Sunday, January 13
Wow! Erin called to talk to Beth. I guess Brandon was flown to some hospital in Virginia. I might have failed to mention that he is a doctor. He‘s some biology specialist. Deals with contagious stuff. Mostly he has been dealing with West Nile. A hospital in Virginia has a pair of scientists who were in on that Indonesian find. They discovered some sort of giant rat that is like three times the size of a large city rat. Seems these things weren‘t afraid of people at all and just walked around the research team like it was no big deal. Erin says every single one of those researchers got sick. But not until after they came home. So, nobody is sure if they got sick from the site, or if it was exposure to the relief workers who came home on the same flight. She did say they were receiving their first patients tomorrow. Beth is worried that her mom (and Brandon) will get sick. I wasn‘t…until now.
Monday, January 14
Nobody gives much thought as to what happens in the world when they‘re sleeping. It is almost as if everything is on pause…like a giant version of the children‘s game Red Light! Green Light! With our eyes closed, everything stops. We are an egotistical organism. Things in the night do continue to move, I believe the reason we tend not to think about it is because of fear. Every morning, we wake up one day closer to death. Death cannot be stopped. Genocide in Africa. Unrest in Pakistan. Nuclear threats in Iran and North Korea. Plagues closing the cities of Bangalore and Mumbai in India. And now Singapore is simply shut down. Nothing is coming in or out. Today, there was a story on page six that claims some small town in Mississippi called Natchez is going under some sort of quarantine. I‘ve tried to get ahold of Erin to see if any of this is something I should be worried about. I tried to watch television news last night/this morning as I was getting ready to go to work for any information. All I got was the latest on which Hollywood Starlet is driving while drunk, which movie stars just broke up ending a tired use of two individual names as one to describe their entity as a couple. Well, at least they each got their own first names back. (When did that trend start, and could it please go away!) I am convinced there is no such thing as actual news anymore. Every event needs a catchy title and a graphic. Since when did I need a panel of experts I‘ve never heard of to explain an event‘s relevance to me. What it means to the presidential candidates. And, how it may possibly effect global warming? By tomorrow, whatever this sickness is that is causing so much grief will have a market-tested name and a panel of scientists who predicted it.
Tuesday, January 15
Something is definitely not right. Last night, I was doing my route. Nothing new or strange. I was on this stretch of a long, winding, sorta rolling country road where I have a flock of subscribers with the paper boxes attached to their mailboxes. So I stop and, as I always do, grab a bundle. One of my customers is this sweet little old lady who makes me a snack. I usually stuff everybody‘s paper, then walk hers to the door. If the porch light is on, I knock…if not, I place her paper inside her screen door. Tonight, the light was on. I knocked and nobody answered. I got worried, I mean she‘s an old gal and, well, she could have had a heart attack or something. I knocked a few more times and then, to be sure, I walked around the outside. When I got to her back door, it was open. She was lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood.
I‘d like to say I was brave and bold and rushed in to help. Instead…I ran. When I got to my car, I grabbed my phone and called the cops. I had to give statements and all that garbage. One of the cops started to give me the business. Asking me a bunch of crazy questions. That was, until the paramedics came out and word spread that some sort of animal had torn her up. (I don‘t want to use her name until I know her family has been told. I never understood why the news withheld that stuff—until now.) That bulldog of a cop let up on me after he went inside to have his own look. It must‘ve been bad, because when he came back, he looked pretty pale. Eventually, I was allowed to get back in my car, finish my job, and go home. But it is tonight that has made things a bit weird. I woke up to Beth telling me that Erin still hasn‘t called. When I called the hospital, I got an ―all circuits are busy‖ recording. At a hospital? Adding to all the really bad feelings I‘m getting, the news had a story about an ambulance that went off the road. I looked in time to see that it was the one from that little old lady‘s house. It hadn‘t gotten far because I could see a few landmarks I recognized. According to the news, no bodies were found at the scene. Beth is coming with me to work tonight.
