It is set in the future. Not too far in future, may be nearby. Actually you can chose the year if you so like. I really don’t mind. You just give me the figure and I’ll place my story in that.
Okay did you say 2032? Seems fine to me. Because it’s not typical kind of futurist movie scene and also it is far from science fiction. I would say it is more like ‘social medical science fiction’.
So the thing is coronavirus of 2020 has gone from the world long back; but don’t be too hopeful, since many other similar, deadlier and smarter viruses have been visiting earth and have taken deadly toll on human life. But more importantly viruses affected people’s psyche. Since the ‘lockdown’ of March 2020, when people stayed home for many weeks, it changed the way people thought and went about their lives. They were always ordering stuff online. They had not been inside a store to look, pick, check and buy things.
Maybe viruses arrived from outer world or from an enemy country. Who cared? Maybe over time covid-19 mutated and formed new ones. I could search the internet and find names of some more of those viruses; like covid-22, covid25, covid25+, covd.supr, AirVirus… etc.
So AirVirus is the virus in the times of 2032. But entire humanity has been living under severe stress since 2020 when covid-19 had covered the population of entire globe. Internet says it had started from China. TV News channel used symbolic red color for countries affected. And soon the redness on the world map went on spreading and soon it had covered 200 countries! Red was chosen aptly as starting point, or mark of danger. Whoever chose red, chose well. Well due to entire population living with continuous fright of getting infected, not meeting anyone, not going out, not using expressions of handshake, hugs etc. Now all you could see was long faces, faces covered with masks, large caps and hand gloves. AirVirus, as the name suggested, did not only spread through coughing or sneezing, but also with tiny skin exposure. It spread through ‘air’. If two people passed by each other, they had to be careful that the ‘air’ displaced by both did not touch each other. So as soon as you saw someone approaching from opposite side, both would go to the extreme edge of the path and reduce the speed to dead slow. AirVirus could be contracted through any part of skin showing. It may be part of your calf, lower arm, neck, forehead… According to some rumors or fake news (though impossible in 2032), it seemed that AirVirus had mutated itself as micro-electronic-organism. It could figure smiles, happy chuckling sounds, voices with romantic tone…
Well I could go on and on making this look completely horrifying and frustrating. So, let’s change the topic and move to a better scenarios… well nearly. Remember it is 2032, you chose that year, didn’t you?
Once 5 friends decided to ‘meet up’ for drinks in a house; house of one of them. It is dark inside, windows are shut tight and curtains drawn. There shouldn’t be any hint of celebration, visual or aural. All the fiends kept their voices low and gestures muted. Thankfully they had gotten rid of caps, gloves etc. Everybody’s voice sounded as if he was speaking from his grave or was burying someone. In fact it was not that they were scared, they would be picked out by AirVirus; but gradually habits were formed due to 12 long years of continuously living modifying behavior. They had got used to be like that. Life had become slow, scary and drab. Most important emotion most people lived would be of ‘scare’.
Suddenly a shocking sound was heard. Door-bell! How? Who could this be? Host got up opened the door just a crack and saw Rakesh’s grandfather outside. Old man walked in straight away. Also it was not desirable to keep him out.
“So you all having good time, after long, huh.”
“Oh no, we are just exchanging notes about the new special overall that will keep us safe if we walk fast and pass others.”
“I see. Thankfully I don’t have that problem of walking fast. He he.”
Everyone held their breath. These people of older generation do not know how to adjust with our times. A soft hissing sound was heard outside the window that faced the road. No it wasn’t a car or an electric bus or…
After drinking a glass of water old man decided to leave. Ramesh got up to open the door for him and more to close it properly after he left. I think in 2020, even the postman did not get such a dry send off. Soon they settled down again. Chicken and parathas were great; but no one praising it was considered good adequate.
Suddenly they all heard the sound of a sac rolling down the first floor staircase. Decisive part was: before the rolling sound there was an “uhh” and in end an “aah”.
And then there was this screaming silence!