I dedicate to those who died of COVID-19…

The woman was alive. Herman realized this later; her barely flinching eyelashes and fingertips. First, he squatted down next to her and began to examine her face. “Beautiful…young… flashed through his head. Corpses are no longer lying on the streets. Where did she come from? Okay, I’ll take a look on the way back… Herman raised the woman’s head, put the handbag that was lying next to her, got up and walked on.

There were three shops, and they were located almost side by side. Once upon a time, people were striving here. Now, it was empty, and the breeze was blowing through the broken windows and doors, sprinkling dust on the half-empty shelves and the floor. Residents of the “New Quarter” watched this transformation of the shopping center into ruins from day to day; gradually, the flow of people grew shallow, supermarkets began to open late and close early. Simultaneously with buyers, the ranks of sellers and loaders began to thin out, and, as a result, shops stopped opening altogether.

Herman remembered those days. He was seized by panic; where to get food? But someone solved this problem radically; they broke the glass in the front doors, and the rare people who survived began to come and simply take food, entering the store through the broken foyer. Nobody stopped them, and nobody demanded money from them…


Herman entered the store and looked around. The shelves were half-empty, but there was still plenty of food. The dust slightly dusted his previous tracks, there were no other fresh tracks at all. Am I really all alone? the thought flashed. He picked up a can of canned food from the floor and saw human bite marks on it. Herman knew that the virus infected not only the lungs, but the entire body as a whole, including the brain. The unfortunate man retained the image of food in his memory, but the person could no longer figure out how to extract food from the jar, and he did not have the strength to bite through the tin. I wonder where this man is now? He must have died, Herman thought again.

The man put in a basket several cans of stew, bags of buckwheat and pasta, a three-liter can of juice, and a liter bottle of wine. He wanted to put everything in a bag right away, but he remembered the woman and decided to take the cart with him. It was a pity to leave the woman on the street, and although wild animals did not roam the village, it could rain or hail, and the girl seemed alive to Herman. She, although she was rather petite and thin, still weighed something, and Herman thought that he would not carry her far in his arms, and there was a good kilometer to the entrance of the house where he lived.

The man went out onto the porch of the supermarket, put the groceries on the pallet of the cart, and rolled it in front of him. The woman was lying in the same place where he left her when he went to the store. Herman took her in his arms and put her in the cart. It was not easy to do this; shortness of breath immediately flared up in the body, exhausted by the disease, and Herman stood for a long time, leaning on the cart, greedily inhaling air with his wide-open mouth. Finally, the shortness of breath subsided. A handbag remained on the pavement, Herman picked it up, opened it, and saw several documents, among which was a passport. He took it out, opened it, and saw the name and surname of the hostess: Anna Snegina. I heard about her somewhere, the thought flashed. “Okay, I’ll figure it out at home.” Herman put the documents back into his purse, placed it on the patient’s chest, and rolled the cart to his house.


Initially, at the first invasion of the virus, people themselves went to the hospital. They tried to treat them, but neither the infection nor the methods of dealing with it were known to the doctors, and the treatment took on a somewhat abstract character; they fought with the side diseases that accompanied the main one. Many went on the mend, and officials declared victory over the invisible enemy. The celebration was premature. The virus mutated and began to deal with humanity without its side “helpers.”

The hospitals overflowed again and stopped accepting people. The Ministry of Health decided to treat patients at home. Cars with the virus logo on the sides flashed through the city; there were not enough ambulances and they began to attract volunteers, promising them high pay. However, both volunteers and doctors began to die before they had time to receive the promised money.

Then corpses appeared in the streets. People, distraught from the disease, suffocating, expelling feces and sweat, sought to find help, but those around them were unable to do this, since the number of sick and dying people significantly exceeded the remaining healthy.

The collection of the lying dead was entrusted to public utilities. Dressed in gas masks and general protective kits, sullen workers went around houses, yards, and streets and piled corpses at intersections. Then KAMAZ came with a manipulator-loader, loaded the bodies into the back, and took them out of town, where they dumped them into a pit near one of the rural cemeteries. The bulldozer covered the dead with earth. They stopped keeping records of the dead; there was no one to do it.

The corpses gradually disappeared from the streets, and communal services also disappeared. Herman lost count; when did animals and birds begin to die out? Cattle, horses, pigs began to die after the second wave of the virus, along with people and birds after the third. And there was silence. Quiet was not ringing; she was dead.

A few months ago, Herman suddenly noticed that the vegetation began to acquire a gray-earthy hue. At first, he thought that it was dust, he was even surprised; where there was so much of it, but after picking off a few leaves and blades of grass, rubbing them with his fingers, he realized that the vegetation was dead and, in the process of death, changed its color. Plantings, indeed, dying, turned into dust; deadly, virus-infected dust. Herman then ran home and washed his hands with soap and water for a long time.


But not everyone died. Rare people survived. True, they could then become infected for the second and third time …

What was a medicine and cured the disease had absolutely no effect on the next mutation, and the virus seemed to laugh at people and nature.

Herman was lucky. He did not die. True, after another illness, the man was very exhausted, but he was no stranger to it. Even before the invasion of the virus, he got myocarditis, and as a result, acquired atrial fibrillation and diabetes. This forced him to eat a lot of pills every day; then, long ago, during his stay in the hospital, one of the attending physicians said that Herman was drinking compote from medicines.

The first time he fell ill was in February, on the eve of the first wave. The virus was not known then, and Herman was treated for ordinary pneumonia. Ten days later, the infection went somewhere. The man was discharged, but leaving the hospital, he immediately, in the emergency room, became infected a second time, and although it took no more than half an hour to drive from the place of treatment to the house, he entered the apartment in a semi-faint state and collapsed insensibly onto the bed.

He met the next morning as if nothing had happened the day before. There was no talk about the virus then. Herman went to the store, to the pharmacy, and life returned to its usual course. And in the evening, he fell down again. And so it went on for another two weeks.

And then the virus came.

By that time, Herman had become accustomed to the strange state of his body and watched the behavior of those around him with lazy curiosity.


The equipment was working properly. Water continued to flow from the tap; at ten o’clock in the afternoon, a fountain was turned on at the square, in the evening its jets began to illuminate the light and music, and the lanterns came on. Obviously, automation could function without human intervention, and small loads on the part of mankind made it work trouble-free.

Herman drove the cart to the entrance, took his groceries and the woman’s handbag; he decided first to take all the light things home and at the same time check if the elevator was working.

The lift was working.

Herman took the woman in his arms and, stepping heavily, entered the entrance with her. The elevator was still standing with the doors open, and Herman jabbed at the button for his floor. The doors closed, and the elevator went to Herman’s floor.

Herman’s apartment was clean. The two-room dwelling did not cause much trouble in cleaning. Even before the invasion of the infection, he purchased an automatic vacuum cleaner, and this unit periodically drove around the apartment, drawing in invisible litter and cat hair. Buying this apartment, Herman read somewhere that there is a belief that says that a cat should be the first to enter a house during housewarming. The man went to the poultry market and bought a kitten there; a small ginger cat whom he named Sul. Now, she had turned into a big, well-groomed cat and enjoyed riding the vacuum cleaner when he drove around the apartment. The cat suffered the same misfortune as the owner; she had been ill with the virus several times and these days she was lying next to Herman in delirium, but the infection receded from her, and life returned to the frail cat’s body.


Even before he entered the apartment, Herman decided that he would put the woman on the bed, and he would be accommodated in another room, on the sofa. Anna was still insensitive. Herman lowered her onto the bed and went to get the indicator. It was one of the inventions of mankind, which made it possible to investigate what happened and predict the further course of the disease.

Herman used it to control his body and decided to measure the level of infection of a woman. The man was not a doctor and did not know how to get a person out of unconsciousness, but he could measure the degree of virality in the blood, the level of antibodies in it, and read the recommendations for such a case. The indicator resembled a device for measuring blood glucose, but was much more complex, cost much more, and worked in tandem with a computer.

Herman took out a box with a device, cotton wool, and a vial of alcohol from the cabinet. The woman was lying in the same position in which Herman had left her. He rubbed the pad of the middle finger on her left hand with alcohol, injected it, and squeezed a drop of blood onto the probe of the indicator. While the device was doing a chemical blood test, Herman put a loop around the woman and connected it to a computer.

The device showed a high level of virus, but the level of antibodies was also high, although lower.

How did she get there? the thought flashed. Probably, she lost consciousness just at that moment, when I was wandering along the sidewalk. Or someone brought her?

Herman looked at the device again and thought. The level of the virus was slightly more than half the maximum allowable; the level of antibodies was barely inferior to the virus. But this “barely” just gave a small advantage to the virus, allowing it to strengthen its position in relation to the “enemy.” But the antibodies that “fought” the virus lost their orientation and, in addition to the ongoing battle with the virus, began to “fight” with themselves. This weakened their position and allowed the virus to multiply. Herman asked for a prognosis of the course of the disease, and the device answered him: “The lethal outcome will come in 1,200 to 1,500 days.” The man was taken aback; during the fifth “wave,” no one had survived for more than two weeks. And here it is almost 100 times more, and 1,500 days is almost five years.

He requested a history of the course of the disease, and the device produced a sketch of the body with the affected areas and a table of numerical data. Herman was again struck by surprise; the woman was sexually infected with the virus, but it spread through her body very slowly and unevenly, almost a hundred times slower than in other people. Herman glanced at the drawing again. The thickest “viral” paint was in the lower abdomen. It covered the pelvis and thighs, and at the top, it climbed to the heart. A small hearth was visible on the neck. Kissed! They kissed her on the neck, the man thought, and there, too, the infection got. But antibodies surrounded the lesion and blocked it. They cleared the blood of the virus, but a side effect appeared; the supply of oxygen to the brain decreased, and at some point the woman lost consciousness.

