It’s 2012. An ostensibly perfectly normal world. Sure, the economy is in a bit of a shambles and politics are eating themselves alive, but still—normal. A world where you wake up, get coffee from the same girl you do every morning, catch the same train, sit with the same commuters. You go to the same job, where you see the same people. You come home to the same partner. You play basketball with the same guys every weekend.
Imagine those people. The same ones you see every day. Imagine the small and careful details that make up a life.
Now imagine all that can change—in the course of less than three weeks, everything you have ever counted on as normal will slowly implode in on itself. One day you wake up and the girl at the coffee shop is coughing. One of your co-workers has a cold, some kind of flu. The train you take seems a little roomier than usual.
This is Day One.
By Day Five, half your office is out with the same cold. It’s going around, they say, even though the radio and news are starting to buzz with rumors that it’s all over the country. The superflu, they call it on the East Coast. Captain Tripps on the West. On Day Six, your wife starts coughing.
Day Ten, and your morning train is empty enough that not only can you get you own seat, you could stretch your arms out and lie down if you wanted. There’s no one in your office. People are starting to panic.
The eleventh day brings riots, marches, protests. People want to know why nothing is being done – the government says: there is no superflu. Get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and above all, keep calm. There is no superflu.
On Day Twelve you quit going to work. Your wife is having trouble breathing.
Day Fourteen and your local news channel is shut down by the military. Men with guns pull the plug while the reporter is still looking at the camera. She’s telling you this is real. It’s real, and it’s killing people. It’s killing a lot of people.
Day Sixteen. You wake up. Your wife doesn’t. You step outside and the city as far as you can see it is empty, but you know there must be people down there—you can hear the gunshots. You can smell fire.
Day Seventeen. You’re afraid to leave your apartment. You feel fine, and you don’t understand what’s happening or why, and there’s no one left to give you any answers.
On the eighteenth day, you dream. You dream of a lighthouse. You dream of safety and peace and home.
On Day Nineteen, you start walking.