Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Forty Two

People come and go in the Lost Quarter, as they do everywhere. That was never more the case than in those years when Those Who Left were exiled and Those Who Came began to stream into the Quarter looking for a better life. Some found it there and set down roots, while others came for a time and then passed on.

Mabel was one of the latter. She came with her husband, after the first rush of Those Who Came had settled. Her husband was an itinerant labourer who went from job to job, never staying anywhere long, and as such they had lived a somewhat desperate existence in several towns on the outskirts of the Quarter. Her husband was a man of schemes, forever hitting upon one idea after another to make his fortune, until at last he decided upon buying a smallholding in the Quarter. It would be hard, toiling work, but there was money to be made. Everyone said so.

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Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Forty One

Today is not a day for writing. Instead, I went with my love and walked along the riverside on a perfect spring afternoon.

It was warm and cool in the same instant. The trees were beginning to show their buds and the returning song birds sang out. The current provided a steady rhythm to their songs, carrying us forward. We walked in sunshine, sharing a few words, and looking about at all the world was.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Forty

It is a true quarantine now, though we have much longer to go before we sleep. Perhaps as much as another quarantine, perhaps even more. The thought does not fill me with dread. I know I can manage this now and another week or month will not change that. Life has regained its rhythms, though not without some dread creeping through the undercurrents, sounding through the feedback.

What comes after this does worry me on occasion. It will still involve seclusion of a sort. Much of what we did previously will still be denied us. It will be a half-life that we live, like we are players on the stage trying to mimic something we’ve read about. And the dread lord will still find his way in. He always does when our defences are half-constructed and more theoretical than stone.

But some good will come from this – we have to believe that, even if it is not enough to fill our cups. When I take the measure of that in these first forty days, the first thing that comes to mind is how lucky I am to have my love at my side. I could not imagine facing this alone. The time we have had together, time that we would not have had otherwise, is something to cherish.  

There has been an ease that has come over me as the quarantine has gone on. I no longer feel the need to be busy at all times and accomplishing things. The work is there and it will done, but in its own time. I feel no guilt about leaving it aside rather than trying to force the matter. I have also been attempting things I might not have otherwise. A diary of sorts for one. Others that may come to fruition in the weeks and months ahead, though I have no great worry if they don’t. It is enough to try, and whatever comes will come.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Thirty Nine

The grand old empire to the south of the Lost Quarter, long both our bane and boon is slowly failing as all empires must eventually. It has been happening for a long while, if we are honest, which few are in the face of empire, but now that the grippe reborn has risen the crumbling of its edifices has become too obvious to ignore. It stands on the brink, as the dread lord infiltrates every corner and reveals its rulers for the sham they are.

In the last weeks we have seen militias on the street, incited by the ruling party that desperately seeks to cling to power trying to pressure recalcitrant opposition governors to get in line. The state news parrots the ruling party’s line, spouting conspiracy in place of fact, offering propaganda in the face of death. For now the opposition resists, but how long can hold out when they are reliant on the central government for aid. Already the empire is violence-torn, though it has been less so since quarantine measures were enforced. But that peace cannot be expected to hold with things becoming more unstable by the day.

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Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Thirty Eight

I walk purposely down the road, a mask snuggly about my face. It feels strange, like a foreign appendage, one that I am perpetually aware of. My warm breath rebounds back on me and I fight the near constant urge to adjust it and fiddle with the straps.

Masks are strange things. They disguise you in one sense, muffling your features and making you harder to read, not that I need any help in that regard. But they also draw attention. One cannot disappear with a mask. If a masked man enters a bank everyone knows to watch that person intently (or gets the fuck out).

There are those who say the only way forward to return to normalcy requires that everyone don masks before leaving their homes. As with the letters of transit, it will just become a part of daily life, as normal as anything can be now. Perhaps then the strangeness of them will abate, to be replaced by something new. For everything is new now, the very fundamentals of our lives.

Until then I plan to stalk the streets, imagining I am inhabiting some post-apocalyptic future, plague ridden and crumbling, where survival necessitates masking and cloaking ourselves against the remnants of the contagion on those rare occasions where we are forced to leave our homes.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Thirty Seven

The one certain sign that spring is truly here and we shall hear no more from winter has come. I have been dreading it and now it is here. My eyes are itchy and my nose is running. Yesterday my throat was phlegmy as well, a harbinger of what is coming. Hay fever, that annual delight, has arrived.

