In deep sleep she dreamed she was floating through the air and then soaring above and beyond the clouds. She could exist in another dimension where nebulas swirled in shimmering light, where new galaxies opened to her in the burst of a billion stars, and where suns and moons and brilliantly-hued planets could be hers for the taking. Yet she glided past it all, to reach out in that vast firmament of space with the hope she would discover an end soon, the end of time. As a scientist, Suzan knew that infinity was a concept not a reality. Something began, perhaps grew or evolved, and then ended when finished from amoebas to people. Even the Bible spoke of the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. In her search she found herself wandering through a dark vortex, a seemingly endless tunnel. The more she moved forward the more anxious she became. I’m the only one who survived, she thought with a pang of sadness and dread, but I don’t want to go on like this forever and ever all alone...
Suzan awoke before the dream took on a darker, ominous tone and filled her with fear once more. As her mind washed away the remnants of the dream, she sat up in bed and experienced an incredible feeling of being, so totally alive and aware of everything around her. She heard the rumble of the commuter train and the rush of downtown traffic at least five miles away, and smelled the sweet aroma of the flowers sold at the floral kiosk two blocks down.
She heard the mice, too, in the attic. Ellen didn’t like the idea of killing them, and so placed little traps around the attic parameters in the hope that she could “relocate” them once they became trapped in the cages. Funny though, the mice proved too smart for her efforts, and so Ellen simply let them be. Now Suzan listened to their scurrying and scampering among the floor boards, and heard, too, a couple of early-morning joggers as they pounded the pavement beneath the second-story window.
How incredible to feel so alive! Suzan couldn’t wait to tell Ellen about it! Sometime during the night, Ellen had slipped out of their embrace and moved over to sleep next to her lover, unusual but not worrisome. Now when Suzan turned to wake her with a morning kiss and her exciting news, she found that Ellen had already gotten up and left the bedroom. Donning her robe and slippers, Suzan went downstairs and headed for the kitchen where she assumed Ellen had gone for a cup of coffee. But the kitchen proved dark and empty, the coffee maker yet to turn on automatically.
“Ellen?” Suzan padded across the hall and over to the sitting room. She found her lover sitting on the piano bench with her back to the doorway. Like the kitchen, the room remained bathed in the last shadowy remnants of the night, dawn yet to provide natural light.
“Ellen, darling, why are you sitting here in the dark?” As Suzan approached she noticed that Ellen looked a bit hunched over, her head covered in a dark woven shawl. As a piano teacher always chiding her students to sit up straight, Ellen had forgone her own dictate, leaving Suzan to wonder if she was ill. “Ellen, dear, are you all right?”
A pang of anxiety gripped her as she placed her hand on her lover’s shoulder. Beneath Ellen’s black silk robe, Suzan felt bone rather than flesh, noted that Ellen’s breathing seemed labored. When a strand of her hair, now white and brittle, slipped from the shawl and whisked across her hand, Suzan sucked in a breath of surprise...and fear. It had really happened? Had her worst fear about the serum been realized? She steadied herself to confirm it, knew that if what she thought proved true Ellen would need her now more than ever.
Yet when her lover slowly turned around to face her, Suzan stumbled back and let out a scream of terror.