Sickness (A Short Story)


Abdullah Hashimi, Writer

Rick threw up; he couldn’t handle the stench. His father told him to ignore it. He always said to pay no attention to the dead, because they were dead and we were hungry. Rick really tried with all his might to ignore it, but he couldn’t. The smell of the burning flesh was too much for him. His father called out to him as he dropped his shovel hurriedly and ran into the woods adjacent to their house. Dropping down to his knees, Rick started emptying his stomach onto the forest floor. He just really needed to get away from the smell, the stench. Looking up with a pained expression, he saw the sky was plain bright, unfitting for all death, puke, and decay around him right now.  After a second, his father followed behind him, 

” Hey! you okay, Kiddo. I know it smells, but you have to ignore it, for your mother’s sake.”  

“I know, it’s just… it scares me.”

“Look, I know we haven’t talked much since it all happened, but you can’t dwell on this. It will just make you more scared. So come on and help me bury your mother.”

“Ok.” Rick said, grinding down on his teeth. Even though his father was never open with his emotions, he at least used to take the feelings of others into account when he spoke. But no, now that his mother was dead, so was his father’s heart. 

After what felt like a lifetime they were done covering up the grave. They had to bury Rick’s mother’s ashes. There was no choice other than to burn her dead body or the sickness might spread. The sickness killed the crops as well, which was why for dinner tonight Rick and his father were eating an old can of beans. It had only been 4 months since the outbreak, and the only place out of its grasp was on the other side of the world. 

Like most other days after his mom’s death, Rick’s father didn’t speak to him, so Rick never spoke back. He had gotten used to calling his dad “father.” It felt more formal, like his relationship with his father. Of course, he never said it out loud. Who would he say it to, his father? No. he just said it to himself as he did with most other things. He spoke to himself whenever his father wasn’t looking. He knew his father wouldn’t understand. 

After dinner, his father went to sleep, leaving Rick to do the job of boarding up the house.  He had to close the windows and seal the gaps in between the door and the wall. Rick was lucky, there was a Home Depot close to their house. During the 3rd month, almost everyone was dead, his mom had an idea for how to stop the sickness from getting in their house, so one day she went to Home Depot and took as much silicone caulk as she could. His mother was the sole reason he was still alive today. 

Tears dropped down Rick’s face while he finished applying the Caulk to the door. His tears dripped down, creating a pool on the hardwood floor. Sniffling up his sorrow, Rick got up and headed towards his room. His father slept on the couch, he refused to sleep in his own room. Even though he never said why Rick knew. He knew it reminded him too much of mom. He was fast asleep on the couch, while the tv was playing a recording of some true-crime show.

When he entered his room his eyes began to close. Rick forced himself to stay awake until he reached the bed. Dragging himself across the fluffy blue carpet, he let himself fall onto his bed.

He didn’t remember feeling the impact of his head on the bed, when he opened his eyes to see what just happened his face contorted to one of terror. Paralyzed by fear he was unable to do anything as the flies entered his body. In the final moment before death, he saw his mistake. He forgot to close his window.