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 Fifty Eight

This is the stuff of dreams. Nightmares maybe. Standing on a street corner in the shadows, just beyond the glare of the lamps, hat pulled low and eyes hard as diamonds.

A shadow drifts across the light and I follow, digging into the pockets of my jacket until I find the cold, hard metal there. It just makes me uneasy, offering no comfort. I still grasp it tightly all the same.

The shadow disappears around the corner and I stand at the crossroads, lost for the moment. Unsure where to go. Do I dare follow? Something like fog hangs in the air, a cloud passing over the streetlamps.

They come from far away lands, but everyone comes from far away here. Most are passing through and lose their way. We sit not at the end of the world, but the end of…something. The Lost Quarter. The forgotten places. No one recalls the roads here anymore and towns wizen and shrink as the years go by, only echoes of what they once were.

Dark thoughts trouble me and I hear footsteps from behind. They follow me wherever I go as I stalk after the shadow, though I see no trace of its passage. Or rather, the signs of it are everywhere I go. Boarded windows, plywood nailed over doorways, and the stench of rot intermingled with dust.

I follow the twisting streets, the footsteps close behind, until I come to a locked door. The footsteps come closer, so I risk a knock, a quiet tap on its wooden frame. There is no sound within, no sign of anyone stirring. I try again, with more force this time, but all I can hear are the footsteps getting closer.

Frantic, I hammer against it until my knuckles bleed, crying out to anyone who will listen. The silence around me grows deeper and I have the sense of every living thing nearby going still, waiting, refusing to open their doors or even come to their windows to watch. Only the footsteps continue to sound, coming nearer and nearer. I turn around to face it, but there is only darkness and shadow.

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