Wednesday, July 31, 2013



A routine delivery becomes a night of terror.

Before meeting up with his girlfriend, Linda, John Lone must deliver a package to a secluded cabin deep in the forest. No problem, he's made this trip a hundred times.

But things have changed...

Supernatural creatures now stalk the forest and beyond, seeking out fresh meat to devour. John must fight for his life. Does he have the skills--the time--to get back to his safe life and his girlfriend? Linda is his one chance for a happily ever after.

But this is no fairy tale.

E-book available at:

Barnes & Noble

Print book available at:


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Createspace: Undead (Finitum #1) available

I just approved the proof for Undead (Finitum #1) and it's now available at Createspace for $13.99. The planned price would be $14.95 but I decided to offer it at a lower price for the first month it's out.


A routine delivery becomes a night of terror.

Before meeting up with his girlfriend, Linda, John Lone must deliver a package to a secluded cabin deep in the forest. No problem, he's made this trip a hundred times.

But things have changed...

Supernatural creatures now stalk the forest and beyond, seeking out innocent prey to devour. John must fight for his life. Does he have the skills--the time--to get back to his safe life and his girlfriend? Linda is his one chance for a happily ever after.

But this is no fairy tale.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 31st Sale at Smashwords

On smashwords on July 31th, I got a sale running. You can get my novel Dead Quarantine 75% off and Death Shelter at 25% off. Some of my short stories are 100% off.
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Preview: Undead (Finitum #1), first chapter.




This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.


John took the farmhouse in before going through the fence gate. It wasn‘t a huge house, big enough for a small family, a typical 1900‘s turn-of-the-century pine wooden house, painted white. He liked looking at it; it was quite the picturesque view with the tall trees a distance away and the mountains farther yet with their snow-covered peaks.

Mrs. Greenwich sat in her rocking chair on the porch waiting for him. He had promised to deliver a package to her brother, a recluse who lived in a cabin about two to three miles into the forest. John expected to be done with the delivery before sunset and be home for his diner date with Linda.
It wasn‘t the best paying job ever, and it was something Mrs. Greenwich could easily do herself, being she was still active and in good health for her age, and the distance wasn‘t that far. He wasn‘t really complaining. He didn‘t mind doing the job—he needed the money after all—and he loved walking in the forest. He just thought it weird that she didn‘t go herself, because she once promised her long-dead husband to never go near her brother again. Why obey someone who was dead? And not see your only brother because of that promise made long ago. It wasn‘t his place to judge. In a way he admired her loyalty; he didn‘t often see someone taking it that far to honor someone else.
Mrs. Greenwich tapped a cheerful rhythm on the package rested on her lap. There was happiness in the way she sat there, like she expected something nice that day. She was always nice, be it a reserved formal kind of niceness; however, today she had a reddish glow about her.

As John opened the fence gate, he grinned at her. "Good day, Mrs. Greenwich, a lovely day isn‘t it."
Mrs. Greenwich stood up from her rocking chair and put the long cardboard box on the seat. “Hello to you, young man.” She smiled at him, pointing at the gray sky. “But how in the world can you call this foul weather lovely?”

“It‘s nice enough for a stiff walk in the park.”

Her voice trembled with a mock sternness, her eyes glittered, and she smiled. “Nice weather for a stiff walk, you say. Honey, if not for my brother expecting me to send him this”—she pointed at the cardboard box sitting on her old rocking chair—“I would spare you the trouble with this weather.”
“Don‘t you worry; I‘m not made of sugar. A little rain won‘t harm me.”

“Joke all you want, but it won‘t be just a little rain. It could turn real nasty, at least according to the forecaster.”

John climbed up on the porch and took the box from the rocking chair. It was heavier this time. He looked up at the old lady. “Nine out of ten times their predictions don‘t come true. Though, in all honesty, I think they might be right this time.”

John rested the box against his shoulder, and like a soldier parading a rifle, he stepped off the porch. “I‘ll be going now, Mrs. Greenwich.”

“Bye, John. Don‘t forget to tell my brother that the next package will be at the same time in two weeks.”

“I‘ll do that.”

“And watch out for yourself.”

John waved goodbye and left her standing on the porch as he walked toward the tree line. With his date in mind, he increased his pace. He wanted to get this over with and return to Linda.

The sun was high in the sky but not much light came down to earth through the clouds, which filtered the light and cast everything in a dull gray. A clearing led to the dirt path into the forest. He watched as darkness crept over the field and into the forest. He was sure that the weather would get worse, and if he was delayed more than an hour, he would end walking back in near darkness. John wished he had taken a flashlight with him. It would be hard to find his way back without one. A vain popped at his temple as a curse escaped his lips.

Maybe he should turn back and ask Mrs. Greenwich if she could spare him a flashlight, but that would waste time, and he wasn‘t even sure if she had one to spare. No, he would be better off asking Lucas, Mrs. Greenwich‘s brother. He certainly would lend him a flashlight, or one of his antiquated oil lanterns; he had more than enough to spare.

John shook his head. Time was ticking and worrying wouldn‘t move him forward. He wasn‘t even sure anything would go wrong, and why would it today when all the other times nothing had happened? John followed the path into the forest while behind him the shadows crept after him.
He loved the way the tall, thick trees rose up, aiming their branches filled with dark green leaves to the sky, and he loved the sound the wind made rustling through the leaves. Usually, this scene would sooth him. The green plants, the flowers, the sound of the small furry forest animals. Any other day it would make this picture complete. His own personal Zen moment, the one moment of calm in the raging storm called his life. He looked forward to being alone, just him and the forest. It was his chance to contemplate where his life was taking him, but today the forest was not the usual beautiful creation of nature. His moment of tranquility was denied by the gray, which draped everything in a lifeless shade. The weather was to be blamed for this. What else could it be? It must be the dark clouds swallowing the light. However, despite being sure it was the weather and nothing else, a feeling of unease passed over him. It disturbed him that the sound of life was sucked out of the forest, leaving him in utter silence.

The joyous walk of blissfully contemplating tranquility turned into a thirty-minute walk of gloom that seemed to last an eternity. There was nothing to see, nothing to hear, not even the fresh smell of green nature. There was only the path to follow, and with every passing second the shadows gained on him.
With nothing else to keep his mind preoccupied, he noticed every discomfort he had: the stress on his knees with each step he took; the weight on his feet pressing painfully on his soles; the sheer weight of his backpack on his shoulders; and the long package sticking out of his backpack, making it cumbersome to walk with, and him afraid that it could fall out at any time and break. It was unbearable not being able to take his mind off the mundane.

His mood worsened. The little joy he had left in his body was drained by the lifelessness surrounding him. Why did it turn out like this on this day of all days? He just wanted the sun, some light to shine on his life—a life that had been dark ever since he had that accident that almost killed him six months ago. The recovery, the stress it created between him and Linda, he didn‘t know if he could stand another string of six months like that. Today, he hoped to turn things around for the better and go back to the way it was before.

John noticed a faint light ahead. Some of the tenseness left his muscles. He was about to see another living, breathing human being, and no matter how eccentric he was, it was a welcome sight. Finally, he would escape the silence.


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Setting a price to UNDEAD

I planned to sell Undead (Book 1 in the Fintum series) for $4.99, being that the books in the series run around 80k words. However, Undead being the first book runs at 67k which is short of the 80k I aimed for, so I've been in dubio if I should price it at $4.99. Nurse, the second book runs around 85k words and the third one I'm still writing will also be around (if not more) the 80k words. The more I write in this series, the more I have to tell, it's becoming an expansive world. The first three books will only brush the beginning of a much larger story.

I want to keep a pricing uniformity to the series. I don't want to have different prices within the series because one has more pages than the other.

To offset the first one not being over 80k words in size, I plan to set the price at $3.99 for the first month, and after that I'll change it to $4.99. The print book will run for $14.95. And as the series continue I will keep this structure, the first month on release will be $3.99 and after $4.99, even for the ones with more pages.

This way I also reward those who buy my book early and keep taps on my stories, they get to have them for $1 less. ;)

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Updata: Undead (Finitum #1)

If all things go according to plan, I will publish my novel Undead (Finitum #1) on the first of august 2013.

I've got the e-pub files ready for Smashwords, Draft to Digital, Kobo, and Amazon. The book cover is ready. I've yet to proof the print book at createspace, but hope to have it finished by time of release.

This is the blurb I'm going to use:

A routine delivery becomes a night of terror.

Before meeting up with his girlfriend, Linda, John Lone must deliver a package to a secluded cabin deep in the forest. No problem, he's made this trip a hundred times.

But things have changed...

Supernatural creatures now stalk the forest and beyond, seeking out innocent prey to devour. John must fight for his life. Does he have the skills--the time--to get back to his safe life and his girlfriend? Linda is his one chance for a happily ever after.

But this is no fairy tale.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Preview: Outcast (Maiden-At-Arms #1)




This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer‘s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Lyna‘s eyes fluttered open to what seemed to be the ceiling. She couldn‘t distinguish the lush design and artisan workmanship she so liked to wake up to any other day. With her vision blurred, she saw only smudges, dark smudges on the otherwise meticulously white ceiling. It didn‘t help that the only light came from a torch casting the room in a yellowish tint, with shades dancing over the walls with every breeze passing through the torch‘s flame. She must still be in bed, woken from the bad nightmare she had. She couldn‘t remember what it was; only that it had frightened her. She still felt clammy from the sweat and a certain numbness she ascribed to suddenly waking up.

She blinked to clear her vision. Lightheadedness befell her. Lyna squinted. A burning feeling started at her left cheek, a light throbbing pain. She brought her fingers to her cheek, lightly touching the skin with the tip of her fingers. Wet. Had she fallen? The pain she felt throbbing at her cheek increased, and she could now feel the hard stone beneath her. She lay on the ground, not the soft cushion of her bed.