Wednesday, January 16
This ain‘t SARS or West Nile, that‘s for damn sure. Something really bad is going on. Beth is hysterical. I‘m a bit freaked myself. This morning, Beth and I tried to check in on Erin since we haven‘t heard from her in a few days which, in case you‘re wondering, is totally out of character. Even when Beth only spends the weekend, Erin never fails to call every day. She‘s a really good mom. The hospital is under some sort of quarantine! There is a whole pack of National Guard set up around the place. News crews are being kept outside a two-mile perimeter! Apparently there are situations like this popping up all over. Not just here in the states either! Whatever this is…it‘s global. Two of the nineteen route drivers did not show up for work last night/this morning. The
news on the television and radio are all about guessing…since nobody is really sure what is going on. If things are being kept quiet here in the United States, it is absolutely silent out of Indonesia, Japan, China…it‘s like that whole part of the world has gone dark.
Thursday, January 17
That does it! Until I know what the hell is going on, I‘m not going back to work. We still haven‘t heard from Erin…the news is reporting that everything is shutting down all over the world. I don‘t even know if this blog will continue to post. The freakin‘ internet is shutting down! Sites like YouTube are just gone. This, on the heels of the rumor that all news is being ―monitored‖ by the government. It‘s like some conspiracy theorist‘s nightmare come to life. Nobody knows what is going on. And if they do, they can‘t or won‘t say anything. With everything going down, last night there was only seven of us that showed up for work at the paper. Not that it mattered, the issue was so thin (22 pages total) the delivery driver said only a quarter of the trucks loaded out. Beth and I went to the grocery store. It was practically stripped bare! I talked to Bill, the manager, he said almost none of his deliveries came last night. Still, we grabbed what we could. When we got home, all the television stations were off… an Emergency Broadcast Alert screen is all we have now. Even on MTV! Something is bad. Very bad.
It‘s late, but Beth and I are heading over to Erin‘s house. She just called and is at home. She asked us to hurry over. Beth is frantic. I think she heard the strain in her mother‘s voice, too. She told us not to stop for anybody we might see that looks injured. When I tried to ask questions, she just told me ―shut up and trust her‖.
Friday, January 18
This has now become a running journal. I don‘t know how long we‘ll be able to keep this up, but for any who find this…if nothing else, you can maybe learn from any mistakes I make. Whatever this sickness is, it has made its way around the world. I imagine Beth and I don‘t have long. We arrived to find Erin unconscious at the top of the stairs inside her house. She looks almost like her skin is made of shiny, gray wax. She is soaked with sweat and panting like a woman in labor. She has a deep gouge in her forearm that looks like something tore at her. It was wrapped in gauze, but had soaked through so bad that we had to cut away the bandages (which smelled rotten, like raw chicken left on the counter for a couple of days). Beth almost puked, but she was a real trooper. We cleaned and re-bandaged the wound. Erin never woke up. She moaned a lot, and a couple of times her panting would just stop. Then, all of a sudden, she would gasp and start panting again. The EBS announced that the government has declared that a virus of unknown origin is spreading rapidly and individuals are to remain indoors. The illness is causing ‗violent madness‘. Those infected should be restrained, and there are confirmed reports that the sick have savagely attacked their caretakers. I‘ve tried to call a few people I know, but the phones are jammed. Basically, we‘re stuck here and I doubt anybody will come help if I did manage to get through. If you are reading this, we are just outside of Portland, Oregon…due west in a suburb called Aloha. The house is a brown, two-story just behind Cooper Mountain Elementary.
* * * * *
It is just past ten in the morning. I‘ve dozed off and on. Erin has shown no change. Beth and I had a little argument about restraining her mom. I guess we‘ll leave her for now. If she wakes up and starts acting violently, we‘ll do the tying-up thing.
I‘m pretty sure I heard screams and gunshots nearby. The phone is still down and I‘m not leaving my daughter alone to go look. Christ! I don‘t know what to do! Other than the one EBS announcement, there has been nothing. I keep hearing sirens, but nothing has come close enough that I could try and flag down for help. Erin shows no sign of getting any better…if anything, she‘s getting worse. Beth won‘t leave her side.
* * * * *
It is dark outside now. Just past nine. For the past hour the EBS has run a loop announcing that martial law has been declared on a national level. Anybody caught outside after sunset will be shot! I didn‘t think the government could do something so harsh. I mean, if they said you would be arrested, then sure. But they‘re killing people. I know they are because I‘ve heard gunfire almost non-stop since that alert began.