The Final Count

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“How many this week?”

Secretary Slatin licked her lips. She didn’t want to be the one to deliver the disastrous news to the president.

“The final count for the day is not in yet, Mr. President.” Her last word was punctuated with a wet cough. She pulled a napkin form her purse and held it to her mouth. No one in the room made a sound as she struggled to control herself.

President Allison had nothing but hard decisions lately. “Natalie, how long have you had that cough?”

She opened her mouth to answer and was overtaken by another fit. She bowed her head and her slender body shook with the violence of the cough as it tried in vain to rid itself of the infection inside her. When she removed her hand from her face there was a spot of blood on the sleeve of her cream colored suit jacket.

“Secretary Natalie Slatin, as President of what remains of these United States, I hereby relieve you of duty. Please go home and get some rest.” He looked at her, “God be with you,” he said then gestured to his security detail.

Without a word two secret service agents took hold of former Secretary Slatin and lifted her gently from her chair.

“Please, you cant!” She protested but even that sounded lethargic. Her sweat covered brow and the dull look in her normally bright green eyes gave away the truth of her condition.

The President seemed visibly shaken by the loss of Secretary Slatin.

No one else in the room said a word, this was President Alliston’s fourth dismissal in a weeks time. The Gender flu didn’t care if its victims were presidential cabinet staff, housewives or even little girls. The disease was always fatal. It was creating chaos in the general population as it burned it’s way through entire families.

All eyes avoided meeting President Allisont’s gaze. Secretary of State Natalie Slatin was a close personal friend of his since college. She had been the last female staff member left. “Such a shame, I really thought she wouldn’t catch it.”

He allowed himself one sigh of regret, one moment of weakness before pounding his fist on his desk. “Can someone get the damn CDC on the line?”

 

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