As promised, my turn for the blog tour for The End: Visions of Apocalypse is up. I’m going to take a section from the anthology and give some comments. This is from Julia’s Garden, by the positive and irrational Michael Aaron.
Satisfied in my privacy, I dip a finger in the Anthrax dish and scoop out a taste. The layer of spores breaks with a delicate crunch, like a pie crust.
I lick my finger. It’s surprisingly sweet, but with a dusty, sour aftertaste. I try them all, ending with a creamy dollop of plague. I clean out the dish, smacking my lips.
The chains jangle louder for a second. I twist my head to see the swings. Were they rocking that high before?
I examine the remaining dishes. My heart sinks to see they’re already greying over, a billion little victims of bactericide. As grey as the trees and the grass, as grey as my life.
I check my watch. One minute, fifty-eight seconds. A new record.
Back to the car, which I kept in sight the whole time. Even so, I circle round and check underneath before getting in. It drives itself back to the lab while I keep an eye out, M16 on my lap. Only when we enter the underground car-park do I put the safety back on. Old habits.
I punch in the code and let the machine read my iris. The outer door opens and I step inside. Another code, another scan and then I’m into the bunker, home sweet home.
The first level is an open-plan office, a big spread of desks and chairs like you’d find in any modern city circa one lifetime ago. Angela stands waiting.
Unlike me, she still looks the part. White coat, black hair in a bun. She even wears her name tag, lest we forget she is Doctor Cortez.
“What happened to the test cultures?” she asks.
“I ate them.”
Her bottom lip wobbles. “You what?”
“I ate them.”
“You ate them?” She sits at her desk, takes off her glasses and rubs her temples. “She ate them. Ate them. Why would she even think to do that?”
She talks to herself a lot. I think she’s going crazy.
I love that last line, especially after having read the prior. A woman taste tests several plagues, virii that have apparently become harmless morsels, tasty as a chef’s master course, and then she makes the subtle hint that the Doctor is going crazy.
Genius. The way she describes the sweet tastes of plague, the satisfying crunch, as if she is perfectly normal.
Which, considering her circumstances, maybe she isn’t so far off after all?
Previous blog tour entries: