Halloween Virus by Thomas Bowling
Halloween Horror Writing contest entry
The disease was first discovered on October 31, 2017. That was the last time anyone would need a Halloween costume. Early symptoms were the same as a stroke. Slurred speech and partial paralysis led to misdiagnosis of the first victims.
In time, doctors realized there was something different about these patients. Their symptoms progressed beyond stroke victims. Their brains deteriorated at an alarming rate.
Exploratory surgery revealed their brains were being consumed by a virus that acted like a bacteria. It was a flesh-eating bacteria, but it only destroyed brain tissue. People panicked. It was discovered that like Zika and other viruses, the Halloween Virus, as it came to be called, was spread by mosquitoes.
Eradication efforts proved fruitless. The mosquitoes bred too quickly to stop the outbreak. For some reason, adults were unaffected by the virus. After puberty, children developed an immunity to the disease, but you can't really say the adults were unaffected. Millions of parents' hopes for their children were crushed by a mosquito bite.
After the children became infected, they quit eating. Their end was brought on by slow starvation. It was heart-wrenching to watch parents try to coax their children to take nourishment. They knew that any food they could force their child to eat would only prolong the suffering, but they were desperate.
The children, in the clinical sense, were already dead, yet somehow partially alive. Their shuffling gait and vacant eyes told the truth. Their eyes were empty, like soulless creatures. They lived an existence halfway between Heaven and Hell. Their parents lived in Hell.
The world's population was shifting. Scientists identified five places where there are no mosquitoes - Iceland, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, The Seychelles, and Antarctica. Those were the choices. Not enough room for everyone.
Billions of dollars poured into the Red Cross and other relief efforts, but to date, no cure has been found. Even if they found a cure, it would be no use to the millions already infected.
The disease is still out there. Parents watch your children. Whose idea was it to send children out at dusk to roam the streets? The celebration of Halloween ended, but the suffering continues.
Each year, millions of new cases occur. The population has found a way to correct itself, but at what cost? Every home sees heartbreak on a daily basis. Little children turned into walking dead creatures. Parents whose only desire is to see their children made well. Laughter has disappeared from the world.
The children who are unaffected live in fear. The slightest buzzing noise sends them screaming for their parents. The family spends the night searching for signs of a bite. Was that red spot there before? Stay in our bed tonight.
Religious leaders are predicting the end of the world, yet church attendance is down. People are afraid to leave their homes. Scammers are selling guaranteed mosquito repentant. Some unscrupulous characters will take advantage of anything. They see tragedy as a way to make money.
I have a particular interest in the disease. My four young children are all infected. I can do nothing but watch them waste away. My wife committed suicide last week. By this time my feelings had become too numb to feel sorrow. More and more parents are choosing suicide as a way out. I suppose I will probably do it soon. I would have done it already, but I can't stand the thought of leaving my children alone. They don't understand I'm here, but I just can't do it. All because of a blood-thirsty mosquito.
I sleep with my bedroom door locked. I'm afraid of my own children. Sometimes they show signs of being dangerous. Who knows? They are like wild animals. I used to play with them on the floor. Not now. I hear them at night, staggering around. They don't sleep. Sometimes, in a rage they destroy things. My poor loving children. My two-year-old was walking. Now, he drags himself across the floor. Where he's going I don't know. He just goes back and forth all day. I'm losing my mind. I've thought about killing my kids, but how? They're already dead.
I wake up in the morning and they have damaged every room. How can a small child topple over a television set, or pull down a heavy bookcase? A few days ago, I found my computer in the front yard. One of them had thrown it through a window. I didn't bother to bring it back into the house. Every internet search brings up the same results. New research proves promising . . . They're all alike. They read like copy and paste articles taken from the same source document. Why do they try to give hope when there is none? It's like pouring salt on an open wound.
Where is God? Has He abandoned us? Is this some kind of punishment? I used to think the world would end in a nuclear war. Now, I know it will go out with a whimper. With no children to take over, one day the last human will die. It would be interesting to see what comes next, but to tell you the truth, I don't care. How long can this go on?
I don't let the kids go outside, so the neighbors don't know. They look at me with contempt. They think my family has been spared. I don't tell them about the nightmare my life has become. I buried my wife in our backyard under cover of darkness and looked for room to place four more graves when the need arises. As I dug her grave, I carefully removed the sod, and then replaced it. No one will be suspicious.
I won't mark their graves. Maybe God will be kind and in time I'll forget that they're there. Children of the damned are what they've become. Unrecognizable to me. I loved them with all my heart. Now, I hope to forget they ever existed.
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