You stumble into the kitchen, covered in sweat. Mind racing. Heart thumping. Christ, could he have followed me here? You think. How did he even find me?
A moment passes. One thing is certain.
He’s not here now.
Your stomach rumbles. Even someone in your position has to eat. Your refrigerator door cries as you tug it open. You peer through the shelves. A jug of tea catches your eye. You take a swig, right out of the container. Your mother won’t know.
The tea tastes sharper than usual. You examine the label. Black tea. She bought the wrong kind. You shrug, reach for some leftovers. Flip the TV on in the other room as you slide them into the microwave. The five o’ clock news plays in the background. It might say something about him.
The usual teary story about the war. Some presidential candidate is coming to your town. You count down the numbers on the microwave. 5, 4…
“And, finally, tonight a food contamination alert for all residents in this county.”
“A shipment of Lipton’s Black Tea delivered to local stores has tested positive for traces of the ebola solanum virus. This super-strain of the disease causes painful sores on the underarms, neck and groin followed by profuse bleeding from all orifices. The survival rate once infected is less than 10%. I repeat, Lipton’s Black Tea has been pulled from the shelves but any resident who purchased the tea is advised to call the Center for Health Control to dispose of it immediately.”
You tug open the fridge once more and look at the tea you just drank.
Lipton’s. That’s not the kind your mother usually buys.
“Authorities report the shipment was tainted by an unidentified biological expert who remains at large.”
He’s not here now. You think. The jug of tea falls to the floor.
But he was.
—Credited to Alice Wilde.