"No! Let us out!"
It was no good. The shouts did not help. Slowly, the big doors of the church closed behind them.
Most of them were too weak to offer resistance. They were visibly ill - dark spots all over their bodies, eyes milky and blind, stinking liquids bursting from their bodies. With others, the illness was only just starting to show itself, and they were shaking feverishly. But a large group showed no signs of the deathly infection - yet. They had been brought here on suspicion, and it did not matter anyway. Within a day or two they would catch the virus, and it would be too late. The infection had proved almost one hundred percent lethal.
The inhabitants of the village had been stunned at the news. One windy afternoon, a foreigner had arrived. After weeks with only irregular radio and TV broadcasts (many of which in poor quality and in languages none of them understood), they had hungered for the news that had travelled towards them on an old-fashioned motorbike.
The news had been devastating. Large parts of the European population had died from an unknown disease for which no cure of vaccination had been found up to now. For months there had been no news from other continents, so it was very probably that the illness had spread all over the world, starting in a small village in Egypt, setting out to conquer the world.
Unfortunately, along with the news, the messenger had brought with him the virus itself, and since no one knew the signs, it had spread among them, making use of the good weather and the close personal contact that was part of their culture. Soon people were dying.
The village's only doctor, who was among the infected, produced the plan that might rescue the others - isolation. The old church on the top of the hill that had been abandoned two centuries ago with the flight of the last priest (upon being accused of performing satanic rites). The big windows were still intact, none of the stained glass pieces broken. Heavy wooden doors, almost black with age, had kept both humans and animals out, and apart from dust, cobwebs and a few white bird droppings, the old church benches were ampty and the cross hanging over the altar looked sad.
It took four of the villages strongest young men to open the church doors. Other people gathered the infected, the dying and the ones suspected of having caught the virus. They used chains, torches and long wood poles and did not give them any time to collect their belongings. The gathered people were shephearded up the hill, leaving behind their empty, burning houses, and into the church. Some collapsed on the way, and their captors poured gasoline over them and burned them on the spot, whether or not the last breath had already left their bodies. It was a matter of survival. The stench was terrible.
Devastated, the people stumbled into the old church, collapsed on benches or on the naked stone floor. Spots of coloured sunlight floated over them. Many were in shock or so far gone already that they did not realize what was happening, and the threat of being burned to death kept even the healthiest away from the slowly closing doors. The wood scratched over the uneven floor, the old hinges screeched, and with one last hollow sound isolation was completed, life locked out. The faint rattling of chains indicated the determination of the people outside to survive.
No food or water had been left for them, on the idea that life support in any form would only prolongue their suffering. The only things in here were those that the Christians had left long ago. And on the desperate march around the church interior, a young man stumbled upon a hidden treasure. Two old bottles of red wine and an unopened bottle of black ink. Looking for a way out, for a way to prove that he had existed, that he had breathed, he stared at the walls blanky, and his mind raced. Then he took the ink and a feather pen lying beside it in the dust. He walked over to the nearest wall and began to write.
Unfortunately, as is the case with most viruses, you can't see them without a microscope, and so some of the little buggers excaped the villagers' attempt to purify themselves. This is why a long time after the church incident, a troup of survivors from far away in hazmat suits found the village deserted, some houses burnt ti the ground, some in a state as if the inhabitants had only just left, bread still on the table, now hard as stone. Obviously the people had fled, trying ti save their lives. All around in the forest one would probably find the remains of those who hadn't made it that far, cleaned by the animals of the wild. In a stable the bones of some donkeys had been gnawed and liked clean, and the scenerey looked almost peaceful.
The hazmats searched the village thoroughly and found nothing of interest. Then they followed the burnt spots on the ground uphill. Charred fragments of bones could not hold their fascination for long, but the huge building drew them closer as if by magic.
The chains keeping the doors closed were rusty and did not offer resistance for long. The doors themselves were heavy, but finally they moved, screaming protest.
Soft sunlight entered the building through the stained glass windows and the now open doors. Colourful rays danced on bones and old cloth to silent music. The hazmats stood in awe. The walls were covered in spiderlike writing, different colours - night black, dark brown, grey, rust. The writing changed again and again, but even without knowing the language, the hazmats understood the message.
We were here.