(© Erin Jones)
To call it a cheap beer was an understatement. It was a high gravity lager that
was sold in forty ounce bottles. Its mouth feel was thick and its aftertaste
was too sweet for most beer drinkers. Roger Benton did not mind, it was the
best cure for insomnia that he had ever found. It seemed to work far better
than anything his doctor prescribed or what he got over the counter. Sleep is
what he was wanting more than anything in the world at the moment. He had been
fighting the flu for over two weeks and just couldn’t shake it. He wasn’t
sleeping well and often his sleep had been interrupted. To make matters worse,
he had a bad rash that was spreading over his body. It was an itchy rash that
made it even harder to sleep.
He was far from alone in his suffering. All of the news outlets were calling it
the worst flu season on record because of the number infected. It wasn’t a
deadly flu by most standards, but it was one that seemed to take a long time to
recover from. A talking head on a morning news program had joked that it should
be called "the slow flu" because it took so long to get over it.
Roger had first thought nothing of the rash. It was probably just irritation from all
of the layers of clothing he had been wearing during the extremely cold winter.
But the rash did not go away. It stayed and spread no matter how it was
treated. He was not alone in this suffering either. Skin creams, ointments, and
lotions were flying off the shelves across the country, in fact, around the
world for that matter. Everyone everywhere seemed to be suffering to some
extent. The Center for Disease Control was at a loss and could explain neither
the flu nor the rash. They assured the public that, though widespread, neither
was cause for alarm.
The conspiracy theorists were having a field day. As Roger Benton drank his beer,
he surfed the internet and read with amused interest some of the theories that
were being posted. His girlfriend, Madison Dane, came in with a glass of wine
in her hand. Fresh out of the shower, she had simply combed out her hair and
slipped in to a pink nightgown. She wore no make-up and Roger thought she
looked good. Without it on he thought it gave her a natural, almost primal
look. The skin she showed that night was covered with an ointment that had an herbal
smell to it.
"What you reading?" She asked as she took a seat in a nearby chair.
"It appears that the latest flu epidemic is actually a biological attack by space
aliens who are planning to take over Earth and use it as a penal planet" he
said with a smirk.
"You mean they have no interest in using us as slaves?"
"They probably have seen how many of us talk on our cell phones while driving and
think we are too stupid to be useful."
"Any other theories?" She asked.
"Several. One is that the government is doing it to control the masses. Another is that
there was an accident at the CDC or a government laboratory and the 'Final
Plaque' is spreading across the world. Of course, there are those who think it
is God punishing us for enjoying sex. And some dare to say that it is just the
flu and some rashes and all will be well in a few weeks."
"What no zombies?"
"No, according to all of the late night movies you have to be dead and not just feel that way before you can become a zombie."
"What if Hollywood is wrong?"
"Worry not, my dear," he replied, "Hollywood will never lie to us. We can sleep safe
knowing that actors are here for this nation no matter the cause."
She downed her wine and excused herself for bed. He took his time and nursed his beer until the need for sleep overwhelmed him. He did not undress like he normally would, just simply crawled into bed with his sweats still on and went
It was a deep, troubled sleep for Roger Benton that night. He woke sometime in the night and could feel the sweat on his body. He felt thirsty but could not seem
to move to go get a glass of water. He wondered if he was paralyzed. He drifted
back into sleep as he thought it. Odd images haunted his dreams. The dreams
seemed to be prolonged and with a depth he had not experienced before. He felt
physical pain as he dreamed about computers being rebooted as their programs
[ Continue to page 2 ]