100-Word Fiction: ‘Ash Wednesday’

It is here. Which means it is too late. Who knows whether we could have resisted it? Ten cases of the disease are already local to us. It is in the hedgerows and the woodlands, brought by visitors, carried on the wind. The infection spreads, stains appear, the flesh wilts and limbs crack and split. The scientists have isolated diseased samples in labs. The government says eradicating it could cost tens of millions of pounds. In austerity, it sends a shiver. But these are our ash trees and the ecosystems they support are our lives. They must live. Or else?