Hrm. I need to start writing lighter things. Maybe a love story next time…

The guard opened the door and Tony stepped through it. Behind him, he heard a sharp cough and the sound of the door closing hurriedly.

A sickly-sweet rotting stench crept into his nostrils. It was a thick, greasy, dirty smell; he felt as if it were wrapping around him in the darkness. He fought the instinct to wipe it off himself.

Instead, he moved forward through the gloom until the cough stopped him. His eyes caught the glint of a heavy-banded gold watch. He knew the watch well: it had been the first thing Paul had bought after his first assignment. He’d come home bragging and exhilarated by the killing s like the brainless, vicious kid he was. That was eight years ago.

Now, Tony saw that the skin underneath his brother’s watch was bluish and paper-thin. Sickly brown spots, some of them crusted over with blood and pus, peppered his forearm.

From the darkness, a reedy, rasping voice came begging. “Help me, Tony. You have to help me. It’s killing…eating…me…”

His last words disappeared into a terrible coughing.

Tony had seen the reports on the news. They were calling it a virus, but he knew better. He’d dreamt the truth behind it, seen the girl and the smoking man together.

“You’re marked,” Tony said softly. “There’s nothing I can do.”

A wet, ripping noise in the darkness, a fresh assault of the rotting smell, and Tony knew Paul was trying to move towards him. Paul’s voice rose, becoming agitated. “You think I don’t know? You think I don’t know what you are? You fucking help me!”

The hand with the watch shot out towards Tony in the dark, gripping his forearm. Tony did not recoil, but rather bent down and was swallowed by the dark. He leaned close to where his brother’s head must be and said, “I can see what you are, too, Paulie. All those people you killed are dragging you down, and this is how you’re going to die.”

A wail of rage and despair roiled up next to him, and he quickly disengaged his hand from his brother’s. If Tony retained any memory of how much he had loved his brother once, he didn’t betray it. He stood now, enveloped by the scene of his brother’s death, unmoving, unspeaking.

It wouldn’t be long.