Published: 5 January 2012
The Flame Alphabet
The speech of children has mutated into a virus which is killing their parents. At first it only affects Jews, then everyone. Sam and Claire's lives are threatened when their daughter, Esther, is infected with the disease. Each word she speaks is toxic to Sam and Claire. Radio transmissions from strange sources indicate that people across the country are growing increasingly alarmed. But all Sam needs to do is look around the neighborhood: in the park, parents wither beneath the powerful screams of their children. Claire is already stricken and near death. As the contagion spreads, Sam and Claire must leave Esther behind in order to survive. The government enforces quarantine zones, and return to their daughter becomes impossible. Sam finds himself in a government laboratory, where a group of scientists are conducting horrific tests, hoping to create non-lethal speech.
Both morally engaged and wickedly entertaining, The Flame Alphabet begs the question: what is left of civilization when we lose the ability to communicate with those we love?