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  • mariokiefer

The Cold: Day One

His eyes opened of their own volition and he turned his head to the right to read the red numerals that beckoned from his nightstand: 7:31 they cried out.

“Oh my God,” he thought. “Why have I slept so late?”

His chest constricted as his lungs spasmed and let loose a coughing fit. After his lungs calmed, he turned to his left, but his partner was not there.

He sat and planted his feet on the floor. Sure, he felt like crap, but it was Sunday morning. It was time for the grocery store and he had little doubt that his partner waited for him to rise from his slumber so that they might dispense with the weekly chore.

He stood and, feeling a bit lightheaded, stumbled toward the bathroom. He knew the fuzziness in his head was the direct result of the witch’s concoction he had imbibed the night before in an attempt to ward off the evil that now raged within his body.

His morning ablutions complete, he pulled on his trousers and a t-shirt as well as a pair of slip on shoes. He did not bother with socks, they would be too much trouble. This morning, of all mornings, beckoned for his feet to be free.

He resolved not to look in the mirror. He did not care what he looked like and if the state of his hair frightened small children, well, he figured, it was up to their mothers to calm them. Besides, sometimes, children needed a fright.

Zombie-like, he shuffled his way to the kitchen for a cup of the elixir he knew could wake the dead. When he rose the cup to his lips, he wondered whether that elixir was strong enough to combat “the nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever, so you can rest medicine.” He drank in its sweet aroma but the heat that wafted between it and his mouth invaded his lungs eliciting another coughing fit that caused him to spit out the elixir onto the countertop.


“Dammit,” he thought. “Perhaps this evil is too strong for such a mundane remedy?”

He cleaned up the mess with a kitchen towel then tried again. This time, God’s liquid love went down his throat and, for the briefest of moments, his eyes fluttered wide as if almost awake.

He called his sister and cancelled their lunch plans — no need to get anyone else sick — and sent his partner to the grocery store alone.

The man crawled onto the living room sofa. As he nestled into the sofa’s soft cushions (too soft really since it was time to replace them) then pulled the furry throw from the sofa’s back and over him. Although he had been been awake only an hour, the siren-like song of the Sandman called out to him.

He wanted to turn on the television and allow its mindless buzz to lull him into slumber, but the remote was on the coffee table just inches out of his reach. To activate the hypnotist he needed to rise to retrieve the magic wand.

“Is it worth it?” he wondered.

Frustrated, he sat up, retrieved the remote, and nestled back into his cocoon. With the push of a button, the television emitted the sounds of the Sunday pundits’ relentless complaints about one politician or another. To the sound of their screeches, his eyelids drooped.

Two hours later he woke as the pundits continued their complaining from the television. His partner was in the office (he had work to do although it was Sunday).

The man rose from his nest and made his way to the bathroom where from the center drawer (the one that contained the government-approved hallucinogens that marketing swore alleviated the symptoms of infection, but that real-life testing had heretofore only yielded mixed results) and dry-swallowed “the daytime, sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever, so you can stay awake medicine.”

He shuffled from the bathroom into his kitchen and poured himself a glass of that organic orange liquid that promised him his daily allotment of vitamin C. For the briefest of moments, he considered whether a shot of vodka would increase the vitamin’s potency, but rejected the idea in favor of its purer form. Then, he shuffled back to his nest on the sofa whereupon he surfed the airwaves in search of something other than talking heads.

A few hours later, he woke to the sight of predators chasing aliens. His throat felt like the sands of the Sahara and his head pounded to the beat of heavy metal.

He drank another glass of vitamin C followed by more napping.

It was later in the evening when he rose to the aroma of supper cooking on the stove — at least as much of the aroma that could reach his olfactory senses through the blocked passages of his nostrils. Despite the aroma, he was not hungry. Yet, he knew that sustenance was necessary to arm his body against the invading infection, so he forced himself to consume a small amount of his dinner, tasteless as it was.

On the television, he watched an episode of his boy’s, Dean and Sam, as they battled supernatural creatures under the omnipresent threat of destruction from Lucifer and The Darkness. This week’s malignant creature having been vanquished by the boys, the Man shuffled into his bedroom, took a dose of “the nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever, so you can rest medicine” and crawled into bed.

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