Just a little story I wrote when I wasn’t in the best of moods….and thinking about COVID lockdown. Could be worse!
They say that in the weeks before the Great Plague, ships were seen gliding on the sea, calm flowing forth from under their keels like the spreading dark. Those who saw them pass by tell a tale of shadow men crowding the smooth decks, clawed hands and seared skin and eyes like the cinders of a blasted city. Watching from the shore, far as they were, they smelled the stench of decay on a ghost wind, and soon after fell into a sleep, and then into grey death.
When the rulers were told of these wonders, they sent their own ships to find and destroy the demon vessels, but these were lost in a strange, foul mist that crept up from the west, and never seen again. So the rulers ordered the people to move inland, away from the demons who roamed the wide waters.
It was not long before death caught up with them. It moved through the rivers and the streams, swimming serpent-like against tide and current. It leaked into the dewdrops as they formed on the spring green grass, and into the rain as it kissed each roof and slab. It caressed the soft curls of babies as they lay in their mothers’ arms and the wispy remnants on the heads of the old. It rode in on a breath and out on a sigh, and everywhere there was water, there was sickness.
So the rulers bade their servants lock the gates, and the people went inside their houses and shut their doors, and those who could drank wine, and those who could not drank nothing, and died of their thirst. At last even the wine was gone, and the rulers turned to each other and said, how shall we preserve ourselves?
Then the man said to the woman, the only wine that remains is that which runs in the veins of our children. It is a good vintage, for we made it ourselves. The woman refused, saying, I would rather join the numberless dead than drink that vintage, no matter how rare and red. The man, maddened by his thirst and his desire to live, killed both the woman and their children, and sated himself, and lived. In time, he looked over his walls to find that the Plague had ended.
So he unlocked the great gates and walked out into the silent world, where only the bones muttered against one another in the dry breeze. The rivers and streams had withered, the sea was a plain of salt, and the rain a fearful memory. Then he wept; his tears were red as wine and blood, and hissed as they fell on the scorched ground.
Or so they say, for that was long ago, and far away, and now they are all dead who knew the truth of it.