Air Conditioned Fever

‘Are you hot?’ I asked nervously, eyes darting around the room. The three other people locked inside the cabin with me all avoided my gaze, faces plastered with boredom and worry. ‘Guys, I think I’m getting a fever, it’s super hot.’

‘Of course it’s hot,’ an older woman in the corner snapped at me. I think her name was Matilda, from seeing her around the cruise ship the last couple of days, but she hadn’t said a word since we were all locked in quarantine together.

‘No need to take the poor boy’s ear off,’ a quiet man beside her spoke up. I was pretty sure I’d never seen him before, and looking at how green he was explained why – I doubt he’d left his room since we’d sailed out of the bay.

‘If he asks stupid questions, I take his ear off,’ Matilda grumbled. ‘That’s been my rule for decades.’

‘You’d think there’d be more bayside cooling,’ said the woman by the window. We all turned to look quizzically at her, but she didn’t seem to notice as she stared out at the ocean, twirling a lock of her hair.

‘Right,’ Matilda frowned. ‘How long are we going to be locked in here, then?’

‘Until they decide that we’re not infected,’ the obviously sick man in the corner shrugged, the quick motion forcing him to quickly press a hand to his mouth.

‘Infected with what?’ I asked, nervously.

‘Whatever is floating around out there,’ he said, after a moment. ‘This is what I get for trying to take a holiday.’

‘I was just trying to get out of my house for the weekend,’ Matilda snorted. ‘My husband organised a local air conditioning service. Cheltenham isn’t too far from where we live so it shouldn’t take long for them to get there.

‘So you came on a… cruise ship?’ I asked her, confused.

‘They relax me!’ she snapped again. ‘Oh, this is so stupid. None of us are sick!’

‘I’m pretty sick,’ the man in the corner piped up, greener somehow.

‘Oh, you don’t count,’ she said –– right as the woman by the window began to vomit.