Something dripped on her forehead. Cold. It was very unlikely water leaking from the ceiling–above was no roof just another of the many rooms in the castle. She opened her eyes; the ceiling swam above her. Lyna pulled up and immediately slammed back down, crying out in pain. She gritted her teeth and brought a trembling hand back to her cheek; this time she cupped it with the palm of her hand. Her cheek throbbed. She cried out and saw white for a moment. Her skin felt raw, torn, and each touch, no matter how light, was painful. Having had a protected life so far, she never felt this kind of pain, any pain really but for the occasional bumping of her knee.

Lyna looked up at the ceiling. The blurred smudges slowly turned into spatters of blood. The blood dripped down on her. So much blood, she thought. Claudette. Aaron. She turned her head to her right. She gasped. A pressure built in her chest that didn‘t allow her to breathe. Dazed, she stared at her little brother‘s severed head. His eyes were wide open, white with terror; any hint of life left in them was long gone. The edges around his neck were raw, torn. His head had been ripped off and not cut clean by a sword.

When Lyna finally breathed out, the air exploded out in a moan of anguish. What had happened rushed back to her in a flash. The demon had soared through the air, and with one swipe of her claws, she had severed Aaron‘s head. Claudette had charged the monster, a knife in her hand, screaming her brother‘s name. Lyna turned her head to her left. Her eldest sister lay crumbled and broken on the floor. It flashed in front of her, the demon had pierced Claudette‘s chest with her claw and tore her still-beating heart out. The demon had crushed it, the meat and blood seeping through her claw-like fingers. Next the demon had pulled the knife Claudette had managed to stab her with out of her chest. Demon blood had spurted Lyna‘s face and she couldn‘t help swallowing some.

Lyna remembered she had no time to gag or spit the blood out. The demon had bore down on her, swinging with her claws. Lyna had staggered back, but its nail had cut deep into her belly, slashing stripes of cloth and skin. Lyna had looked in disbelief at the demon. Her own sister, Christine. She had scratched Lyna‘s face. The nails had carved her cheeks open, and the force of the blow had knocked her down. Christine had stood over her, a twisted smile on her face, glaring down at Lyna.
She had kicked to get away from Christine, but all strength had left her body. Bleeding profusely, she could only watch, helplessly waiting for the last blow to end her life. It didn‘t come. Christine‘s face had fallen into a blank stare and she had started chanting instead. She had whispered words in Latin that Lyna didn‘t fully understand, but they had made her skin crawl in disgust. Just as sudden as Christine had started, she stopped. Soon after, Lyna had heard banging on the heavy oak door. Men barged in and escorted Christine out. Not one of them had noticed her bleeding on the floor or her brother and sister‘s dead and mutilated corpses. They walked inside as if Christina was the only one in the room. Lyna had called out for help, but they had ignored her as if she was long gone, dead for ages. She had screamed and kept screaming until she passed out.

It all came back to her. Now not only the pain burned, but also something else. It festered at her heart, spreading through her body and pushing back the pain. She crawled up and stood unsteady on her legs, her head dizzy. She gritted her teeth. With each awkward step she took, her body hurt. Under her breath, she swore revenge for the death of her sister and brother. With each sting of her cheek she knew more and more that life as she knew it was over. Eadric, the young knight she fancied, wouldn‘t want her now, damaged as she was. She had been doubly wronged by her sister; she had destroyed those she loved most and her future with the man she adored. At least she still had her father.

In her bloodied gown, she limped out of the room. Dirtied with blood, her long black hair fell over her shoulders. Her pale face stood ghastly out in the darkness. Her hollow eyes darted from side to side. Anyone who saw her would be alarmed, and help would come if not for that the arched hallway was dark and empty. Any sound she would normally expect was not there. She struggled through the hallway to the other side to her father‘s chambers. She didn‘t visit her father often. It was never a social call, nor would today be one. Today would be worse, much worse. She knocked. On the other side came no answer. Lyna cried out her father‘s name. She yelled for help. The tears burst out; she couldn‘t hold them back anymore. Her whole body trembled. Lyna dropped to the floor, clawing the door and hitting it with her fist. The tears kept coming.

She sat like this for a long time. No one came to help her. With some difficulty, biting the pain back, she got up. Every step she took, she felt her body drain of energy. She wanted to just collapse, to give up, and to have things be as they were. She wanted see her brother and sister‘s faces and Christine‘s. She pushed her feet to take another step until she saw light burning ahead. The wind carried many voices her way. She stood still, listening. She heard the distinct, heavy voice of her father. The weight of the black tidings she had to tell him burdened her. How was she to tell him how Christine, his own daughter, had slaughtered his other children, his favorites? By their own blood, they had died, she herself almost died. Her tears streamed. She wiped them away. With bloodshot eyes, she arrived at the arch and then continued to the castle‘s audience room.

Armored men, knights stood in front of her father, the lord of the castle, listening to the orders he barked at them. She saw that her Eadric stood among them, his chest puffed up, full of resolve. Her heart skipped a beat. She prayed to God that he would not turn his back on her, that he would help her through this ordeal. The knight he was surely would. Maybe he wouldn‘t be there in love, but as a friend instead. That was the least he would do. That thought made her feel as if a light lit within her, easing the burden of delivering the dark message she had. She walked toward her father‘s throne. The room hushed and all eyes drifted to her, most of all her father‘s. Grim faces stared at her.

Her father stretched a pointing finger at her. “Seize her.”

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Preview: Damnation (Maiden-At-Arms #2)


By A.Rosaria

This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Christine sat down at her room‘s window and started combing her long sleek black hair. She had just turned sixteen last moon, but none of the many presents she got gave her what her heart most desired. Christine sighed and looked out the window. It was the only window in her room; Claudette, her eldest sister, had two in a larger room, and so did Aaron, her younger brother. Only Lyna had a smaller room than hers. Was this why she loved Lyna the most? And Lyna loved her in return? Because both of them were the least loved?

Christine shook her head while she stared thoughtful ahead. Lyna, two years her elder, understood her best of all and was the only pillar of support she had at the castle. She smiled. That was why she loved Lyna the most. The tip of her tongue burned to tell her everything, but this time she didn‘t feel comfortable doing so. She wanted first to be certain about what she felt before sharing it with her sister. In the meantime she shouldn‘t, couldn‘t, and certainly wouldn‘t tell her a thing.

The wall and the battlements stole most of her view; she could see the birds flying in the sky. The rest, hidden from view, she imagined: the trees standing tall from the ground up, rows of them, and hidden on the many branches among the millions of leaves the birds sang their songs. Farther down, beyond the trees, the fields and farms stretched out to the horizon, and beyond those, villages spread across the land, and farther yet the great cities. But most of all she thought about one particular village, the one closest to the castle, where not so long ago she saw a farmer boy whose face had stayed branded in her mind.

He was a tall, broad-shouldered, young man, with wheat-colored hair, a sincere face, and strong blue eyes. Remembering the way he walked with self-confidence made her feel warm from within, a new sensation she had not felt before, and she had seen many men walk in many ways before. However, it was the mannerism this young man had that did things to her she could not voice or dare to explain.
Christine blushed and felt warm all over. She was sure she would not survive telling about it without crumbling into a withering fool and uttering gibberish, and this all for a boy she saw once. Was this love? If it was, she wanted nothing else for the rest of her life and would wish the same love for everyone, even her father, especially her father. While combing her hair, she swooned away in thoughts of flowers, love, and everlasting summer.


The next day she stood in front of Lord Robert‘s door, fumbling with her fingers, unsure whether to knock or just enter the room as Aaron would. Christine knocked. Her father‘s gruff voice answered from the other side.

“Papa, it‘s me, Christine.”

“I said come in already. Don‘t make me have to repeat myself, child.”

His voice came nearer with each uttered word. He pulled the door open, towering in front of Christine‘s little frame. She straightened her back to make herself a little taller. She didn‘t reach above his shoulders, not even standing on her toes. Lyna, the tallest of her siblings, did reach above his shoulders, and she was the most like him. It was a wonder he didn‘t love her the most.

“What do you want?” he said.

Christine looked past him and saw a wine decanter on his table surrounded by scrolls.

“Out with it. I‘ve more important things to attend to.”

“I want permission to go to the village; there will be a fair soon, and I—”

“No. You are not to mingle with common folks and certainly not with peasants. You are a lady after all and never forget your standing or you‘ll bring our name down in shame.”

“Please, send me with an escort if need be. I will not talk to anybody.”

Lord Robert sneered at her. “You thought I would allow you to go alone? Has sense left you? Escorted or not I will not allow you to go. Go back to your room and do something worthy for a change.”

“Papa, please I beg you.”

His face got redder and his nose flared. “Stop calling me papa, call me by my title and name. And be gone now.”

She bit her lower lip to keep her mouth sealed and her tongue from lashing out and making her regret it later. She curtsied and said, “Sorry, my lord.”

Lord Robert slammed the door shut without a goodbye. Holding in her tears she ran for Lyna‘s room, but halfway she hesitated and turned back to her own. She threw herself on her bed and cried. For a long while she stayed with her face buried in her cushions, soaking them with her tears, and then with a start she sat up at the sound of nearing footsteps. From the hallway someone approached her door. She jumped up, ran to the wooden bathing tub, wet her face, and washed the tears away. She quickly dried her face and straightened her dress. It was probably Lyna wondering where she‘d been. She smiled the warmest smile she could muster and waited for the knock to come, but instead the door was pushed open. Her smile faltered. In came barging the young knight, Eadric, Lyna‘s suitor.
He was tall, normal build, with shoulder-length blond hair and a strong jaw, which was the only redeeming quality to his plain face. He had a cruel smile planted on his lips, one he always hid from Lyna but liked to show to those he thought didn‘t matter. What does Lyna see in him? she thought. Lyna deserved a just man, a man that could call himself a hero, and not this two-faced excuse of a man standing in front of her. Inadvertently she pictured the young farmer, a man chiseled for greatness but marred by birth. She thought how he carried himself with an air of virtue despite his low station in life. Christine couldn‘t help to smile while thinking about the farmhand who she wished was a knight instead of a farmer.

