Paradise Lost: Tales of the Dead Tropics

       Sue Edgerley / Horror / Thrillers & Crime
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Paradise Lost: Tales of the Dead Tropics


Paradise Lost
Tales of the Dead Tropics
by
Sue Edgerley

Copyright Sue Edgerley 2010

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The hospital

1
The first hint of the plague about to destroy our world came with a brief report on the morning news. I barely registered it, really, as I tried to persuade the twins to stay in their seats and eat their breakfast. There was something about some miners being diagnosed with an unidentified form of encephalitis in the nearby village of Mossman.
Joe snorted from his easy chair. "That's what you get for messing with nature. The Cape Tribulation rainforest has been untouched by humans for millions of years. You've got species of plants and insects that have never been identified! I wouldn't be surprised if they discover that this strain of encephalitis predates the dinosaurs." I rolled my eyes. I loved my husband dearly but the last thing I needed this morning was a lecture on the dangers of destroying the virgin rainforest of Cape Tribulation. He had been impossible for the last few months since the mining companies had won permission to mine part of the rainforest around Mossman. I guess I can't complain now; I knew he was an environmentalist when we started dating at uni.
"Are you likely to get called into work this morning?" I asked, as I wrestled a porridgy spoon away from Sarah and pushed Alex firmly back into his high chair. Joe switched off the tv and stood up, stretching his lanky frame.
"Lori, if they do call, you can tell them that they're sadly out of luck." He grinned, grey eyes twinkling. "Or have you forgotten that somewhere out there is a marlin with my name on it. They can find another sucker to slave over a microscope." That's my hubby - a scientist with his priorities straight.
He came over and wrapped his arms around my waist. "And, of course, I have the most understanding wife in the world, holding down the fort for the whole weekend."
I laughed and squirmed as he nuzzled my neck. "Stop crawling and help me clean these kids up before you leave."
He grabbed two year old Alex and lifted him high as he headed for the bathroom. "Okay, rugrat, try not to make your mum's life a misery while I'm away!" Alex squealed and tried to swat his father's face. Sarah, of course, demanded loudly to be picked up, too.
As I gingerly tried to lift her out of her chair without getting porridge all over my clothes, Michele wandered out of her room. At 15, she had reached an age where she seemed to want to sleep all morning so I was a bit surprised to see her before noon.
"Good morning, sweetness." I called out as I shepherded Sarah ahead of me to the bathroom. My teen grunted a greeting as she flung cupboard doors open, no doubt in search of a breakfast that didn't scream healthy.
All in all, a normal morning in the Nelson home. No awareness that our world was already in the process of changing forever; no hint that, somewhere, an impossible disease was taking hold; no clue that some of us would be committing unthinkable acts before the day was through.
2
Twins cleaned up and occupied helping their father pack his bag, I poured myself a cup of tepid coffee and joined Michele at the breakfast table. She was looking a bit more alert after a sugary cereal hit.
"So what gets you up so early, honey?" I asked chirpily, knowing how she hated cheeriness first thing in the morning. Michele narrowed her golden brown eyes, one of the few features she had inherited from me, but refrained admirably from making a sarcastic reply. Instead she smiled sweetly, which immediately sent off alarm bells.
"Seeing we don't have any exams, Hannah wants me to go shopping with her. Can you give me a lift to Central Shoppingtown? Please, mummy dearest?"
That's the thing about being a parent. Even though you can spot your kid's manipulations a mile off, they still work more often than not. "Yeah yeah. If you want a lift, you'd better be ready in half an hour. I have to drop your dad off at the jetty and your brother and sister at Aunty Kaye's, not to mention get to work on time for once."
Michele jumped up and gave me a hug. "Thanks Mummy! Oh, and can I borrow $20?"
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