Plague (a perspective on Covid 19)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


PLAGUE a perspective on covid 19

It has been a busy week for St Peter. Just like old times he thinks; as he sits there sprawled in his high backed silver gilt chair. 

 He casts an approving eye over the “Pearly Gates” shimmering in the perpetual sunlight his boss insists on. Why are people afraid he thinks to himself our facilities are first class particularly since they were upgraded after 1945. The old man had insisted on a complete refurbishment; said he wanted “a heaven fit for heroes”. Mind you a lot of the redesign has been down to Mrs G. And there’s another strange thing, until the end of that conflict the old man had spent countless aeons on his own; ran the whole universe single handed. I asked him once if he ever felt lonely; no he said, I can do it all by myself.  Then, about 75 years ago he tells me he’s going to take a wife and they will rule together. Have to say I never thought it would work but the atmosphere has been very cordial; we’ve seen a lot of changes of course and most of them are down to Mrs G. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t think painting everything pink, scented toilet rolls and unisex toilets make heaven a better place. And there’s the whispering too. All the female empowerment has meant that you can’t slip down to the pub with your mates or watch the “Champions League” without a snide remark or a black look. One of the new souls said to me the other day, you might as well be dead; I had to remind him he was dead.

 Anyway, just over a year ago, we got the message there would be a big increase in our population; I was just sitting here polishing my keys and thumbing through the Book of Life when the boss told me another plague may be on its way.

 But before I go on, I should perhaps explain, I’ve been here for eternity and that, to fall back on a colloquialism is a bloody long time! I’ve seen it all before. I only mention it because I could feel the panic; sitting up here you get vibrations and the great religions of the world go into overdrive. It’s a funny thing I’ve often talked to the boss about human religions and we don’t quite understand what all the fuss is about. Their supposed to have the same objectives but they always seem divided; there is always discord. The Boss and I chuckled when a small girl who arrived recently recited a verse she’d written; summed it up for us!

You practice a standard religion, Muslim Christian or Jew

And they start throwing bombs at each other to highlight their own point of view

The priests and Imams are misguided their rhetoric’s really two bob

A child could tell them the answer there just different pathways to God.

The boss thought it was brilliant and we both had a good laugh. But I digress! As I say the whisper we got a year ago was from the Chinese; tricky lot the Chinese and the first indication was they had caused the problem themselves. My governor told me there could be two possibilities and he hadn’t decided. Now you will have to bear with me, because to explain my boss’s dilemma I have to make you privy to information which may not be in the public domain; unfortunately it’s a bit long winded. Obviously my Boss gets all the intelligence on everything from everywhere. So the following facts, collected by the “ark angel” service are “kosher”. In Wuhan China, the place where this plague started, there is apparently a chemical weapons facility. I can’t begin to tell you what my governor thinks about weapons of any kind but particularly chemicals. I said to him once why don’t you put a stop to humans inventing weapons, they only kill each other. He put on that sad face and told me that when he created human kind he gave them the gift of thought coupled with imagination; the ability to think independently. I got the impression he was depressed at the way man and women kind have abused his generosity. But I’m getting off the subject. When the information on China came up the boss started to listen to other sources. It soon became clear there were anomalies. For a start there was the distance puzzle, Shanghai is only 500 miles from Wuhan but no cases of the virus were being reported, likewise Beijing is 700 miles outside Wuhan and again no cases of the plague. Contrast that with data coming out of places much more dispersed, Milan 5400 miles away and New York 7500 miles away; thousands of cases appearing daily. This pattern was repeated all over the globe. So what was going on? My governor in the past has made it a rule not to interfere in human affairs. He is always saying I gave them the ability to reason they should be able to look after themselves. Trouble is he has a compassionate side and the potential death toll was too high to ignore. So he ordered an investigation into the affects and consequences of a pandemic and the possible collusion of the Chinese government. He hates doing it but he ordered a review of global health and more particularly economics; too much information to go into here so I shall try to condense the final report. In a nut shell; the whole thing was, or  is now a Chinese conspiracy. It was either a mistake or a deliberate act by the Chinese to release the virus; by definition a man made plague! A lot of people pointed to the fact that none of China’s top brass civil or military had contracted the infection. This was again a contrast to the rest of the world where top officials even prime ministers had gone down with the bug. In addition China’s reaction to the problem has meant they have stolen an economic march on the rest of the world. There was a lot more technical stuff but my boss was still not convinced. I remember all the work he put in trying to evaluate what might have motivated the Chinese. In the end the governor gave China the benefit of the doubt. He told me he didn’t think the Chinese were clever enough or malevolent enough to have allowed the new virus to spread. So, if the investigation exonerated the Chinese we were still left with the question where did covid 19 come from.