“You seem happier than usual,” Eadric said. “Must be my sudden presence that has lightened your heart.”

He walked up to her and got a little too close; she backed away from him while her smile faltered.

“What‘s the meaning of this? My father, your lord, will not approve of you coming into my room uninvited. Please leave right now.”

He flashed his cruel smile and backed away from her while raising his palms toward her. “Ease down. I‘m just looking for Lyna, your dear sister and my dearest beloved.”

“I haven‘t seen her this morning. Maybe she‘s in her room. Now go before I tell Lord Robert about this.”

Eadric laughed. “Go ahead, go tell him. It‘s not like he cares for you or Lyna. She told me so herself, and I noticed he loves his knights better than the both of you.”

Eadric briskly turned around and left the room, leaving her shaking behind. She ran after him and on her way she grabbed a bowl with dirty water. The water sloshed out as she ran, making her gown wet, but she didn‘t care. Christine saw him walking away, leisurely whistling a tune, his back turned to her.

“Son of a whore,” she yelled.

The moment he turned around, and she saw his angry face, she threw the bowl at him. It flew through the air, spilling a water trail behind it, and hit him square on his forehead, spilling the remaining water over his face and down his armor. Eadric furiously spat water. She laughed, taunting him. He chased after her, one hand on the pommel of his sword. Laughing, she ran back inside her room, closed, and bolted the door behind her. Eadric thrashed against the thick oak door and started kicking it, but it didn‘t give way.

“I‘ll get you for this, you little...”

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Went wild making book covers

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my "Gone World" series; the dystopian post-apocalyptic gritty violent tale taking place after World War III.

In between editing "Nurse" (Book II in the finitum series), I started writing a fourth Gone World short story. The remainder of this year I plan to write enough stories in this series to be able to publish a collection or two.

Meanwhile I've made  a few possible book covers for the series, did them all in a day, they are a little rough, see for yourself.

Let me know what you think.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Preview: Soul Eviction



