The virus-alert siren blasted through the speakers
of Simon's Rover Aerocar, disrupting his Friday commute over the
Cotswold Hills, dampening his start to what had been a perfectly
"Fucksakes," Simon mumbled, unable to drop
the wheels on his car. Simon had a bit of romanticism for the past.
He wanted to drive on the vacant roads of the English countryside
and pull up in front of his semi-detached flat in his little community
of flats that lay surrounded by the now brown and bare and scorched
Simon had purchased some flowers at the gift shop of
GCHQ before he left work for the weekend. Simon worked as a sifter
for the British government, sitting in a windowless room at the
end of a row of computer monitors, pulling out key words from the
telephone conversations and emails from a close-mouthed nation that
knew it was under constant surveillance.
"Bollocks," Simon mumbled. The siren meant
there would be no travelling out of doors; there would be no walking
up the steps of his flat with flowers in his hand. He wanted to
start the weekend off on a romantic foot. His mum had taken the
kids for the weekend, and he hoped he and his wife could lounge
around the house all weekend in a slothful and carnal bliss.
But that would take some coaxing on his part. His wife,
Maggie, hadn't been interested in sex lately. In fact, she had let
Simon do little for the past six months except peck her on the cheek.
So, that's why he wanted to walk through the front
door, flowers in one hand, a bottle of Riesling in the other. He
wanted to prepare a special meal of sorts, something akin to her
favorite take-out dish of chicken vindaloo.
But no, the siren meant he would have to park the car
on the rooftop, and he would have to enter the flat via the hollowed
out and expanded chimney.
The radio announced the virus alert; some sort of sexually
transmitted thing that he had heard of vaguely, the disease had
made its way round the continent and had managed to hop across the
Channel. The disease had a scientific name, but the media had called
it The Peeler. And it was deadly and spread rather quickly.
The early stages of the disease caused one to feel
quite aroused and sexually aggressive, as if the disease was designed
to be spread easily.
"Fucksakes," Simon said to the radio. He
didn't have to worry about an STD, he had been monogamous for all
of his fourteen years of marriage and Maggie had been practically
frigid for the last five.
Simon thought STD's humorous, in the grand scheme of
things. His theology, his belief in God was based solely on one
observation - sex was pleasurable and sex was for pro-creation therefore,
whomever created the human race wanted it to continue, otherwise
sex would be like taking a piss or a crap, just routine and without
But along came something like The Peeler or AIDS early
in the century, something that made sex deadly, rather than life
giving. Did a divine or a demonic hand deal those diseases?
Simon saw the roof of his flat as he flew over the
ancient and barren farms and pastures of long ago. He docked at
the chamber just above the chimney and let his body fall down the
chimney, the decelerators causing his body to drift into the expanded
and disused fireplace as softly as a feather.
Maggie stayed at home as Simon's government job paid
them just enough to survive without her having to work, but it didn't
pay him enough to ever get ahead. His savings were constantly being
robbed to pay off credit cards and repairs to the Aerocar, retirement
was sure to be wrought with penury.
Even though his wife didn't, she wasn't exactly a housekeeper.
The flat was always far from tidy when he would arrive home, the
television blaring some soap opera or children's cartoon, the sitting
room cluttered with gossip magazines and dirty dishes and yesterday's
Simon was quite surprised on this Friday, when he landed
in his sitting room and was greeted by a candlelit silence. The
flat appeared to be picked-up and tidy, as if they were getting
ready to sell the place. Soft and delicate harp music played from
the speakers recessed into the ceiling and his wife sat luxuriously
on the couch, her body cloaked by a long and white terry-cloth bathrobe.
She held a wineglass in her hand and he spied open-toed and stiletto
type heels on her feet that appeared to have been freshly pedicured.
"Well hullo," Simon said, handing the flowers
to Maggie with a flourish. "What brought this on?"
Maggie threw the flowers over her shoulder. "Nothing,"
she said, "just did a bit of shopping today and I'm in the
Simon felt confused and a bit alarmed.
Maggie was never in the mood.
"Where did you go shopping?"
"Oh, you know, the mall. They had the cutest new
shop there, a boutique of sorts." She pointed to the countless
candles that were lit around the sitting room, casting large and
nearly holy shadows on the plain white walls of their flat.
"The shopkeeper chatted me up," Maggie grinned
slyly, crossing and uncrossing her legs.
Simon felt his face redden. His thoughts drifted to
The Peeler. Did the shopkeeper do more than chat Maggie up? Impossible,
he decided in a slow instant.
"Did he now?" Simon asked and he felt so
very clumsy in his wife's now confident presence.
"He did. Jealous, you?" She stood up and
undid her bathrobe.
Simon's confused gaze turned to open-mouthed shock
His wife was wearing black stockings and garters attached
to a black teddy, the black of her lingerie a stark contrast to
her pale and fleshy and dimpled skin.
But it seemed to work, somehow.
"Did the shopkeeper help you pick this out?"
Simon asked and he was kind of excited with the thought of his wife
flirting with another man.
"He might've" and his wife stood face to
face with him, and started unbuttoning his shirt and undoing his
He shifted his gaze from her imperfect figure and studied
her face, trying to look for a clue in her pale blue eyes that sat
underneath a head of dark and long and full wavy hair. Had she been
unfaithful? Or had the attention of the shopkeeper awaken a sleeping
and sensual giant that hadn't existed inside his wife since first
She stripped him down to his boxers and pushed him
on the couch. He was fully aroused, her predatory advances breaking
down all of his reservations and he let himself go. She sat on top
of him and he felt himself go inside her for the first time in so,
so long. His hand explored her body, he grabbed her breasts and
squeezed them and the heat emanating from her skin felt like a severe
fever, but it didn't alarm him.
And this moment of passion ended just as quickly as
it had started.
The heat from her skin became almost unbearable, and
he saw her face turn crimson red as it bobbed up and down in rhythm
with their lovemaking.
And then it happened.
The skin of her face started to smoke and peel and
curl, and she got off of him and started screaming, her body starting
a slow and agonizing burn and smoke seemed to drift out of her pores
casting a fog across the candlelit room.
Her face became a charred and bloody mess and the rest
of her body followed suit, causing his flat to stink horribly of
burnt flesh and hair and polyester.
She collapsed on the floor in front of the fireplace
and started convulsing, the burnt and peeled skin revealing the
red of her flaccid muscles.
Simon should have felt frightened and angry. His wife
had brought The Peeler into their house. She had been unfaithful,
and that meant his death was soon to follow.
But he wasn't angry or frightened. He was still aroused.
He put his clothes hastily back on and cast a glance
at his moaning and smoking wife, death but a near certainty.
He gathered up the flowers, and picked up the unopened
bottle of wine that he had left on the coffee table.
He decided to call on the widowed and lonely grandmother
who lived next door.