The fever brought with it dreams, and some say that the dreams themselves were the fever. We the afflicted passed in and out of consciousness, occasionally bursting through the surface of another world, only to sink back down into our overheating flesh. Our conversations with one another went on uninterrupted, for we were equally present in both realities.

On the other side of the veil, we had no bodies at all. We were merely voices tangled up with light, ghosts in a wine-dark city with the potential to come alive- and some of us managed to do so. Those who had flatlined in the waking world gained a new pulse here, and mercury began flowing through their crystalline veins shortly thereafter.

They were beautiful. We were not.

I remember the days spent wired to plastic tubes in a hospital bed, surrounded by many others, trying to ignore the blend of effluvia being produced. The televisions told us that our world had collided with its own afterlife, and that the planet was now sinking through death itself. We were assured that eventually, it would pass through to the other side of this peculiar fold in space, and all would be returned to the way it was.

For me, the fever eventually disappeared; for millions of others, it never did. It’s unclear if we ever truly returned to the realms of the living, or if such a thing is even possible. All I know is that decades later, I still occasionally dream of the other side, and mankind has long since burned it to the ground.