Below is the intro to the story I’ll be writing for NaNoWriMo.
As I stand here, in the dark humid warmth of this abandoned studio, memories flicker like old photographs superimposed over everything I see. I can feel the softness of the pink couch without touching it, the sharp points of dried paint on dusty palettes, the elastic fabric of the canvasses. It has been five years, though in here, in this anachronistic space, it seems like fifty have passed. Everything is just as familiar and clear to me as it was the last time I stood within its turpentine embrace.
Back then things were different. I wasn’t on the run, the cities hadn’t locked down, and Yelena slept in my arms every night. Life was good. Wine, cigarettes and a warm body pressed against mine were daily pleasures, beautiful delicacies I found I still craved even now. Back then terms like “Carrier”, “Transmissive” and “Infected” meant nothing to me.
It takes me a moment to collect myself enough to take a short, slow stroll around the room. I trail my fingers over surfaces. Dust gathers under my fingertips, light and gritty and fuzzy brown. Touching these things I had missed for so long makes them seem hyper real, as if I am dreaming. Echoes of Yelena’s laughter, of Veronika’s comments in rapid-fire Russian, of our gentle sounds of love and passion fade in and out just beyond my hearing. It is all exactly as I remember it, no less beautiful without their warmth to give it spirit. I want to wrap myself in the silks and fall asleep on the velvet couch. This grubby notepad and my mission can be forgotten, abandoned in favour of temporary sanctuary.
There is no time, I cannot linger here. I must write what I came here to write and be gone. I wish for Yelena’s comfort but she is in quarantine, mind-sick, and I am alone.
I settle on the couch. I light my last cigarette. I try to remember my life before I became Patient Zero.
I stare at the page.
After a moment, I begin to write.