Pandemic. Armageddon. Doomsday.
These were words no one really believed they’d hear in their lifetime, but here it was, all around them, changing life as they knew it.
Miriam was pretty much of a homebody, so the first decree to stay indoors wasn’t all that different than any other day of her life. She rarely went to restaurants or bars, and wouldn’t step foot in a gym if you paid her. But, she did like her morning and evening walks. Those she did miss, when, slowly, things had gotten so bad, that even walking outside was a felony.
The electrical blackouts got worse, until now there was none at all. The water, slowly turned a decaying brown, no matter which faucet she used, until, that too was little more than a trickle. Garbage piled up. Mail was no longer delivered.
Miriam sat in front of her dark-screened entertainment wall, wondering what can of expired soup to open for dinner.
She sighed. Maybe it was time to give up and just fade away. She never looked out of the drawn curtains anymore. By now the trees must be bare branches, the lawn, shriveled brown grass and dry dirt. She knew nothing lived out there anymore. Nothing moved.
Out of nowhere came a melodic three ding song. Miriam looked up in confusion. She hadn’t heard that sound for a long, long time. It was the doorbell.
She tried to ignore the summons, but it was persistent. Finally, and with trembling hands she went to the door. Her rusted voice could barely whisper through the boarded-up pane.
“Yes? What do you want?”
The voice on the other side of the door was kind but firm. A female voice. “Mom? Mom? Are you there?”
Miriam shuddered. What was this new terror? Her children were gone. Long gone. Dead and gone.
“Who are you,” she said, a little stronger. “What do you want?”
“Mom,” the unfamiliar voice continued. “It’s over. It’s been over for a long time, but we couldn’t find you. Nobody knew you were here. They thought the house was abandoned. Mom? Please open the door.”
Despite her fear, a tiny inkling of hope squeezed her heart. Could it really be over? Could this really be one of her children?
She couldn’t begin to believe it, and yet, even if it was the devil himself, come to steal her soul, she had nothing left to give and nothing else to lose.
Slowly, she undid the locks. Even more slowly, she opened the door…