A hand slapped on the window, another snatched at the door
handle. She shifted into second gear They ran alongside the car
and banged on the windows. She shifted into third. They screamed,
trying to get at her. Angry faces, full of hatred. One of them ran in
front of the car. He was just a kid. She swerved but too late, the
boy went under. There was screaming, so much screaming, but
still they kept up with her.
If it had been a scream for help, he would have been there
in a heartbeat, but it wasn’t that kind of a scream. It wasn’t the
kind of sound that drew you in. It was the kind that made you
want to run hard and fast in the opposite direction. Stories from
his childhood sprang at him from the dark corners of the room.
Tales of banshees screaming in the night, their wails foretelling
At first, the snow caused great excitement. It transformed
their world, concealing the horror of what had gone before
beneath a blanket of hushed white. It gave them a chance to
forget, at least for a while. The problem was it kept coming.
The roads disappeared and soon not even four-by-fours could
deal with the soft, deep drifts. Gradually, the village
disappeared beneath a silent shroud. And still it snowed.
It started quietly, in another country, happening to other people. At first it seemed like the bird flu scare all over again. A non-event. Then all the flights in and out of the country were cancelled. Suddenly, it wasn’t happening to other people. It was happening to them.
Within a week, the tabloids were calling it Falling Down Flu. Scientists said that it wasn’t a virus of any description. It was a rogue prion, but that was too complicated to grasp. The people needed an enemy to rail against. A virus was ideal. Falling Down Flu, or FDF for short, stuck.
There were riots in the streets. People demanded that the government do something. They did. They rounded up the Royal Family and herded them to the splendid isolation of Balmoral and they closed the ports. But it was too little too late. Falling Down Flu was already here.
Despite following guidelines about staying at home, hand washing and avoiding public places, people still got sick. Faces of dead celebrities and politicians were splashed across front pages. Within three weeks the demonstrations stopped as the disease spread.