Patient Zero

In Fiction on March 19, 2013 at 10:54 am

bridge river rapids whirlpool

Patient Zero

No one chooses to be born.

A few choose to die.

Fewer still choose to live.

Mark had come to the bridge to choose. But instead he’d ended up perching on the rail like some weary crow, a coward, waiting for the buffeting winds to make the decision for him.

“This is all there is.”

Cruel words for a mother to speak to her son, but like it or not, he had heard them. And in the weeks and months that followed her death—which had been slow torture enough—the words turned in him and writhed like living things, with teeth and venom and terrible hearts.

“This is all there is.”

The simplest ideas have the most profound power to infect the mind. They are an incurable disease, and words are the carrier.

Mark smiled and leaned over the edge. Below, the river was white with excitement, bearing its rocky teeth to the sky. Foaming at the mouth. Awaiting its meal. Surely one crow, one tiny, diseased crow, wouldn’t be food enough for such a hungry river.

“This is all there is.”

The words echoed one last time before Mark jumped, and finally he knew them for the truth. His fear left him and his senses awoke: the sunlight put fire to his eyes; the scent of pine and water swept in with every breath; and the wind gave a terrific roar.

Mark–no longer a crow–took flight, tethered by the thin cord at his ankle and nothing more.

No one chooses to be born.

A few choose to die.

Fewer still choose to live.


This week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge word was Infect. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and, of course, check out all the other entries over at Trifecta!

More and more people join in every week, so if you haven’t yet, you should definitely give it a try!

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  1. Very well written and captured. I like the ending, the tethering.

  2. “Surely one crow, one tiny, diseased crow, wouldn’t be food enough for such a hungry river.”

    I LOVE that line.

  3. Very nice-the ending is SO true…beebeesworld

  4. Beautiful job with this. Love the ending.

  5. What brilliant writing. I really liked this..x

  6. Great writing, Brian. You’ve been quiet recently, but if you’re brewing stuff like this, I might have to let you off!

    • Thanks! I’ve been traveling about the country as of late, but I’m back to the writing (you know how I like to take a good hiatus now and then)

  7. Beautifully written! I love how you saved the hope for the end. Nicely done!

  8. […] Related: The Hideout // The Pebble // Patient Zero […]

  9. This is FANTASTIC. Certainly one of my favorites so far. I love how he is tethered to life by such a thin, yet strong, cord.

  10. The personification of the river as a hungry mouth is awesome. The whole piece is awesome, actually (:

  11. perfect as it is. Dont have much to say.

  12. Beautifully written. Am thankful for the optimism in the tether at the end though.

  13. And the river as a living, wicked creature with its foaming mouth and rocky teeth is a master-touch.

  14. Very nicely done! I like the uplifting tone at the end.

  15. Wonderful piece (though I am out of step in not enjoying the tether). I like this very much: “the sunlight put fire to his eyes;”

  16. Very gripping but sad. I am unable to say for sure if he lived…I hope he did. The way you have constructed the story is great.

  17. Hypnotic piece. the tether gives it wonderful ambiguity.

  18. Well deserved trifecta placement. I didn’t get a chance to read many this week so checked in to read the winners and this one is certainly that. Every subtle element about it fits seamlessly. Great ending.. !

  19. I missed this last week well deserved placement what a great use of the prompt.

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