To @RealBriGang’s Prompt, with a side order of pretty much everyone eles’s U (Except probably the Uranium; I couldn’t work that one in. 😉
Uma wasn’t feeling well.
That much, everyone could tell. Her crowd of urchins gathered around her, bringing her little offerings – stories, food, drink, anything they could find in the ruins of the city, anything they could drag of carry or, in one case, force at broken-bottle-point into their little sanctuary.
They had thought she was immune. The olders had, one by one, gotten the Sickness and then had to leave. Some had come in with it, and been driven out just as quickly. Some had just gotten old, and, as they got old, gotten Sick.
But Uma was special. Uma was twice as old as any of them, at least, and, she had never gotten the Sickness. She was immune, she was precious, she was their leader.
She had brought the children in – some as infants, like Uli, slung by her shoulder in a baby-hammock, some old enough to remember that once, before the Sickness, they had known parents. She had brought them in one at a time, or in bunches. “We are your family now. You are my urchins.”
Oli was old enough to remember that there had been others, that, once, Uma had not been the oldest, and they had been Kelly’s Kids. And Kelly had said, before that they had been Tommy’s Tots.
The broken world yielded endless children, it seemed, endless children and endless Sickness striking the old, the grown-ups. The children watched after the younger children, because there was no-one else to do it anymore.
“Don’t get Sick, Uma.” They all whispered it; she was past hearing them anyway. “Please, Uma. Don’t do the thing.”
But it was too late. Her skin was already shifting, her ears stretching, her teeth growing.
Crying, the urchins drove the confused wolf-woman out of their sanctuary. Oli wielded the largest weapon, shouted the loudest. When they were done, when the wolf-woman who had been their leader was gone, Oli turned to the children. “You’re Oli’s Orphans now.”
And maybe Oli would not get Sick.
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