This story was edited by Ein ashan bli aish, and I thank her for all of her hard work.
The world didn't end in December of 2012 as the Mayan, the Hopi, and the Aztec's foretold. Quetzalcoatl didn't come to destroy man, but something else did.
In one of the old Soviet Satellite nations, a fundamentalist group, bent on terrorism, broke into a biological warfare lab, which had been abandoned for years, and stole a biological agent. At least that's the story that most of the world's governments released. The group released the agent in the west, in Germany to be precise, to punish the infidels at Christmas. Ironically it didn't only punish the infidels, but the whole world, and at Passover and Ramadan too.
It was only a bird influenza strain, but it was genetically enhanced by the Soviets. It infected humans at an amazing rate. There was a 95% infection rate and a 70% mortality rate. The bug soon became known as the Quetzalcoatl (or Q) flu.
Within three months of being released, Europe was decimated. The world's governments responded by quarantining the continent, but people forgot that it was bird flu. Birds were infected at about the same rate as humans, but with a lower mortality rate.
Of course you can't quarantine birds, and the infection spread to Asia and Africa. The genie was out of the bottle. It couldn't be stopped after that. There was no turning back. It was a catastrophe of global proportions.
North America was okay for a while. All travel was prohibited, and the first outbreaks in New York, D.C. and Los Angeles were quarantined. But in the end it was all futile. We got it too, and at the same rate as the rest of the world. We had just delayed the inevitable. Next to fall was South America and then Oceania. It was like the hand of God had swept another mistake clean.
The disease was particularly virulent in women. There was some kind of link with estrogen and the disease. No one could figure it out, and it wasn't known if the Soviets actually intended such results, but women in their childbearing years (roughly 13 to 45) were severely hit. The infection rate in women of this age group was roughly 99% and the mortality rate was closer to 85%. By June, nearly all of the young women of the world were dead.
Testosterone, to a lesser degree, had the opposite effect. Most of the world's young men were infected, but they were less likely to die, although they died in mass numbers too. The world's population, after Quetzalcoatl, was made up of young men and older women, with a sprinkling of mostly prepubescent girls.
I didn't get very sick, but my wife and father came down with it right away. My mother who was close to fifty also got sick, but only after she and I vainly took care of my father and my wife Jennifer. My wife died right away. My father held on for a week before he succumbed. That's when Mom got sick. She was too sick to get out of bed when I buried them in the back yard.
There were no funerals, no wakes, people in the cities where being buried in mass graves. When more than three-quarters of the population die, the rules tend to change. It's not like I didn't try. I walked into town, and got to the front door of the funeral parlor, before I noticed that it was closed. It was a hot day in early June. When I got home again I considered digging the two graves where the swing set used to be. I had seen other people digging in their back yards over the last few days. It took me longer to agree to such indignities for my wife and father.
First I went to check on my mom, and I noticed that her fever had gotten worse. The temporal thermometer read 105. She was burning up and unconscious. I couldn't get any medicine in her, but I needed to bring her fever down.
There was another more bothersome result of being infected by the Q-flu. Men tended to recover from the disease with a heightened libido. Or at least that was the rumor on the Internet. I myself noticed that I had been masturbating more. Whether it had the same effect on women was not known, since there weren't enough of them left for comparison.
I ran a bath of cold water and stripped my mom out of her bedclothes. As the water started to rise, I carried her into the bathroom and slipped her into the cold water. I sat on the toilet as the water rose up and over her body.
I was physically and mentally exhausted and half crazy with grief, but as the water rose over her body, I started to notice it. She was wearing a t-shirt and cotton panties, but it was if she was naked in the water. The cotton shirt lay like a second skin over her. Her nipples were red and erect, and her breasts were full and pouty. My eyes ran along her waist down her torso to her panties. They too were wet and see-through. I could see her pubic mound and then her labia. It was so wrong, but I couldn't take my eyes off her. It was as if I was possessed, and my cock grew hard in my pants.
