Zephyr of the Ashes by Dawn Leslie Lenz



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The sun's intense draw lures out all the people of the world, while agoraphobic Chava Logan hunkers down inside her San Francisco apartment in terror. Slowly, more and more people succumb to the allure of the sun.

The Sun Pandemic is a global phenomenon that no one seems to understand or be able to fight. Alone in her apartment, Chava struggles against this unknown force. Can her neurotic behaviors actually save her life? A short story from our Orbits sci-fi/fantasy line.

Excerpt:

The sun beckoned to her, calling her from the isolated, safe second-floor San Francisco apartment in Hayes Valley. Chava Logan had been able to ignore its invitation for the last five years, remaining within the secure walls of her one bedroom apartment. But in the last twenty-four hours, the sunís tempting voice came to life, a strong and constant thing, drawing people from their homes, from their jobs. People flooded the sidewalks, blocked the streets and filled the parks, basking in the warm rays cascading from the bright sun.

Chava curled up on her couch under a blanket, watching the news yet again. The female newscaster she liked, Simone Silver, said, ďEveryone is missing work.Ē The city, along with the rest of the country, no, the whole world, unified in chaos. More and more people left their lives every day. Two days, three days.

No one knew what to do. Scientists, scholars, and political leaders scrambled to find answers to the growing Sun Pandemic. People werenít eating. No one wanted water. Emergency response teams swerved through the masses of people wearing protective suits against the sun. But everyone in the crowds spurned their help. They didnít need it.

ďLeave me alone. Iím savoring,Ē one woman said to a paramedic who tried to give her food and water.

Chavaís boss at her freelance writing job quit responding to her yesterday. Her check still hadnít come. She didnít know how she would find work from her computer now if the whole world was outdoors.

Reluctantly, Chava got up to face the early morning having slept little the night before. She went to her bedroom to put on jeans and a black sweater and to brush out her long, dark hair; she took her time getting ready. As a last-minute decision, she put on lipstick, deep red to offset her olive toned skin. Lipstick always made her feel better.

She roamed her apartment. Eventually, she ended up by the front window in the living room across from the couch, peeking out of her blinds, closed against the outside world.

Hayes Valley teemed with people. But they didnít mill around. Nor did they hold conversations with each other or touch one another. There was no joking around or even fighting. No one interacted in any way. Everyone stood still, their arms at their sides, their heads raised toward the sun, eyes closed as if they simply wanted time to themselves to enjoy the beauty of the day. Babies had been set on the ground at their parentsí feet. No cry came from their lips. Instead, their tiny arms lifted toward the sun, a new mother.

Even animals filled the sidewalks and streets. Dogs drew their heads skywards, without panting or wagging a tail. Cats sat regally amidst the crowd, too, all paying homage to the sun. Even the rats revealed themselves for the grace of the sunís binding spell.

Chava released the blinds with a snap. She stepped away from the window quickly. She could feel her pulse racing and took deep breaths to try to stop the oncoming panic attack. After many years of leading a normal, healthy life, these attacks began and incapacitated her, making her a prisoner in her own house. She used to go to a nine-to-five job. Chava used to have friends. Now, at thirty-five, she was that crazy lady with the cat in apartment 2A.

  • Published by: Untreed Reads


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