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 One Hundred Thirty Four

The heat wave continues. The plants in my garden are wilting when I go out to water them in the morning, the day already warm and the sun bright and unrelenting. There were heavy clouds first thing in the morning when my love and I walked to work, the air damp and heavy, but they burned off quickly as the morning progressed.

Our home grows progressively warmer with each day, the nights not cooling off as they usually do in these parts. We sleep without covers and wake feeling sticky with sweat that hasn’t completely dried. I wander about the house wearing fewer and fewer clothes, even finally relaxing my prohibition against wearing shorts. I am not a child and I am not in gym class, but I dislike sweating while sitting and dealing with my correspondences.

My love finds my distaste for shorts baffling. She is from warmer climes where such things are a necessity and perpetually wears shorts when she is home regardless of the weather. The only thing she finds more inexplicable is my refusal to wear sandals of any sort. They are not a shoe and I am not going to go wandering outside without protection for my feet.

Of course it would be cooler. As the hot days persist with no end in sight I may find myself surrendering and waiving another of my prohibitions.

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 One Hundred Thirty Three

Another month almost over. We are at the height of summer – today will be one of the hottest of the year – and yet I find my thoughts drifting to winter. In the Greater Dominions such thoughts are unavoidable. Last night I noticed that it was getting darker earlier than it had been only a few short weeks ago, 10:30 now instead of 11. Those shortening evenings are the harbinger of winter that shadows ever day.

It is not the cold and snow of winter that concerns me. I am used to such things having grown up in the Lost Quarter. It is that so much of the alteration to our way of life, as part of the quarantine protocols in defence against the grippe reborn, has relied upon it being summer and pleasant to go outdoors. What will we do when we can no longer gather in back yards, parks and patios? How will we socialize? How will we find release from our seclusion?

The hope, and it seems to be just that, is that we will diminish the dread lords stronghold in these parts enough that we can return to a semblance of our normal routines. Yet, as these last weeks in the Quarter have shown, a return to anything resembling normal simply invites the grippe reborn back into our lives. Absent some treatment that wards against his fearsome powers, we shall be at the dread lord’s mercy.

Those are coming, but it may not be until the following winter that we can put those defences in place. It could be grim and lonely during the darkest time of the year.

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 One Hundred Thirty Two

There are few remaining ways in and out of the Lost Quarter and they are forever changing. As they slip from memory and become forgotten they are lost. The trails overgrown, the roads washed away, the rail lines torn up and sold for scrap.

As you approach the western edge of the Lost Quarter, you descend into a river valley. The descent is abrupt after so many kilometres of rolling plain, though you can see the great hills of the valley in the distance for a good long while if you know where to look right on the edge of the horizon.

It is an ancient place, the great hills standing watch over the river on either side, almost as tall as mountains. Their tops are peaked with prairie short grass, while their sides are bare with earth so hard it is nearly stone. The wind, rain and snow melt work at them creating ribbons and strange visages on their faces. The river is a tiny sliver of a thing next to such grandeur, though it shaped those great hills over the centuries.

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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 One Hundred Thirty One

The clouds swirl, dark and ominous. At their centre, a deep and pulsing calamity, with its own strange gravity, pulling and pushing at the same time. Other clouds are drawn in, a massing of forces, but all else is cast out. Rain falls and then hail. Lightning scatters across the sky. The clouds shift, reaching out, dark tendrils taking a menacing shape.

They follow the wind, watching the horizon. The day is sunny, but they can see what is coming, can feel the air changing. A calm arrives, unsettling, for the storm looms larger and larger. The air feels heavy, damp, expectant.

The rain comes first, a drop or two spattering on the ground. A warning of sorts, followed by the deluge. Soon hail joins the rain, landing hard, beating and bruising. The verdant foliage wilt under the onslaught.

