It had been some time since first shutting himself in the stone tent. Since then, he had lost all feeling in his left arm, lost sight in one eye entirely, and recently began to have delusions. He relocated his normal sitting place to the floor, so he could scoot over to a corner by the door to relieve himself and sleep on the other side.
He didn't think of much after the first day alone, but one thought that always crossed his mind was his hunger. It controlled him. It wrapped red hot chains across his body and stabbed him in the stomach with a red iron. It made his mouth dry but watery at the thought of it's cure. It made his ribs pull against the skin around his chest. It made the red iron that was once in his stomach, move up his back and go in his throat.
At this point, he didn't know what hurt worse, the pain of hunger or of rotting flesh on his chest and hips. His hand had already lost two fingers, he thought, he hadn't looked recently. Yet, his stomach still contested with the pain of his skin flaking away.
At this point, he waited for it to happen. He waited like a dog does on its master to let it in from a storm. He had no other wish except for it to happen.
He understood why he had been left in this state for so long.
He had let his father, the man at the bus, and Janis suffer through this.
He needed to eat.
He had to.
Norman growled, frustrated.
Where was the mouse?
He needed to eat, where was it?
Why hadn't he put them out of their misery?
Why did he care, now that he was in his own misery?
Norman rolled onto his back, hoping the burning on his skin would be worse than his hunger.
He stared up at the roof in silence, his trick briefly working.
He glanced around the room. This was where he would spend his suffering. He couldn't even sit on the bench anymore, or look out the window. The pool was gone now, from his drinking from it, as well as the mouse.
Norman looked over to the west wall. The red painted image on the wall suddenly took all his attention. The hands with palms pressed together.
He remembered Janis' explanation of it.
A sign of begging for mercy.
Norman tried to raise his arm up to meet the other, but found his attempt useless, since he couldn't even feel the rotting flesh. The dying man rolled over to his side, a flash of pain and something else taking the vision briefly from his good eye. He pressed his good hands palm against his other's in silence.
What was he expecting? The infection to take pity on him?
Norman sat like that for some time, totally silent. Then it happened. He lost vision in his other eye, and slowly all feeling. It finally happened. His pain would be gone, it was taking over. He hoped his family would stay far away, and that he wouldn't escape the stone tent. The change was happening. Now he could rest without being hungry. Now he could rest in his last place. Now he could rest in the stone tent, his own place, the place he loved most.
YOU ARE READING
A Traveler's BurdenScience Fiction
Several generations after the fall of society, the infection still runs through the human race. Those infected typically locate near the City, which is where the supplies are. When Norman goes to get supplies, he becomes infected. Now he must live w...