The first clue came when I was a child. All my family, everyone that lived in the house. Sudden, debilitating sickness causing their sudden, untimely deaths. Excruciating pain. Vomiting blood. Violent, explosive hemorrhaging. Red everywhere, on everything. It made the headline in the newspaper: FAMILY SUCCUMBS TO MYSTERIOUS ILLNESS, SINGLE CHILD SURVIVES.
They were the first, but certainly not the last. My uncle, who I went to live with. Children at my school. Teachers. Friends. The CDC was called in; there were fears of an outbreak, a potential epidemic: H1N1 but a thousand times more contagious, ebola but a million times deadlier.
Then suddenly it stopped just as mysteriously as it had started. All the men in hazmat suits left, shaking their heads in confusion. The quarantine was lifted. It stopped because I figured it out. Because I stopped myself coming into human contact with anyone else.
Somehow, I’m immune. No symptoms. No biological signs. But I am also the only source. It waits in me. I am the virulent man. I am a walking plague of biblical proportion. I am disease. I am death. I am the most deadly biological weapon in the history of mankind.
And this is why no one can ever know.
“Your bill,” says the bartender gruffly. The beer was warm and skunky, and he’d been rude to me.
I reach in my jacket pocket and feel the pen there.
“Damn,” I say, “do you have a pen?”
He grabs one from beside a pile of filthy glasses and holds it out to me, eyebrows pulled together and frowning.
“Thank you,” I say, reaching out to touch his hand.