This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer‘s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. 
 Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Did someone call him? He turned back to the attic landing and looked down the stairs. No one was there. He could only hear the muffled screaming of his kids playing on those damn handheld game consoles he’d bought for their…he couldn’t remember what. Nothing. He could have sworn it was his wife calling, but it must have been the wind whispering through the half-opened attic window.
He looked around. He and his wife, Jessica, had moved their bedroom to the attic so their daughter, Candice, could have a room of her own. She had pestered for her own room for months, demanding some privacy from her younger brother, since she was nearly a teenager and all.
The curtain dampened the bright sunlight, leaving the room half lit, passing enough light that he could see most of the room well enough. The queen bed stood against the furthest wall, taking up quite a bit of the limited space. At each side stood a nightstand, one for Jessica and the other one also for Jessica. The bed was still covered with a pile of her clothes and those of the kids, even though their suitcases were already packed. Jessica had not cleaned up, and he hated that. Half the bed was his, but she didn’t care.
For a few days now he’d been wearing soiled socks. He needed a pair of black ones, but it proved difficult finding a clean pair. Someone, probably one of the children, must have hidden them, or else Jessica had been playing her games again, throwing his hole-ridden or mismatched socks away.
A cold breeze blew through the window, fluttering the curtain up and down. “Roland!”
This time he was sure it was Jessica. He went downstairs into the busy chattering coming from Jimmy’s room. They were quarreling again, for who knows how many times already that day. He paused in front of the door, arm stretched, his fingers hovering above the door handle. No, he thought. Let them be. He had no time for this and preferred to go see what his wife wanted from him again. Soon he would get all the peace he could ever want.
Downstairs in the kitchen Jessica was searching in the cupboards.
“You called me?”
Jessica pulled her head away from the cupboard she was rummaging through and looked questioningly at him with her big, almond-colored eyes under her furrowing brow. “I didn’t call for you.”
“Yes you did. I heard you.”
She walked up to him, tucking a strand of blond hair behind her ear. After two pregnancies she had added a few inches around her waist and butt, but she kept her figure toned in a shape you wouldn’t mind looking at. At thirty-five, she could still sweep up his desire.
“Whoever you heard, it wasn’t me.”
“Must be the kids, then. They’re fighting again.”
“Yeah, it must have been them. Would you mind calling them down? We really need to get going.”
“You’re sure you didn’t—”
“I’m sure. Now go call them.”
She slapped his right butt cheek when he turned to walk away. He had liked this habit of hers the first few years they were married, but not anymore. It only fired him up for nothing and left him dry and wanting. She thought it funny being a tease, but any man could have enough of that eventually.
He arched his way around the suitcases parked in front of the door to the hall, his cheeks flushed red and his nose flared up. All the free space in the living room, and she chose to put them down in the least handy place. She could have put them anywhere else in the four-hundred square-feet living room, with its white painted walls. Anywhere else on the polished hardwood floor. For all he cared she could have put them on the sofa, which was big enough to sleep on, or against the big flat-screen TV he barely used. She could fill the room with suitcases for all he cared, as long she left the path to the door and the upstairs clear.
No answer. Only their quarreling ruckus came down to meet him.
“Kids!” he yelled.
Who was he kidding? Had they ever answered the hundreds, the thousands—no, the millions of times he’d called them down before? Simply put, no, they hadn’t.
Stomping up the stairs, he had the single hope that they at least would snap at attention at his arrival, but instead they stood face to face, pressing their foreheads against each other like two antelope settling an argument with their horns. There they stood oblivious of his presence, grumbling at each other. He relished in the prospect of a week omitted from this daily routine. For a whole week he would have his house for him to enjoy—alone.
“Candice. Jimmy. Listen up, the both of you.” He had to yell to overcome their noise. Silenced for a second, they cast a quick glance his way, then were back at each other’s throat with renewed fervor. They whined on in a way only kids and spoiled college students can manage.
They didn’t even give him a second of silence in return this time.
“You keep on with this nonsense and those game-things of yours will be trashed.”
Two shocked faces snapped at him, wide eyes following his every move, lips trembling too hard to continue their quarrel.
“Finally I got your attention.”
“You can’t take them away, they’re ours!” Candice whined.
“Yeah,” Jimmy added.
He would willingly trash their toys, but he was glad threatening to do so was enough to get them to shut up and listen for a minute.
“Your mother called for you to come downstairs and—”
With bare feet they ran past him down the stairs.
“Wait!” he thundered after them. They froze on the stairs just a few steps from the landing.
“Get back up here immediately and put some socks on.”
They ran back upstairs, each to their own room. Roland stayed on the landing between the rooms to make sure they didn’t start quarreling again. For once, God smiled upon him. Within a minute both kids came out of their rooms wearing their socks. Then they ran downstairs again, laughing and chattering about their trip as though they’d never quarreled before. He sighed and followed them down.
The trip to the airport went wonderfully well; the lights ran straight green, and the assholes usually driving around making the roads unsafe had apparently decided collectively to stay away. God did indeed smile on him that day, blessing him with a week of relaxation with no obligations.
He looked in the rear-view mirror. Candice and Jimmy silently played their hand-held consoles. If they could be like this for the whole day, each day of the year, he wouldn’t be so thrilled at the prospect of being left alone. He looked sideways at Jessica. She was staring at him with a dumb smile plastered on her face, her eyes getting teary.
“What’s up?”
She shook her head. “Oh nothing…Well, you look so peaceful and…you actually smiled today.”
“Did I?” He guessed he had indeed.
“I’ll miss you so much,” Jessica said.
“I’ll miss you guy too,” he lied.
He pulled up and stopped at the departures curb and pressed the button to open the trunk before stepping out of the car. Could he just drop them off to make their way to the check-in counter?
He took the suitcases out of the trunk and placed them down on the pavement next to the car. He looked at the row of taxis behind. They were surrounded by the hum of airport traffic—the many voices, movement of people, car engines running—yet the roar of the planes above blanketed all the other noises. Families stepped out the many cabs, hugging and kissing each other goodbye.
The cabdriver directly behind him gave him a nasty look. Roland frowned back. The driver pointed to a sign behind Roland; he was parked in a taxi-standing place.
“Honey I’ve got to go. Please hurry.”
“Aren’t you going to help us carry the suitcases to the check-in counter?”
“Sorry, I can’t”
Jessica’s face soured as she cast a worried look at the many suitcases and bags. The kids, predictably, stood a distance away from them, absorbed deeply in their video game consoles, oblivious to all the happenings around them. Roland grabbed a cart, hoisted the suitcases and bags, and threw them on top of each other on the cart. He pushed the cart toward Jessica. “Here you go.”
“Aren’t you going to wave us goodbye?”
He looked past his wife’s supplicating eyes to their children, and up to the sign reading TAXI CABS ONLY. He pointed at it. “Can’t do—I’m in a bad spot. I need to move.”
He kissed Jessica. The sweet taste of her lips made him feel guilty leaving her, a feeling he quickly buried before it could fester. He waved at the kids, who didn’t bother to watch him to wave back. He jumped in his car and drove away, leaving his annoyed wife behind. Freedom at last, he thought.
He parked his car in front of his house. Looking ahead of him, he saw the small, brownish, old car, a make gone bust half a century ago, which belonged to Mrs. Wellington, his neighbor. She always parked her car neatly within the lines, meticulously even. It wasn’t that the 70-year-old was great at parking a car, but that she took her time in doing it correctly, even if it took her an hour. It amazed him that she could drive with her trembling, arthritic hands. Come to think of it, he hasn’t seen her for a while… Best it stay that way if he wanted to keep his calm and tranquility. He didn’t want to be disturbed not even by neat old ladies, no matter how nice or well intended they were.
He sighed in relief; finally he was alone, all alone. The days ahead would be enough to recharge him for years to come. He’ll miss Jessica more than his kids, but not by much. What he wanted from her was a long lost memory. Hopefully the days apart will rekindle her desire for him.
He inhaled deeply, taking in the air of blissful solitude as he entered his home. The silence unimaginable any other day washed over him, making him feel giddy. Regret set in when he thought about work tomorrow. His co-workers had taken the holidays off, leaving him as one of the few who had to stay behind to keep watch over the office and take care of what little work there was left to be done.
He would be just filling his seat. With everybody enjoying their holidays there wasn’t much to be done, and with his supervisor gone even the little tasks that remained could be neglected. It was a blessing in disguise. With the wife and kids gone and free reign at work, he could relax to his heart’s content.
Roland sat down in the living room, nestling comfortably in the cushioned sofa. Nobody to share it with—he had it all for himself. He gazed at the big flat-screen TV and from there to the remote lying on the low glass-top table. He could watch the news, but there was never any good news. Maybe a movie. He played with the remote in his hands, flipping it over from one hand to the other, finally throwing it on the sofa.
He went upstairs to the kids’ rooms. Like a man emerging from the desert after days without water, he gulped down the silence. He walked around their rooms, kicking the many toys strewn on the floor. He couldn’t believe he’d bought so many toys for them, which now lay discarded, carpeting the floor.
Jessica had asked him to tidy up the children’s rooms. He shook his head at the sight of the amount of work she had imposed on him. Sure, the rooms needed cleaning, but not by him. Fuck it; she could do it herself, or make the kids do it.
They were at the age to become more self-reliant and responsible. They could now earn the allowance Jessica gave them behind his back. The kids were great at keeping secrets. He smirked. The last time he scolded them they threw it in his face, saying they didn’t need him and his money because Mom was giving it to them. Jeez, with kids like that he didn’t need enemies. They’d do just fine bringing him down. Not to mention themselves. They could clean their own mess up from now on. He didn’t understand his wife’s leniency with the little rascals, how she could spoil them so much.
He went up to the attic. The desk that held his computer was completely covered with clothes—her clothes, mainly. He’d stopped working upstairs on the computer because he got fed up with having to tidy up around it every damn day. This meant he spent less time upstairs, so Jessica concluded that he didn’t need the computer anymore, and thus went wild, using it as a place to store her recently washed and dried clothes. She put them there in wait to be ironed and stored in the wardrobe (though she never got around to the ironing stage of that plan). He grabbed an armful and threw them down on the carpeted floor. She’ll get upset finding her clothes on the floor. Roland smiled. Serves her right for cluttering his workspace.
He wiped a pile from the desk, freeing his mouse. He grabbed an unwashed g-string from his flat-screen. She must have been in a hurry while changing and thrown it on the clean pile of clothes. He brought the g-string to his nose and breathed in. The sweet scent of his wife’s womanhood filled his nostrils.
It’d been so long since he last tasted her. He looked longingly at her g-string, which had a rose-shaped front flap. He realized their lack of intimacy hurt him deeper than he’d thought. It had gone downhill sharply after the birth of their children. He yearned for it, and sometimes his mind wandered to other women. It was his love for his wife that kept him from acting on his thoughts and urges. It was better accepting these urges existed than burying them deep in denial. But letting them out and thinking about them it made it easier for him not to stray. Their differences aside, he couldn’t hurt her like that, no matter how much he longed for a woman in his arms.
He threw the g-string on the hill of clothes next to his desk. He sat down behind his desk and turned the computer on. Twice he tried his password and both times he got the message back that he had used the wrong username or password. He stared blankly at the login screen, scratching his chin. Damn his wife for not letting him use his computer often. That’s why he forgot the password. He thought a minute. His wife—of course! He typed in her maiden name, looked up hesitatingly, and quickly added the year they married.
It worked. The whole web was waiting for him and with it all the free porn available. Pathetically, that was the closest he would get to any intimacy: naked woman having sex with men who weren’t him. That and strangers on chat channels and messageboards. Is this what his life had come to? At least he’ll be left alone without a bother, and if was interrupted or grew tired of it, he could always log off.
A breeze fluttered the curtains, stirred the clothes hanging up to dry, swaying them about. It went up his legs, crawling on his back, chilling him. He couldn’t remember leaving the window open. He must have forgotten—a sure sign he was getting older. He walked away from HeatherXXX trying to seduce men to spend a butt load of cash to go on private cam with her. He wouldn’t be missed. He pulled the curtains open and was met with his own reflection gaping at him in the closed window.
He swore he had heard the curtains move, and felt the breeze. Since the window was shut, he figured the front door must be open. He flew down the stairs after closing the curtains, arriving at the bottom out of breath. It was closed. He ran to the living room, whirled around, and did the same at the kitchen. The door was closed, and so were all the windows. Everything was as he had left it, undisturbed.
He cocked his right ear, not believing what he’d heard.
Wide-eyed, he looked about and around.
“Jessica?” He called out.
She must have entered the house unbeknownst to him. Her opening the door is what must have caused the draft. He wondered how it was possible he didn’t hear the door or her coming up the stairs. She must now be in their kids’ room. Was her flight canceled? If so, why hadn’t she called to let him know?
“What happened? Shouldn’t you be on the plane?”
He looked up the stairs, there was no movement, no sounds. The house certainly seemed empty, but logic told him that was impossible. So why weren’t the kids making noise?
“Jessica, the kids with you?”
Still no answer. He didn’t like stupid games like this. Would she ever grow up? He stomped his way up the stairs, muttering curses between breaths. He dramatically pushed Candice’s bedroom door open. Empty. He did the same at his son’s door, only with more force. The door smashed against the wall and bounced back, slamming shut. But before it closed, he saw a dark shadow, and it wasn’t his kids or wife. His muscles stiffened and the hair at the nape of his neck stood on end. He bolted back down to the kitchen, opened the cupboard, and took out the biggest knife he could find.
Roland tiptoed toward the living room. He stretched his neck. His hearth thumped a heavy, rapid rhythm as he neared the corner of the kitchen wall and into view of the living room. No one was waiting for him there. He should have kept it simple—a movie and some snacks, and after that, blissful sleep. He deluded himself into thinking that no one would’ve been able to sneak past him if he had stayed in the living room.
He grabbed the phone and dialed 911. His finger hesitated over the one. What would he tell the police? That there was no sign of break-in and a shadow had him running scared? They would lock him up for being a nut job. He pressed the cancel button and placed the phone back on the receiver, ignoring the red light indicating he had voicemail messages waiting.
He took each step upward carefully, trying to be quiet, but the stairs creaked with each one of his steps. He paused to listen, expecting to hear movements of someone or something upstairs, but each time he was greeted by silence. He crept up the stairs. He normally bounded up them in just a few seconds, but this time, it took him minutes to make the ascent. He pushed the door to his son’s room ajar and quickly stuck his head in. No one was there.
The shade of night had already begun to fill the room. He should hurry if he wanted to check Candice’s room without having to use a light source, which could possible alert his presence to an intruder. He snuck to his daughter’s bedroom door and pushed it slowly open. His heart almost stopped at the loud creak it produced. No intruder came bursting out the door to skewer him, and he saw no shadow lurking ominously, waiting for him. Actually he saw very little, because the sun set on the other side of the house, leaving this room dark at this time of day. He flipped on the light switch and jumped up, hitting the back of his head against the doorpost, when he saw the shadow of his daughter’s old porcelain doll.
A bisque doll. This particular doll had been in Jessica’s family since the early 1900s. Bisque dolls like this one had authentic, human-looking faces and finish—creepy little things. Jessica passed it on to Candice, giving it the air of a precious heirloom. Why In God’s name did Candice still play with that thing, with its creepy lifelike eyes that always seemed to follow him around? He couldn’t remember having seen this doll in ages. He grabbed it and threw it on Candice’s bed. He looked at it for a while, then quickly covered it with the bed sheet.
The light was playing tricks on him, casting shadows where they shouldn’t be and making the shadow of a doll scare him enough that he almost called the cops. Add to that the fact that he was alone in an empty house, and it was easy to understand why he might be hearing things that weren’t really there. All that had happened before his scare was a fog, which his brain quickly let him forget.
He looked up at the attic, which was now completely dark. HeatherXXX would have to do without him. Her many suitors will have to keep her company—not as if he would be that a great loss. He went back to the living room and flipped on the light, just to make sure everything was as he had left it. He brought a six-pack back from the kitchen and sat down on the sofa. He downed one and turned the TV on. A police series had just started, part of a marathon running that weekend. There wasn’t much else to do, so he decided to watch the detectives solve many murders in dubious ways he doubted were even legal in most states. As they solved case after case, he drank beer until he started nodding and fell asleep, his head rested awkwardly on the sofa’s armrest. Before sleep claimed him, he heard his name whispered in his ear, but by that time tiredness and the beer had done their job and he couldn’t stop himself from falling into a black sleep.


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Friday, July 12, 2013

Preview: Book Cover for my novel; Nurse (Finitum #2)

The story is still on the chopping block, however that did not keep me from making a cover for it. I'm thinking about changing the tittle in "Hospital". What do you think? Keep it like it is? Or change the title? The main character is a nurse and a large part of the story happens in a hospital, so both titles would be fitting.

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Preview: Escape (Gone World #1)




This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.



His name rang in his pounding head. His head hurt where the stone had hit him, or was it shrapnel? No, not shrapnel. He didn‘t smell the blood that it would cause.


A shove against his shoulder lulled his head sideways, igniting the pang to a new high. He squinted his closed eyes as if he could press out the pain.

“Get up. We need to move,” Tina said. It was indeed her, and somehow she had survived.

He opened his eyes to a bright light. Daylight already, he thought. As quickly the light blinded him it swept away, leaving him in darkness. Far away he heard the hum of an engine. They were searching for stragglers–him, Tina and whoever else had survived. Not that it mattered anymore.

“We need to move away from here fast,” Tina said.

