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In a country where infecting someone else is illegal...

      COLD CRIME by Reader

      “Take your time.”
       Detective Daniel Parks instructed into the telephone as he looked at the woman through the glass partition. She held tissues close to her glaringly red and flaring nostrils, creating a second barrier in addition to the glass. 
       The detective didn’t say anything once she gave a description, but there was clear distaste for the described perpetrator. He held a picture up against the glass.
        “It’s him right? He is a notorious serial infector. First name’s Silas. Last name‘s Thorn-in-my-backside.”
        The woman nodded her head in earnest and tapped one nail against the glass. “Yes!” 
       “What symptoms was he exhibiting?” The detective looked on sympathetically as she paused again, looking dazed for a few more moments before she lost the sneeze. 
       “You could tell his dose was just full of cold and whed he spoke, it sou’ded like he was holdigg a gubball in his bouth. His eyes and nose were just as red as my hair and his lashes were wet.”
       The detective zeroed in on her words.                                 “Why were you standing so close that you could see his wet lashes?”
        “I had d’o choice. It was packed id the elevator. After he sdeezed, he assured everyode it was just allergies.”
         The detective tsked in disgust at the allergy excuse. It was every criminal’s defense, and it was hard to prove until people started getting sick. 
         “And what did this guy say he was allergic to in an elevator. Perfume right?”
         “Yes, that’s right...” The woman nodded quickly as light and airy hitches took her words away. She brought her elbow up, her head tilting forwards and backwards in gentle waves as her face contorted. Her face flushed red in embarrassment at the upcoming faux pas.
       “Uh excu-excuse mmmeehhh….I hab to...sn-snee..Aishiyyyyooo! 
       Her head snapped forward two more times into her elbow. HihhYaaiitschu! HihhYAitschuuu!
Her muffled coughs battered against her chest and turned into a loud, throaty production. The detective called me forward. I opened the door and stepped inside the small room before closing it. The woman glanced up, eyes widening in surprise. The look turned to gratefulness as I placed a glass of water on the table. Once I pulled out a thermometer though, the detective raised his voice. “That will have to wait. We have to catch this man before he infects anyone else.” 
         I nodded and moved back to let the interrogation continue.
        “We’ll make this quick. We just need you to write down where you went after the elevator trip till when you first noticed your symptoms. That gap will help us track down other people that you unintentionally exposed. Depending on the number, you might have a tax fee to pay.”
         Thirty minutes later, the tired and miserable woman finished documenting her whereabouts. I placed a hand on her shoulder. 
         “If you’ll come with me, I’ll take you to your room. We have already called out of work for you. Once they heard the circumstances, they were more than happy to have you take paid leave.”
          At my smile and outstretched arm, she stood and placed a tentative hand on top of it. 
         “I wud’dt be able to be dext to sobeode like mbe right dow. Thagkyou.”
        “You’re welcome.”
        After the woman fell asleep, I updated the night caretaker that had just come in. I waved a goodbye on my way out the door. 
           I paused and turned around. Daniel jogged over to me. 
          “They are sending me out on a code 1 right now. It’s in the same mall as the exposure point for the woman. Care to join?”
          “Alright, Detective.”
          The healthy called the police over a simple sneeze all the time. I could use the overtime. 
          I should have stayed home. My heart sank as I heard the animal come up behind the line of people. Please have hypoallergenic fur. I chanted to myself over and over even as I felt the lightest tickle appear in my nose. I tried not to breathe in any further as the four-legged thermocepter brushed against my body. The police must be checking for fevers. I sighed in relief knowing that I was healthy, only to quickly gasp at the creature jumping up on me and licking a stain on my shirt. The furry particles landed in my nose and the itch spread like wildfire, planting deep into my nose and growing roots along the sensitive lining of my nose hairs. The dog was pulled back, but the damage was done. I scrunched my nose, wanting so badly to rub and soothe it. Keeping my hands to my side was like fighting gravity at this point, but my cuffed hands were a good stopping force. I rubbed my nose with my shoulder, but that only intensified the urge. Every muscle in my body flexed as the itch spread to my eyes and throat. 
        I couldn’t go into a quarantine cell tonight. I had supplies I needed to bring home. My eyes watered though and the only thing I could focus on was the overwhelming and demanding need. 
         I’m sorry guys.
       Ihhhhtshooo! Hihhhittschuu! Hihhaitschuuu!
       I blinked out the allergic tears halfway through the rapid fit, but I just saw a blurry film of white. A hand moved to my back and gently moved me further away from the line. A female voice spoke up.
