Pro-life. Pro. Life. The words were bloated with irony as it occurred to her that hers was coming to an end. She stared at a thin scrap of paper in her right hand, a torn envelope trembling in her left. Saliva began to build in the back of her mouth as she read it again. The words on the paper were blurry. No – she shook her head and squinted. No, they were clear, and she could tell they had been typed on a typewriter with some of the letters whited out and re-typed.
You have been contaminated with the deadly anthrax virus.
You will be dead within forty-eight hours.
Pro-life. Who would do such a thing? Who in the name of life would attempt to kill someone just because of where she worked?
She blinked hard and noticed a fine, powdery substance on her fingers. Her stomach lurched. Grabbing the trash bin under the desk she retched into it, her body convulsing with unexpected force.
Suzanne, one of the nurse practitioners, stopped outside the door in the hallway.
“Are you okay, Erin?” As she began to step into the office, Erin’s hand flew up to stop her.
“DON’T COME IN!”
Suzanne froze. “What is it?” Her eyes darted back and forth from the soiled trash bin to the paper and envelope in Erin’s hands. “Oh, God. Is that…Oh, God.”
“Yes, GET OUT.” Erin retched into the bin again, her eyes welling up with hot tears. Suzanne backed up.
“I’ll call 9-1-1. Don’t move. Protocol requires us to shut down and quarantine the area, I have to shut the –“
“Just close it!” The heavy door slammed shut, ringing metallic in her ears. Erin slowly set the paper and envelope on the desk and wiped her hands on her pants. She looked down at them. It’s no use. Dropping her head into her contaminated hands in defeat, her forehead was cold and clammy against her palms. Odd, since her skin was burning. It’s happening. I’m going to die.
— to be continued —