SPREAD takes place after the fall of civilization, as the spread has run rampant and humanity's population has plummeted. Human enclaves dot the landscape here and there, but by and large, life is tense, short, and lonely. The arrival of Hope suggests that things can change, but hope is just a word. If Hope can't make it through the onslaught of the ruthless remains of humanity and the creeping spread, then there's no future for humanity at all.
Horror comes in a few different forms in SPREAD. The spread itself represents betrayal, the idea that you can't trust anything or anyone. Those infected by the spread become subservient to the spread itself, murderous and violent in addition to twisted and warped. Zombies serve a similar purpose in our fiction, and in spread, the infected are evil upon evil.
The spread is a cancerous fear, too. A fear of the only thing you know for sure is real rebelling, turning against you. What do you do when your end is not only inevitable, but guaranteed to take everything about who you are away from you? What do you do when you know that your body will be used to indulge in atrocity or to terrorize everyone you love?
Not to mention the humans. History has shown us that we are stronger together than apart. We have to believe in the goodness of humankind, because the opposite is too depressing to bear. We have to believe that we can help each other, and through that belief, we actually do, because we believe that helping each other is right. But SPREAD shows us that once you strip away society and everything becomes do-or-die, altruism becomes a little more rare. Men and women will band together not for support or succor, but for survival. And if their survival means that you are left buried in the snow, at best, well...what does that mean for humanity, once mob rule takes hold?
Even the presence of Hope is creepy and scary. Hope, the concept, suggests that no matter how bad things get, better days are on the way. Hope says that no matter how deep the darkness goes, there's light on the other side of it. But what if there isn't a light? What if Hope was born and can do what she does just so the universe can twist the knife one last time before shutting the door on humanity entirely? Worse, what if humanity itself destroys Hope, whether through ignorance or malice? What does that say about us and what we deserve as a people?