       “Bless you. Let’s get you away from that dog. Detective, this one is clear. Remove the cuffs please.”
        She still held the tissue to my face so I could barely see her, but I already felt beholden to her. She moved the tissue away at the same time the cuffs fell of my wrists. Just a push of a button. 
        “We are sorry for the inconvenience. There was an incident in a nearby elevator a couple of days ago, so there is some alarm going on. Have a good day.”
         I picked my jaw back off the ground. It was Sage! As much as Silas talked about her and showed her pictures to me, I felt like I was seeing an old friend. 
          “Is your na-?”
          “Sage, code 20!”
          She turned to the voice and rushed away. Even though I wanted to follow, I gripped my bag of supplies and headed home quickly. I wouldn’t push my luck. Buying cold remedy supplies in small amounts from several stores without raising suspicion was tough enough, but getting through a search unscathed and finding Sage in addition to all that was a miracle. Once home, I called out for the others. Ginger, Hayley, and Warren met me at the door.
          “Everything ok?”
          “Perfectly. Where is Silas?” 
          “His room. He’s been in there sleeping for a couple of hours. What’s up man?”
          “I’ll explain later.” I burst through Silas’ room. Raising his head at the noise, his rumpled bedhead and disheveled look didn’t take away from his rugged and darkly handsome features. 
          “I saw Sage today!”
          “Thank you for dropping me off.”
           I pushed the key into my door and unlocked it before pushing it open. Daniel smiled and shook his head.
          “No problem, Sage. We still on for tomorrow?”
           A rush of excitement filled me. He knew a guy that knew an opera singer. She was allowing us to see the final practice for free before the huge concert. I nodded at Daniel.
          “Yes, I’m so excited!”
           He looked like he wanted to tell  me something, but all he ended up doing was waving before he walked down my steps. I walked inside and closed the door, my thoughts still on Daniel. I wondered what he was going to say. When I turned around, a scream caught in my throat at the sight of a large man in my house. I flicked the light on and stared in shock. Silas walked forward and placed his hands on either side of me. 
      “Hello darlid. I thought he’d dever leave.” He said with a smirk. Silas the serial infector. Silas “Thorn in Daniel’s side”. And Silas.....my ex. No matter how much of a bad boy he thought he’d become, I knew he was using the wall to support himself. Three years might have changed his body into a more ripped and bigger machine, but it had done nothing for his immune system. I thumped his chest and he immediately broke out into wet and forceful coughs that barely did anything to clear the thickness I could hear clinging to his chest and throat. If the trail of sweat gliding down the side of his face wasn’t enough of an indication, his body heat licked up the oxygen from around me. He caught his breath, but didn’t stop me when I raised my hand and pressed the back of it to his forehead. Yup.
      “You should be home resting.”
       He leaned his forehead on my shoulder before pulling me into a tight hug. 
       “You are bmy hobe.” 
        I gently pushed him back as I crossed my arms. Hurt flashed across his features for half a second before he reluctantly took a step back. He moved his hands from my back and settled them on my waist. 
        “We had a home and then you left.” I reminded him resolutely. “What do you….want?”
       He lifted a finger as he seemed to zone out, but still held some control as he held back the sneeze clawing to get out. 
       “I was...young and idealistic. I...huhhh...sh-should have never joined the...hehh...rebellion. I left them and....formed my own group. We are differehhhnt.“ 
       His hands tightened around my waist involuntarily at each false start. He lifted one hand and pressed his nose into his wrist firmly before jerking his head to the side. 
      His stifled attempt only rubbed his throat the wrong way, so more gritty coughs came out. He cleared his throat and winced as he rubbed it. His voice came out hoarse, dipping in and out. 
         “Could I have sobe water.”
         I pointed to a couch before I left for water and tissues. When I came back, he was plopped on the couch with his eyes closed and elbow raised to his face in a ready-to-sneeze stance. I tucked some tissues into his hand. He rubbed his nose and sniffed what little he could through “a dose full of cold” before it set off enough of a tickle. 
          His shoulders trembled as his nostrils flared again and he fought the sneeze. I sat down next to him.
         “Bless you.”
          No sooner than the words left my mouth, the front door flew open and quick steps revealed Daniel with a gun in his hand. 
          “Hands in the air!”
           Silas dropped the tissues and balled his hands into fists, standing up. “You would point that at Sage?!”
          I couldn’t even speak to tell Silas to calm down. I lifted my hands slowly. A loud thunking sound rang out and Daniel collapsed to the floor, revealing the man I had seen earlier at the mall now holding a vase in his hand. My vase.

