Quarantine

Mike watched the children scurried into the dilapidated building. A dozen set of eyes watched him from behind broken-glass windows. He knew what questions swam in their minds. What was he, a boy not much older than they were, doing walking the streets? No one walked the streets, at least no one dressed like him. Clean, clothes that weren’t ripped and frayed. The clean were supposed to stay away, hold up inside their homes, far away from this place and its filth and carnage.
If he was honest, Mike knew they were the same questions floating through his own thoughts. But, he couldn’t hide any longer. He couldn’t let people, especially the children, suffer when he knew he could do something to stop it. He’d watched too many die while he did nothing. Mama, Papa, Jackie…too many.
The Order unleashed their Cleansing on the world 3 weeks ago. Mike didn’t know how much the world had been ravaged by it, but he knew it was bad. Uncle Romulus, High Chancellor of the Order, tried to stop it. He told Mike what needed to be done before he died. Of course, the Order found out. Mike tried to hide, but they found him and his entire family.
Mike shook his head. There was no way to change the past now, but he could do something about the future. He held Uncle Romulus’s staff in front of him and closed his eyes. Blue light illuminated the tip of the staff and pulsed out of it in rippling circles. Mike heard the gasps from inside the building. Gasps of someone breathing, really breathing, for the first time. Gasps of life filling bodies that had forgotten what it is to live.
Mike opened his eyes. The building was still crumbling, cars still rusted and falling apart, but the blackness that had coated everything like a thick blanket was gone. The children cautiously emerged from the building, blinking from the sunlight that reached into the city streets.
“Who…who are you?” A little girl asked, looking at Mike with puzzlement and fear.
“No one you need to worry about,” Mike said softly. “Just trying to fix what was broken.” He turned and walked away. He heard the whispers of the children and others that began to step into the streets. The same whispers he heard everywhere he went, now. Whispers of hope.

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