With the news showing on the holographic video, Spike and Willow sat down to breakfast. They shared the meal almost every day, though they held different hours. For Spike, it was a late-night snack before bed that allowed him to share the night’s bar-related news with his fellow owner and friend. For Willow, it was a pajama-clad, blurry-eyed way to start her day.It’s Monday, April 24th, 2090, and you’re watching Mary-Anne and Zembo in the Morning. Happy Monday, Feliz Lunes, Gute Montag, and Glad Mandag!
They had moved back to Portland in 2087, having been gone for 30 years in order to establish new identities. It was good to get back to familiar territory, a place they called home more than any other, even if things had changed a bit.
It was simple to regain control of the bar, which they had been running through a series of managers, and their lives had resumed as if they’d never left. Except now they had a new apartment in the computerized building that replaced the old comfortable structure that they’d left. And they now owned a very stylish hover-car.
The hologram woman paused in her weather report and looked off to the right for a moment. Her expression changed as she related the breaking news.I have a breaking report. America is being attacked. It is unclear at this time where the bombs are originating.
Her voice broke and she looked to the right again. An arm came into view to give her an electronic tablet. She took it, cleared her throat, and gave her attention back to the camera. Explosions have occurred in New York, Utah, and …
She looked down at the tablet before continuing. Canada has also …
Willow and Spike stared at each other as the hologram blinked out. “Bugger.” The lights followed, then the constant hum of the building itself died off. Something hit the shaded window and Willow quickly moved to pull the curtain askew just enough to see out. A great wind had risen, backed by the rising sun.
“It’s real windy out there, and the sunrise is kinda green.”
Spike sighed. “How much you wanna bet it’s those arse holes from the Japanese anti-drug group?”
Willow watched as a small tree fell on their pretty hover-car. “We better get to the basement.”
“Just ‘cause they don’t want their kids smoking pot they think they can just blow up anyplace that legalized…” Spike continued to rant as he and Willow collected a few essentials to add to their pre-packed bags. (A must for the off chance they need to run from an angry “down with anything different” mob. Again.)
They made their way to the basement along with many of the other residents. That’s when the noise started. Then came the smell. Then came the green gas. They watched as panic culminated in the others until several lost consciousness. The vomiting started, followed by seizing. Inevitably, death came.
Spike held Willow as she whispered “Be right back” and gently passed out.
“I’ll be here,” he responded, unheard under the screams and prayers surrounding him. He could hear the same coming from neighboring buildings. He watched, his own lungs shut to the gas. Willow’s pretty face contorted in her unconscious pain and he was thankful that at least she wouldn’t have to remember it. Her lungs closed, her throat swelled, and her body rejected its contents in all possible ways. Her eyes and nose and ears bled. Spike shut himself down, closing his eyes and focusing on nothing but the single thought that soon, she would be okay again. At least there wasn’t a fire.
Willow died on the morning of April 24th, 2090.
Willow woke that evening. She was in her tub, a towel over her naked, but clean, body. Spike was beside her, smiling down at her. After coughing a few times, she smiled back.
“Hi,” she said.
She grimaced. “It still stinks." A half hearted cough interrupted her thought. "You okay?”
“Yeah, no big.” His casual attitude was belied by the tears sitting in his eyes. “Glad to see you. I was getting bored.”
She looked around. All the lights were still off and the air smelled like rotten chemicals, if there is such a thing. “How’s the apocalypse going?”
Spike helped her sit up. “Bad guys 1, good guys nothing.”
She nodded. There was no sound coming from anywhere. No cars, no nothing. “Is … is everyone…”
Spike nodded. “Not just the people, either. Nothing electronic works – not even the cars and generators.”
After a few minutes, she shook herself from her thoughts of her friends and neighbors. “What time is it? How long was I out?”
Spike turned away. He got up and helped her stand. He picked her up by the waist and set her down on the tile floor.
When he spoke, it was so quiet she could hardly hear him. “You kept dying. After a few minutes, you woke up, took your first breath, and then it started all over again.” He hugged her gently. “I kept trying to wave the gas away. I guess it’s finally clear enough.”
“It’s okay now. I’m okay.”
“You’re feeling alright, then?” His eyes met hers as they parted.
She nodded. “I think so. A little sick, but … I don’t think I’ll be dying again.” He walked her to her bedroom wrapped in a towel. The open window allowed air to flow, but it still felt stale. Like the air, itself, was dead. “I’m awfully tired though. Do you think I could sleep for a bit before …” Her eyes, which had been drooping as she laid back in her bed, sprang open. “We have to go, don’t we?”
“Yeah. I’m hoping it was just us, but from what Mary-Anne said this morning on the news, I’m pretty sure we’re going to need to get off this continent all together. I was thinking we can probably find a boat at the dock. I never paid much attention, but I’ve been on a boat before, and you’re smart enough to figure it all out. We’ll be sailing the wild blue in no time.”
Willow’s eyes closed again.
Spike moved from foot to foot. “I’ll just see if I can find something for you to eat then, shall I?”
“That’d be …” She fell into a shallow sleep, coughing sporadically.
He watched her for a few minutes, making sure she didn’t start making a mess again. She’d died 46 times in one day.
Spike went to the kitchen, got a can of soup from the cabinet, and brought it back to her bedside table. He was so tired. Emotionally, and physically. He’d been up all day, waving his hands and replacing damp cloths over her nose, and cleaning her up. He’d washed and dried her every time, just in case she woke.
He lay beside her on her bed and she welcomed him in her sleep, turning so he could spoon behind her. Two souls keeping each other company, asleep.