There had been no premonition, no inexplicable unease, no warning tingle of his senses. Nothing. And the drink was sweet as ever… rich, invigorating, satisfying. No unhealthy signs in the packaging either.

Yet here he was, feeling oddly off – tired, weak, slightly queasy. Unwell. And getting worse by the minute.

In his unusual state, avoidance was unexpectedly hard. The shadows still beckoned, but no longer melted with him. It was acutely distressing, this sudden vulnerability.

The building he was infiltrating did not help. Every corridor blindlingly lit, shadeless and spotlessly clean. Still, years of learned guile and practice allowed him to escape attention long enough to find the lab.

It was a minute’s work to administer the test. He had already drawn a sample earlier and researched the procedure.

Silence now as he waited for the machine. He could hear his heart thumping.

The machine spat out the results sheet. As he scanned it, a frozen moment of panic, disbelief.

“HIV – positive.”


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