Going Virus

Read the first part of Nine More (a selection from Going Virus) here.

Nine More

Going Virus book cover

Oily smells lifted from the paint into Lexie George’s face as she squeezed a dab of cerulean blue onto her palette. It was the tail end of her last tube of her favorite color. Her fingers trembled as they pinched, quivering like the golden aspen leaves that stood in a grove between her easel and the mountain peaks of the background. Careful not to waste a drop too much paint, she figured she had enough left in her tube to finish out this pad of canvas paper.

Nine more sheets.

Nine more paintings.

Once her cerulean ran out, she could never paint the Colorado sky ever again. Because that’s what the sky here was. Cerulean. Sometimes cobalt, some artists argued, especially on brilliant fall days like today. But she had never followed that school of thought. And anyway, cobalt had run out long ago. Cobalt had been one of the first colors to disappear from the shelves back when there were still art supply stores.

She gazed up at the actual sky in the composition of her landscape and sucked in a lungful of pine-scented air. This high up, this far away from civilization, she supposed the virus couldn’t reach her, not yet. She and the six other artists from her commune were safe, at least for another day.

“Fireweed don’t lie,” said Carlton, the owner of the cabin where they’d established their commune. With his easel set up next to hers, he was painting a stand of the wildflowers overlooking the stream that babbled at their feet. “It’s going to freeze soon.”

She glanced over at his painting. The tiny, budding flowerets had opened all the way to the top of their stems, an indication of imminent winter. She didn’t expect to survive the winter. She wasn’t ready for everything to end. She still had nine more paintings to do. “Bears bulk up on fireweed,” she said. “Maybe we could do the same.” 
“Oh yeah? How do you know that?”

She shrugged, unwilling to tell him about the wildflower studies at the lab where she used to work before the last financial meltdown took away their funding. It had been a different life then. A different world. The Comet-Carrier Extraterrestrial Airborne Virus nicknamed C-CETA had changed everything since then.

“We’ll take some home with us when I’m done painting them,” Carlton said, smacking his lips. “We’ll find out what they taste like.”

“It won’t help.” She frowned, pretending to study her painting. She did a lot of that. Pretending. An unbidden thought niggled the back of her mind.

Are you doing the right thing?

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