“The Plague” (a very short story)

The breeze blew the pathogen in through the kitchen window. Michael was the first person to be infected. He was making eggs for his wife, Jordan. He always made scrambled eggs for her, but at that moment the disease began to reveal its symptoms. He realized that eggs did not have to be scrambled, and that he could make her eggs sunny-side-up, or hardboiled, or poached. He could also drop an egg on the ground and call an ambulance. He could throw an egg out the window and then yell at a pedestrian that he fucked their mother, or he could yell that they’re beautiful, or he could ask them what time it is. Michael considered his options, and while doing so burnt the eggs and set off the smoke alarm.

Michael’s wife walked in and asked what was going on. 

“I’m not sure,” Michael said. His wife took the pan off of the stove, and in doing so became infected herself. She noticed that the window was opened, and grabbed a newspaper to wave the smoke out of the room. Then she realized that she could also use a magazine to the same effect, or that she could rip the magazine into little pieces. She could also call in to cancel her subscription to the magazine. Then it occurred to her that while she was on the phone, she could even put on a French accent and pretend to be a widow named Margaux whose husband loved the magazine, but since he is now passed and she has lost her raison d’etre, she no longer needs the subscription and that it is little things like this that make her miss him. 

“I’m going to get breakfast and coffee, would you like anything?”
“I think I’ll have a. . .” Jordan paused as she wondered what she would like. A half-caf latte? A cup of tea? A cranberry scone? An abortion? Another chance at love? A lecture on feminism? A Volvo? A bowl of apples? A caterpillar? 

“I’ll take that as a no,” Michael said as he left.  

When he walked into the coffee shop, Michael immediately infected nearly everyone in the room. The barista asked Michael what he would like. Michael looked at the chalkboard menu and read every word. He could have any one of those words, but he was not sure which he would prefer. He was afraid that he might order something, think about what his choice revealed about his personality, change his mind, come to regret his decision, post his feelings on his blog, feel an obligation to drink whatever it was he ordered to uphold his sense of self-consistency, burn his tongue, and gnash his teeth while rocking back and forth in the fetal position.

Meanwhile, a man was smiling at his girlfriend who was smiling back. There was a lull in their conversation during which he wondered if he would like another cookie. He could have a cookie, but cookies are full of empty calories, and so he decided not to have a cookie. Although, oatmeal raisins seem healthy, so he could probably justify having one of those. He could also stab that cunt sitting across from him in the throat with his pen, which he did. She squirmed around a little bit. He smeared some blood on his face like warpaint, and then wondered why he felt bad as he laid down on the floor to take a nap. 

A person who was not sick yet called the police and vomited. Officer Adams showed up and was very alarmed. He gasped, and in doing so inhaled the disease. He walked over to the man who was still laying on the ground. While walking over, he noticed his handcuffs jingling on his belt. He thought of all of the things that one could do with handcuffs. He could subdue an unruly fugitive, lock a whore to his bedpost, falsely arrest a black man, or wait until later that day at which point he would throw the damn handcuffs and his badge in a trashcan and walk off into a periwinkle sunset, resolving to go back to school and start life anew. However, he decided to handcuff the man to the table. Then Officer Adams shot the man in the stomach. 

Adams marveled at all of the things he could do with his gun. He could hold up the coffee shop, shoot the air while dancing like Yosemite Sam, or he could set his gun on the floor and meditate beside it. There were a lot of things he could do with a gun, but he chose to look down the barrel. He saw a spark and then he died. 

There were many different reactions from the people in the coffee shop, all of whom had been infected by now. An old woman began to pull her hair out, one man wept, another man got a diamond hard erection and ran to the bathroom to masturbate furiously, and a woman poured her coffee on her face and laughed because it burned so badly. 

Michael decided that he wasn’t hungry, but should use this time to change his password on his computer. He pulled a laptop out of his messenger bag and logged in. He could make his password hard to decipher, or just “password,” or “aliensdontexist,” or “MatthewsDogDied.” He could not choose a password, so he stared at the screen until his computer died. Unsure of what to do next, Michael sat very still and did not move for five days, at which point he fell off his chair, dead. 

The plague spread. Most people did not experience as grim an ending as Adams or the girlfriend. Rather, they simply couldn’t decide what to do next so they stared into the infinity beyond the clouds until they died, like turkeys in a thunderstorm. 

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