Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

~Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side

~ “Break on Through” by The Doors

Vern's breathing was labored and he lay listening to the gurgling liquid filled sound with a surprising amount of detachment. He was going to die out here. It was unexpected, being one of the few people on earth to survive this flu only to be shoved off a balcony. He had never considered himself much of a survivor and doubted anyone else would have mistaken him for the type either and yet here again Vern had managed to live.

He wouldn't get out of this though, exposure would kill him if his injuries didn't. At least he had gone down fighting; that was something that the Network Administrator was proud of.


The man was laying there out on the grid. Did no one else notice that he was still alive? Didn't they care? Or were they too worried about themselves to see him move his head? Something had to be done; you just didn't leave people to suffer like that. It was wrong.

A lone figure made their way out of a service hatch underneath the observatory and climbed down onto the metal structure that surrounded the needle to catch anyone who decided to jump. It was not as safe as it appeared from above. It had holes that a person could fall through if they hit them just right. This guy Vern was lucky...or unlucky depending on how you looked at it.


The potential savior crawled slowly towards the victim. The figure crouched a foot away and studied the man carefully. Vern spluttered and reached out with one hand, using the other to hold the gaping wound on his chest together. He was obviously looking for help, but it was too late for him – without modern medicine, he wasn’t going to make it. There was no scary lady in a rocking chair to come save him, and even if the other survivors could do anything, he’d be sick for a long time. Bruises. Infections. A burden. All anyone could do was put this guy out of his misery, like shooting a horse with a broken leg.

“Sorry, buddy…them’s the breaks.”

With an apologetic last look at Vern, the fellow survivor rolled the man over the edge of the safety grid so that he could finish the long fall the rest of the way to the ground. The lone figure on the grid watched silently for a while but the man was definitely not moving any more.


‘Of all the people to die,’ Matthew thought, ‘did it really have to be Vern, the man with the plan?’ Inconvenient wasn’t even the word – this just straight up –sucked-. Everyone seemed really rattled about the big guy’s death, even if they had a funny way of showing it, and it wasn’t as though people weren’t feeling insecure enough.

Also, he thought maybe he wasn’t the only one who’d had some seriously vivid dreams in the night, and that added element of weirdness might be shaking up the group as well. Hell, -he- was a little disturbed; he kept thinking about Mother Abigale, and her invitation to join her at Hemmingford Home. Could she be a real person? Should they maybe be checking this out? Matthew thought of himself as a reasonable person (though one had to have a speck of imagination to play online role playing games, in his opinion) and he knew that he wouldn’t head to some corn field in the middle of nowhere based on some stranger’s dream, no matter how convincing the pitch. He didn’t, -couldn’t-, expect anyone to follow his lead. Still, it nagged at him.

But they could carry out their basic plan of getting out of Seattle with or without Vern, and maybe they owned him that much. The first problem, though, was that it had been the Network Admin- turned-survivor that intended to man the wrecker and clear the roads so the cars could get through. It would take some serious teamwork to navigate the streets packed with abandoned cars and corpses, and that was only if he could convince the group to move after all the crap that had happened. That ended up being much easier than he thought, though – people were eager to get away from the space needle after waking up to a dead body splashed out on the pavement hundreds of feet below, and the reasons for leaving the city were the same as ever.

For now, he kept the destination general, saying only that they needed to move east.

And so the survivors began the slow and perilous journey out of Seattle, making their way toward the rising sun. Vern, wrapped in sheets and buried in a shallow garden grave, remained behind to bear silent witness to their passing.

(( Voting will close tonight at 11 pm EST ))