All that is only a distraction for the cataclysm, the monstrous core of the clouds, that swirling mass that wants to reach out, to touch the earth and extinguish it. It pulls everything before it into its fearsome vortex, swallowing and spitting it out as though the taste were wrong.

It is gone as quickly as it came, vanishing on the far horizon. Behind them they can see sun and cloud intermixed, a peaceful serenity. The rain ceases and the sun returns as bright as before, as though nothing at all has happened. A gentle breeze moves amongst the broken things left behind.

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 One Hundred Thirty

A humid day. Clouds blanket the sky, yet it is warm, soon to be hot. Storms will follow, no doubt, thunder and lightning and torrents of rain. It has been that kind of year.

Walking in the morning with my love to her office we frequently encounter the same people on their way to their own towers. A land of towers, most of them desolate now. They have become familiar faces and it is almost a comfort to see them and know that the day is proceeding as it should.

There is the petite wisp of a woman, always impeccably dressed who we always encounter at the same corner. The tall man with the wide shoulders and thick chest, and the tiny legs that seem part of another body entirely who I pass on my return home. The long haired blonde girl with the headphones on who walks with a swagger to the beat of the music. The two old bus drivers, both thick in the gut in the same way, who stand on the street and chat of this and that before returning to their routes.

I try to end my walk most days by passing through the park where I was married, which is not far from where my love and I now live. It has a library, the first built in this city, a magnificent sandstone building, along with flowers, fountains, statues and trees. There is an eternal flame to the memory of those who fought and died in the great wars of past ages.

Walking through the park always leaves me at peace, for I remember that hot summer day we stood and said our vows to each other. The future seemed limitless that day and I hope one day it will again.

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 One Hundred Twenty Seven

The river comes from the west, flowing into the Lost Quarter. Before their banishment, Those Who Left followed it, for it was the one true path into the Quarter. The game was plentiful there, deer, elk and moose. Cougars and wolves stalked the river valleys, even bears in the summer. Near the centre of the Quarter it joins with another river, creating a broad waterway that heads east and then north, emptying out into a vast and frigid northern bay.

Others of Those Who Left followed the river west, fighting its mighty currents to find their way into the Quarter and trade with its inhabitants. Later Those Who Came, guided by Those Who Left, made their way along the same path. They established a fort at the confluence to trade with Those Who Left. Guns, mirrors and other manufactured goods that Those Who Came possessed the skill to make, for pelts and buffalo skins that Those Who Left possessed the knowledge of where and how to hunt.

More than that, they understood how to survive in this hard territory, where the wind forever howls and the winters are long, bitter and cold. Those Who Came would not have survived those first years without their help and trade. Many of Those Who Came wed Those Who Left, binding their lives further together, creating what must have seemed a solid alliance.

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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 One Hundred Twenty Six

I have not been touched by the grippe reborn. My test results are negative.

There is a dark cloud upon the horizon though. A storm is brewing again. While I may have escaped the dread lord’s grasp, he is still very much present in the Lost Quarter. The last days have seen an increase in the numbers of those who suffer from his insidious touch. And there will be many more who do not yet realize they have stood with him, and more and more still who will follow.

The last weeks have been something of an idyll. We had built our defences against the dread lord strongly, and one could almost believe that we had thwarted his designs. The number of those falling to his terrible powers was shrinking. Yet he was there all along, amongst us, and as soon as we relaxed our guard, only a little, he has returned with the full force of all his powers.

I hear people complaining bitterly about those who they are certain have broken the protocols, inveighing against their recklessness. But that I think does little good. People were not going to follow the protocols forever – we all need a release, a moment of respite however brief – and scolding and shaming will not remove the dread lord from these parts.

Now we must begin again to stand firm against his power. This was always how it was going to be. Every victory will prove illusory, until we find the means to counteract his dark magic, and that will be a good long while in coming. In the meantime we need to be kind to each other. Maintaining a strict quarantine for the foreseeable future was never possible and relaxing the rules was always going to lead to the grippe re-establishing its nefarious hold.

