Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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Time of the Season

by Christopher Pender

That song, that goddamned song, I thought. This has to be the hundredth time she's played it tonight. The sound of the pouring rain made it worse. They'd all been through hell and survived. Why are things turning bad now?


It was May when it all first happened. There had been warnings all over. Wash your hands, use Lysol™ when you can, get the vaccination. Fuck, none of it worked. Whatever it was spread like wild fire. The five of us got out of heavily populated areas as soon as possible. We hoped it was soon enough.


Two weeks to finals and we'd be out of Olsen's class for good. That day was quiz day and no one was excited, not many people there either. Five past twelve. Where was Olsen?

Katie, being the eternal (but damned hot) optimist hoped he wouldn't show. Because in ten more minutes, according to the College handbook we could walk out.

Jeff fiddled with his new music thingumajig, that's when we first heard the song. You know, by the Zombies. Shit, I can't remember the name. Oh yeah, I believe it was called Time of the Season. Good song too. Well, it was good the first ten times.

Brian, the fitness focused of the group was reading a magazine about fitness health or some sort. Probably contemplating how much his nuts shrank with the use of the juice. Emily, well Emily is Emily. She thought she was gonna get married. We all laughed at her. Getting married at nineteen. Come on, right? We were. It didn't happen. Well, not much happened after everything happened. You know?

Ten minutes passed and Olsen didn't show. So that was our cue, we got the hell out of dodge. I wish we didn't see what we saw when leaving. Olsen showed up. But from the looks of it, he'd be a bit late to class. There he was, laying there like a, kinda hard to describe what he looked like. I mean he was alive, we could tell through his gasps for air. But he certainly didn't look like old man Olsen anymore. He was all swollen like an over-filled water balloon, his skin was nearly fluorescent green and he was covered in a blue-ish, yellow puke. He had it. They used to call it H4N2, but we just called it "stay the fuck away from him" virus.

Of course Katie screamed, I stared in awe of this thing in front of me, Brian giggled a bit, He's kind of a son of a bitch and Emily walked on past. I correct myself, she was the bitch. We wanted to help him, hell, he begged us to help him. But remember what we called it. We follow orders in this class. Carefully stepping over him we made our way to the elevators. During our short stint in the elevator we decided it was time for a sort of early vacation. I mean, we figured if Olsen had it, all the faculty had it, so taking things pretty much for granted school was out for summer. We thought we were safe too. The Vaccine and Hand washing thing, yeah, we totally did that. It worked for a while too. But I'll explain later.

So anyways, deciding we'd be better off on this "trip" together we took my car, simply because it was the biggest. It's a 1990 Buick Park Avenue. Of course, not in great shape but hey, the world's probably gonna end which means more gas and oil for us. Cheaper probably too. Off we went, stopping at everybody's house for the what the girls called "essential items" I figure tampons or some shit like that. Brian needed his "Vitamins" You know 'em, the injectable kind that Olympic athletes never ever use, and Jeff of course needed batteries for his music thingumajig. I do remember he called it an E-pod, not quite sure what that meant but let's just stick with thingumajig for the time being okay? No one took more than a few minutes to get out, except for Katie. We could hear her screams all the way outside. All of us saw the same thing too, I guess she was just sensitive. We sent Emily in, because no one wanted to deal with it. I guess we just understood what happened. After a few minutes of Emily's persistence, and she can be very persistent, remember the wedding thing? Finally, Katie came out. After her tears finally dried up and the obligatory group hug, we were finally on the road. Heading down south, actually just down state where my aunt had a farmhouse. It's like a five to six hour drive from our town.

It was unusually warm for this time of year and I'm talking mid eighties. But that didn't bother us too much, the windows were rolled down, Brian was rollin a few buds for us and Jeff plugged his thingumajig into my radio (not the original AM-FM box, one with USB jacks). It was a perfect road trip. Well, because there was no traffic. Pink Floyd's Learning to Fly came on and that's a total trip when your burnin' one and driving. The green really calmed Katie down and for the first time I realized how beautiful she was with her black hair flowing in the wind and the sun casting perfect shadows on her face. I was picturing us as this post apocalyptic couple surviving on love alone. I guess looking back at it, it probably was the pot. But damn, she looked like an angel. Everybody else in the back seat fell asleep. So it was just me and her. Like two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl. Maybe I should have paid attention to the road though.

The road was totally blocked off. Cars littered the road and we slammed right into them, throwing those in the backseat forward and sending glass shards everywhere. We were discombobulated for a minute then I realized it. My perfect girl was laying next to me, her hair covered her face. Of course I brushed it away, I cut my hand on A shard of glass lodged into her forehead. She was gone, and I think for the first time I cried. I cried so hard my body shook. The other three were able to get out. I had to push my door open, in doing so her head flopped lifelessly on the steering wheel. I couldn't leave her like this. I just couldn't. For those few seconds, she was my angel. I looked around for a spot to put her, I noticed a clearing in the rows of corn and decided that was the place. Brian and Jeff helped carry her to the area, where we covered her with her Hello Kitty blanket, it was her favorite, that's why she brought it with her. It was sobering to leave her there, but we had too. We couldn't carry her with us. She was literally dead weight.

