Here is a preview of “The Antidote,” which is out for Nook, Kindle, Kobo, iBook and online to order in paperback(:
The auditorium was full the moment I stepped in the door. The chatter of the audience was nerve racking, even though I was used to feeling anxious. My very last dance recital was today and it meant that I would be done with dance for good. I knew I would graduate from high school, but I had my mother to thank for graduating from dance. She always inspired me to continue when I felt that I would fail. My dad was great, too. He was never around enough to know about a lot of what was going on with me, so I was surprised to see him striding towards me with my mother. He looked a little nervous, but my mother was beaming at me. She moved swiftly towards me even though I knew it pained her to even stand on her leg.
My mother walked with a horrible limp, which she obtained from the rotting that began from her calf and ran all the way up her thigh. For one year exactly, the world has lived in fear for the deadly disease, Dermadecatis or by the name most called it, “The Black Sickness.”
It caused rotting to occur in the body and would spread rapidly throughout the body in a matter of days. The disease was completely lethal and days after contracting it, you were dead. It began as a small black dot, increasing to the size of a large bruise. The bruise would last a few days and for those who got the disease, rarely did they realize it before it was too late. Max and his mother lived next door to me and his mother lived just six days after the bruise was sighted and then she was gone. He never even looked in anyone’s direction anymore. He was afraid that if he looked at anyone, they would fall victim too.
Nobody knew how the disease spread, but my mother was convinced that it was airborne. My father was convinced otherwise because he was the lead research doctor of Dermadecatis. My father’s name was Dr. Alona or to his colleagues, Sebastian Alona, and he was the first doctor to realize that something odd was happening. He discovered the disease a year ago in a patient by the name of Isaac, about a month before the outbreaks began. Isaac was the first victim of Dermadecatis and my father worked closely with him for three days but then he died. My father worked with many patients since then, but none of them lasted more than two weeks, except for my mother. My mother has had the disease for six weeks and if not for my father making remedies to keep the disease at bay, she would probably have died a month ago. The rotting wouldn’t leave her leg and it was slowly spreading.
My mother was beautiful and her eyes glistened even now. She looked tired but she was always glowing and radiating beauty. She had blonde hair and blue eyes but I did not favor her like I did my father. He had brown hair and hazel eyes, which I both possessed. He never smiled except a smug, toothless smile whenever he felt like it was appropriate.
Sometimes I found myself wondering what day it would be that my mother was going to leave this earth. One day, my mother was healthy and the next, she was rotting from the leg down. It spread more each day and we were afraid of what would happen to her next. My father watched her with wistful eyes, as if he knew how to help her but couldn’t bring himself to do it. I only had my dad if this got any worse, but he was always busy in his office trying to find the cure for this and I feared I would be on my own. He and his partner seemed to be having a “break through” as he called it, but I was not so sure.
“Nervous?” She asked me in her soft tone. She moved a piece of hair from in front of my face to behind my ear and held her hand on my cheek as if to examine me.
“You’d think I would be used to this kind of thing, but I’m not prepared for the senior slideshow.” Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to see my face flash across the screen and break into tears because we all knew I was growing up. After all, how many times do you graduate from dance and high school? My mother smiled and nudged my cheek with her hand in encouragement.
My dad stood awkwardly beside her, and he seemed to be anxiously deciding in his brain the appropriate thing to say, but he just stared off into space as he often did now. Ever since my mother got sick, he never seemed to know what he should say or do to make things better. He worked diligently to find a cure before he lost my mother. He loved her and it was apparent. He had a crazed look in his eyes every time he fed her the drinks with the next remedy in them.
“Dad, are you okay? You look really worried. Did you miss work for me? You can go back, really, it’s okay.” I told him. He continued to stare blankly, until he finally registered what I had said. I felt embarrassed for disturbing his thoughts but I didn’t want him to be here if he was uncomfortable.
“Everything is fine, Lena.” He kissed the top of my head. “I’ve been saving this for the right time and this seems like the perfect time for your graduation gift. It’s not much and your real gifts are coming, I promise.” He added gingerly with a smile. He held out a white box and I took it in my hands. I opened it and inside held a beautiful necklace that held a large, golden key. On top of the key, there were circles enclosing a diamond heart. I looked at him in surprise and felt the grin spreading across my face. “I know it isn’t much, but I want you to wear it. One day you might see the true beauty within it. Just like you’ll find in yourself one day. You hold the key to your happiness and this is just a reminder.” He held his breath as if he wanted to cry and I felt my breath catch as well. He cleared his throat and continued. “But, enough with this, I miss this stuff a lot and I want to be here for this. Go get ready and we will be watching you. We love you.” He put the necklace on me in one swift movement and kissed my head again. I stretched around and held him in a tight embrace as my mother clasped her hands together while smiling brightly. We pulled apart and my father smiled. He held my gaze longer than he normally did.
“Go get ready, darling. We love you,” my mom said softly, she looked into my eyes, “you mean the world to me, Lena, and always remember that.”
My mom blew a kiss to me and I was oddly panicked as they walked away. My dad didn’t seem right. I caught sight of my mom ducking her head to where I couldn’t see her face. But I could; her face was full of terror.
Before I had time to think, I was being rushed to the dressing room. My opening number was first up and we all had to be ready in five minutes. Thank God I was already dressed and ready for the number because I wouldn’t be able to do it now. My hands shook and it wasn’t from nerves anymore. What if this was what my father had warned us about?
My dance team and I walked onto stage and we faced the back wall, with our backs to the curtains. My best friend, Kaley looked over to me. She mouthed quickly “Are you okay?” and I stiffly nodded. The curtains rolled up and I put on the fakest smile I could muster as the lights beamed on my back. The music began and then suddenly everything went silent and the auditorium went pitch black. There was a wave of movement and panicked shouts, when a piercing scream came from the center of the auditorium.
There was uproar, but through the screams, I heard my name being called over and over again. I jumped from the stairs uneasily, and broke into a run towards the voice. It was being carried from the auditorium and into the lobby.
In the lobby, there was nothing but eerie silence. I felt around on the walls with my hands and felt dampness on my feet. Before I could panic, the lights flickered brightly on and I looked down to see that blood filled the lobby floor. On the floor, my father stared meaningless into the ceiling. He was already gone. I felt my heart shatter but I found my mother moving towards me on the floor. I began to sob because I knew she was going to die before the ambulance would reach the auditorium.
I screamed for help but no one seemed to hear; they just stared obliquely into the distance, as if to give me time to say goodbye. I didn’t want that so I shouted louder at them until I felt a hand on my leg. I kneeled down next to my mother. She reached for me and I took her hand. She shook her head no. She waved me closer and began choking. I was sobbing so hard I could barely hear her.
“Be safe, my Lena.” And then she was gone.
I sat there for I didn’t know how long. I didn’t know what happened after but I did remember being dragged away from the scene, leaving my family and my soul behind.
I can post more if you guys would like(:
Stay tuned. I will post some excerpts from “The Antidote #2.”
Yes, I am trying to find a good title for the second one(: