Horus Corley calmly walked into Beth Azure’s bedroom. The cat sleeping on her bed stirred, immediately knew something was wrong.
“Hey there, baby!” grinned Corley. He flashed his surgically sharpened teeth. The cat arched his back, hissed, and jumped off the bed. Corley laughed as he watched the cat run down the hallway.
It only takes Pestilence Men two minutes to make their target sick. Horus Corley had been standing at the foot of the bed for a half hour. Despite his best efforts, Beth Azure slept soundly. Corley smiled his surgically sharpened teeth, but it was only a smile of embarrassment. He tried again.
“Heh, heh. I’m not sure what’s wrong. Have you simply have been taking more vitamin C this whole time? You keep sleepin’ like you’re dead. Well wake up!”
Beth, curled up like a little child, hugged her pillow like it was a teddy bear. Whatever she dreamed was pleasant enough to make her smile. Was it the warmth of the blankets?
“Why won’t you listen to me?!” shouted Corley. Then he covered his mouth. Shh. Don’t wanna get the rest of her family sick. They’re not on the list. Yet.
Aw, no. He heard coughing in the next room. Beth no longer smiled in her sleep.
“Com’n, fever up,” said Corley, “I got others to sicken tonight. Wait a minute—!”
He saw Beth put her hand on her ear to check something, then went back to sleep.
Something Corley’s boss did not tell him was that Beth Azure always slept with earbuds connected to her phone, which played soft music all night.
“The Briostone coulda been useful tonight,” muttered Corley.
Despite their reputation, Pestilence Men, like delivery services, had to follow rules. Corley was presently invisible, incorporeal, and could not simply remove the earphones. Due to job ethics, the Briostone, which made Corley flesh and bone for a brief time, could not be used while on the job. So how would he accomplish his mission?
He’d just return the next night. He’d return as long as it took, until the night when Beth forgot to wear them, or something unfortunate happened to her phone.
When Corley left the house, he was contacted by his boss.
“Is the task complete?” asked the voice on the other line.
“Yeah. Sure is, boss.” Corley smiled, “She is sick as a dog.”
There was a long pause.
“It will snow tomorrow,” said the voice on the other line, “The snow makes everything better for us.”
From “Fall from Autumnway” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?
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