The Friday Muse

The Friday Muse – Solitude

Today’s Friday Muse piece turned out to be more of a character sketch than a self-contained story idea. But it certainly has promise to become a story. A man taken captive while a deadly plague wreaks havoc on the world…

“Solitude is man’s greatest comfort, yet can also be man’s greatest nemesis.”

I read that quote many months ago. It was in a book…no, a magazine article on the human brain and the effects of solitude and its connections to insanity. I was waiting in the doctor office for Claire. She was there to get a checkup on an infection that had manifested in her lungs. The doctor office was busy that day. I complained to her later that it was too busy, but now I would welcome that busyness with open arms.

These shackles have cut and bruised my wrists. Mildew fills the air – and my lungs – making it hard to breathe normally. I haven’t eaten in days – too many to count – and I am ravished. The water they bring me is simply a collection of the condensation from the pipes that run through this compound. Aside from the guard who brings me that water, I haven’t seen another living soul in this place since I woke here. Where here is.

Memories return to me in painful flashes of light and color, but I can’t seem to recollect exactly what brought me here. When the plague attacked New Haven, Claire and I were packing up to move West toward Lockly. We weren’t able to leave before Claire died. I found out too late that the infection in her lungs had been spurred on by the Rack Plague, and I could do nothing to save her.

I fled the city, taking what few supplies I could transport in our small sedan. I made it into the Wastelands and set up camp at the base of Mt. Sel. I grieved Claire’s death for days. I almost killed myself, but resolved to do what I could to survive. It’s what Claire would want. It’s the only reason I haven’t killed myself in this place.

I was going to leave my camp, to head further West and hopefully reach Lockly, but…I can’t remember…bandits, maybe, ambushed me. I remember men with cloth over their mouths. I remember guns. I remember the smell of sweat and urine. Everything after that is shrouded in darkness in the recesses of my mind. I woke up here, chained to the floor, half naked and starving.

There is nothing left for me except for the memory of Claire and that hideous plague. I wish I knew where it came from, what caused it, and how to stop it. It swept through the continent within a matter of weeks. I have no idea how I escaped its clutches.

Come to think of it, I haven’t seen the guard in a day or two. I haven’t seen anyone in a day or two. I’ve only seen the beam of sunlight which pours through the dirty window and shines light across me, bathing me in warmth, for a time each day.

Has the plague reached here into the depths of hell?

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