Those fellow sufferers will know of what I speak. Spring in the weeks when the air is full of pollen is not a time for rushing outdoors without heed. Rather it is a time for walking guardedly and hurrying to wash your face clean once indoors. Sneezing, wheezing and resisting the insane urge to scratch out ones throbbing eyes are also present.

Perhaps with the new masking requirements and protocols of our quarantine, I will be spared some of my usual misery. One can only hope, for quarantine and seclusion are troublesome enough without adding this suffering to it as well.

In my present home it is the trees that bother me most – aspen, poplar, alder, juniper – so the next weeks will be a trial. In those central parts of the Lost Quarter where I passed my youth, there were fewer trees so I rarely had problems at the beginning of spring. But as spring shifted to summer and the grasses began to bloom I would be felled by sneezing fits. My eyes and throat would swell and grow so itchy that I wanted to claw at myself. I would rasp and wheeze and just be generally miserable.

The worst of it, in some ways, is the fatigue that follows once the attack has ceased. Your body has been doing battle with itself and is exhausted as a result. All you can do is lie about and feel wretched, cursing pollen and your own feeble disposition. If nothing else, it will at least give me something to complain about aside from our enforced confinement.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Thirty Six

36 days in quarantine, that most portentous number. At least here in the Lost Quarter, we cannot help but feel some trepidation at the thought of it all.

36 days and truly no end in sight. The barricades still stand. We have torn up the streets, turned the furniture to rubble to hold the dread lord at bay. Yet still he comes.

It is a fact little known that the Lost Quarter has no rats. Though they teem throughout the rest of the world, wherever they have had the opportunity to go, they have been given no foothold here. Part of it is our remoteness. The ways in to the Lost Quarter are hard enough, even for those who know them. For a very long time that was all it took, for rats are not native to these parts.

But gradually they made their way from the eastern dominions, encroaching upon territory after territory. It was only a matter of time before they found their way into the Lost Quarter. And they would have, if not for the people of the Quarter who banded together and created a Watch to guard the borders against those creatures.

The Watch prowls the borders and passages that anyone must cross to enter the Quarter looking for signs of the creature. For wherever go they will try to follow. Whenever signs are found the Watch gathers, setting afire whatever the rats have inhabited, be it a bale of hay or a granary. Like the proverbial sinking ships the rats flee the flames and the Watch is ready for them with their weapons of choice.

It is why I allow myself a measure of hope when I think about the trials to come in our battles against the grippe reborn. For the people of the Lost Quarter have banded together in common cause before and succeeded, though our guard must never slacken. No we have to do so again, but having walked those roads before we know the ways.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Thirty Five

The songbirds have arrived from the south. I can hear them chattering in the trees that line the avenue outside my home as they dart back and forth between the bare branches. They will not stay bare long with the warmth of the days to come. The snow is finally gone from the ground, the earth warm. It is time for things to begin to grow.

Word of a great tragedy far away in the eastern dominions reached us last evening. A madman on the loose in the midst of our battle with the grippe seems impossible to comprehend. He must have been in league with the dread lord, yet it seems not. This morning as I listened to the birds singing I came upon my love weeping as she read about those who perished. It is strange to be comforting her on a day that seems a harbinger of warm summer days and all the happiness that brings.

What a terrible reminder that nothing ceases, even with the dread lord stalking our every step. We cannot stop going forward even as we have no way of knowing the direction to go or what perils await us on the paths we take. All we know is that there will be many, the dread lord lurking among them. But we will go anyway, because there is no other choice for us, hoping that the world we arrive in eventually is one that brings some measure of peace.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Thirty Four

It is a fine day, the finest day you could imagine. The sun has a summer warmth to it that beckons. I wander to a small park nearby where a grand memorial to the fallen was constructed. There are people lying on the brown grass sunbathing and a couple has a stereo set on a bench playing music while they dance. In the trees throughout I hear the chirp of robins and orioles, new arrivals from the south.

That is enough of writing for today. I will keep walking, going wherever my feet take me.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Thirty Three

The sun is bright, the day is warm and beckoning, my plants are sprouting green shoots up through the earth, and yet all I feel is a cold, withering chill. Something sits upon my chest, a weight that cannot be borne. It follows me wherever I go, shadowing my thoughts. It is there and not, like the grippe reborn, a presence without substance.

I go to the window and stare out at the clear blue sky, watching birds in flight, but it all leaves me empty. I stare at people going by, at ease and at their pleasure, and I feel nothing. There is an ache in my head and a tingling numbness creeping into the tips of my fingers.

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