It was a festive day when I left. It was Saint Patrick's Day, and from what I know about the world, it is a day of celebration for the local Irish community. Happy hour was about to start, and the bar was about to become pretty crowded. I decided to spend my last few minutes on this world in the Irisher bar, located across the street from Saint Patrick's Hospital, in a city called Francograd.

From what I knew about history, Russians settled in the western coast of North America in the early fifteenth century, and the current civilization in this world's version of California is descended from the fourteenth century Russian settlements. Over the past few centuries, people from Ireland, England, China, and Japan immigrated here. Russian was of course the primary language, although there are English-speaking enclaves within major cities like Francograd, which is the largest city in the nation. Francograd is a counterpart of San Francisco in the world I grew up in, and it explains why the two names are similar. After all, from my travels I notice that destiny tends to assert certain patterns across a wide range of dimensions. It is the similarities that interest me, not the differences.

Anyway,. I decided to have as much beer as I can. I had worked in this bar as a temporary assistant to Michael Mulligan who runs the bar. (As a slider, any job I get is temporary.) I recognized the Russian can driver whose duplicates I have enoucntered before, all driving taxis. Apparently it is his day off, as he is having a few drinks.

"So, ye're leavin' today?" asked Michael Mulligan who decided to tend bar himself during happy hour.

"Afraid so," I said. "I've got to keep searching, you know."

Then I saw a trio of ladies, whom I recognized. They were Heather, Michelle, and Kathleen. I encountered their duplicates last Christmas, in another version of this neighborhood. It is funny how I run into different versions of the same person.

"Hello, Colin," said Heather as she approached the bar.

"Hi," I said. "I'll be leaving today; you probably won't see me again."

"We'll miss you," said Michelle.

"Good luck on your journey," said Kathleen.

"I have my supplies here," I said, noting the bottled water and snack foods I purchased from a ;liquor store just down the street. "Listen, allow me to buy you a pitcher of green-tinted beer."

"Thanks," said Heather. "Yer such a sweetie."

And so I did. Less than a minute later, Michael Mulligan poured me a pictcher of green-tinted beer and I shared it with the ladies.

The party was definitely picking up even though it was only ten minutes shy of four P.M. I recognized many of the patrons as counterparts of people I met in Christmas of 1999, include the neighborhood priest Father Flannigan, who was reading a Russian-language newspaper. I picked up the pace for the beer, since I was going to be gone soon.

"Well, you three," I said to the Irish trio, "I'm gonna be leaving soon."

We all hugged together, and they said their goodbyes.

I had two minutes left. I made sure I was carrying my supplies, and I made sure I was standing apart from everyone else so I do not take anyone else with me.

My watch which measures the amount of time I had left ticked away. Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. three. Two. One.

I looked around and saw the crowd of partying people, all getting drunk. And then they were gone. The first thing I noticed is that the layout of the room is the same as the room I was in when I left. I could see the bar and the stools and tables.

I also noticed it looked deserted. There was a coating of dust on the wooden floors and tables, and I saw cobwebs along the walls.

I went behind the bar. The beer tap for Heineken was in the same place as it was before; I noticed a tap for Budweiser beer, which had no counterpart in the world I just left. I also noticed there were no kegs. I looked in the refrigerator and there were no beer bottles. All the liquor from the shelves were gone.

In fact, I noticed the refrigerator was warm; it had not been turned on in a long time.

I went to the kitchen where the food was cooked; the room was dark so I used a flashlight. The food in this bar was actually quite good; I enjoyed the corned beef and I had some corned beef an hour before I left the previous world. I turned on the handles for the stove, but there was no flame. I flipped the light switch; the lights did not turn on. I went to a telephone; there was no dial tone.

Perhaps this bar went out of business at least a year ago. But why was this place not cleaned up? Why just leave everytjhing here, rather than sell the furniture and cooking equipment and the pool tables?

I looked through the pantries and the freezer, all were empty. There was nothing else in the bar telling me about the world except that this bar was obviously out of business.

I decided ti go out. I intended to head to a library, find the basics of this world, and find out of Quinn can help me. I had a few days to kill on this world.

The sight that greeted me shocked me. There was no one on the street. No cars drove in either direction. There were some cars parked on the street; they appared to be at least a decade old. Further down the street, I could see a traffic signal, but the lights were not on.

