...And I feel fine

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A time capsule

…And I Feel Fine

Spring 2020

The first signs that anything is wrong are the pics that appear in your feed, of grocery store shoppers stockpiling toilet paper by the shopping cartful; the store shelves wiped clean of sanitary napkins.

You find it absurd and you laugh it off but you’ve also never seen anything like it before in your life. And this Corona virus that you’ve seen trending is supposed to be a respiratory thing, right? No amount of wiping your butt is going to save you if you’re dying of asphyxiation. Because Sars-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease Covid-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets produced during exhalation. The virus is spread by simply breathing, or so you’ve heard; or so you’ve read. Someone exhales, someone else inhales and the virus passes from one person to the next.

For obvious reasons, masks appear on a few faces out in the street, in the world, on your way to the super market where toilet paper is being rationed one package per customer to a line that exceeds the automatic doors and stretches out into the parking lot and none of it makes any sense to you and it's not funny anymore

“You might want to consider coming earlier around opening when shipments first arrive if you really want something because by noon everything is sold out,” the checkout lady informs you.

 And you might want to consider buying a mask because you clear your throat and some guy shoots you a dirty look. But you’ve got allergies and it’s not your fault and now whenever you feel the urge to sneeze you have to find a place to do it in secret like you’re attempting to sneak a fart.

Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) first broke out in February of 2003, killing ten percent of the people it infected, originating in south China and spreading to nearly 30 countries. This Sars CoV 2 is also said to originate from China, Wuhan. And the Veterans on Military scholarships in your Art 113 class suspect “chemical warfare.”

Though later that day, in your doctor’s office, where you go to stock up on your meds and not toilet paper before you bunker down, your doctor explains what a “spillover event” is, how sometimes viruses can be transmitted from one species to the next. The first SARS supposedly spread from bats to Civat Cats to us humans. She explains how this sneaky virus remains undetected inside the body because its genome produces proteins that delay the immune system from signaling an alert. So, people who’ve got it go about their lives having know idea, all the while spreading the sickness to others around them.

A SARS-CoV-2 particle, known as a virion, is only visible through an electron microscope, around 100 nanometers in diameter. The virion contains a strand of Ribonucleic Acid (RNA). SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus, its genetic material is coded in RNA. Like DNA, the viral NRA contains its genetic makeup. In mammals, DNA holds genetic instructions transcribed and copied into RNA. Viral RNA causes protein synthesis machinery in cells to mistake Viral RNA for RNA produced by the body’s own DNA. Its “S” spike protein gives the SARS-CoV-2 particle its crown like appearance. These crown-like protein spikes across their membrane’s surface are where coronaviruses get their name. This spiked “S” protein is how the virus pries open your cells, crawls inside, and replicates.

Still, later at home, in the germ free, virtual world of COD, on the battle field, a kid from your class carries you to a “W” in the Battle Royal. In class he’s a quiet, bespectacled artist but in the Warzone he’s a lethal killling machine. Over his headset he repeats, “Oh yeah, this was chemical warfare, for real. And don’t you notice how this coronavirus thing has got everyone distracted? And the Market is down, dude. Like, way down, down.”

The warzone is free to download and free to play and that helps. The Gulag is intense and leaves your chest pounding. And your nephews assure you that kids at his middle school are still doing Fortnite dances.

“But hold on, if this is chemical warfare then who was the target? And whoever’s job it was to carry out this alleged act of chemical warfare must’ve seriously fucked up somehow. How do you miss in every direction? This looks nothing like an aimed attack and more like what happens when the shit hits the fan.”

“Or maybe that’s how they want it to look.”

“Social distancing” are the words that appear on everyone’s infectious lips. And "wash your hands with warm water for at least two minutes. Sanitize. Don’t touch your face. Remain at least six feet apart.”

Social gatherings are canceled. Holidays are canceled. Movie premiers are canceled. Concerts are canceled. Conventions are canceled. The daydreams of school children everywhere become waking nightmares when schools close. To finish out the semester you attend class from home remotely via the Zoom app. The words “quarantine” and “Isolation” are next on everyone’s lips and those lips are all soon hidden behind masks to contain the pandemic bringing life on earth to a global standstill.

Businesses close. The "prestige" Game Stop around your way stays open. Deemed “essential” its employees provide curbside service to customers until that location is inevitably forced to close as well.

People buy Nintendo Swithes to pas the time playing Animal Crossing. People lose jobs.

“People are going to riot. Wait and see,” predicts your buddy, the former GameStop employee. “People are going to go stir crazy and lose they’re minds and then, you wait and see, they’re going to riot.”

And all the while the death toll rises. By fall China will confirm 90, 604 cases of Covid-19 and 4, 739 deaths. The United States will register 7,382,194 cases and 209, 382 deaths.  The UK has a population twenty times stronger than China yet will see five times as many cases of Covid-19 and almost ten times as many deaths.

In the mean time, the bustling Honolulu business district devolves to an eerie ghost town where the wet pavement wreaks of urine. The wheelchair bound vagrants on Bethal line the sidewalk in rows and across the street someone’s scibbled the word “Febel” on a set of doors in black acrylic ink with a chisel tip marker.  

You enter the ASB tower at 1001 bishop street through automatic panes of polished glass, installed into the grander glass windows that frame the forty-two story tower’s lobby and people are always missing the sliding doors and walking face first into the surrounding windows. You used to relax on the lobby’s leather sofas while on your break, writing, watching people occasionally slam their faces into the windows.

The buildings essential workers with nothing better to do run the fire alarms in an office building where nearly every office is vacant . The ringing is incessant and annoying as hell. 

From 20 stories up, in your shrink's office, you watch another band of bums selling drugs out in the open, down in the courtyard, before the fountains where the business types in neck ties and heels typically take their smoke breaks.

“You know it’s not healthy to think of you president as a troll,” replies your shrink from six feet across the room, as you stare down at the loitering drug dealers twenty stories below, adjusting the surgical mask covering the lower half of your face which you've already accidentally sneezed directly into twice today.

“I know that! Of course, it’s not." You shout over the blaring fire alarms, through the muffling 3-ply face covering, "But I do. And why do I feel like I’m being trolled? Doesn’t it feel like something's missing from the picture? Something, I don’t know, ominous?”

“Honestly,” confesses your Psychotherapist, “If I never have to shake another stranger's hand for the rest of my life, I’ll feel just fine.”

"Well, maybe you need a psychologist," You advice your doctor. 

But worst of all “I can’t write,” you gripe, "I feel creatively stifled. I have all the time in the world now and yet I’m blocked. I can’t for the life of me think of a single thing to write about.”


Submitted: December 19, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Alrock024. All rights reserved.

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Bert Broomberg

A good read. Well done.

Sat, December 19th, 2020 11:17am

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