Letter From The Editor - Issue 68 - April 2019

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Issue 38
The Sound of Death
by Gareth D. Jones
Underwater Restorations, Part 2
by Jeffrey A Ballard
Rights and Wrongs
by Brian K. Lowe
A Little Trouble Dying
by Edmund R. Schubert
IGMS Audio
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
At the Picture Show: Extended Cut
New wave
by Chris Bellamy

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A Little Trouble Dying
    by Edmund R. Schubert

A Little Trouble Dying
Artwork by M. Wayne Miller

Waiting for the last contaminants of the plague to pass, I had sat in my underground bunker, surrounded by 55-gallon plastic drums of distilled water and mountains of canned vegetables with peeling paper labels. I had scribbled the days and weeks and years onto the wall like a prisoner marking time in solitary.

And that's exactly what I was: a prisoner. Except I hadn't been forced into a cell for crimes against society; I had gone down there alone, voluntarily, to escape death.

If only I had known quite how thoroughly I would accomplish my goal . . .

You see, until yesterday I had been alone, waiting, lingering, without seeing another living being in exactly two-hundred-fourteen years, eight months, and three days. But I was still here, still young, still healthy. Still exactly the same.

I was having a little trouble dying.

Now, I know what you're thinking, and no, I'm not crazy. I may have become a little obsessive about counting things, but you try spending 3,264 days alone in an underground bunker -- no matter how well-stocked it might be with books, games, digital music and movies -- and another 75,146 days above-ground but still alone, foraging for anything that might help ease the boredom, and see if you don't come out obsessed with something.

And I think it's important that you know I never intended to go into that bunker alone. Despite being told repeatedly what a paranoid fool I was for building the damn thing in the first place, I was a social person. I loved being around people. They say the difference between an introvert and an extrovert is that the former derives their energy from being alone; the latter derives their energy from being with people. I was no introvert.

But when I told my co-workers at the lab that I thought the N7HV3 virus was about to explode across the planet, none of them grasped the urgency of the situation. And when I told my family and friends the same thing, I got the same response. They called me a 'Doomsday Prepper' and told me I should go on one of those reality TV shows.

Reduced from logic to cajoling, then pleading, I finally had no choice but to go into the bunker alone.

Six weeks later they were all pounding on the double-paned, bullet proof window next to the entrance, their eyes bleeding and their flesh flaking from their bodies in great gray chunks.

But by then letting anyone else in, even my sister and her infant daughter, was no longer an option. All that was left to do was talk--and sometimes cry--along with them, through the intercom, until they died on my doorstep.

A lot of people died on my doorstep.

I hated each and every one of them for making me watch them die like that. Hated them with a passion.

That's when I started counting. I counted family and friends as they died a few hermetically-sealed inches away, and I could feel myself age with the passing of each one.

Several centuries later, I'm still in the habit of counting things -- but I haven't aged since.

And I only hate them a little . . .

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