Edited by Reader
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       20 year old Sage
          One moment I was asleep in my bed and in the next, I was woken up briskly and forced to give my whereabouts for the past 24 hours. Afterwards, I was dumped in a car where I was told everything would be explained when I arrived. 
         “Arrive where?” I shouted in a panic. They drove in silence before pulling up to a place and bringing me into a windowless room. When I woke up, something heavy weighed down my wrists when I tried to roll over. Everything that happened came back to me and I sat upright in the darkened room, dragging something heavy as I brought my hand to my chest. Feeling along the bracelet to the chains, I moved along the link until I felt a blanket that I moved my hand under. Gasping, I pulled my hand back from the skin I’d felt and heard a groan. Trying to adjust to the lack of light, I strained my eyes to make out a large lump under the blankets.
          “Hello? Hello?”
          The lump shifted and moved until I was staring face to face to a man. He glanced at me in quiet resignation before lifting his cuffed left hand that was attached to the same chain link my right hand was attached to. He looked around the empty room with the wooden floors. 
          “Who are you?” I blurted out. 
           “I’m Sage. Do you know where we are or why we are here?”
           “You’ve never been to one of these places before?”
           The door opened and men with masks walked in. 
          “You two are here because you have been in contact with someone who is sick. Until we know whether you have caught a cold or not, you will remain here.”
           They left quickly. I thought of anyone I’d been in contact with the last few days. None of them had been sick. At least they hadn’t said anything. 
          “You’ve been here before?”
           He nodded, but didn’t elaborate.
          “Do you feel fine?”
          “For now.”
           His words sounded ominous and they proved right. Within a day, he was sick. Since I was technically in contact with him, I still had to stay until he was over his cold. Ever since his symptoms started showing though, he’d kept as much distance as two feet of chain allowed. He hadn’t talked to me either. I lifted my free hand towards him and he immediately reared back. 
         “Whud are you doi’g?”
         “I was going to check your temperature.” He gave me a look of disbelief. “You’re goi’g to touch bme?”                                                                                       I chuckled, thinking he was making a joke. At his frown, I knew he wasn’t joking though.
            “Well, I don’t have a thermometer.”
            When I leaned toward him again, he turned hunched shoulders away from me with a shake of his head. 
            “Dod’t get too close.”
            “Why are you being so weird about this?”
            He shot me a look. 
           “Weird? We are trapped id here like pariahs by the goverdbedt because I have a cold a’d you are fide bei’g aroud bme.”
             It was the most he’d talked and I found his voice to be such a comforting thing in here. 
          “If I help you, you’ll get better faster though. And then we can leave.”
         He shivered and then tightened his arms against his side, ending the conversation with his silence. I sighed and laid down on the floor, using my hands as a pillow as I rolled over and scooted back some so the chain wouldn’t pull. When he was more comfortable around me, he would come around. Talking to him had calmed me down some, but everything had started to close in on me again now that he was basically ignoring me. How could they just throw us in here like this? I quietly sniffed as silent tears slid down my face. 