“You think!” he said, coughing dust. It tasted bitter, dry, and surely not edible. Give it a few more weeks and it might. He spat the last bit out, leaving his throat dry and wanting water that he didn‘t have. If they didn‘t catch and kill him, the dust would; he had gotten enough in him to guarantee him cancer in a decade or two. He smiled. Although, the lack of water might get me first.
“Stop acting like a fool,” Tina said. “We have to leave now.”

He winked the darkness out of his eyes and saw her haggard, brown face swim into his vision with her big eyes too innocent looking to belong to her.

“Where are your buddy Arnoldo and that crazy, Ron?”

Her look soured. “He‘s not my buddy, and dead, both of them. We really can‘t stay.”

Tina‘s eyes darted around, while sweat mixed with blood ran down her face. It wasn‘t her blood. She had no scratches or other visible injuries. She had lucked out again; her luck had no end.

“Why run? Eventually they‘ll get us.”

Frantically she shook her head, her filthy hair slugging along with the motion, spattering blood in his face.

“Just leave me be. Really, what do you care if I live or die?”

Tina sighed, stood up, and kicked his side. “Fine,” she said with her teeth clenched. “Die then, asshole.”

That was the most emotion he had ever seen from her. However, she still was a bitch to kick him. It hurt like hell. The damn woman could kick with the best of them. She still stood there, not leaving. The hum of the engine drew closer. She had better move soon before the light comes sweeping in.

“What are you waiting for? Go. Don‘t wait around to die with me.”

She didn‘t answer. Instead, she stayed frozen, watching whatever she saw through the big hole in the wall.

“Tina.” Nick stood up. “Let‘s go, then.”

“Asshole,” she hissed between her teeth. She ducked away, grabbing his hand and pulling him down with her. His knees banged on the rubble floor; it was a good thing he had on knee pads, or else he would be hurting now.

“What the–”

She punched him before he could finish and raised her index finger to her puckered lips. A beam of light passed over their heads. The vehicle stopped near their hiding place: three walls left standing, filled with bullet holes, covered by a sagging, charred roof. It had once been home to a family now long dead.

The floor trembled lightly along with the stationary vehicle. The heat emanating from the engine already reached them. It was the only comfort brought to them by this uninvited guest, who surely was bringing the gift of death.

The sound of boots hitting the ground was followed by the soldiers‘ voices. They were Russians, not Chinese, and there went their advantage of size. Nick wiped blood from his lips, glowering at Tina. He hoped she showed this sort of kindness to them. He unsheathed his trusty, rusty butcher knife and knelt next to her, who was brandishing her own knife. Hers was bigger than his.

Their eyes met, and the right side of her mouth shifted up in a smirk he would have loved to slap from her face. She tapped her right ear and raised three fingers. Fine hearing. He had only heard two. The sound of crushing stones under boots came from the side wall as someone tried to slip around the house. There was no hiding or fleeing anymore; the choice to action had been made for them.

Tina moved lithe on her feet, leaving him behind to stare at her wiggling rear. Great, he thought. She had left him with two to take care of. Way to go. If he had stayed down, his death would have come quick enough. He shook his head. That was not be the way he wanted to go; fighting suited him better. He watched her creep along the side wall, brushing her right shoulder against the stones. The sound was inaudible over the hum of the engine. Her combat knife was clutched in her left hand. She‘d manage by herself; it wasn‘t her first time, or his.

Nick gritted his teeth, hugged the wall, and slid towards the big gap made by a tank shell during the war. He waited for a rustle or grunt, and it came as if on cue, barely audible unless you specifically listened for it.

He rose up, ignoring his stiff, aching muscles and his throbbing headache. Already the feeling of pain was numbed by the rush of adrenaline coursing through his body. He climbed out of the hole and moved to the other side as if it was a common daily occurrence. It took him a second to take it all in. There was rubble everywhere and a sea of gray in the moonlight as if they were on said moon itself.
A Vodnik was parked about ten feet away; it was a Russian–made multipurpose vehicle with an open turret hatch, but instead of a machine gun, it had a powerful searchlight mounted on top. The light pointed away from the house and luckily was not manned. Two tall Russian soldiers in camouflaged fatigues and body armor stood with their backs turned to him, their rifles pointed at the ground.

He approached them quickly without bothering being silent. With long strides he was upon the tallest. He grabbed him by his hair, which the fool had allowed to grow. It was his doom and Nick‘s luck. He pulled the soldier‘s head back and pushed the point of his rusted, nicked, but sharp–enough knife into the jugular and out the other side. He forced the knife outward, tearing the front of the man‘s throat open. Choking on his own blood, the soldier collapsed.

The other soldier turned at the sound–a woman, although you would not think so at first sight if it wasn‘t for her chest pushing her armor slightly forward. Her lily–white face looked on in wonder. She had a nice, clean face, with blue, wide eyes, full lips, and a strand of hair loose on her forehead. She was a pretty girl, by all means, and very Russian.


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Root Canal

I went to the dentist yesterday. I had pain, not extreme pain, but a very annoying pulsing pain. (Still have it) The pain I got really makes it difficult for me to concentrate. So I made an appointment with the dentist yesterday. Going there I opted to drive myself and I never drove so badly in my life. (Well maybe the first time I drove I did worst) Missing turns and taking a little bit of curb while taking a sharp turn. Driving while having mind numbing pain was not the wise thing to do. This lesson learned; I won't be driving myself to my Monday follow up appointment with the dentist. And for the time being I am staying home.

I really hoped it would turn out to be a tooth cavity that needed filling, but I got an infection and need a root canal done on me. This was the first shock. The next one was how much the treatment costs. It will set me back a lot. Sure, I should have prepared better for this kind of situation, but with my financial situation as it is, and the recession going on, I just did not have the means to anticipate this calamity. Having tooth problems was the last thing on my mind. The reserves I build up through the years I spend it last year on many minor mishaps and I was not able to build it up with the cost of living rising and my income stagnated.

I really try to do get some writing done, but I'm not doing so well. My mind is on my tooth problems and my financial predicament and keeps me from focusing on anything. It's really wrecking my writing mojo. I had planned to have had a book finished and ready to send to my editor by the end of this month. I don't think I'll be able to get the deadline, nor am I sure I'll have the money to be able to pay for the edit. I guess I'll have to postpone it, and focus on the release of Undead (Finitum series Book 1) and hope to get enough sales to be able to pay for the edit of Book 2 ( and if lucky enough to pay my dental bill).

My current situation, not as dire yet to bankrupt me, but also not really helping with my already not so sound financial situation brings home this post from Kristine Kathryn Rusch I read a while ago. I think I really have to start getting my shit together someway, anyway possible really, because if I don't try to help my luck a little, my bad luck will soon financially ruin me.

After Monday, once my tooth problem is settled, I plan to work harder and put yet more effort into my writing and publishing. I need to make something out of it, or seek something else in the mean time to build up a monetary reserve to avoid being in this situation again.


26th of July I went back to the dentist for another molar that needed much attention. This time I only needed a cavity filled. It surprisingly hurt more than when I had my root canal done. I'm still sore. Though I'm happy I've had it done.  The pain should subside within two weeks. If not I'll need to go back to the dentist.

6th of August. So far so good. No more tooth problems. (knock on the wood)

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Preview: Dead Quarantine (Zombieclypse #1)




By A.Rosaria

Excerpt Edition

This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.


