A small island

On a boat in Sicily, 2002

On a boat in Sicily, 2002

Writing Prompt No. 99

The boat rocked and bobbed on the waves as it approached the island.

A small rocky tip of a mountain its main body buried under the ocean a million years ago. Abel steadied himself gripping the handrail. The virus had spread across the mainland so fast it had killed everyone he knew. When he found the edge of the land where the water lapped at the shore he fell to the ground and wept. Here he would find a boat where the healthy were taken to distant islands.

First, there was quarantine for six days. Then a physical assessment at the medical facility. A temporary set-up in an old wedding marquee. The team worked hard every day testing blood, breath and bodies for any sign of the virulence that was taking humanity down. They took great care in their work. Just one mistake could send a carrier of the virus, un-knowing, from this country to the next. The only solution to save the human race was escape.

A nurse with kind eyes took Abel’s blood, captured his breath in a filter and checked his body all over for the tell-tale signs of bruising of the skin. Despite the heat of the day Abel shivered in the makeshift cubicle. Goosebumps prickled up both his arms. He rubbed them without thinking.

While he waited for the results he pulled a small photograph out of his pocket. His thumb touched each member of his family. His wife, the son they shared and the son they adopted. He’d had to leave them screaming behind the locked doors of their ‘forever’ house. There was nowhere else for them to go. The virus takes hold of the brain, destroys it, leaving those you love showing only hate in their eyes.

“You’re free to go,” says the nurse with the kind eyes. “Everything’s normal. You are one of the lucky ones. Take this ticket and give it to the border guard. He will guide you to the boat.” He smiles at Abel and pats him on the shoulder. “Take care,” he says.

The tears come hot and slow. He must leave now. The country of his birth was diseased and dead. Hope was the small rocky island that was closer now.

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