Ed Cooke is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (This week there was a tie, and the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning story:
by Ed Cooke
At eight years of age, there was only one thing Arthur ever wanted. A little League try out. That dream now seemed hopelessly out of reach. March had come and gone. They were well into April. The season would have been underway and he might be playing infield for the Shamrocks. But now, he was plagued by uncertainty. Would there even be a season this year? Would he ever get to play? This disease had made his life miserable. His entire family was despair.
Mom and dad fretted daily for their kids. Their friends couldn’t come over and play. “Strict quarantine” it was called in some states. Few knew anything substantive about the disease but everyone feared it. It gnawed at the social fabric and wreaked havoc on the economy. The uncertainty grew steadily into a prevailing anxiety. A loathing of the messengers, politicians and medicine men soon followed. People hoarded canned goods and over-the-counter remedies, just for peace of mind.
Meanwhile, Arthur, and tens of thousands of kids like him had to patiently await their fate. He was a lucky boy in that his father could afford the best in worldly comforts. While Doctor Salk and his team diligently perfected a practical inoculation against the terror, Arthur would miss the entire 1954 baseball season. He only managed to listen to Yankee games on the radio in his room, from the rigid confines of his personal iron lung.