Shiplap Plague

Shiplap Plague

by

Phillip McCollum

Sara’s bloody nose.

As Devin lay against the worn polyester couch in the hospital waiting room, immobile, vision blurred, the connection jolted him as if someone had hooked his spinal cord up to a car battery. Not that first signs mattered at this point, other than to appease Devin’s insatiable need to know. He tried to focus on his wife’s face, but the lenses of his eyes refused to cooperate. He could only see the faint outline of her body collapsed over that of a patient she had been checking on–what, maybe ten or fifteen minutes ago?

She always put others before herself. It’s why she wanted to become a doctor in the first place. It’s why they both became doctors.

And now they were the patients without anyone left to tend to them.

Thinking back to the morning, Devin realized his watering eyes were probably the second sign that something was very wrong in the town of East Warhaven.

Of course, they brushed the symptoms off as hay fever, all too easily attributed to the unusually dry air and wind they’d been experiencing. Spring pollen was in full effect this year.

The notion that something bigger was at play didn’t take long to come to him, though. At 9AM that morning, they had dragged themselves into short-staffed St. Margaret’s Hospital after a reserved, yet obviously urgent, call from the head of ER who informed them that an unusual number of patients were flowing into the hospital and they needed all hands on deck.

First, it was the elderly and young children. Bloody noses, teary eyes, and trouble breathing. By 5PM, there were more patients than beds and the town’s population had been slashed in half. The CDC was supposedly on their way, but Devin couldn’t recall who had said that and if it was even true.

Since he couldn’t dial in on Sara’s face or even generate enough force to move his body close enough to hold her hand, he closed his eyes and tried to remember happy moments of their life and the new life they had begun to build.

It was the kind of small-town life Sara would have dismissed a couple of years ago, but the nightly shootings, stabbings, and recurring drug-addicted patients had taken their toll and he had been able to convince her that a change would be good for them. On a visit last month to see family in Virginia, they came to the decision. It took them only one day to decide on purchasing a white plantation-style home with a wraparound porch and a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, marred only by an old shiplap shed–the shiplap shed which they had reduced to rubble the evening before everything went to hell.

If you’d like to finish reading this story, along with many others, I’d be ecstatic if you’d consider purchasing one of my books.

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