Over the next eight days we will be publishing the eight finalists from the 2020 Voorheesville Short Story Contest. This, the first of our three finalist stories, made it to the final round of judging. Today, enjoy Jack Wittman’s story, “Our Changing World”
The year is 2026. The human race is at its lowest point in recorded history. The virus has wiped out over 90 percent of the world population. In all countries, governments, economies, and all businesses are no more. On an everyday basis, people struggle to survive and find refuge. The virus is still killing people who are exposed but the majority of the population that is left are immune. But in today’s world, some would rather have died then go through the struggle of survival on our ravaged planet. I am one of the few people who are immune but I have learned that it is both a blessing and a curse. You may be wondering what the hell happened and how this all started. So let me take you back to the roots and explain to you how the inevitable apocalypse unfolded.
Before it all started, I was a senior in high school getting prepared to start the rest of my life. The things on my mind were college, grades, money, and making the most out of my last year of high school with my friends. This was all about to change. When I first heard about it I was in school browsing through social media. “Chinese man eats rare bat species and develops a disease that causes fatal results. Multiple people where the incident happened are experiencing similar symptoms shown by the man.” When I saw this I pretty much just excused it and kept scrolling. I was on twitter and hadn’t refreshed my timeline in awhile so I noticed this news was from a few days ago. I proceeded to refresh the page and was immediately bombarded with posts. One in particular caught my eye. “Coronavirus is on the move. What started as a disease born from a bat has now spread across north east Asia. Symptoms are flu like but seem to affect the elderly and very young much more. There has been a major spike in deaths since the initial case.” Not going to lie I was very intrigued and went to show my friends. When I told them and showed them the post they said they already saw and were surprised this was the first time I had. I guess I was out of the loop but now that I knew I was very interested. To be honest I found it pretty funny. Some guy ate a freaking bat and got a disease. Like of course. Leave it to one guy’s strange appetite and now a disease is going around. And the thing that was most damaging to America was how the the name ironically defamed the popular beer. This is how me and the majority of people I knew were viewing it. We were making jokes and saying things like “Dude my immune system is so strong i’ll be fine” and “Maybe school will be closed if it comes to the U.S” and “Damn bro I hope my grandparents will be okay.” For awhile it was all fun and games. Everyone was talking about it and making jokes, coming up with theories, and bashing that poor man’s fatal diet choice. Little did we know everything was about to change.
After about two months it had reached the states. Cases were in multiple states but it didn’t phase us at the time because there was a total of about forty deaths at first. To us, Corona was still nothing and not at all a concern. To the people with “common sense”, the virus was obviously not going to do any harm and probably be contained in no time. After all so many more people have died from the common flu and no one really thinks about the fact that they could die from it because it was so unlikely to happen. Let’s keep in mind that I was from a tiny town in upstate New York and to me, the probability of getting this virus was close to nothing. But as time went on, the number of deaths went up. There were now 500 cases in the United States and in Europe and Asia, deaths were exponentially increasing. But what was most surprising to us was that in Saratoga, a town only 45 minutes from where I lived, there were 2 cases. Now that might not seem like a lot but to us it was crazy because of how close to us it was. Especially since there were only 500 cases in the whole country. My friends and I were quite baffled because we had a friend that we frequently hung out with that went to private school with kids from saratoga. What if he got it and spread it to us? A lot of questions were being asked and not many people had answers. Deaths all over the world kept spiking and the CDC was struggling to find a way to contain it. After a few more months of steady suspense, it happened. Coronavirus was contained with a new cure. At least that’s what we thought.
This time I wasn’t scrolling through twitter. My dad had the news on and I realized that this new information was on almost every news station. A cure was found by the CDC. Or so they hoped. Patients started getting the cure and what we wished for started to come true. The symptoms lessened and people all over started feeling better. But then, everyone’s greatest fear came true. What we hoped was a cure turned out to work in the complete opposite way we wanted it to. It turned out that the so called cure had combined with the existing virus and mutated into something out of a movie. Now that it was mutated, the effects were extremely costly. Now anyone who got it would start bleeding from their eyes, ears and nose and get fevers at crazy high temperatures. Also, the infected would vomit blood and other mysterious liquids and would cause dehydration and organ failure. Anyone who had the virus would die in a short two hours. In extreme cases some would only last about 30 minutes. Aside from the ghastly symptoms, the virus was extremely contagious. After about 3 weeks there were millions of fatalities. Panic ensued and people started going crazy and the struggle to survive became the only thing left. Those immune to the disease tried to start over but it was too late. The virus had wiped out more than half the population. And now this brings us back to where I am now. My life consists of fighting to survive and hopefully come out of all of it with some hope in a new world.