This fills the “innocent” square.
Content warning: this is depressing and it even creeped me out.
The city was surrounded. For three weeks, nobody – nothing – had gotten in or out.
Except radio signals. They had actually tested those, but there didn’t seem to be any carryover of the contamination into radio, and so radio signals were allowed to escape.
Escape. Colonel Techwin looked down at her notes and shook her head, again. She had started to think of everything in, out, and from that city as sentient, the radio signals escaping, the air and the direct sound waves trapped.
It had taken them some doing, but they had sealed up the city entirely – a dome, which had seemed funny at first, something out of a cartoon, something out of a parody. “We’re going to stick a dome on it and trap the contamination inside.”
The problem was, there was more than contamination in there.
Colonel Techwin levered herself out of her seat, hobbled out of her tent, and made herself walk to the edge of the dome. She did so every day; she had done so for five weeks now.
“How long do they have?”
Her aide-de-camp was not far behind her; Petlun was almost always behind her. “Estimates say between seven and ten days longer, ma’am.”
“How much longer will the dome hold?”
“Estimates say between eight and nine more days, ma’am.”
She didn’t need to ask the rest. Before they had installed the dome, the contamination rate had been tracked. By sound, one being every hour. By breath, ever half-hour. When you got into direct contact, it got worse.
She put a hand on the dome. That, they had determined, was probably safe. “Have we discovered…” An antidote? A cure? A vaccine?
“No, ma’am. They say they’re close… Also, ma’am, approximately ten percent of the city is still un-contaminated.”
Techwin ran her hand down the glass. “And yet, if we release them to study them…”
Within days, the human race would all be contaminated. Every one of them. Within a month, most would be dead, according to current estimates.
On the other side of the glass, a child, white-eyed and bloody-mouthed, ran her hand down the dome, mimicking Colonel Techwin. The Colonel sighed.
“Tell the scientists they have seven days. At the end of the seventh day…”
Petlun nodded. “Yes, ma’am.” Neither of them looked at the child. They were both staring at the mother, clear-eyed and weeping, mouthing soundless pleas through the glass.
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