Title: The Antidote
Genre: MG Fantasy
No one in this village was safe.
A woman sat weeping, a still man laid out on the bed beside her. His fingertips were black, rotted away. Blood crusted at the side of his mouth. An hour before he’d been coughing, hacking, rust-tinged sputum filled his soiled handkerchief. Now he was quiet. An hour before, his breath came heavy and harsh. Now there was none.
Outside the cottage, at the end of the lane, in the churchyard, a pit waited. Shrouded bodies lined its bottom. Soon the man would join them.
A hooded man stood beside the pit, looking over the scene with satisfaction. One of his greatest creations. Oh, he didn’t invent the plague, the rats, the fleas. Yersinia pestis had been around for centuries. But he improved upon it. More deadly, easier to catch. In a few years, a third of this village would be dead. In the pit.
* * *
Before that pizza day, Adam never thought twice about the windpipe.
Everyone loved pizza day. Except for Adam. The school made the pizza with whole wheat flour, but they put enough tomato sauce and cheese on to make it tasty. Most of the middle school bought lunch on pizza day. Kids crammed the lunchroom, sitting ten or twelve to a table, jostling, laughing, joking. All so easy, all so casual.
Adam didn’t jostle or laugh or joke. He sat at an uncrowded table, with a few guys he knew well enough to nod to and say, “Hey.”