Not a flesh-rotting plague that swept through the city like a tidal wave, nor a sinister, silent parasite that infected the masses without them knowing, but simply a feeling ofsickness. Psychosomatic, some might call it. Chromosomatic, others might. An inconvenience, most would. At the hour of midnight, every single inhabitant of London was woken from their slumber by a sudden onset of deep, visceral nausea... but, other than that, they were fine. Theyseemedfine.
"Just sleep it off"was a phrase that seemed to echo around the city in the following few minutes. The phone lines were dead, the wi-fi had completely shut off, no broadcasts could enter and leave the city, but that didn't matter at midnight. They shouldn't be awake at this time anyway, they would tell themselves. They should just sleep and wait for everything to magically fix itself, they would tell their family. Time heals all wounds, after all, so time would heal this one too. It would heal the nausea and the isolation and the frozen clocks that hung on every wall, it would heal the irritation and the anger and the growing fear that begun to fester in the minds of those affected, it would heal the anxiety and the sudden alertness and that awful, lurking feeling that something wasn't quitenatural...
It was only when'sleeping it off'was no longer a viable option that people started to get worried. Indeed; in much the same way as the wave of nausea had passed over the city, soon every citizen of London found themselves entirely unable to go back to sleep. For some, it was simply a matter of the nausea preventing them from feeling any sort of comfort that would be conducive to a good (or any) night's sleep. For others, however, it was rather more concerning. They took sleeping pills to try and force them away from consciousness, trying to bring back the sleep they had lost through chemical means. One pill did nothing. Two pills did nothing. Three pills did nothing. And, when they took the whole bottle in desperation, even that did nothing. What a foolish thing to do, taking a lethal dose of pills in an attempt to fend off a single night's lost sleep.
Especially at a time when lethality had become all but irrelevant.
The hospitals were the first to notice it. Terminal cases, people who's time was due to end that night, with charts and machines and diagrams all pointing to the definite fact that their hours were numbered and that number ended rightnow...as of midnight, could no longer be called as such. Patients who had flatlined were sitting up, forced awake from week-long comas by this supernatural sickness. Patients who were in the middle of risky, life-saving surgery had jolted awake, causing the surgeons' instruments to slip and sever vital organs, arteries, and passageways- causing pain, of course, but not much else besides that. Patients with fatal knife wounds, patients who had attempted suicide, patients with cancer that they were told would end their lives... they were all fine. Everyone was fine.
If"just sleep it off"wouldn't function as a city-wide mantra, then"it'll be alright in the morning"would have to serve as a replacement. There were other things to do with the night besides sleeping, after all; time still passed when they were awake. And so, they waited. Hours passed, but they expected them to. It was midnight, after all; morning shouldn't come until at least six o' clock. They just needed to wait a few more hours for the dawn and everything would be back to normal.
But those hours never came.
The clocks never changed, the sun never rose, and those hoursnever came.
Somewhere, a young boy wanders the streets; alone, yet never quite alone. He walks along the south bank of the Thames, hands in his pockets, whistling to himself a tune that hadn't been heard for over two centuries. There is a look of curiosity in his eyes; everything seems sonewto him, sointeresting.He walks past a streetlamp, staring up at the glowing bulb until the brightness hurts his eyes. He walks past a train station; an odd sight for him, as he notes there is no coal anywhere near it. He walks past a bus, driving along the road, its vibrant colour and prominent advertising for products he cannot evencomprehendstare back at him, hurting his eyes almost as much as the brightness of the glowing bulb.
As he crosses the street, the bus starts to decay. By the time he reaches the other path, there is nothing left of it but rusted metal and the mangled, bleeding bodies of the passengers...
Who are all still alive.