Numerical data showed that the lesion on the neck gradually stopped, and it was likely that antibodies would defeat the virus, but the main lesion, in the lower abdomen, was growing. The main thing, thought Herman, is that the virus cannot invade the heart. Then it will stop and the woman will die.


Herman prepared his own food and fed the cat along the way. Although the organism, exhausted by the virus, almost did not feel the taste of food, food intoxication came, Herman was overshadowed by sleep, he lay down on the sofa and fell asleep. The cat perched at his legs.

He dreamed about the Sea of Azov, where he traveled with his parents as a child. Only the water was somehow clean, clean, despite the sandy bottom. Herman woke up with the thought that the dream was prophetic; the virus will rid mankind of all filth that has filled the world and leads it to death. Neither protective suits, nor bunkers, nor the most modern medicines saved from infection. Only a few remained alive, and how God chose them was unknown.

Herman took a shower, cooked, and ate breakfast; the day began as usual. The man turned on the TV, but the programs had not been broadcast for a long time; the journalists died out, just like the plumbers with the public utilities. Herman switched the TV to the Internet, went to his page on the social network, and turned on the music. Favorite songs poured. There was no more debate between the inhabitants; he turned the music a little louder and went into another room.

The woman was lying in the same position in which he left her yesterday. I ought to turn her over from time to time so that there are no bedsores, the man thought. Although it is not entirely necessary. The virus deals with putrefactive bacteria in the same way as with antibodies.

Herman turned on the indicator and examined the patient again. There were no significant changes. The area of the lesion in the lower abdomen had slightly spread; the spot on the neck has slightly decreased. I need to ease the pressure of the clothes, Herman decided. Maybe she will start breathing deeper, and things will go on the mend? The knowledge of men in medicine and virology was primitive.

As he moved the woman from one end of the bed to the other, he pulled off the coverlet and folded it over one of the chairs. Then he took off the woman’s blouse and trousers and covered her with a blanket. I haven’t undressed ladies for a long time, a seditious thought flashed through my head. Beautiful… The pallor gave the woman a special charm, and under the blanket, a slender figure was guessed.

Herman left the room and closed the door.


This went on for several days. Herman ate food, listened to music, read e-books, and sometimes walked. But almost every day, he watched the patient. Antibodies eliminated the focus of infection on the neck and began to fight the virus in the lower abdomen. The spread of the infection upward stopped, and an unstable balance occurred in the struggle between the virus and antibodies.

Sometimes it seemed to Herman that the woman was trying to breathe and open her eyes. The twitching of the eyelids became stronger, and the indicator caught a slight increase in the pulse. The infection on the neck disappeared and the oxygen supply to the brain improved. A barely noticeable blush appeared on the girl’s cheeks.

Herman decided to rid her completely of her outerwear. The woman was wearing a blouse made of flowing satin fabric with the color and scent of a tea rose. The man unbuttoned his shirt and, slowly turning the woman, took off her blouse. Thongs were visible through the tights; this embarrassed Herman, and for a while, he stopped undressing the patient.


He made another attempt to undress the girl the next day. She, as usual, lay on her back. The woman was wearing a bra with rhinestones that sparkled in the rays of a sunny day, and Herman barely took his eyes off this beauty. Having calmed down a little, he lifted the woman and unbuttoned her bra. The satin fabric freed the breasts, and they straightened in neat mounds topped with brown nipples. There is no stripe on the belly, Herman thought. So she hasn’t given birth yet.

Overcoming shyness, Herman ran his hand over her breasts, and the palm felt firm, elastic nipples. Herman began to embrace desire, and he ran his hand over the women’s breasts again, barely touching the nipples, enjoying their tickling with unprecedented pleasure. The man thought that the woman shuddered quietly. He bent down, bit her ear slightly, and distinctly heard her sob.

Unable to control himself, Herman pulled off the woman’s tights and panties and took possession of her. Orgasm, although expected, came suddenly, and through his own groan, Herman heard a barely audible whisper: “I want more…”


Another day began as usual. Herman had breakfast, went into his guest’s room, and turned on the indicator. The image formed after the examination of the patient shocked him. The area of the virus spread became lighter, and a speck appeared at the very bottom of the abdomen, indicating that the virus was not in this place. Herman zoomed in and looked more closely—no, there could be no mistake—both the graphic drawing and the digital table clearly showed that there was a center of liberation from the virus.

Herman once again took possession of his beautiful captive, and the next day he saw in the picture that the spot of release from the virus became even larger, the area of spread of the infection became smaller and lighter. Herman’s seed helped the female antibodies, and they began to defeat the virus.

The woman regained consciousness a week after the start of this sexual relationship. She lay looking at the ceiling, and when Herman entered the room, she slightly turned her head in his direction and smiled slightly. Herman sat down next to her, and the woman whispered almost audibly: “Well, finally you figured out what to do…”

Herman looked at her carefully and asked a question that had long tormented him: “How did you end up here? What for?”

“I went to you,” she replied. “You’re the only one who could heal me, and it happened. We, like Adam and Eve, must begin a new era of humanity…”