I looked around. the bar I came out of was called the Irisher; it was a duplicate of the bar I had worked in in the previous world.

I noticed that none of the storefront signs had Russian writing, so Russian is not commonly spoken in this place. I noticed some of the store windows were broken. It looked like there had not been any repairs made for at least a year or so.

I wondered what happened. Did kromaggs conquer this world and took the survivors to its slave camps. I waited around for a minute, expecting a helicopter or a manta jet. None came.

I looked at the newsstand just a block down from St. Patrick's Hospital. I could see some newspapers there. I decided to go over to read the newspaper.

There was a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle. I noticed the headline had big, bold letters. What I read was another unpleasant surprise.



I scanned the headline over and over again before deciding to read the article. Apparently, a few weeks before the article was printed, there were outbreaks of some strange disease in major urban centers around the world. The people got flu-like symptoms, and were dead within two days. Soon, hospital beds were overcrowded, and the President declared martial law and the U.S. Army enforced quarantines. But it was too late. Millions of people continued to get sick and died.

"My God," I softly said.

I read through the newspaper. Secrearty of Housing and Urban Development Roberta Achtenberg had been sworn in as President of the United States, after the President and Vice President and the leaders of Congress had died. The San Francisco City Hall had shut down. The interim mayor of San Francisco promised to maintain order until the crisis had passed.

Apparently, this crisis resulted in a deserted city.

I read through some of the other sections. There was an article about the Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Minnesota Lakers and the San Diego Clippers. Half of the team was too ill to play, and three basketball players became ill on the court and had to be rushed to the hospital. There was a small announcement that the NBA Finals have been postponed until the pandemic is contained. I also read a movie review about a movie which premiered the day before. I read a notice that three advice columnists who have columns in the Chronicle have not written because of illness.

I decided to scan the date. It was May 26, 1990.

That was almost a decade ago!

I decided not to go to the San Francisco Public Library. Whatever the history of this world is, it is not relevant in this post-plague world. Coiuld I be the only human alive here? Did this plague wipe out all of humanity? I ran as fast as I could through the deserted streets of San Francisco.

Then I reached the place. It was a two-story house. I looked at the mailbox, and there was some mail inside. I saw a Discover credit card bill issued to a Michael Mallory. The envelope was postmarked for May 23, 1990. I was eighteen at the time.

The house looked intact from the outside, although the paint was peeling from a decade of neglect. I decided to go inside. Maybe I casn find out what happened to Quinn-and to Colin.

The inside was very dusty. Every time I walked, there was dust kicked up, making me cough. I scanned the living room with my flashlight; there were cobwebs on the wall. I noticed the furniture was still here, although there was no television. I scanned the coffee table, and there was a TV Guide and a Time magazine. The Time magazine's cover stpory was about the plague.

I went to the kitchen. the refrigerator was still there. I noticed a smell coming out, and I opened it.

The scent made me wish I had not opened it. I closed it quickly. I did not need to open it again to know there is spoiled food inside. I opened the cupboards, and there was nothing. Apparently, they had been all cleaned out.

I noticed a photograph attached to the Kenmore refigretator. It was a picture of my parents, my brotyher, and me. I have a counterpart on this world.

I decided to go upstairs to scan the bedrooms. I looked into one. I saw a bed and some very dusty furniture. I noticed a poster of Rembrandt Brown hanging on the wall-apparently his duplicate here was a celebrity.

But then, I had to examine the body. There was nothing left except a dusty, dry skeleton with rags on. I searched the drawers, and all of the clothes were gone. thewre were no clothes in the closet either. I bent down and looked at a small plastic card.

There was a picture of a young man barely into manhood with short brown hair. the card was a student ID from Stanford University.

I read the name.

Colin Mallory.

"My Lord," I said. I looked at the skeleton on the bed, and knew that was my counterpart! I never seen any dead counterpart of mine, although Quinn told me he once had an enocunter with a newly-dead duplicate of his. I touched it and it felt dry. The smell was not foul though, just musty. Apparently, my duplicate's corpse had nearly a decade to decay.

I looekd around. There were books on history and art and politics. My duplicate was apparently interested in those subjects. I took a look at another small book. I saw handwritten writing in it. It was a journal!

