24 October 2014

Terribleminds Challenge: Diseased Horror

One week 'til Halloween! My second favourite annual holiday (only 61 days to Christmas!). Time to pick out a browning, dented supermarket pumpkin and hack away at it until it resembles something of a face. Hooray!

The instruction for this week's Terriblemind's flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig is to write a horror piece containing a disease. I hope that the restraint I have shown here in not leaping straight into the zombie sub-genre will be recognised, as anyone who knows me is aware of my deep love of the walking dead. 

I'm not sure if I can really call this horror, though I do hope it has the sinister undertones I was going for. It's more of a dystopia but either way I hope you enjoy it. 

This is Germ.


Before the Event, they called him crazy. Hypochondriac. Germaphobe. Clean freak. Children would stare and point as he passed them in the street, their mothers tugging them away at the wrist as though he was the contagious one. Children with their runny noses, their sticky fingers, their aversion to soap. Their need to grab and touch. The mere thought made him shudder and reach for the antibacterial gel. 

Before the Event, his way of life was something to be sneered at. Something to be judged as over-dramatic, over-cautious. Unnecessary. What's the harm in a few germs, people would say, their hands brushing carelessly over surfaces crawling with God-knows what. They learnt the harm. Everyone learnt the harm he knew was coming. It was only a matter of time.

Rules he had lived by his whole life had now been adopted begrudgingly by the rest of the population. Avoid skin contact with any surface or object you have not seen sterilized yourself. Eat only food that you have removed yourself from a pre-packaged, airtight container. Daily bleach showers, more often if you are venturing outside your home. Touch no one. Filtered air. Cleanliness above all else.

To many, the Event meant a complete change of lifestyle. To him, the Event meant vindication. 

True, it had alarmed him to learn that such a virus had escaped laboratory settings and was loose among the general populace. It would alarm him when he heard of a bout of flu amok in his area. But it did not take him long to feel a kind of pride, a self-satisfaction that his way of living would pay off in more ways that he could have imagined. While others were blind to the ways their daily habits endangered themselves, the ease at which a disease can spread through a careless community, he simply closed his doors for good and locked himself away in his sanitized sanctum. 

They had come to him. Oh yes, they had come to him. They saw their error in judgement and clamored at his door, begging entry to his bubble of protection from the plague that ate away at their flesh. That they would expect to be let in only further proved their ignorance; if he had allowed germs to invade his sanctuary, it would no longer be a sanctuary. Just another melting pot of bacteria and disease. 

No.

They did not understand. 

Nor would they ever, not now. Not after the Event began the process of wiping them out. Even those who tried to adopt his means of existence would not last. They did not have the practice, nor the patience. Sooner or later they would slip up.

From time to time there would be a banging on his door, as one of the hopeless cried out for salvation. Sometimes they would not even ask to be saved, merely released from the prison that had become of their body. Mercy. He imagined they left ugly smears of hot, infected blood on his walls, but he never left anymore to see. He was safe. And after a time they would stagger on. 

The end of the world. 

And he was safe to watch it unfold. 


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