I had never realized how alluring my mother's body was. It wasn't as if she had kept it hidden. She was always fashionably dressed, which included tight jeans. I guess, until now, I had never noticed. Well, I was noticing now. I half thought about jerking off, but then I came to my senses once more. Besides, I had to take care of her. I got out the thermometer again and put it to her forehead. It was 102. Better, but still not down enough.
I ran into the kitchen and got out the ice tray. I was lucky, we had only lost the electricity the day before, and the ice still hadn't melted. Drastic times call for drastic measure. I poured the ice into the water.
Half an hour later her temperature was below 100. That was enough. I didn't want to get her temperature down too much, only to have her die of hypothermia. I spread some towels on her bed, carried her there and stripped off the rest of her clothes. Now I had to dry the parts of her body that I had been lusting for before. I tried to control my desire as I dried her breasts, her ribs and stomach, her legs and ultimately between her legs. Thinking clearly, I laid a wet sheet over her and got to work in the back yard.
Mom was the pampered, rich wife of a corporate lawyer. He had been a partner in the firm, and they had met when mom was working as a paralegal one summer. Dad was thirteen years her senior, but he became instantly smitten with her. "She was the most beautiful woman I had ever met," he had often told me.
Being of Middle Eastern decent, she had dark hair and dark eyes, with an hourglass figure, round hips and long legs. She was a little taller than most women. She didn't appear to be very ethnic, and if you didn't hear her distinct Middle Eastern accent, you would think that she was a classy, cosmopolitan New York woman.
She had come to America as a young woman, and she'd seen the law, and New York City, as a way of getting ahead. She might have been born the daughter of a restaurateur in the Middle East, but she had quickly adjusted to the new lifestyle, and been living in the upper class Long Island town of Garden City when she married my father. I came along a few years later.
That's were we lived. I knew we were well off, but I never thought of us as rich. No matter how much you have, there is always someone else who has more. All of my friends were well off too, even when I went to college.
Now on a hot, humid, summer day on Long Island, I didn't feel so fortunate, especially as I dug the two graves for my wife and father. I was covered in dirt and perspiration, and I was in tears half of the time. It was well into the evening when I got done. My progress was slowed because I had to keep checking on my mother. I then got two old blankets out of the attic and wrapped the bodies in them. I used duct tape to seal them in their make shift shrouds.
By midnight I had both bodies in the ground, and covered with earth. I had nothing to mark their graves. I wanted to get something, but I was falling asleep standing up. I hosed myself off and fell asleep on the floor next to my mother's bed. It was at this time that I was most despondent.
I was awoken the next morning by a low voice. "Ed. Ed where are you?" It was my mother. I got up on my knees so that she could see me. "I'm right here, Mom." She was gaunt and frail, but still very beautiful. "Why are you sleeping on the floor? And where is your father?" I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Eventually I succumbed to the latter.
I gave her plenty of soup when she could keep something down. At first she didn't want to eat, but eventually she became ravenous. I too, realizing that I hadn't eaten in two days, was insatiable. I started to wonder if we had enough food in the house. I would have to make a run into town later.
"Ed, why am I naked?" my mother said to me after I brought her lunch. "Mom, you had a fever of 105," I said ashamed. I remembered, guiltily, how I had lusted over her naked body. "I had to get your temperature down somehow." My mother gave me a quizzical look. "I had to immerse you in an ice bath." I added.
"You poor child," she said motherly. "You really took care of me, but you had to see a little more of your mom than you would have preferred."
"I would have lost you if I didn't get that temperature of yours down," I rationalized. "How did you know that? You have no medical training." "Amazingly, we still had the internet until a couple of days ago when the electricity went out. I got a lot of information from there. There were web sites on how to combat the disease."
"How many people are left in the country?"
"Not many. There are no official reports, but if there was only a 30% survival rate, then there is less than 100 million people left out of population of 320 mil. And of that 100 million, most of them are men. The disease targeted mostly young women for some reason."
"My God, they're all dead?"
"Yeah mom. We are lucky to be alive."
"Maybe, maybe not," she said as she finished her lunch.
After lunch I got her some clothes and then I got ready to go downtown. "Be careful," my mother warned as I left her room.
