Three years from now.
Wei Chen awoke as he had for the last four weeks, terrified to look at himself in the mirror. He avoided the encounter by taking in the beauty of Qinghai Lake in the mountainous Chinese province of Qinghai, from the bedroom window of his small frame house.
Wei walked to the bathroom, avoiding the mirror before urinating, for fear of wetting himself at the sight of his reflection. A plague had assaulted the entire world, nearly crippling his powerful nation.
Observing no obvious evidence of the disease, Wei released the breath he had unknowingly held. His family would have a father for at least another day.
Two months earlier, Wei had assumed the position of Construction Manager for an electricity-generating wind-farm. The white spinning propellers towered above the landscape on the lake's west bank.
Still living eight hundred and fifty miles away in Beijing, Wei’s wife, Mayzhu, and three-year-old son, Liu, would be joining him the following summer. The two months of separation from his family already seemed like an eternity. He could hardly wait until they were reunited.
The disease overcame the elderly first, as many diseases do, though the symptoms were subtle and difficult to detect. More recently, the disease had begun attacking many middle-aged adults and even some children, whose symptoms were obvious the very first day.
Rumors had spread that the outer provinces may be spared from catching the illness due to their remote location and sparse populations.