The mobile phone beeped.
In the evening, the light of the mobile phone in my hand was bright against the darkness of the street I was walking. I flipped it open, squinting my eyes slightly.
Ah, another philosophical message from my dad. He would be somewhere out at the sea. Fishing perhaps, or was it work? I couldn't remember.
I walked on, in that funny march of mine that I so loved to do, but harsh on my footwear.
Something burst above me. I looked up – curious iridescent star-like burst shone in the sky. Strange, because fireworks was outlawed, except for national occasions.
Particles were falling from the sky, glimmering as they danced through the air. The phone in my hand seemed to be getting warmer, then hot. I cried out as I dropped it. It burst into flames.
At the back of my mind, I knew that there was something wrong.
Faintly I heard a siren wailing in the background. And then screaming.
I ran. I didn't know where I should run to. Away or towards the noise? I chose away, but that meant away from my home – the place I wanted to run to.
But the din seemed to be getting louder, and nearer, no matter which direction I ran in.
The particles that fell hissed as they touched the ground, giving out a strange smell.
I didn't know how long I ran.
But suddenly there were people. They were all lying around on the ground. Some were moving slightly but most were still. On their faces, backs and other unclothed parts were patches of burnt skin.
'You're alive,' a man grabbed my hand. 'This way,' he said, there was urgency in voice.
Instinctively, I pulled back and stared at him. Who was this man? He too, was alive. Most importantly, should I trust him?
The man did not wait for me, but he walked quickly, towards a building, glancing about the body-littered streets.
Despite myself, I followed.
Only once, did he glance over his shoulder to see if I followed. Then, we entered a building. There were no less people here, than on the streets. Perhaps, even more. People who probably were fleeing from what happened.
A couple was in a corner of the room I passed by, tightly embracing each other. The man was whispering, 'I love you,' but his partner would not – could not have heard it. Her eyes looked blankly ahead. I felt sick.
We stopped in a room – a conference room at the look of it. Another man was there – I presumed, another survivor – at the table. The first man sat heavily at the table, too, and I followed suit.
'A bio-attack,' the first man said. 'You must have had some immune shots.'
I nodded. I did. So did my mum. We had taken a plethora of shots before, all in the name of avoiding various genetic diseases.
'Are there other survivors?' I asked as I glanced at the second man. He seemed to be in a state of shock. So was I, but I had to talk – or, I knew I would be screaming.
'Yes, there are -'
'Where are they? We should band together and -' by banding, only one thing was on my mind. My mother. I have to find her. I had to.
'There's something I have to tell you first. Both of you. These immune shots – whichever it is that's helping us survive...in order to suppress the virus, the body is put into deep sleep.'
'And how would you know this?' I demanded.
'I saw,' he replied. 'And I happen to be a scientist too.'
The day there was a biological attack, I met a scientist.
'Well, deep sleep is fine, we'll wake up after a few days, right?' I asked.
The man shook his head. 'Maybe a few years. Five, eight years...'
As good as saying that we were dead. I didn't need to be a scientist to know that a couple of days without nutrients, and the body wither away.
It would have been better to die straight away – then to have hope, and have it crashing down onto my head.
I felt dizzy – maybe from the excitement – and I was starting to feel worn out.
The other man, the one who had been sitting quietly when we came in, suddenly said, 'Anyone got a pen and some paper?'
The scientist obliged with pens churned out from his pocket and stacks of postcards he fished out from somewhere. The air, perhaps. It was hard work trying to concentrate not falling asleep when I've just been told I will probably wake up years from now. Or not. A death count-down.
The man was scribbling something frantically, and I looked at the postcard out of curiosity.
'To my wife,' he explained, with a sad smile on his face. 'She was one of those who fell asleep. I should be happy.' He looked far from it.
It was insane, but despite that, I reached for a pen of my own, a postcard of my own. Then, I too, was scribbling. A letter to my mother. 'Dear mum, just in case I did not wake up, I am your daughter. You might not remember me-'
What if my mum did not recognise me? I wrote my name on my palm. Though that doesn't help much once my flesh rotted away.
'There's a safe place for us to sleep in,' the scientist was saying. He looked tired. 'I'll be back.'
After a while, the other man too, left, postcard in hand.
When I was done writing, neither of them had returned. I stood up, and stretched. I was getting drowsy. I had to find the men before I fell asleep. I did not want to die alone.
I wished I had replied to my dad.