The second possibility my boss looked at was the chance that some natural phenomenon had caused the outbreak. I don’t know how much work went into looking at other sources but in the end a much simpler explanation emerged. It turns out that the Chinese display all sorts of wild animals for food; sounds horrid but they sell live creatures in “wet” markets. My boss had discovered that the virus probably “jumped species”; humans had contracted the virus from bats. Have to say it sounded a much more likely possibility. The boss confirmed that an unknown number of humans had actually eaten “bat meat”. His information was not clear on whether the meat had been cooked but after eating; three of the humans were violently ill with the symptoms of covid 19. Open and shut case to me but the boss was not happy; he felt that the Chinese were still responsible. I don’t get involved in these things but my boss was adamant that since the Chinese were responsible they should take steps to prevent it happening again. When pandemics occur my boss gets depressed because he feels humans have enough experience to manage their own affairs. He could see no reason why the Chinese wouldn’t close their animal markets and stop killing defenceless creatures. But the non interference rule made him reluctant to intervene and that’s the way he left it. I told him a thunderbolt or two may concentrate their minds but he’s not up for that sort of thing.  I know he will be taking a keen interest in future; but I think it’s too much to ask the Chinese to change 1000 year old habits; even though they are dirty!

 

Anyway, all that happened over a year ago and just after that numbers did begin to pick up. Every time it happens we go through the same old routine, I say to management what about upgrading the infrastructure to make it easier for me to let people in; and they say no! You can imagine, being in charge of “recycling souls” is not an easy process; it works like this, I meet and greet all the new arrivals and record their exploits, or lack of them, in the Book of Life, after the assessment session I open the gates and let the “good ones” in. But I have to tell you writing with a quill pen in the Book of Life is not an easy task and those gates are a nightmare. I said to the boss why don’t we have electronic gates with a digital key pad. Those gates have been here as long as I’ve been around and no matter how much I oil the hinges their still difficult to open; wouldn’t cost a lot! I think I know why he won’t let me have an i pad for the Book of Life; Mrs G was here the other day and  remarked on the beautiful  “copperplate” script in the Book of Life. It’s alright for her she doesn’t have to get writer’s cramp listening to some of the more verbose souls going on!  But back to the current plague, well if you can call it a plague! I say that because as I told you, I’ve been around a long time and it’s as well to get these things in perspective. I realise you mortals only have short spans so you probably won’t realise how many of these events we’ve had in the past; let me try to enlighten you! I’d better start at a point you may have recorded. Four hundred and thirty years before the Christian era we had the plague of Athens; then, 165 years after JC’s crucifixion the Antonine plague, the plague of Cyprus in AD 250 followed by the Justinian plague in 541; now that really was a plague; proper pandemic, a lot of work for me and it boosted our numbers by millions. In more modern times we’ve had the Black Death in 1346 and perhaps the most written about; the plague of London in 1665. In the meantime of course we’ve had massive outbreaks of Cholera, Typhoid and Smallpox not to mention Spanish flu and Ebola. So you see I can’t get too exercised about the current situation. The boss tells me. He knows everything of course, that humans are coping better than they’ve ever done. Apparently they are trying something I’ve never heard of called “isolation”. It involves staying indoors and not going out. According to the boss it prevents the virus spreading and may lead to longer lives; seems odd to me because we see everybody eventually.

But what do I know; I’m just St Peter, gatekeeper and the dogsbody who “recycles souls”. I‘ve been doing it a long time now and I must say I quite enjoy the work. You meet all sorts and most of them are good value. I do get the odd stroppy one but I just direct them to the underworld; seems to work. Anyway, if my governor is right and this “isolation” thing works I may be seeing you and your mates later rather than sooner.


Submitted: October 20, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Peter Piper. All rights reserved.

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