"I hope you don't mind if I read it," I said to the skeleton in the bed.

There were entries dating from September of 1989. I read about his first night at the Stanford dorms, and how his classes were. He had rushed fraternities on campus, but was never accepted. he went to basketball practice, as he was on the Stanford University basketball team and was attending the place because of a basketball scholarship. I also learned he had a girlfriend named Molly, whom he met in high school.

He spent Christmas Eve 1989 with Molly, and wrote about Christmas dinner with his parents and Quinn. He mentioned calling Molly on the phone that day; it was apparent he was very much in love with this girl.

He rang in the year 1990 with Molly and their mutual friends at her older sister's house. He wrote about going back to Stanford for the spring semester. He wrote abnout his classes, and his basketball practice, and his dreams of going into the NBA, and his desire to spend more time with Molly. He wrote about attending a Rembrandt Brown concert in April with Molly, and the night afterwards. He wrote about how tough the spring finals were, and how he wished he could just go home and relax for a few weeks.

It was the May 24, 1990 entry which first mentioned the plague.

May 24, 1990

Today I watched a special report on the news. The President declared martial law, and ordered a quarantine of major urban centers where cases of this mystery disease appeared. All flights were grounded.

I knew there were cases of this disease in San Francisco. I called Molly and asked her if she was all right. Thank Goid she was not sick. I hope this epidemic blows over.

I actually saw her that night and we spent many hours together. The outbreak was the least on my mind.

May 25, 1990

I couldn't believe it. It all started when I received a phone call while I was playing Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo. Molly's mom told me that Molly fell sick and had to go to the hospital. I wanted to visit her, but her mom said there were quarantines enforced by the Army and I would not be able to see her.

My worrying about Molly consumed the rest of the day. I did not say much during dinner with Quinn and Mom and Dad.

May 26, 1990

I read the newspaper with its big headlines. Six billion dead! I called Molly's parents; they told me Molly was still in the hospital. they do not know if she's still alive. I coiuld tell from their voice that they were becoming ill.

As we ate spaghetti that Mom cooked, I looked at her and Dad and Quinn, wondering if there were any symptoms. I could tell they were worried too. Dad said that one of his best friends had just died in the hospital from this illness.

May 27, 1990

Today is the worst day of my life since Katie was killed in a car accident three years ago. Molly's dad called me and told me she died in the hospital. I just dropped the phone and went to my room and just cried. I couldn't believe she was gone. I knew her since we were fifteen. She was so kind, and sweet, and beautiful. Now she's gone! I was never even there to comfort her during her last moments. I shut myself off from Mom and Dad and Quinn. I didn't even eat dinner.

I noticed that I was feeling a slight fever. I wondered if this disease will claim me.

May 31, 1990

I must write this, even though this disease is destroying my body. I'm ill, and Mom and Dad and Quinn are also ill. Mom called an ambulance, but none came. No one came. I guess the hospital is too crowded, and no one is left to help us. I remember the pain and anguish we felt when Katie died three years ago, and now our whole family will die.

I can never forget the lives I've touched. I will never forget Mom or Dad, or Quinn, or Katie. and I will never forget Molly, the one person outside my family whom I love, and for whom I would do anything for. And I will never forget my friends, or my experiences growing up. It is such a shame that my life has to be cut short like this. I am only 18 years old! I had my whole life ahead of me.

The last year of my life is in this journal. There will be no one to bury me; my bedroom will be my final resting place.I hope that sometime in the future, survivors of this plague will find my journal and keep it safe. My journal is an important part of world history, though I could not have predicted it when I made my first entry. To whoever reads this journal, I want you to learn from it and I want it to be copied so that the survivors and their descendants can read my story, the story of a man who lived life to the fullest and loved to the fullest. This is my last wish.

Colin Mallory (1971-1990)

I closed the journal. "Okay," I said to the skeleton on the bed. I contemplated burying my duplicate in the backyard, but I decided against it. This room is his refuge, and shall be his tomb. I looked at the journal, and I wondered if I should take it with me. I decided against it; the original journal will be left in the hands of its author.

I knew what I had to do. I had to look for survivors, look for food and water, and maybe make copies of my duplicate's journal.

"May you find peace in the Lord Jesus Christ," I said to the skeleton.