The alarm bell echoed throughout the city. The day had finally come.
They had known that this day would come, they had been grateful for every moment of silence in the air since the cessation was announced last fall.
Borders between states had been established since September. Border control between regions had only hit the coasts. They considered themselves lucky, those who chose not to flock to the coasts in the early phases of the unrest.
It began after the plague hit. A third wave of infectious disease. Many believed to be biological warfare from Russia or China. Most simply feared any human interaction at this point and remained closed up in their homes.
Those with land and resources were quick to reinforce their territory, but few allowed outsiders in. The homeless had been the first to die. With no solace nor access to medical attention, they rotted in the streets.
Sanitation workers had been placed in cities at first, to dispose of the rotting corpses, but the ability of the disease to spread was too risky, and most who could help chose their lives over their jobs.
Michael was one of the lucky, he had invested in some property, not much but enough, a few years prior to the outbreak. His girlfriend had become pregnant unexpectedly. When they had decided to keep the baby, he sought out a proper place for a home near his family.
He had not expected this type of responsibility at this time in his life, but he cared for Laura deeply and he had known she wanted to keep the baby, and he determined he did as well.
Their house was small but big enough for a growing family. And Laura was now pregnant again. Louis had been born two springs before. I’m the midst of the cessation uproar, when no one had believed it to be true. More fake news, flooding the media so that people were fearful. He had agreed with them at the time. The election was still a ways off, but it usually motivated rapid fire fake news.
He began to believe when he took Laura into The city, he was floored at the difference from their town to the city.
The two had been consumed with Louis and their lifestyle of becoming more self reliant by growing their own food. They had never been avid news watchers, nor spent much time on current affairs. Besides occasional references and talk at their places of employ, they knew only some of the present goings on.
That is, until they saw what the urban population had become in two short years. The smell hit Laura first, she was especially sensitive to all scents this pregnancy, and could small everything around.
She recognized the smell from the garden. One day, whilst picking ripe tomatoes, a swarm of flies rose up as she moved a dead pile of stalks and leaves. Underneath was a rotting rabbit. Clearly deceased for some time. The heat had made the stench of death tank and overwhelming.
That was the stench the city smelled of. But on a much grander scale.
They saw the first corpse at a stop light. Laura knew the area well having spent a year in the city prior to meeting Michael. She recognized the man, she had given him five dollars once, he had smiled kindly and complimented her nail polish.
He was older with a rugged beard and wore an old army coat. His sign had read “Anything helps, god bless” now only a few letters remained. His face had flies buzzing around open flesh, greying and rotten. The sun had deteriorated him while burning him before he was necrotic.
She gasped and turned to Michael, covering Louis’ eyes behind them in the car seat, she signaled to Michael to move quickly as she turned up the radio.