"Mom I'm only going down town to get some groceries."
"How are you going to get there?"
"I'll have to walk. The roads are still clogged with abandoned cars."
"You better get your father's gun."
"Mom this is Garden City. Not New York City."
"I lived in Lebanon during the civil war. Good people get crazy when there are food shortages."
"Mom this isn't Beirut."
"I would feel better if you had your father's gun. And bring a lot of cash. Something tells me that the price of bread has gone up."
I got my dad's Sig Sauer .380 out of his library desk, and took the last five hundred dollars he had in his wallet. I thought it was overkill, but what the hell. If there were less people in the world, then we would have too much food, or so I thought.
The streets were still empty as I made my way downtown. Once in a while I would see a figure or two in the distance, but they never stayed in the open for too long. These were the streets of my boyhood. I knew them like the back of my hand. I also knew a few short cuts through people's back yards if needed.
Having no reason to fear, I stuck to the sidewalks. I felt foolish carrying a gun through the peaceful streets of my town. I had never known of even one act of violence committed here. When I got downtown my view started to change. I noticed that in front of the super market there were two men armed with rifles. They both seemed to be Hispanic. I didn't know them, but this was a fairly large town, and I wasn't familiar with everyone. I thought that they must have been guarding the store. They watched me the whole time I came down the street.
"What do you want?" the shortest of the two bellowed to me as I got near. "I came to buy some food," I said, innocently enough.
"There's no food for sale here. Go away," he shouted to me although I wasn't shouting distance away.
"I'm not here to steal," I said confused by the situation. "I've got money to pay."
"Your money's no good here, kid. Now go away before you get hurt," he said as he levelled the rifle at me. It was then that I realized that these men weren't protecting the store from looters. These men were the looters.
Instinctively, I put my hands up in the air, and started to back away. When I was far enough away, I turned and ran, scared out of my mind. I had never had a gun pointed at me before. It was amazing how intimidating the barrel of a gun could be.
About a block later I finally stopped to catch my breath. I was still downtown, but in a more residential neighborhood of apartment buildings.
"Hey buddy are you there?" came a voice from somewhere out of a window above me.
"Yeah. Who's that?" I held my father's gun in my pants pocket.
"A friend. Listen, were you down by the supermarket?"
"Yeah." I tried to see who it was, but I couldn't even figure out which floor the voice was coming from.
"Are those guys with guns still outside?"
"Yeah they chased me away."
"I think they are a drug gang from out of town. They've been there since yesterday morning. Every once in a while a van comes and they fill it with food."
"Where are the cops?" I didn't think that they were drug dealers.
"Out manned and out gunned. They have too much on their plates. The National Guard is down in Manhattan trying to keep order. It's pandemonium."
"How are we going to get any food?"
"Hey pal," he said patiently. " Three quarters of the town is dead. Just do what I did. Find a house that's vacant, and search it for food."
"Yeah?" I said uncertain.
"They are easy to find. They are the ones that smell of death."
"Okay." I still wasn't sure.
"Well good luck." And I heard a window shut.
When I got home, my mother didn't seem to be too surprised by the story. "I told you things are going to get bad. How much food do we have?" She asked as I sat by her bed.
"We have a bunch of canned goods and boxed goods, like pasta and rice, but we don't have any fresh meat."
"There isn't going to be any fresh meat again for a some time." She seemed pessimistic but determined. "We have to stock up."
"I ran into a guy who said that he had been raiding peoples houses for food."
"That's just what I was thinking," she said forlornly.
I watched her as she thought about it. She was really a beautiful woman. It didn't hurt that my dad made a good salary. She was well taken care for. We had a maid that came in several times a week, and a nanny when I was young.
She also had the benefit of modern surgery. Two years ago, when Jen and I announced our engagement, Mom went on a little vacation to California. "For a nip and a tuck," my father teased. When she came back she looked at least ten years younger, maybe twenty. She had always been an alluring woman, but now she just looked even more so. She was sitting up in bed now, and she was wearing a Henley t-shirt that fit her tightly. She was braless, and I tried not to stare at the outline of her breasts in the material, or her nipples sticking out of it.
