I had been tagged with Splotchy's virus last week, but with the help of lots of orange juice and some garlic, I'd been able to fight it off (translation: I hadn't copied the text and then promptly forgot who'd tagged me). Now, however, it's got me.
I'll start with Splotchy's instructions, then the story as it stood before, then my addition at the end. (smart, huh?)
"This has probably been done before, but that is not stopping me, oh no. Here's what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don't know how realistic it is, but that's what I'm aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it's okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that's five interesting threads the story spins off into.Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours."
I woke up hungry. I pulled my bedroom curtain to the side and looked out on a hazy morning. I dragged myself into the kitchen, in search of something to eat. I reached for a jar of applesauce sitting next to the sink, and found it very cold to the touch. I opened the jar and realized it was frozen. (Splotchy)
I was used to the house being quite cold in the mornings, as the night log usually burns out around one AM when I am dreaming cozily under my covers, not normally waking to put a new one on until morning. I was surprised because on the rare occasions that it actually had reached sub-freezing temperatures in the house, I had awakened in the night to restart the fire. I would have been worried about the pipes before P-Day, but there hadn’t been running water in two years and that was one of the few advantages to being dependent on rainwater, no pipes. (Freida Bee)
I rummaged around in the kitchen and found one of the few things that hadn't frozen overnight to eat- an expired granola bar. "Better than nothing", I muttered to myself as I tore off the wrapper and took a bite, trying to not chip a tooth in the process.I thought I should go out to the shed and bring in more wood. The mind-numbing cold snap that had set in over the last few days seemed to be in no hurry to leave. Pulling on my heavy coat and wool hat, I considered for a moment what lay ahead for the day. Normally I would spend much of the day making any needed repairs to the house, cleaning, reading various newsletters, cooking, and just trying to keep busy in general. With no job to fill my time anymore I have found my newfound "freedom" to be both a blessing and a curse. Ever since P-day, the only job most of us have is to sit in our homes and find something, anything, to pass the time.Well, that- and to stay alive. (Whiskeymarie)
I reached the woodshed I’d built from the remains of our fence, and heard a rustling. Fearing one of the wild dogs that now roamed the neighborhood, I crept back to the house for the gun my husband left with me before he volunteered to join the fighting. My hand was shaking so badly, I didn’t think I could pull a trigger, so I also grabbed an old broomstick to use as a club. My son tried to follow me, and I ordered him back inside; he obeyed, frightened by the harshness of my tone. He seemed not to sense how terrified I was and I was glad. Inching toward the shed, glancing backward every few steps to be sure the children were staying inside, I heard the rustle again, accompanied by a very human cough.“Who is it?” I shouted, in as angry and menacing a voice as I could muster.No response.“Damn it, I know you’re in there! I have a gun! Come out with your hands up, or I’ll just start shooting!”“Don’t shoot!” said the voice, and(CDP--someone else will have to pick up at the cliffhanger and tell us who was attached to the voice).
...and a tall figure stepped out of the morning mist.
“Don’t shoot, please,” he said again, holding his hands in the air. “I’m not here to steal anything, I promise. I’m just looking for my cat. She got out this morning, and she’s the only thing I have. I have to find her. Have you seen her?”
I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Granted, after P-Day, I thought nothing could surprise me—tanks in the streets, people sleeping in the abandoned and gutted malls and grocery stores, thieves and looters trying to make up for not having prepared for the crisis. But this guy—looking for a cat?
“Come on,” I said, still holding that broom handle and trying to look threatening. “Looking for your cat? Do you think I’m stupid? You better just move along, man. And don’t come back.”
“No really, I’m looking for my cat!”
As if to magnify the surreal quality of this moment, a kitten mewed and stepped out of the shed. I couldn’t believe it; this guy really had a kitten, and he’d found him. The kitten rubbed his little body against the man’s legs; the man picked up the kitten and began muttering to him in that baby-talk way people used to talk to their pets, back when people had pets.
I stood there, pondering the scene. Since P-Day, cats and dogs were like an endangered species. Most people had long ago been forced to cook them for food; some refused, only to watch their beloved pets die of starvation as the food ran out. (dguzman)
Your turn! Let's see--how about I tag... Fillip, KarenZipDrive, and MattyBoy. You've probably already been exposed anyway. Might as well enjoy the accompanying fever and swelling.