I didn’t like the way I was writing this story so I am rewriting it from a third person perspective. Here is Episode 1 in the rewritten form. Hope you like it.
As he placed the last stone, he knelt in the grass and thought about all that had happened. When their youngest daughter first got sick, he and Grace took her to the doctor like any parents would. They arrived to find many parents with children that had the same symptoms; green mucus and a rasping, rattling, painful cough. They had seen the news reports of people coming down with these symptoms starting in Texas and moving North. He remembered now that there had been a South wind for several days after hearing the initial reports.
They had been told at the doctor’s office that it was a virus and modern medicine couldn’t do much for viruses. Take her home, keep her warm and fed, they were told. They had tried essential oils, which seemed to help at first, but she just kept getting worse. Then, their next oldest came down with it. The youngest died two days later. When they called 911 to report the death they were informed that hundreds were now dying and nothing could really be done. “It’s illegal,” the police captain, who they had been transferred to had said, “But you might as well bury your child at home. At least she’ll get buried.” When their second child died, their oldest, a boy, ran off for the woods. He had a fort out there where he liked to play. When his father went to find him the boy said he didn’t want to come home. He didn’t want the virus too. And then he coughed. And coughed again. A week later he was dead as well, but Sean had to bury him by himself because Grace was too sick to help.
He had held her close as she took her last breath, crying tears that rarely came to him. And now his tears wet the field stones that he had placed on her grave. Stones that she had collected from her grandparents corn field to line her flower beds in the front yard. She would have liked this, he thought. The four graves were placed on top of the hill overlooking their property. A nice view of the surrounding countryside and the lake. An eagle flew overhead, her favorite bird. A loon called from the lake. A mournful tune she had often tried to imitate.
They had watched the television news together when a report finally came about a fire and brimstone fundamentalist preacher in Texas taking credit for the virus. A member of his church worked for a military lab in Dallas and had smuggled out the virus in sealed tubes. The whole congregation had stood on a hill top and while singing praises to their God, released the virus to the winds. The T.V. showed him screaming into a microphone about how God had commanded him to bring about the end of times. God’s judgement would soon cover the earth but the true believers, meaning his congregation, would be spared and would see God in heaven. And just as he was reaching his crescendo he coughed. And coughed again, this time so hard that mucus flew into the hand he had covered his mouth with. Green mucus. He stared hard at his hand. The T.V. camera catching it all. He looked into the camera, dropped the microphone and left the stage, the crowd suddenly in an uproar. A member of the preacher’s congregation picked up the mic and said the preacher needed a break for a minute but would be back. The camera panned the audience. Fearful, questioning looks everywhere. Yeah, he’d be back alright.
A month later the entire structure of society had broken down. People everywhere were getting sick. Stores closed, T.V. and radio stations started dropping off the air. Still, reports were coming in on the ones that were left saying that the entire world was infected. Cameras showed empty streets because in the last week of the illness people were so sick, they couldn’t get off their beds. But homes were filled with bodies, the reporter said. And then she coughed. And coughed again. On the last radio station he could pick up the announcer said he was all alone. And finally, he started coughing on the air and soon he was gone. The shortwave radio Sean had, picked up Deutche Welle in Germany. The same story there. Everyone was dying. That radio went dead two days later.
And now, here he was, beside his family’s graves feeling healthy but grieving. Why wasn’t he sick? Why wasn’t he dead? His dog, Angus, lay beside him with her head between her paws. “What the hell, Angus?” he said. “What the hell just happened?”