The shirt had a string of tiny snaps running down the middle, and most of them were undone exposing a fair amount of cleavage. When I got up to kiss her goodbye I could see everything but her nipples.
I kissed her on the top of her head so that she couldn't see my eyes and where they were looking. I took a good long look, not being able to take my eyes off of them.
"Ed," my mother broke me out of my spell.
"What about old man Cooper?" He was the older divorcé who lived next door. He had lived there all of my life, and his wife had left him a number of years ago. "What about him?" I asked knowing what her meaning was. She looked up at me, and I made a conscious effort to look her in the eyes. "Have you seen him around lately?"
"Maybe you should go and see if he's okay." But that was not her intent.
"Baby, this has to be done. Whoever survives this is going to be the ones who did what was necessary." She could see my hesitation. I was not used to burglarizing someone's home. "It's not stealing, honey. He's probably dead anyhow, and we are just acquiring what we need to live."
"Okay mom," I said as I headed for the door.
"See if he has any guns too. I seem to remember that he used to hunt." She yelled to me as I walked down the hall.
It was early evening when I slipped out of the back door of our house, snuck through the bushes, and over the chain link fence between our houses. Ours was a Georgian style house but Mr. Cooper's house was more a Dutch colonial. It was one of the oldest houses in town.
When I got to the back door I smelled something. It was a sickening sweet smell that I had, until recently, never known. I opened the screen door and then the old wood door. As soon as the door opened, the smell hit me like a brick. Oh my God, I thought, something is definitely dead in here.
I had been initiated to the smell of death when I had buried my wife and father. The smell is what finally convinced me that I had to bury them in the backyard. Now the odor was ten times stronger than what I had smelled before.
I walked through the kitchen, into the hall and then into the living room. All the time I was shouting for Mr. Cooper, as if he could possible be still alive. I got to the stairs and the smell was even stronger there.
I started up the stairs, not knowing what I would find. When I hit the top of the stairs, I had to put my shirt up over my face and breathe through my mouth. Not that that helped any. I moved on down the hall, passing long vacant rooms and a bathroom.
Finally I came upon what appeared to be the master bedroom.
Inside, still in his bed, was Mr. Cooper. There were flies everywhere. He was black and red and green and bloated and I could see something moving under his skin. I didn't get any closer, but I knew it was maggots eating the corpse.
I ran into the bathroom and vomited into the toilet. I stood up and got another whiff and vomited again. I quickly moved out of the bathroom, down the hall and then down the stairs. By the time I reached the kitchen I was back in control of myself. Still I had to get out of that house.
I walked out of the door and stood on the back stoop trying to get some fresh air. I could still sense the smell of death in my nostrils. The sky was starting to darken, and the sun was going down. I knew that I had to go back in before I lost the light.
When I went in the second time the smell didn't seem so bad. Maybe it was because I was more intent on what I had to do. First, I tried the refrigerator. We had only lost electricity two days ago, and already everything in the refrigerator was spoiled. The smell told me right away. The freezer proved to yield better results. There were all kinds of meat that had just started to defrost. I closed the door quickly, because I wasn't ready to start taking things yet. The cabinets were a treasure trove of canned and dry goods.
I would need boxes or plastic bags to start taking all of this stuff. The meat was the most important. We had a gas stove so I could cook it all up tonight. It would keep better cooked.
I had remembered seeing a cabinet in one of the downstairs rooms that reminded me of a gun cabinet. I made a beeline for it. Sure enough there was a wooden cabinet with a glass door. In it were three rifles, and boxes of ammo on its floor. I checked the door, but it was locked. There was a small brass cylinder lock under the handle. I looked around for a key, but there was none to be found. The sun was going down and I didn't have all night to look for the key.
The cabinet, with its glass door, was a vestige of a different era. It was made when a person wouldn't even think of breaking the glass. It didn't take me but a minute of looking before I picked up a brass figurine that was on display on a nearby desk.