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She was at work when she suddenly felt the overwhelming urge to cough. She rushed to the bathroom, almost breaking her ankle on her brand new Manolo Blahniks on the way, and crashed through the door just in time to begin heaving. Once it started, it wouldn’t stop. Other women came through the door and seeing her on all fours, her clothes disheveled and her hair a mess, they immediately tried to help. It was not often that Aria Bloom was seen at anything better than her absolute best. You don’t get to be assistant VP of marketing by looking bad. She began to cough up blood and someone called an ambulance. That was the last thing she remembered before waking up in the hospital.

 

            When she woke up, her husband was looking down at her. She had trouble reading his face. He looked sad, but also, something else. Disgusted? Horrified? What had happened to her, she wondered. Was it more than just coughing?

 

            “Bring me a mirror”, she demanded. Her husband just stared at her. “I said, BRING ME A MIRROR!” She watched him slowly walk away. She knew he would get it, he always did. She made the money so he did what she said. That’s how their relationship worked.

 

            “Aria, you shouldn’t look.” Her husband spoke to her with pity. It was the first time that had ever happened. She didn’t know how to react, what to do.

            “I want to look”, she insisted.

 

            So he handed her the mirror. Her years of working at being a woman in a man’s world of work helped her in this situation. She was able to hold back her emotion. She didn’t let her husband realize the horror she felt. Her face betrayed nothing.

 

            “What happened to me?” she asked evenly.

 

            “They’re not sure yet,” her husband began, “but there have been other reports. Some other people in this area have the same cough and similar… uhhh… facial… issues… as you.”

 

            She glared at him. Facial issues? The skin is peeling off the left side of her face, there are angry red bumps and oozing pores and he says she has some facial issues? It was at that moment she noticed her husband was wearing a mask.

           

            “Am I quarantined?” she asked, a little bit of her anxiety managing to escape her voice this time.

 

            “Yes, Aria, you are quarantined.” Her husband’s voice was soft, gentle and it was at that very moment she knew how serious this was. This wasn’t something she could talk her way out of. This wasn’t something she could fix with money, bribery or blackmail. She was in trouble.

 

            A week later her and her husband are in some back alleyway in some random country. The government transported them here. They would not tell them where they were going. They did not want the location to be public knowledge because they were afraid of what people would do if they knew there was a place filled with highly infected people. This is where she would be going to die. This is where all those infected would be staying for the next while. This is where scientists would poke and prod them, test them, possibly kill them all in an effort to try and find a cure. The disease needs to be contained before it completely destroys the human race. Already there are reports of thousands with the same symptoms Aria had in the beginning. She will not survive this. But maybe, she can be the reason others do. She glances at the people behind her entering the facility. She sees an elderly man helping his wife inside. At least they lived a full life, she thinks to herself bitterly. She gives her husband one last hug goodbye. Her flowery dress flaps in the wind as she opens the door to the facility. With one last tiny wave, she is gone. 

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