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Author's Chapter Notes:

A simple starting point.

Maryam stared blankly at the screen for a good ten seconds, a spoonful of the ice cream she was gleefully enjoying now resting on top of her bed before she truly began to process the words of the good-looking fellow on the screen.

Feeling the cold of the ice cream touching her leg and her increasingly louder heartbeat, she put the bowl of ice cream that was resting on her lap to the side and brought the laptop closer to her, rewinding the video while swiping the flocks of sweaty, messy hair away from her face. She prayed to no one in particular for her to be overreacting.

---

Maryam woke up not too long ago, after another night full of insomnia, high fever and sweat the size of bullets thanks to the cold she had caught a couple of days earlier.

The house was silent, so she figured everyone had already left for either work or school. She started to lazily stretch in her bed, feeling sore all over, when she noticed something on her nightstand. A little bowl of strawberry ice cream with a note attached.

The note read: 'Good morning honey, maybe this can help you cool down your fever? At the very least it should cheer you up. I'll be back earlier than usual today. Kisses. -Beth.' All this signed with a kiss mark. God, her aunt was such a thoughtful dork, she couldn't help but love her.

She wasted no time and picked both the bowl, along with the spoon her aunt left beside it, and her laptop to entertain herself while eating. She sat cross-legged on her bed, starting to thoughtlessly eat from the bowl on her lap while she went through the motions on her laptop.

Logging in to social media, looking for some good videos to watch, the usual stuff. During this, a notification popped up on the corner of the screen, in which the word 'Urgent' in all caps caught her attention.

The notification was from a group chat between Maryam and her two closest friends in the world, Isabelle and Tanya. They had been chatting until late the previous night. The two should already be at school, and this message seemed to have been sent early in the morning.

 

Tanya: URGENT!!! ok so i dont wanna freak you out Mary but this may be important

Tanya: watch this video and get in touch with me as soon as possible

 

Although a bit weirded out, she decided to watch the video Tanya sent her before jumping to any conclusions.

---

Maryam sat silently while attentively watching the video, her lips and throat drying up. The video was from a local indie news site, with a reporter in his late twenties speaking with, as far as she gathered, doctors and police officers. There was talk about an outbreak of an unknown virus from a lab a few towns over a couple of weeks ago, it seemed that there had been enough time for the virus to spread farther than expected without being detected. But most noteworthy for her, a list of symptoms for potential carriers was released.

First and foremost, it was emphasized that while the virus was indeed contagious, the carrier needed to be under specific conditions for the virus to have any effect on them, and in the case where a carrier is being affected by the virus, it is still possible to treat the subject if the infection is found in the first 24 hours.

Her anticipation was killing her at this point.

The virus earlier stages were remarkably similar to her own symptoms. High fevers, light pain in the articulations and joints, and a slow loss of body weight and mass.

Her mind flashed back to the previous night, where, while talking to her friends, she briefly mentioned how recently her cousin was annoyingly putting cereal boxes further back in the pantry, making her have to stretch when trying to make herself breakfast.

With that thought, she hurried to the kitchen, where she immediately attempted to reach for her usual box of cereal. Only to realize that no matter how much she stretched she could only barely grasp the box.

With a sullen look, she returned to her room. Where she sent Tanya a few messages begging her to reply as soon as she could. She took her phone and tried calling her aunt. Busy. Must be at a meeting or something. Damn it all.

With a heavy heart, she cleaned her bed and sat down to look a bit more into this virus.

She quickly found some good news, the fever and pain disappear after a while. The bad news, the loss of mass hasn't shown signs of stopping in other patients, with some patients having lost over a foot in height. Fuck.

There wasn't much else for her to do. Just wait for her aunt. And eat ice cream.

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