The shrill ringing of Ralph‘s old-fashioned wind up alarm clock echoed inside his still groggy head. He banged his arm sideways against the nightstand. He flailed his arm in the air, hitting the stand again, and patted the surface, searching for the clock. Growing frustrated with the incessant ringing, Ralph groaned and muttered words that were better left unheard. He swiped the clock from the nightstand. This early in the morning, and with the ringing still going on in his head, it was difficult for him to form any coherent thought let alone utter anything remotely sensible.
He lay in bed for a long while, staring at the ceiling. Slowly, it dawned on him that it was Monday. God, why did he set the alarm to go off so early? Why had he set it anyway? Of all days, today was the day it would have been great if he had overslept and missed school. He shook his head, grunted, and sat up straight. His eyes still fuzzy, he looked for the clock. It had landed near the front leg of the bed. He put it back on the nightstand. It was just past six.
No, oversleeping wouldn‘t have kept him from school. Mom knew he had a test today. She would have kicked him out of bed and lectured him about not slacking off because it was his senior year. Heck, he didn‘t even know what he wanted do after he graduated. He should figure that out first, before worrying about grades. Not that his grades were that bad, thank you very much, for his unduly efforts the previous year.
With his father on a business trip, his ten-year-old sister, Ginny, still snoring on her bed, and his mother usually waking up at around seven, he had the bathroom to himself. Nice, dry, and clean, not so much after he was done showering. At seven, mom would come downstairs to make his breakfast and after breakfast she would go upstairs to get Ginny ready for school. That one had more trouble waking up than him. If you allowed her to sleep in, Ginny would sleep all day and the next one. Both their parents were punctual beings, so he wasn‘t sure where she got it from. His mom had a biological clock that went off at exactly the same time every day without fail. It beat waking up scared shitless by a ringing alarm clock.
At six thirty, Ralph sat at the kitchen table freshly showered, wearing jeans and a black long sleeve shirt. He was reading a comic book. Sure, he should be studying for his history exam, but why bother studying now? He hadn‘t done anything in the days leading up to the exam. Cramming just before having to leave for school would amount to nothing.
Mom had been sneezing last night. She had probably picked up the much-talked-about flu. Was it even flu season? He wasn‘t sure if his mom would be able to drive him to school today. He had not heard her wake up. He might have to go on his bike. Or maybe he should ditch classes today. There was no sense taking a test you knew you were going to fail. It was too bad that he couldn‘t ditch this exam; the school administration would tell his parents and probably fail him on the test, making it more difficult for him to graduate on time. With everything going on, like not knowing what to do after graduation, he really didn‘t want to also have to deal with grades and stuff. Life was already difficult. His second semester didn‘t need any drama. He sighed and grabbed his history book. It was a thick book, a very thick book, one without many pictures. He should read a chapter, then maybe he could manage a grade better than an F, and he might get a second chance if he tried hard enough.
He heard stumbling on the stairs. He glanced at the clock. Five minutes before seven. She did it again. Even having a cold did not stop her from waking up on time. He doubted that even death would stop her. She came downstairs, coughing.
“Good morning,” he called out.
His mother lumbered up to him. “Not much good this morning. I see you got up early.”
She looked pale. Strands of long black hair were plastered to her forehead and cheeks. Thick cushion grooves etched her face and a swatch of black was smudged under her eyes. She looked like crap.
“You look nice, Mom.”
She plopped down in the chair opposite to him.
“Finally you decide to study?” She pointed at his comic next to his history book. Her voice was raspy.
“You don‘t look so good.”
She smiled. Her smile was like sunshine in bad weather. It made everything look better than it was; it made her radiate in a way that he could not help but smile back. He loved how his mother could smile and laugh despite obviously feeling like crap.
“But Ralphie, didn‘t you say I looked nice just a moment ago?”
He hated to be called Ralphie. He only tolerated it when she called him that. “I lied.”
“Not nice lying to your sick mother.”
She laughed. A burst of coughing cut her laugh short. He ran to the sink and brought her a glass of water. Worried, he watched her take the glass from him. He had never seen his mother ill; she always seemed to be healthy even when they all were down with something. She never got sick. So, to see her with a cold this bad was a little disconcerting.
“Seriously, are you feeling all right? I‘ll stay home if you need me to; it‘s not a problem, really it‘s not.”
It wasn‘t only so that he could skip his test that he offered to stay home; it genuinely worried him the state she was in. Maybe it would be better if she rested instead of driving him to school.
She swallowed the water in one go, put the glass on the table, and looked up at him with tired eyes. “It‘s just a cold.”
“And in no way are you going to get a free pass on that history exam of yours.”
She saw right through him not wanting to take that test, but she did look awfully pale. “It‘s not about that at all. I want you to take a day off and rest. I could call the school and tell them that I‘ll be late and I can take Ginny to school for you. My test is this afternoon; I won‘t miss it if that is what you are worried about.”
“No need to take Ginny to school today. She is staying in with me.” She sighed. “I shouldn‘t have kissed her goodnight. Now, she has whatever I caught.” She touched his cheek with the tip of her fingers and tapped. “You‘re a good boy. Don‘t fret; it‘s just a cold. There is no reason for you to go out of your way and bicycle to school. I‘ll drive you.”
She raised a hand, stopping him from saying anything. “Really, it‘s just in and out the car for me, not that big a deal. You just try to get some studying done before going to school. You only got fifteen minutes left; make the best of it.”
She left him sitting at the table and waggled to the kitchen to make a quick breakfast for them. He looked guiltily at her as she went to work on the bread and tea, wishing she would only let him take care of things just for today.
Stubborn as she was, she wouldn‘t even let him get out of taking this exam even when he needed to. Knowing her, nothing he said or did would convince her otherwise. It would likely take her being bedridden before she allowed him to take care of her. Mothers. However, that was the way they were, all caring and self sacrificing. He shook his head while he opened his history book and leafed through it. The words swam in front of him. He closed the book and shoved it aside.
“I‘m going to look in on Ginny.”
Before his mom could react and call him back to keep studying, he flew up the stairs. Ginny‘s room was next to his. He was about to open the door when he remembered that she now liked her privacy. It wasn‘t strange, considering she was growing up into a little woman. He knocked.
“Ginny, it‘s me, your favorite brother.”
A faint grunt was all the answer he got. He took that as a yes and entered her room. Her four walls were plastered with goofy looking guys and snappy looking girls. Stars from whatever kids‘ shows played now days on television. Not his thing, by far not his thing.
Ginny held her bed sheet to her chin. Snot ran from her nose. She turned her head toward him. She wiped her nose with the back of her hand and rubbed it off against her bed linen. Ralph made a mental note not to sit on the bed. At least she looked better than mom did, not pale, no dark patches under her eyes, only a runny nose. Was she trying to skip school and succeeding where he failed?
“Hey, sis, how are you feeling?”
“I guess I‘m all right. I‘m allowed to stay home today and sleep in.”
She quickly shut her eyes and started snoring hard. He poked her side and tickled her. She giggled, pushing herself away. “Stop, stop, Ralph, I can‘t take it anymore.”
He kept at it until she started begging and choking on her laughter. She tried pushing him off. Her face started turning tomato red and she sneezed. As droplets hit his face, he recoiled. “Eeuw, that‘s gross.”
So much for staying bug free. He was all over her, tickling her and forgetting that her bed and she were a germ-infested war zone. These germs were now marching inside him, preparing to kick his ass. Maybe he could stay home now, seeing as how he was sure that he would be ill by the end of the day. Nah, with his luck, it would linger and he‘d get sick late Friday—just in time to spoil his weekend.
“Now I‘m going to get ill, you little meanie.”
“Serves you right, harassing your poor, little, sick sister.”
“You are not little; you‘re growing like a tree. I saw your piggy bank too; that thing is bursting with dough. You are an overgrown rich kid.”
She slapped his shoulder. “You‘re so mean.”
He rubbed her hair. “No, I‘m not. I love my little sis.”
She looked wide-eyed at him. He was not known to voice how he felt very well. If he thought about it, this was the first time he had said he loved her in a long time. He always thought it was obvious. He liked being around her. How many big brothers bothered with their sisters? He didn‘t know any that did.
“Aahh, Ralph.” She got teary eyed. “I love you too.”
Okay, now it was getting uncomfortable. Too mushy for him. He remembered why he preferred to keep things to himself. Seeing her under her bed sheet like that, all fragile, I love you just slipped out. He did love his sister, his mother, and his dad, who he didn‘t see that often. They would go hunting this fall, and just like last time, he hoped it would be a blast.
Ginny pulled the sheets away and got out of bed. “I‘m going to tell mom.”
She ran for the door. He grabbed her before she could run away. “Oh no you won‘t.”
“Yes I will,” she said mockingly.
“Ah come on, don‘t.”
She was still pulling to get free. There was not much strength behind the pulls. She was a strong girl; it must have been the bug that weakened her. She really should rest. He grabbed and turned her around. All play left him; concern shadowed his brow.
“Sis, please go back to bed. You‘re not well.”
“You don‘t have to worry about me. Mom said it is just a cold.”
“Still, humor me and get some rest. Tomorrow we‘ll play again.”
She nodded and hopped back into bed.
From below, he heard his mother yelling for him to come down. Breakfast was ready. Before he left, Ginny grabbed his hand.
“Thank you.”
He looked at her. He knew why she was thanking him, but he just couldn‘t say it again.
“See you later, sis.”
He left without telling her one last time that he loved her.


Her mother‘s car had been repossessed. Envious, Sarah watched as the other teenagers got into their parents‘ cars. The luxury to be taken to school was one that many took for granted. Not her. She knew better. Her walking shoes fit snugly, the right support for the long hike she had ahead of her. She wore tight-fitting jeans and a red, long sleeve turtleneck blouse. It showed her figure nicely. Fashionable and practical. To protect herself against the cold autumn winds, she had a short, black leather jacket on. Really, she didn‘t mind the walk. It kept her in shape and the hour and half it took gave her time to think. And she had a lot to think about. Everything seemed to change her senior year.
The sun barely broke away from the horizon, and the morning dew was cool. She wouldn‘t be doing a lot of sweating as long she took it easy and didn‘t try to make it to her destination within an hour. It was nice weather for walking, but not so much for jogging.
Sarah had asked her mother if she could stay and take care of her baby brother while she went to look for a job. Things had been hard since her mother got laid off from her job in administration at an accounting firm. Every bill that came went directly into the shredder. Her mother didn‘t like to be confronted with the fact she couldn‘t pay them. Sarah feared the day when the collectors would come to collect, and they would take the house and kick them to the curb.
Would Jake still like her if she was homeless, eating out of trashcans whenever her stomach ached for food? She giggled. He would have a fit. How would he be able to be seen with a beggar for a girlfriend? She wondered, not for the first time, if he really loved her. He had told her he did not so long ago when they had skipped class together to go to a motel room just outside the city.
It had been different since then. He stopped making an effort to be nice to her, and it was difficult to keep the peace between him and Lilly, her best friend. He behaved like he owned her. She didn‘t like that feeling. She hated it. She hated it when her mom‘s boyfriends, who thought she should be grateful that there was finally a man in home, did it. It didn‘t matter how short their stay was. Just because they felt they were the man, didn‘t mean she had to respect them.
It was also why she would never again ask Jake to drive her to school. The one time she did, he sat, all puffed up, behind the steering wheel and was all over her that day at school like he was her provider. The big shot jock, who had the prettiest girl in town. She smiled. Sure, he could say things about her beauty. Overtly exaggerated in her opinion, but she didn‘t mind the flattery at all. She liked the attention she got being with him. At school, at least, she was someone. She was as complacent to his behavior as he was.
No, it was not him who had changed after they had sex; it was her. She had been thinking a little too much about it all. Nothing really changed after they did it. He was still the same guy, and she… her thoughts trailed off as she saw a line of yellow buses pass by. It kept going for about a minute. She had never seen so many at the same time. All were old school buses like the one she rode in elementary school. She used to take one to school every day, before she outgrew buses.
As far she knew there were no events in town. Although, she had not been keeping tabs on things. In between babysitting her brother while her mom was out on a date with her new boyfriend and studying for her history test, she had done little more this weekend. Her mom had come back late Sunday with the sniffles and kissed her and her brother before going to sleep. It was gross; sick people were gross, spreading their germs and infecting people. Her mother must have caught it from her boyfriend. Too much lip-locking must have gone on that day and too little staying away from that creep. They were always creeps. Her mother always picked the worst, as if she did her best not to pick a guy like her father. It was as if she didn‘t want to be reminded what a good man he was. He wasn‘t the best father, but he tried, honestly tried, and he was taken away before he had the chance to get it right. What he lacked in social skills, he made up for with an abundance of goodwill. Goodwill cut short in a car crash.
The crash didn‘t kill him; it was his goodwill that did. He died, all for some woman he didn‘t know. A woman he failed to save anyway. He wasted his life for nothing and left his family behind without support. The woman had run a red light and hit his car from the side. Her car rolled and ended up on its side. He tried to get her out. Gasoline had leaked out, a spark must have lit a fire, and an explosion followed. And now, her mother dated outgoing, selfish pricks. Yesterday, it was a prick that gave her a bug that she passed on to little Benny with a well-intended goodnight kiss. And what about her following in her mother‘s footsteps dating Jake?
Sarah sighed. Too much trouble. She would have rather stayed home. Her heart had broken when she heard Benny cough and hack. His whole chest heaved and his body twisted with each cough. A baby shouldn‘t be ill. He should enjoy life, be spoiled. Benny was the only good that came from her mother‘s life after the death of her father. And Benny was the only thing that made her home life bearable.
St. Mark‘s wasn‘t far now. Glancing back in the direction she had come from, she contemplated turning around and forgoing her history test, Jake, and school. She just wanted to spend time with her mother and brother. How often did she have a chance to really spend time with them together? Life lately was either her with Benny or her mother with Benny. There was always something else going on.
She lowered her head and kept plodding on. It would only cause an argument if she skipped school, and she needed good grades to get a scholarship and make something of her life. Not that she knew what that something would be. Sarah had looked into economics, but with the recession, it seemed all these great economic minds knew was how to throw more money into a bottomless pit. It really made her question if that was a viable career path. She liked history, but didn‘t think there were that many job opportunities. Only a few got the great jobs, but most historians ended up being history teachers, and teaching was not her thing. Her last option would be to join the Army. Maybe she would find some order living a disciplined life.
What would Jake think about that? She laughed, drawing a weird look from an older man hobbling by. Her wearing combat fatigues. Imagine that. So not how Jake pictured her. All he wanted was for her to be a high school version of a Stepford wife. Guns, dirt, and blood were not part of that picture. She imagined how he would lecture her about how it wasn‘t a woman‘s job to defend the country. Men should do it. Boys, he meant, for the only old soldiers she met were veterans or the recruiters going from school to school. Those she saw parading around were young ones, not much older than her. Boys in men‘s clothing. Why shouldn‘t a woman defend her country if she wanted to?
She sighed. Her mother would not agree and she wouldn‘t turn eighteen until way after graduation. She was expected to choose a profession by then and commit to it. No adventure for her anytime soon; maybe it was for the best. What did babes know about war anyway? Politics never interested her, but she knew that it was the politicians who sent young people war. Maybe, just maybe, it was best she waited to make such a decision and kept it as a backup plan if everything else failed.
St. Mark‘s High School rose up above the roofs ahead of her. A two-story building with a flat roof. The building was cross shaped. It must have been a convent or some something. She had been going there forever and never bothered to learn its history. All she needed to know about that building was that it contained adults whose job was to put ideas in their heads for them to learn like they were facts. Then, you had the teens with their raging hormones having difficulty swallowing the stuff being taught, while dealing with the many social issues in their lives. Very frustrating. A mess, a real mess, she was glad it would soon be over. The only good things she had going at school were dating Jake and the popularity that came with that and her best friend, Lilly. Too bad those two didn‘t mesh well.
Entering the yard, she noticed two yellow buses parked in front of the entrance. Men in hazmat suits were unloading boxes and carrying them inside the school. As she went up the steps, she took a passing glance at the boxes. It had Army stamped all over. What was going on? In the main hall, she looked up. In front of the principal‘s office—up the main stairs and in the right wing of the building—the principal was talking to a hazmat guy, clearly agitated.
Sarah signaled a junior descending the stairs. “What‘s going on here?”
“Haven‘t you heard?” the boy said.
She hadn‘t heard anything out of the ordinary—not that if something had happened she would have noticed with the kind of weekend she had. She relied on her mother to pass her information. After all, it was she who had spent the weekend outside in the world while Sarah babysat and studied. Had something really big happened, her mom would have told her. But apparently mom had something else keeping her occupied last weekend. That and the sniffles.
“No, I haven‘t heard anything.”
The teen pulled his fist in front of his mouth and coughed. “I…I…need to go to the head nurse. It‘s what they told us to do; any signs of the cold we need to report in.”
He shrugged. “Something about the flu; I don‘t really know.”
Sarah watched him bounce away. He was pretty energetic for a sick boy. Her first class started within an hour. She had ample time to hang around before she had to go up to the classroom. Monday was the day she agreed with Lilly that they would come early to chat about their weekend. Girls alone having girl time. However, Jake found out about it and now sometimes he would show up uninvited. So far, Lilly tolerated it, though there had been talk about choosing another day.
Going through the open twin doors to her left, she walked past the school nurse‘s office. The junior stood in a long line waiting to see the Mrs. Evergreen. Another teen joined the line behind him and more were coming. She turned to the left and kept walking until she reached the tiny break room.
Last year, an eager class president made a petition for a bigger break room. Many thought it was a great idea and signed the petition. The principal, however, did not share the enthusiasm and answered along the lines of, School is to study. not to loiter in free time. Sarah was happy with the decision, which was the first time she had ever agreed with the principal, sort of. She didn‘t mind the room being less than spacious. Because it was small, it was not often used. She enjoyed having it to herself most of the time. The few times Jake had been with her, he had chased away the underclassmen. That one wasn‘t big on sharing; it was a dick move really, but she wasn‘t complaining. What did that make her? A female dick? A cunt? Or simply an asshole enabler.
Tommy, a fat kid in her class, sat in the corner reading a book. Well too bad, they would not have the room to themselves. Lilly sat in the other corner fiddling with her fingers in her lap. She looked up as she heard Sarah enter. Her already big eyes widened slightly as she ran up to her.
“Have you heard?” Lilly asked. There had been a lot of gossip going around school. Sarah shook her head. “They are gathering everyone who is sick and sending them home, keeping them quarantined inside their houses.”
“Don‘t you know? It‘s been all over the news. The flu. My dad, my sisters, my neighbors, almost everyone has it.”
No wonder fewer students had been coming in. Instead, it had been busy with men covered from head to toe in white suits, walking in and out carrying boxes.
“Yes, but why a quarantine?”
“They‘re trying to stop it from spreading.”
“But it‘s just the flu; it happens every year.”
“I watched the news this morning. Some guy was being interviewed who said it was some kind of super flu that will infect everybody and probably bring society crashing down.”
“Like they said would happen with the piggy flu? Come on, how bad can it be? They yell and scream doom every year, yet we are still here, breathing and well, at school.”
Lilly sat down, her hands folded in her lap. “I…I…guess I‘m overreacting again.”
“Yes you are, but you‘ll soon see that everything will turn out fine.” Sarah sat beside her friend. “So how was your weekend?”
They shared their weekends. Lilly had a more engaging one, making Sarah wonder if she had time to study for the history exam. It was fun just passing time together, taking their mind off today‘s test, boys, and the flu.
Jake walked in. “Coach canceled the game. Something about the flu, not being able to field enough man power. Jeez, if I need to, I could field the game by myself.” He waited in front of them, expecting something and oblivious he had interrupted their conversation. “Aren‘t you going to move aside? Make some space so I can sit.”
Before Lilly could scoot over, he pressed between them, sat down, and put his arm around Sarah, who plucked it from her shoulder.
“Come on, don‘t be cold like that? Too much of that going on around here already. With kids coughing their lungs up everywhere I go.”
She smirked. “Lilly told me all about that. There is some pandemic going on. People are screaming that the world is going to end, just like they did when we had the swine flu.”
“Yeah, I saw the soldiers near the nurse‘s office.”
Soldiers? What were they doing at a school? And in peacetime? She remembered the Army boxes. Of course they were soldiers. National Guard, she guessed. They really were treating it as if it were an emergency. Maybe she had dismissed the severity of it too soon.
“Were they armed?”
“Yeah, they were, else I wouldn‘t have recognize them.” Jake looked around the room for the first time since entering. He glared at Tommy, who was still sitting in the corner. “I‘ll kill that guy.” He strode toward Tom, who flinched away. “How many times have I told you to scram when I‘m in here? I don‘t want no smelly fatso asshole stinking up the place.”
Tommy‘s face flushed red. He didn‘t move. Would it be today that he finally made a stand? Sarah rooted for him. She didn‘t know Tom that well. Sure, they shared classes together, but she was not expected to associate with the likes of him. The in crowd would not have deemed it cool. She had seen what happened when someone went against the crowd. Tom had a friend, Ralph, who was not bad looking—quite the opposite. Ralph stuck by him no matter what and he had been ostracized for it. Life in high school would have been much easier for him had he not befriended Tommy. It was kind of stupid.
She glanced at Lilly who was biting her lower lip. What if Lilly was fat and obnoxiously smelly, would she stop being friends with her? She wanted to think she wouldn‘t, but she wasn‘t so sure. The feeling of being wanted and being popular filled a hole in her that had been empty for so long.
Jake shoved Tommy. It would be great if he stood up and punched Jake in the face. He didn‘t though. Instead, he whined to be left alone and that the space was for everybody, including him. Jake grabbed him by the collar and dragged him out.
Lilly stood up and yelled, “Stop! You are hurting him.”
Jake pushed Tommy when he tried to come back in. “You better leave or I‘ll fucking kill you, fat ass.”
“Stop it,” Lilly said.
Jake grabbed her arm and pushed her out next to Tommy.
“Stay with your boyfriend and leave us alone.”
“He‘s not my boyfriend.”
Tom wheeled around and left.
“Look. He‘s running, wiggling his fat ass. You better hurry after him before he starts bawling like a fat baby.”
Sarah stomped past Jake and grabbed Lilly by the hand. She glared at him. “Jerk!”
They left him behind with his mouth partly open, staring at them.
“You shouldn‘t have,” Lilly said.
“What kind of friend would I be if I didn‘t?”
She wanted to be the kind of friend that stood up for her friends. She had grown tired of being seen as a superficial bimbo, which was how she had been acting the last few years. High school was at its end and she wanted a clean slate to start with, to be different. She wanted to fill that hole with something else. She just wanted to be herself, or try at least. The whole world would open up for her soon, and she planned to embrace it.