The four of us walked the remaining few miles to my aunt's house. By the time we got there it was night and not knowing much about our new world, we were a bit scared and hurried our pace. We were on her road now and could see the house from a distance, a light was on and something inside me thought of her homemade BBQ. I guess it was the last bit of hope I had in me. When we got there, we burst through the door and instantly I smelled it. Jesus Christ, my aunt's alive and she's making BBQ. Fuck we were hungry. None of us thought to bring food. Maybe it was the excitement of a road trip, or the possibility of us finally getting our chance of survival, or maybe it was the fact that we just wanted to drive and smoke shit, know what I mean?

The door was unlocked so we just walked in and threw our stuff to the floor. The smell was mesmerizing, delectable actually. The four of us went to the kitchen. It was BBQ all right...My aunt had caught it and fallen face first into a pan of bacon. She was seared to the pan. The realization that my hunger had been triggered by the mouth-watering aroma of pan-fried aunt made me vomit right then and there. Jeff turned off the stove and Brian lifted the corpse and tossed it outside of the kitchen door. We stopped caring after that moment. We went to bed. I took the guest room, Emily took the master, Jeff took the couch and Brian became an unofficial look out. That bed never felt so good, all of my muscles finally relaxed and I fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning I awoke to Emily nudging me. She said something like "I need to get downstairs now." Half asleep and still wearing the clothes from the prior day I eased my way out of bed and walked to Emily's location, from there I could see what happened. There Brian was, hanging from the awning on the back porch above the grease burned body of my aunt. I only shed a few tears and untied him. I knew this day would be dedicated to burials. It took all day to dig the actual six feet, I knew I'd better dig six feet or the animals will get into them and as much as I didn't care at that moment I still thought it might be a bit sacrilegious. The day ended with me ramming the shovel into the mound and walking past Emily and Jeff to get to bed. I was covered in dirt but I didn't care what was the point of caring? I wouldn't accomplish anything anymore.

The next morning wasn't any better. The sound of coughing awoke me. It was Jeff, he must have caught it. Christ, lord almighty, what are we gonna do? I got to the couch just in time to watch him throw up the same puke Olsen did. It wouldn't be long. So I just sat with him and we talked, at least he tried to talk. We discussed how we first met in class and how he would try to fight me for the latest edition of Maxim magazine just so he could look at the women. He was a little pervert that was for sure, I chuckled at the memories till I realized he was gone. I thought for a moment that he was too good for this world anyways, he's off to greener pastures and all the tits a man could look at. I buried him before Emily even woke up.

When Emily woke up she just assumed he was gone and didn't ask questions. We didn't see much of each other that day. We both stayed in our rooms. I of course got a shower and shave in before night came. Kinda hard to do that without any power. I decided maybe I should fix something to eat. Hadn't eaten in like two days and was starting to get weak. I walked to the kitchen and Emily was at the table asleep. Trying not to wake her I quietly made a sandwich and headed back to my room. By the way, that was a great sandwich.

I went to sleep early that night till I heard the song Jeff was playing a few days prior. Emily had his thingy ma-jig and this tiny shirt that barely covered her mid drift and a pair of Jeff's boxers. She came in and asked if she could sleep next to me because of this house being out in the middle of nowhere and it just being us, so of course I agreed. I never really cared for her, but it was my semester's goal to get a good fuck from her. So she laid down next to me. Her very body heat sent blood to those parts. But being the gentleman that I am, I did not act and fell asleep soon after.

She awoke me in the middle of the night by whispering my name. I felt for her next to me, but she wasn't there, So I had to look up and I found her completely absent of all her clothes she said "Make love to me, before it's time." Before it's time I thought? She's not sick, but who was I to pass up a fuck and a goal fulfilled at once, so we made love that night. Okay not so much love as a robotic, primitive mating. With both of us spent we lay opposite each other and stared into each other's eyes. We knew something would happen to one of us.


"Goddamn it Emily, turn that music off of repeat." I yelled over and over again. She never replied, just laid there staring at me. I think she lost it and Jesus fucking Christ did she stink. I tried bathing her, but the smell just got worse and worse. I don't know what else to do for her. She has some sort of skin thing going on and she just stares at me. "Emily, Can you hear me? Please wake up. Please, I need you. Please, wake up." That's when I noticed the worm come out of her nose.


© 2010 Christopher Pender

Bio: Christopher Pender is a 22 year old freshman at Kankakee Community College (Kankakee, Illinois), majoring in Communications with a Journalism minor.

E-mail: Christopher Pender

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