Onset of the Pox

Doc Lucius ran from the Pox. There was an outbreak in Bluerock–something got into the well water. All it ever took was one. One fool to cover his bumps rather than admit to it. After a single night, the bumps would spread until the man’s skin was membranous, like exposed brains, but thick as horsehide leather. Tumors bulged and hardened. Bones protruded. Hair fell out. Skin paled to gray.

To shoot a Pox was almost as deadly as letting it shoot you. They rarely bled–more often the shell of their hide would burst like a boil and spray the infectious pus. Get the pus in your eye, mouth, a wound, and you would be one of them in a matter of hours.

Such was what happened to the town of Bluerock. A Pox was killed attempting to invade, and a splash of pus hit the edge of the well. Slowly, it seeped downward, until the well was tainted. The disease was much diluted, Lucius expected, for it didn’t manifest in anyone except poor Batiatus. And once he turned, it was much harder to keep the Pox from spreading.

Thus Doc Lucius was the last survivor of Bluerock, galloping hard on his fatigued piebald. He would lose his pursuers and slow, only to catch sight of the Pox in the distance, and he’d gallop again. They didn’t stop. Even when he forded rivers, the Pox followed his trail. His scent.

At last, his horse was finished. It fell forward, Doc Lucius spilling into the snow. His horse lay on his side and snorted. Kicking him and shouting at him did nothing. He was lame. Lucius would have to continue his flight on foot. Except he, too, was lame, as he found out when he marched forward: his right foot had no feeling, and he nearly fell on his face when he stepped without realizing he had touched ground. Lucius looked down, lifting his sensationless foot. It was swollen–his boot strained around it. And the sole of his leather boots developed a crack. A crack which went right through to his bare foot.

Behind the crack, he could already see the bumps.

In the distance, the scratchcy wails of the Pox neared, and were only silenced after the thunderous snap of a gunshot rippled across the sky.

 


 

 

Day 202’s three random prompt categories were, “A chase scene,” “In the wild west,” and, “Strange goosebumps.”

They’re not zombies. They’re Pox. Okay?

– H.

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