The golden wing-shaped doors opened revealing an expansive indoor garden. Flowers of all shapes and colors bloomed like a rainbow. A crystal waterfall twinkled off to the right. Delicate glass angels decorated the greenery. Juicy red apples taunted Master Rufio as he walked past. Pine trees covered in pure snow made him suppress a shiver. But most magnificent were the roses. Rows and rows of them smelled delightfully like her. He greedily inhaled the scent until he got light headed.

A servant dressed impeccably cleared his throat. “It’s perfect.” Master Rufio declared. The servant’s face remained solemn as he beckoned Master Rufio through the roses.

As they passed, Master Rufio thought the roses began to fade, but he shook the feeling off. His garden was perfect and everything in it would be preserved, frozen in its perfection, immortalized. But as they got closer and closer to her, the roses not only faded but were losing petals. And the last row of roses were shriveled and dead.

Master Rufio took the last few steps up to the glass capsule that held her. Inside it, his love was perfect. She was youthful with smooth skin and lush dark hair. He followed her defined cheek bones and traced her full red lips. Her beauty brought tears to his eyes. He longed to hold her, but he knew that he couldn’t. Everything he touched, he destroyed.

Master Rufio made to turn away when something caught his eye. Two tiny wrinkles creased her forehead. He squinted hard believing it to be a trick of the light. Desperately he wiped the glass hoping it was just a crack. But the wrinkle stayed.

The servant appeared at Master Rufio’s side. “You can’t keep her forever.”

Icy fear forced the breath from Master Rufio’s lungs. He inhaled knives. The smell of the roses tickled his nose, taunting him. Hunched over the glass her clung to the capsule. And before his eyes her wrinkles spread.

Her skin withered deforming her features. Silver snaked through her hair. Her eyelids sunk into her sockets. All her color faded away. What was left was a wrinkled old prune.

“No!” The cry ripped from Master Rufio followed by tortured agonizing screams. The servant stood frozen, trying not to hear. But he couldn’t avoid the gaping wound that burned Master Rufio’s chest revealing a bloody beating eye sore, Master Rufio’s heart.

Musty Maps

As I reached up to pull the string and turn off the attic light, a pile of dusty papers rolled off of the shelf and landed on my toes. I hesitated with one hand frozen in the air and the other clutching a yellowing lace wedding dress. The top paper slowly uncurled and I got a glimpse of funny looking shapes surrounded by blue.

I hung the wedding dress on the end of the shelf and scooped up the pile of maps. In the far corner of my attic was a hideous hot pink and neon yellow lazy chair with several tears. Eyes trained on the map I made my way to my chair to examine the maps closer.

“North America, Europe, Asia, Pacific Ocean…” The names sounded familiar, but foreign like I heard them in a dream or stumbled across them in an outdated textbook. My grandmother was a teacher and her idea of toys were bulky textbooks. I got them every year for my birthday and most of them I read or tried to read.

I had heard the word “oceans” before, but I couldn’t recall the meaning. Creak! I glanced up and saw a shadowy globe in the corner spinning faster and faster. My spine tingled, and I jumped to my feet. “Hello? Jazz?” My sister must have been playing a trick on me. I was taking a long time to bring her Mother’s old wedding dress…

I approached the globe and rested my hand on top of it to stop the spinning. “Jazz, I know you are hiding up here.” I snickered.

Under my hand the globe began to spin again. My muscle tensed. Cold sweat dripped down my back. “Jazz?”

The smell of daisies wafted to my nose. My grandmother used to smell like daisies. A wave of calm crashed over me and I swayed back onto my heels. The globe halted. I examined it. Right in the middle of the ocean, a pin-prick sized blob labeled “Hawaii” was circled in red ink. Beside it was a sticky note. I read the scrawling handwriting aloud:

“Date: December 15th, 2016

Dear Future Generations,

I am Mika Theabe. I am originally from Hawaii which is a state in the United Stated of America. The United States of America is a country on the continent North America on the planet Earth. You might not know what any of these words mean because where I’m going there will be no continents, no oceans, no countries even.

I have successfully completed the NASA training necessary to go to Mars. They say we will be colonizing there so I assume I will start a family up there. Future family, this note is to you. I will take a photo album to Mars with me so that you will never forget the beauty of Earth.

Love always,


Sanitized Testing

The classroom isn’t as full as it used to be. Sure, I haven’t been in a full classroom since Kindergarten, but today there’s three less people than yesterday. Three is a significant number when there’s only seven people. On the first day of senior year there was eleven of us. Now there’s only four and it’s only October. Once the cold settles in we are really in trouble.

Mrs. Sandfield picks up the attendance sheet. She knows all of us by name, but she still insists on treating us like a “normal class” or what was normal before the outbreak. “Gardner?”

Silence. Mrs. Sandfield chews her bottom lip. Her eyes glance up to Troy Dodson’s empty seat. She crosses his name off and just like that, the last trace of him is gone. “Peters?”

Silence. Mrs. Sandfield scratches her pen. “Vance?”

More silence sucking the air out of the room. It doesn’t help that the air conditioner has been broken for months. Mrs. Sandfield marks through Katie Vance’s name. “Weber?”

“Here,” my voice booms obnoxiously loud in the quiet room. Marie Gardner flinches and turns her stink eye on me. You’d think I was yelling at a funeral. She’s a drama queen.

Mrs. Sandfield sets down the list and automatically pulls her sterile smelling hand sanitizer out of her desk drawer. She used to have the fruity kind that girls would shove under their noses when the sweaty soccer team walked by, but the fruity sanitizer is long gone and so is the soccer team.

“Alright, today we are learning the quadratic equation…” Mrs. Sandfield picks up a bright red dry erase marker and starts writing numbers on the board. The internet and phone lines crashed down a few years ago, but the electricity is still running…for now.

As Mrs. Sandfield rambles through notes I count the dry erase markers resting on the board. There’s six of them. I wonder what will happen when they dry out. Maybe Mrs. Sandfield will drag an old chalkboard in if she can find chalk. Maybe by then there won’t be anyone around to teach.

Mrs. Sandfield drags through math, history, and grammar before finally letting us eat lunch. We have to bring our lunch since there’s no one around to cook it. We eat right at our desks since there are only four classes in the entire school. I’m not sure why we don’t just combine into one class, but I guess that’s how the plague spread in the first place. I tried to tell my mom that going to school would get me sick, but she wouldn’t have any of that. Even though half of America is infected, education is still clearly more important.

As I pop jell capsules of fruity artificial flavoring into my mouth, I nearly choke. Five little black spots dot my palm. My heart rate spikes as I clench my hands into a fist. I rub my eyes and look again. The dots glare defiantly up at me. “Can I borrow some hand sanitizer?” I blurt.

Mrs. Sandfield narrows her eyes and holds out her bottle. With a closed fist I stand up and take a step towards her. The world lurches under my feet. I barely feel the cool tile as I hit the ground. I see two Maries swinging out of her desk and jumping over me. Black dots dance in my eyes. “Help,” I croak even though I know they won’t help me. They can’t help me or they’ll get sick. They won’t ever use this room again. It’s contaminated.

The door slams shut behind them. The lock clicks. I can almost see the yellow police tape as the black dots blot out the world.