Dawn

The streets weren’t safe after dawn. Hannah Long knew that, just like she knew the cause. Sitting in the window box of the attic, she watched the sky changing colour. The streetlamps went out marking a growing pathway of light. Sighing, Hannah watched the first of the spores rising towards the sky. They always started appearing seconds after dawn arrived. At first glance the spores looked like large snowflakes, only green coloured. They were soft and damp to the touch, but they didn’t melt away. Instead they absorbed into skin and spread poison into the body.

Opening her scrapbook, Hannah flipped through the pages. Ever since the spores had first appeared, she had gathered clippings of all kinds. There were newspaper, magazine and internet articles, her own notes from the TV and radio, pictures she had found and others she had taken. Mixed in were her own diary passages, which contained thoughts and reflections on things she had read.

Tucking a lock of brown hair behind her ear and fixing her glasses, she began to read the first reports in the budging book. At first the spores had been something of a spectacle, a mystery of nature across the world, but then they had started killing. It had taken scientists and biologists awhile to figure out the cause, but things were too late and the mushrooms had become well established.

Hannah glanced out of the window as the spores tapped against it. They were growing in numbers as it got lighter and hotter. Looking back again, she scanned an article about how the spores were not being reported in freezing places like Alaska and the North and South Poles. Luckily, they still weren’t, but the idea of fleeing to one of those places now was long past. Their boarders had closed a few months ago, when her parents, who were leading mycologists, had discovered that the spores could transfer via skin contact and it didn’t matter what the outside temperature was because they could almost instantly move.

That was the other reason why Hannah was currently alone. Her parents were living in secret headquarters, working around the clock to try and kill off the mushrooms and their spores. Being fifteen and almost completely aware of the dangerous and progress, Hannah’s parents trusted her. They sent her money once a week and paid for a cleaner and cook to come on set days to help her. She was also still allowed friends over, though most of the people she’d known were either dead or had moved away.

Flipping through more pages, Hannah went to the last few. Most of these articles were about her parents and their team’s progress. She felt tears sting the corner of her eyes and turned the pages on the photographs. She never thought that she’d miss her parents so much. Turning to the next empty page, she picked up a fountain pen and lent back. The brick wall was cool on her back and hard on her head. Turning slightly, she watched the spores gathering into a thick fog now that the sun had fully risen.

Pressing pen to paper, she wrote:

It’s my 16th birthday today and also Halloween. My parents can’t come home, so they are going to video call me later. I miss them. The spores seem thicker today and I was able to watch then rise as dawn broke. The remaining humans must feel like vampires because we are now officially nocturnal. We live in the night and sleep during the day. I fear that the spores might find out how to overcome the darkness that protects us.

I watched a TV interview about that and a biologist said it could never happen. The spores need the light and they know that to be a fact. However, they have yet to truly understand the mushrooms, so what if they can adapt?  

I’m trying not to think about it. Cook said she’d bring me a pumpkin to carve this afternoon. That’ll take my mind off things. Still though, I can’t help but wonder what things will be like when we are all gone.    

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