solitude is man’s greatest comfort, yet can also be man’s greatest nemesis.”
I read that quote many months ago. It was in a book…no, a magazine article on the human brain and the effects of solitude and its connections to insanity. I was waiting in the doctor office for Claire. She was there to get a checkup on an infection that had manifested in her lungs. The doctor office was busy that day. I complained to her later that it was too busy, but now I would welcome that busyness with open arms and pursed lips.
These shackles have cut and bruised my wrists. Mildew fills the air – and my lungs – making it hard to breathe normally. I haven’t eaten in days – too many to count – and I am ravished. The water they bring me is simply a collection of the condensation from the pipes that run through this compound. Aside from the guard who brings me that water, I haven’t seen another living soul in this place since I woke here. Where here is.
Memories come back to me in painful flashes of light and color, but I can’t seem to recollect exactly what brought me here. When the plague attacked New Haven, Claire and I were packing up to move West toward Lockly. We weren’t able to leave before Claire died. I found out – too late – that the infection in her lungs had been spurred on by the Rack Plague, and I could do nothing to save her.
I fled the city, taking what few supplies I could transport in our small sedan. I made it into the Wastelands and set up camp at the base of Mt. Sel. I grieved Claire’s death for days. I almost killed myself, but resolved to do what I could to survive. It’s what Claire would want. It’s the only reason I haven’t killed myself in this place.
I was going to leave my camp, to head further West and hopefully reach Lockly, but…I can’t remember…bandits, maybe, ambushed me. I remember men with cloth over their mouths. I remember guns. I remember the smell of sweat and urine. Everything after that is shrouded in darkness in the recesses of my mind. I woke up here, chained to the floor, half naked and starving.
There is nothing left for me except for the memory of Claire and that hideous plague. I wish I knew where it came from, what caused it, and how to stop it. It swept through the continent within a matter of weeks. I have no idea how I escaped its clutches.
Come to think of it, I haven’t seen the guard in a day or two. I haven’t seen anyone in a day or two. I’ve only seen the beam of sunlight which pours through the dirty window and shines light across me, bathing me in warmth, for a time each day.
Has the plague reached here into the depths of hell?
(Click the Flash Fiction Fridays link at the top of the page to read past pieces!)