    20 year old Silas
         Every now and then the chain would pull slightly. It matched the same time she would wipe her face. My heart sank as I realized I’d made her cry. I wasn’t used to people being nice to me when I was sick. Talking wasn’t something I did much of either. I didn’t need to talk out loud to myself and resting my voice was a good thing anyways. Another pull of the chain. Why did I have to feel bad though? She wasn’t the first one to be nice to me initially before the disgust came when I really started getting sick. Anger welled up within me. Everyone was the same. If she wanted to pretend like she was so kind, I would let her and prove her wrong in the process.
        “Sage, I’b cold.”
        She scooted back toward me until her back pressed against my chest, but she didn’t stop crying. 
      “Hey, what’s….”
      She rolled into me and cried harder. I would have thought I was the problem if she wasn’t burrowing into my chest. She felt very warm and soon, some of her warmth transferred to my achy and chilled body. Once she stopped crying, she didn’t move. Her head wiggled up untiI it was laying right under my collar bone. I wasn’t used to this. Usually the people I was put in here with studiously avoided eye contact and physical touch. Once I inevitably became sick, they took turns glaring and scoffing at every sneeze and cough. It was terrible when there was a group. A feeling of familiar panic seized me during my musings as I felt a strong tickle in my nose. My breathing deepened as it grew itchy. When I started to pull away, she whimpered and moved closer. 
     “Sah-Sage...giiii...give me a…ahh...se-se..c..”
      Realizing the inevitable, I covered her head as best I could and turned my head into my shoulder.
     Hehigcschiiuuu! Hehigxxschuuuu!
      Disappointment cut down to the core when she let me go. What was I expecting anyways and why was I upset when I proved I was right? Her chains dragged away from me for a moment. Two feet wasn’t very far. I heard a perforated ripping sound before she sat back next to me and handed me a box of opened tissues. 
         “Bless you.”
        Startled, I looked at her. She was rummaging through the bag the government always left on the first day. 
         “Sorry for crying. I was just overwhelmed for a moment. It’s my first time here.”
        “That’s okay. We all have a first day.”
        Some way later than others it seemed, I mused while debating what to do. I needed to blow my nose, but I didn’t want to do it in front of her. I battered my nose to beat down the tickle making itself known in my nose. Reluctantly, I grabbed a few tissues and pressed them against my nose. My only two options was to sneeze again or blow my nose. I blew as quietly as I could, but it sounded so loud in my ears. And it wasn’t enough as the tickle erupted into a 
         Hehigcschiiuuu! Hehigxxschuuuu!
        “Ugh. I’m sorry.”
       “Bless you. You can stop apologizing. I’m sure you’ll be sneezing a lot more. That’s what happens with a cold right?”
         Warmth lit me up inside and I felt a small smile creep onto my face. She gestured towards the tissues again. I sighed, wondering just when this dream would end. This time, I blew my nose without restraint and then laid down again. She tucked the blanket around us and then used me as a pillow again. 
        “Warm enough?”
         And I was.

Edited by Reader
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  • 4 weeks later...

     @silentdreamer789 I’m happy you enjoyed what I’ve written so far. You’re so sweet! Thank you very much! 

      @ZakuConvoy Thank you! I didn’t even mean to make it sci-fi, but I can totally see how some elements go in that direction. 



    I lay still on the cold, wooden floor. Whoever had hit me in the head was weak and had hesitated. I doubted I would even have a bruise, but my gun was just under the couch. Not close enough for me to get to it until all the people in the room were distracted. Plus, I didn’t mind how hard Sage was fighting to get them to let her take me to the hospital. I stopped a smile from forming on my face. At least my face was turned toward her with my head in her lap. She had brushed her fingers over the spot where I had been hit, but she must have been too frazzled to notice there was no knot. I heard the footsteps of other people coming into the room. Still, I kept my eyes closed and waited as Silas paced.
     He took a step and stumbled forward, feet pitter-pattering to catch his balance as he hitched into more sneezes. NGX -TCHU! HNGG...KXSHHUU!

I thought back to the witness who could barely croak out answers. Just one sneeze in an elevator was all it took. Silas could have infected way more people than just her. Once I got Sage and I out of here, I would find them all and add their body count to Silas’ most wanted infector flyer list before hunting him down. I almost had him this time, but I hadn’t  known how much backup Silas brought with him. 

 “You’ll stay here, Sage. One of us will go to the hospital.”
I moved my hand a fraction more toward the couch. Suddenly, Sage stood and marched away from me. 

“At the hospital, we are trained to spot sickness. The blonde’s only breathing through her mouth. He winces whenever he swallows. The emergency alert system at the hospital will sniff you out a mile from the entrance. And he almost killed Daniel, so he’s out! I’m taking him to the hospital. Get out of my way!”

