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  • Writer's pictureNoah Yard

Pandemic Panic (Short Story)


Hey friends!


This is the first original work I'm posting, it's a short horror story I wrote for a contest a few months back and I thought I'd publish it here! I have a great love for horror and thriller fiction (even though I can't bring myself to watch many of the movies, go figure) so that's where a lot of my focus has gone over the last year or so.


This is a story about a fictionalised man with a terrible fear of germs and disease during, you guessed it, COVID. Hopefully you enjoy and I can continue to share work like this in future.


Warning for graphic imagery and language. If you're squeamish maybe skip this one.

 

“Albert,” they said, “You’re being crazy.”

“Albert,” they laughed, “There’s nothing to be scared of.”

“Albert,” my mother pleaded, “Please talk to us, you’re scaring us.”

But in the face of impending doom one can never be too cautious. As soon as I saw the news of quarantine, as COVID 19 started to sprout in different places in Australia, just a few cases, I jumped into action.

I ordered a large supply of groceries and provisions online then locked my doors, resolving not to re-open it until everything was under control. I watched the news religiously on any updated cases, following every instruction regarding hygiene, quarantine, and social distancing. I was determined to keep my house not just free of coronavirus, but germs altogether.

Every morning I woke up at 6 am to scrub all the surfaces clean, wipe all the door handles, and the windows until the house smells like bleach and my fingers are red raw from scrubbing.

Mother called, or sometimes my sister Beth, and I can tell they didn’t understand.

“Honey restrictions are relaxing; you should go out for a walk or go shop for some groceries…” mother tells me.

Beth is less kind “If you keep yourself locked up, you’ll become agoraphobic. Stop being a nerd.”

I’ve always been cautious when it comes to germs and disease, though. When I was little an old lady leaned over my pram. “What a sweet child!” she said, before sneezing on me directly, spraying my young face with spittle. I got seriously sick after that, so much so that I ended up in the hospital with a fever.

When news came out of Wuhan that people were getting sick, it was like a switch flipped. I knew how severe the symptoms and things could get, people were dying for god’s sake, but was prepared.

One day, after hours of scrubbing, and surfing the news stations for information, there was a knock at the door. Now it’s not the first time this had happened, people are less likely to intrude with quarantine in effect but there has still been the occasional mail man, or nosy neighbour looking for something to do. In those instances I politely yet firmly told them, through the wood, that I would not be opening the door, so they should leave the letters on the matt, or go get a new hobby.

So this time I peak through my curtains, trying to get a peak at who’s knocking, rather forcefully, on my front door. There’s no mail truck, or neighbour peeping through the window.

I stand behind the door, careful not to touch the wood, “Who is it?” I call.

No response.

I wait for a few seconds, calling out again to no response. I start to move away from the door, already thinking that it was just a one-off noise, or something in my head. But before I take three steps, there’s another knock, far more forceful. I nearly jump out of my skin.

“Who is it?” I ask again, louder yet unable to hide the panic in my voice. My sister always says I panic over nothing.

Again, whoever is outside doesn’t answer, just responds with another deafening knock that shakes the door on its hinges. I step away as the knocking continues. I move to grab my phone, fingers ready to call 911, when the knocking stops suddenly. I stand there for what seems like minutes, staring at the door, looking at it so intensely, like I expect to see right through it if I try hard enough.

I don’t know what possesses me, but I find myself reaching out for the door handle. I wouldn’t open the door for anyone before today, but it’s like I’m being possessed to open the door by some unseen force. My hand began to shake as I reached for the knob, but when I wrenched the door open there was no one there. I chance one step outside, to look around for those “ding-dong-ditchers” that so often hounded me. Nothing.

I close the door, quickly. The rest of my day occurs as normal. I go about my cleaning, I eat, I bathe, but when I look at myself in the bathroom mirror, something is wrong. On the very tip of my nose something is there, not a blemish or dirt, something alive. It’s not a bug, but it’s moving. I began to believe I was hallucinating, and wiped the tip of my nose with my forefinger.

Looking down my eyes go wide as I see the creepy critter has transferred to my hand. I try to examine it but the more I try to focus the blurrier and stranger the thing becomes. Then my stomach dropped because I knew, I knew in my heart what the vile thing was… It was a germ. And as soon as I realised this the little cell split into two. I screamed and immediately turned on the tap, readying the hospital grade hand sanitiser, all the while the things festered and kept doubling and growing, until my entire hand was consumed by wriggling, pulsating germs. I it was like being eaten by little translucent ants!

As I tried to scrub my hands under the sink I scream again because it’s spreading up my arms, and as I look in the mirror, I realise this infestation, this visible infection has crawled its way up my neck. I could almost feel them crawling on my skin, a million little monsters and still they spread.

I thought about turning on the shower but was entranced, trapped, watching the mirror like the infection had paralysed me. It had now reached my face and was crawling its way into every place it could. Up my cheeks, and into my nostrils! I open my mouth to scream but the germs, they begin to crawl inside and fill my mouth. I can see them swirling, crawling and look on in frozen horror as they begin to crawl onto my eyeballs.

Then suddenly I felt, out of the clear blue sky, an overwhelming sense of calm, a warm feeling spreading all through my body. It was strange, but the less I struggled, and the closer I looked, suddenly the little bacteria didn’t seem so bad. I realised, numbly, maybe they had reached my brain. Maybe they’d wormed my way in and found a home in my thoughts. The thought… made me smile.

Why had I struggled so? These little friends were here to help me, to tell me not to fret, that all was fine with the world. Why had I been so pent up and anxious the past few weeks? It seemed crazy to me now. Wouldn’t it be so lovely if I went outside? I needed some sunshine.

Yes, that’s right, if I went outside and got some fresh air, and showed the world my new little friends surely, I would feel better. I felt myself moving, as if I wasn’t the one controlling my body anymore, back toward my front door. I watched my hand reach without hesitation this time to open the door. With the door wide open I smiled again, sun on my face. I took one step outside, and then another.

Maybe the neighbours, or my family, would like to meet my new friends. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could feel as calm and happy as I do now? I look down as I feel the pull to move continue and watch, as I see my friends, my precious germs, spreading on the ground surrounding me. They began to pool on the concreate, swirling like a vortex, then spreading out like great tree branches in all directions.

Something deep, deep within my brain told me that what I had just done was wrong, that I’d put people in danger, but that was impossible! I’d never felt better, and as I watched my little friends creep down the street into the windows and under the doors of my neighbours that soon, they’d feel pretty great too.

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