Tagline: The only thing worse than the horror of death is the madness of survival.
Loosely related to the author's highly regarded novel The Stand, the brief story follows one evening on a place called Anson Beach, New Hampshire, with a group of teens, survivors of a catastrophic virus called A6, or "Captain Trips", that has wiped out virtually the entire population. The virus was said to have spread out of Southeast Asia. The teenagers are shown to have a rather sinister nature in that they abduct a man and burn him on a pyre, believing such a human sacrifice to their gods would grant them protection against A6. The main character of the story, named Bernie, reflects upon this new world and frequently daydreams about "the time before" when he went to Anson Beach in his younger years before the A6 outbreak. A reference is made to a previous virus called A2, which the teens had all survived, leading them to think they were immune to A6's lethal effect. Toward the end of the story, one of them begins to show symptoms of A6, and they realize that perhaps their exposure to A2 did not in fact grant them immunity to this deadlier virus. While Bernie's companion, Susie, accepts his explanation that maybe some teenagers lied about having A2 in order to join their group, Bernie realizes A2 is no guarantee against A6, and starts to accept his eventual death.