His mother sat next to him at the steering wheel, coughing her lungs up.
“Really, you shouldn‘t do this, Mom. I‘m okay with going alone.” And ditching school.
Leaving for school had actually raised his anxiety about taking the test. He was going to fail it, and that was very bad, F-size bad. And he had no way out. He wanted to save face. Get out of it. And beside his selfish reasons, he felt—no, he knew—that his mother wasn‘t all right. He should take care of her. Her face was pale, her nose ran, and she kept having these coughing fits.
“No, you don‘t, mister smarty pants.”
God, she knew how to bring it and make him feel small. He was eighteen already.
“I‘m going make sure to drop you off at school and watch you go inside. You‘re a smart kid; I know you‘re going to ace that test.”
He glanced at her. She was smiling. There was no way she really believed that; she must be delirious if she did. She must have seen doubt on his face because she said, “You‘ll do all right; don‘t worry about the test.”
She drove out of the carport and onto the street.
“I‘m not worried about the stupid test. I‘m worried about you and Ginny.”
“Just a cold. Nothing to worry about.” She flashed him a smile. “I‘ll go and take myself and Ginny to see Doctor Morris. Hope that makes you feel better.”
Their physician, old doctor Morris. How many times did they visit him? Once or twice a year? And to hear what? That they needed bed rest for two weeks? Only when an illness persisted did they ever go back for a checkup. It was clear to him what he should do if he wanted an easy job after graduation. Though, as easy of a job as it would be, it wasn‘t easy to study for. He quickly dropped that thought. No, he didn‘t really know what he should do with his life after graduating. He would postpone thinking about it until the second semester. His stomach knotted. Second semester was almost upon him, less than a month away.
It had gotten quiet in the car while his mother focused on driving. Sweat trickled down from her forehead. With her sight fixed on the road, she paid little attention to anything else. It probably took all the strength she had to do it. He feared she was downplaying her illness for his sake. Common cold, she said. He believed whatever it was it was closer to the common flu.
Ralph fiddled with the radio dial. Some newscaster was on every channel reporting the same thing. He didn‘t want to listen to the blaring of some overinflated radioman; he wanted some sweet pop music. The newest Rhianna hit would be cool. Now that was a woman he would like to date. He wouldn‘t mind that she was older than him. But wasn‘t she going out with that Canadian, that Bieber guy? He was younger. Nah, daydreaming never amounted to anything. He would rather have Sarah pay attention to him. Another daydream. He stood as much chance getting Sarah to give him the time of day as having Rhianna propose to him.
No music at all, only the same newscaster. Weird. There was always some sort of music on at least one channel, and still if by chance you wouldn‘t, you sure would not have the same newscaster on every frequency.
“Don‘t change it.” The car swerved a little when she said that.
The newscaster blasted over the speakers.
They say this flu is much worse than the swine flu during the 2009 epidemic. Already the World Health Organization wants to declare a pandemic and quarantine everybody. Other scientists have said it‘s being exaggerated. Economic leaders said that a quarantine would create too much turmoil over too little. Yeah, like human life is worth less than financial gain. Wall Street may think it is, but I bet a fortune that it is not to you, my listener, you who must be wondering right now if it‘s the smart thing to be taking your kids to school. The scientists and Wall Street are not the only ones pondering this flu. We have the conspiracy theorists; they claim the government is using the common flu to scare us into thinking it‘s worse than it really is so we run scared and get a vaccine shot. All for the big, bad corporations mega profits. At least these conspiracy terrorist are not the looniest of the bunch, though they are a close second. The first spot for that goes to… What are they called again? Apocalyptic? Whatever they are called, they are saying…wait for it…that this flu is a hundred times worse than the bird flu, that after it‘s over no living human will walk the Earth. What is it? A pandemic, a hoax, a conspiracy, or the apocalypse. To dispel doubt and panic, our station and yours truly, John Murray…
“The hack,” mom said.
….have been selected by the government in collaboration with WHO‘s spokeswoman Rita Lee to answer the many questions you may have.
A woman‘s voice replaced the too-smooth-to-be-any-good baritone of the newscaster, radio jock, or whoever he was. Ralph did not know any of these people, but apparently his mother did, and she did not have a high opinion of the man based on the way she sneered.
I‘m Doctor Rita Lee, spokeswoman for the World Health Organization. The first thing I have to say is to counter these preposterous claims that this flu is some doomsday virus. What other crazy theory will we have next, someone claiming the dead will walk?
The doctor snickered, which sounded more like a crazy lady losing it than someone trying to rebuff an absurd theory. He couldn‘t really blame her for feeling a bit lost with the situation. Lately, people have been making the craziest stuff up to get attention, or for the fun of it. He hated listening to this nonsense instead of music, but his mother was listening attentively. God, she was going to make him take a vaccine if they convince her that something bad was going on.
So, Doctor, what about these conspiracy theorists‘ claim that it‘s all to fill some fat cat‘s pockets?
Since when have they ever been right? They are barely saner than the doomsayers. Do you really believe the government would risk our health, which they have sworn to protect, for some scam to get money for some corporate donor? No, of course not! These are good people; they are at the helm to serve the people. And we, as a world organization, help these governments, foreign and domestic, to deal with situations that can have an adverse effect on our health. We are a nonprofit organization and we do not profit on making people sick; we cure people as best we can.
“Pleaseeeee,” mom said.
Doctor, can you tell us what is really going on?
It‘s a new strain of the flu. Our current vaccine doesn‘t work on it. As far we know, we have no reason to not believe that it‘s as harmful as the common flu.
Why then the call for a worldwide quarantine?
Because what many don‘t realize is that the common flu has about thirty thousand fatalities around the world each year.
We don‘t have a quarantine in those cases, so why now?
Indeed, we don‘t have them, because the cure in those cases could be worse than the flu. We don‘t see the fatalities we could get from a quarantine as easily as from the flu. At six, almost seven billion people worldwide, a worldwide quarantine would have consequences and could also lead to the death of many.
What changed with this flu?
It‘s new, never been seen before. Almost no one has any defense against it, but for those who are naturally resistant and those who are immune.
Ralph‘s mother coughed. “Guess I‘m not immune.”
She radiated a smile at him. “But maybe you are.”
He couldn‘t help but to smile at her. She would not even give him a get out of jail free card with this pandemic looming over them.
We calculated that about 4 percent are resistant and have a chance of not getting infected. The other 95 percent, if they get in contact with this virus, will get ill. We can‘t afford to have 95 percent of the population ill; we need a quarantine to ride out this virus.
“So maybe you‘re not immune after all.”
So maybe that get-out-of-jail-free card was still in the running. Ralph saw a way for him to get out of taking the test. A plan formed in the back of his head. He hoped his mother would swallow this shit on the radio. He decided to side with the conspiracy theorist; well partly, it was just a common cold and not necessarily preplanned by the government. He doubted the government would do anything like that; the current president was way too cool. He would never harm his country.
How many would die if we don‘t quarantine?
One in ten thousand.
Doesn‘t sound that bad doctor.
That‘s about six hundred thousand by the flu alone, and many more caused by people being too sick to be able to care for themselves and others. What a lot of people don‘t know is that neglect kills.
That‘s horrible! So what‘s keeping the government from doing something?
A quarantine is not enacted on a moment‘s notice. It needs planning and the people should be informed in advance. We don‘t want them to panic. Panic also causes deaths.
Again the nervous laughter.
What time frame do you suspect…?
“Watch out, Mom,” Ralph yelled, panic in his voice. “Brake!”
The car swerved as his mother stepped on the brakes. The car jerked to a stop in the intersection. They flung forward; their seat belts pulled them back hard. Two yellow school buses raced by at speeds he had never seen them move at before. They show no sign of stopping or even slowing down. Had they not stopped in time, their car would have been flattened.
“God damn them,” mom said.
His mother turned off the radio as the doctor and the radio host were discussing the economic consequences of a quarantine. “I didn‘t see them coming! What has gotten into these drivers? Oh God, we could have been dead! Oh praise, God saved us!”
Ralph didn‘t know about that. It was his timely warning and not God who had saved them. But he dared not say that to his mother; she would point out it was God that gave him eyes to see the oncoming hazard and God‘s hand that grabbed his face and pointed it at the oncoming buses. It was boredom that led him to yawn and look out the window. Chance saved them, chance, not God.
He had not seen these yellow school buses since elementary school. The city drivers now rode these new ones with low floors so disabled kids could easily get on them. Well, whatever, he was just glad they were still alive and well.
A car stopped behind them and honked. His mother jumped in her seat and then drove on, but before she did, she carefully looked both ways to make sure no other maniacs were driving on the road. As they continued to their destination, he heard the sound of helicopters in the air. He turned in his seat. Far away, he saw one. A black spot hung in the air among the clouds like a drop of paint forgotten by an artist on a lush painting. Odd occurrences kept adding up. Maybe something was going on, like the flu scare. Governments liked their emergencies. The politicians got their time in front of the camera and got to feel all self important. He was too young to be bothered by politics; maybe next year in college he would give it some thought. Whatever it was—flu or not—it would pass like every other crisis. He had his own crisis to contend with: his afternoon history test.
***End Excerpt***

About the Author

Alex Rosaria is a writer, who loves writing horror and sci-fi stories, though when creativity demands it he likes to branch out to other genres. He‘s also the author of:

Dead Quarantine
Dead Shelter

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