Dawn – Short Story

Inspired by a prompt I saw a long time ago

The sun rose over the trees, announcing the start of a new day.

Monique glanced out of the window to see dawn approaching as she left her night shift at the hospital. As the doctor’s assistant, she always had a busy shift. After all, her, the other assistant Melody, and Doctor Bennett were the only three citizens of their small town trained in medicine – and their small town kept them busy.

Monique had made it to her car when her phone buzzed. Report to ER ASAP. Frowning, Monique exited her car and made her way back through the small hospital.

The emergency room was small and often insufficient, but the three of them made it work. Monique had helped treat many emergencies in that room, from illnesses to injuries to the birth of their town’s youngest citizen. None of that prepared her for what she saw.

Three teenagers – not much older than Monique’s youngest brother – were sprawled out on cots. Each had burns decorating their skin, stopping at the edge of their clothes.

“What happened?” Monique asked.

“I don’t know,” Doctor Bennett replied. “Hand me the scanner.”

Working quickly and efficiently, Doctor Bennett did his best to treat the three patients. Melody showed up about half an hour later, and she and Monique helped the best they can.

An hour later, the patients’ vital signs were steady, but the burns hadn’t began to heal.

Doctor Bennett slumped into his chair. “I have bad news.”

“You found the cause of the burns?” Melody asked.

Doctor Bennett nodded. “Apparently, the patients contracted a disease that causes a reaction to the sun. I just hope it hasn’t spread.”

Monique looked around the room, noticing the large number of windows. Their little town had been built with natural light in mind, and with the exception of the shades from the trees, there was no place to hide from the sun.

“Is there a way you can make sure the disease isn’t spreading?” Monique asked.

“I’ll have to look into it,” Doctor Bennett replied. “But the disease is viral. I believe that it will spread.”

“So let’s find some way to stop it,” Melody said.

And they worked. The three of them put their heads together all morning to find the cause.

“I think I have it,” Doctor Bennett announced around noon. “The three girls were bitten by the migrating beetles that have taken to our forests this spring.”

“So, the beetles transmitted the disease?” Monique said, looking over the Doctor’s shoulder at the research.

“See, the start of the disease is here around the bite,” Doctor Bennett explained.

“But those beetles are infamous for biting everything,” Melody pointed out.

“We can keep them away,” Monique suggested. “It should be easy enough. The swarm isn’t here until tonight – if we can figure out some way to repel them…”

When evening came, and the sun set, Doctor Bennett and his associates were sure they had found the secret to repelling the bugs.

“Thank you for your work, Doctor,” the mayor said, after the repellant was deployed along the edge of the forest.

“They’re coming!” Melody said.

Monique frowned and squinted at the forest. She didn’t see anything…

But then she heard them, and they were loud. The buzzing sound grew in intensity, becoming almost painful, and a black cloud flew through the forest.

And right through their defenses.

“Run!” Somebody screamed.

Monique froze in her tracks as the bugs sped towards her. How had they failed?

“Monique!” Melody yelled, grabbing Monique’s wrist. The two assistants sprinted away from the swarm as the bugs descended.

Monique’s foot hit a rock, and she tumbled down, taking Melody with her. The bugs were on them in a second.

The bites didn’t hurt, just tickled a little. Only a few bugs bit as the swarm flew by, and Monique hoped that maybe those bugs weren’t infected.

“Ow,” Melody complained, forcing herself off the ground. She helped Monique up, and the two of them walked towards the engulfed village.

When the swarm had passed, and only a few beetles remained, Doctor Bennett checked everyone for the disease. When he reached Monique, his face was ashen.

“It appears that all the bugs were infected,” Doctor Bennett said. “And now we all are too. There might be a way to keep the burns from being fatal, but-”

Monique sighed and looked out at the villagers around her. In the distance, she could barely make out the forest. The sun rose over the trees, announcing the start of a new day.

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