I failed to stop the smirk. Sage was savage when she got riled up enough. 
There was a pause before she continued. 
“She’s fine.”
A deep sigh of relief came out of a woman as if she passed some big test. 
“So you’ll let Hayley take him?”
Time to act. I shot my hand out the rest of the way and grabbed my gun. I felt a hand clamp down around my arm before I could see the shiny metal. 
“I knew you were awake. Drop it.” Silas growled. 
I silently cursed and left it under the couch. 
Sage snagged my attention with her roaming hands throughout my scalp.  
“You’re alright?”
I smiled, ignoring the way Silas fisted his hand until veins were starting to pop up. 
“Yea, I was fakin it.”
“Get in the car before I knock you out for real.” Silas bellowed as he stood up. Sage looked hurt as she shrunk away from Silas. 
  “You would hurt us?”
  Silas softened his voice. 
  “No. Of course not. Please, Sage. We’ll figure this out. I’ll keep you safe. I probise.”
There wasn’t much to figure out. Sage and I were hostages. He was just using pretty words as a weapon. I stood up and gestured for Silas to lead the way. We piled into the van and headed over to Silas’ hideout. They took off our blindfolds when we stepped inside the house. Sage kept her head down as we walked inside, but I took note of every little thing I could. We stepped into the den to find a woman already there. I was dumbfounded. Her demeanor was so different from the witness who had come in to report Silas, all manners and sob story, but it was the same woman from earlier who was now on the couch next to bags of stolen medicine and preventatives from the hospital with a cheeky smile on her face that quickly turned sneezy. 
Ahh ... .haa...AYESHIIUU !
Gone was the blushing debutante with melancholy in her eyes as she reported Silas. Gone was the care she took to make sure her sneezes were contained. In her place, a vixen smiled and patted her spoils. 
“Hehhh..Heyyyyy...g-guys. Beh-Back ah ah alread...dyyy….”
Her voice rose in pitch, but the sneeze, or sneezes if the continued gasped-in breaths had anything to do with it, stayed stuck in her nose. Just like before, it was like she had to coax them out. She waved a tissue against her fluttering nostrils, but didn’t bother using the tissue to cover her mouth. Her breathing quickened, shoulders nearly to her chin as she sucked in a final sharp breath.
Again, her nose scrunched up and her head moved like the slowest bobble head while her eyes teared up and the rest of the room waited.
She sighed tiredly and sniffed before grabbing a bottle of preventatives and shaking it. 
“I wish I had these earlier.”
She regretfully put the pills back in the bag and grabbed more tissues that she used to blow her nose. She stopped mid-blow as her eyes met mine. A strange expression crossed her face as she looked at me. It was like she was shocked and unsure whether to feel guilty at her false report and thievery or perplexed at why I was there, so strange expression won out. Then she glanced next to me and her face brightened.
      “Oh, Caretaker Sage! What are you doing here?!”
      I looked down at Sage, but Sage seemed far away. Like too many things had happened and she was living in her mind until the real world made more sense.


       I fell into a deep sleep. So deep, I was confused of what sound woke me when I did wake. 
       Silas’ forehead bumped into my back before he grew still. His breathing grew erratic again though, and it wasn’t long before he tensed and bumped my back again.
       I blessed him and then yawned. 
      “You holding up back there?” I teased as I turned to him, leaning up on my elbow. The smile left my face. Silas had already fallen back asleep with a sleepy “yes”, but there was a masked guard leaning against the wall adjacent, staring at us. I moved to wake up Silas, but a quick shake of the guard’s head stilled my hands. 
       He spoke quietly, apparently mindful of Silas sleeping. I slightly calmed down. 
       “I’m here to move you to another facility. This is just a holding cell until we can gather your information. So, what’s your name?”
          I could barely understand him in the mask. His words were slightly garbled. He tapped the tablet he held.  
         He could go back to my house to get my driver’s license out of my purse if he wanted a last name. He must not have needed it because he started moving his fingers over the tablet.
         “What’s your relation to him?”
        I glanced down at Silas, remembering last minute to keep my voice down while I strived to keep the anger out of my voice.
         “I met him in the middle of the night a day or so ago in here after I was abducted from my bed and chained up in here.”
         The guard looked at the bag of opened supplies next to me.
        “It looks like you’re helping him.”
         It sounded like a question, so I answered. 
        He took his mask off and grinned boyishly as he walked over to us. Either it was steaming under the mask and flushed his entire face into a fever-red hue or he had a fever. His voice turned warm, but it was still deeply congested. I realized then that his garbled voice wasn’t the mask’s fault. “Good. I’b breaking hib out and you ca’ come with. I just deleted you and Silas frob the registry. They wod’t know you were here. I’b Daniel by the way. Silas’ best fri’d.”

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  • 1 year later...

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