18th February 2026. 7 a.m.

Jemima is halfway to work, trudging her weary limbs along the dusty pavement. The heat is already near-unbearable, already heating up her feet past the point of comfort through what’s left of the soles of her shoes.

Another day full of heartache and despair awaits her. Another day watching the light slowly fade from the eyes of her patients. Nobody knows what the disease is, or how to cure it. Five years ago, it would have been a different story. But medicine and technology is hard to come by these days — never mind the electricity to power it.

Jemima sighs, rubbing her dry, tired eyes. She has become too thin, her bones now poke at her paper skin. It frustrated her to no end. She had grown up dreaming of being a professional swimmer, and was very much on her way to reaching that dream, when things started to go suddenly, drastically wrong. Some ignorance here, some poor leadership there, and before anyone knew it, the whole world was up in flames.

Jemima’s father had never liked to place blame. He said there was no point now anyway. But Jemima was still seething. Every person that died in her arms, every starving child, every day without a hint of rain fuelled her hatred for the dystopia she found herself in. She had gone from reading about them to living in one in the blink of an eye. And what was worse, most of the world had seen it coming.

Seen it, and yet that still hadn’t been enough. No matter how loud they had shouted, those with the power to make any real change had ignored them. They believed their own petty agendas and wants to be of more importance than the fate of humanity. As long as they had money in their pockets, they were happy to watch the world fall apart.

And they did.

Until the mobs got to them, of course.

It was a bittersweet moment the day they got what was coming to them. Jemima thought she would get a sense of justice, but their deaths only left a sour taste in her throat. In some ways she wondered whether it would have been a better punishment to let them live in the horror they had created.

A pigeon bursts into flight, startling Jemima from her exhaustion. Even the so-called pests are a rare sight now. She squints, shading her eyes from the blazing sunrise. The grey tent rises ahead of her, and the moans drift towards her on the breeze.

She sighs again, steeling herself for the day ahead.


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