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We drive all day to a new town and find it

at dusk, not empty but dead.

The agonized litter the streets, sprawl in yards, gape

at the purpling sky.

Having arrived too late again, this boy and I

drive through and beyond, and after sunset build a fire.

He dances, I strum my guitar,

this straw-haired boy I found days ago on the side of the road

dances to the few songs I know all the way through.

We camp not far from the empty highway but no cars drive by.


The fire shines orange in his eyes and stays there

even through the day that follows

when we are too late

and find another quiet stinking town.

Always heading east, he urges me on every day.

His yellow hair blown back, the top down,

we sing since we can't find a radio station.

I can't call her and tell her I am on the way.

The phone system, like everything else, has broken down.

But we get nearer day by day.

"It's a bug, a virus. Something old, so old,"

he answers as we kick sand into the embers.

Flames color his eyes still.

We will be too late again, I say.

"Too late?

Man, we don't race the disease.

We push it on ahead of us."

We move east.

I wish I could call her.

Jeff Jeppesen is an IT professional and writer living in Houston, Texas. His work has previously appeared in Potpourri, Strange Horizons, Everyday Weirdness, Everyday Poets, and The Houston Literary Review. He has work soon to appear in Illumen.
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