It will be two steps forward, and another back. That is the way of things for now. Our only hope is to stand together and that means accepting our failures and triumphs both.

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 One Hundred Twenty Five

Time is moving slowly today. I feel adrift from its current, caught in some eddy, pulling me back. Time is all about perception, of course, as we all have become only too aware. We are not used to days without a firm schedule, of being forced to live entirely in the present moment with no thought given to the future. For the future is no longer there.

I have rarely been one of those people who worries about not doing enough with their time. Growing up on a farm in the Quarter, there was no sense of the rigidity of a schedule, of clocking in and clocking out, making the most of the hours of the day. There the days followed the rhythm of the seasons and the weather.

There is nothing I cherished more than a day with nothing to do, no one to see, no obligations or duties. I could set my mind to whatever I pleased or just sit about and let my mind wander where it would. With the arrival of the dread lord these days have now become more plentiful. Weekends that might once have been busy with activities are now empty, but it has become harder to just let go and relax. To imagine.

I now realize all that was a luxury, bequeathed to me by circumstance. In those days I could dream of the future, could assume that I would have one. How many are denied that chance, forced to live for the present and fight for every scrap they can get? We will be alright once the dread lord is thwarted, however long that takes, but so many in so many other places will not.

My love has tested negative for the presence of the grippe reborn. An expected result, but still a happy phone call to receive.

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 One Hundred Twenty Four

The sun is bright, the sky clear, hardly a breath of wind stirring, as I drive to the testing station. The traffic is steady, almost a typical midday in the city. I listen to the radio, where for once they are not talking about the dread lord’s presence in the Lost Quarter.

My love was feeling off for a few days and was tested yesterday. Today she feels fine, her symptoms vanished. Likely it was nothing, just one of those weeks that would pass without notice or mention in the time before the grippe reborn returned. Or maybe it was just the generalized dread we all feel on some level, even without being entirely aware of it, manifesting itself.

The testing centre is in the parking lot of a health centre. Men in fluorescent yellow and orange overalls, that must be stiflingly hot on the pavement in the sun, wave vehicles into queues. I go as directed, turn off my car and wait. The minutes tick by and I slowly move closer to the station, which is a large white tent connected to the health centre’s entrance.

The heat radiates off the pavement and concrete of the parking lot, making me drowsy as I wait. As I get closer to the tent I can hear a little girl crying out as they try to take a swab. “No, I don’t like it. I don’t like it. I want to go home.” Nurses move between the vehicles to the centre, wearing face shields, masks and gloves. The girl’s piteous cries continue until I am in the tent.

The test itself is over quickly. A q-tip shoved up my nostril and twisted. It feels as though it is scraping the top of my skull. There are tears in my eyes and my face is contorted into a grimace. The sensation at the top of my head, a probing ache, accompanies me home. In two days I will know.

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 One Hundred Twenty Three

The days are warm and sunny, the best of summer. Only a few cirrus clouds passing by above, long strands of disintegrating webs. People crowd the rivers with rafts, floating along, laughing and flirting. The paths, once crowded with those seeking an escape from lockdown are quieter now as lives return somewhat to normal. The roads are busy with traffic again, people with places to go and things to do.

We must stay inside though according to the quarantine protocols. My love has a sore throat and has been tested for the presence of the grippe reborn. Until we get the results we must seclude ourselves. I will be tested tomorrow. I doubt very much the dread lord is present, but we owe it to ourselves and everyone in the Quarter to cautious.

Oddly I feel little anguish as we await her results. There was much more torment before the test as we pondered whether the dread lord might be present. Now we will know, one way or another, and can proceed accordingly.

That is the hardest part of the quarantine protocols and the dread lord’s incursion. We are left in stasis, in a holding pattern, uncertain what tomorrow or the next day will bring. Life goes on in other ways: jobs are tenuous and we grow restless to do something, anything. But it is impossible to plan for any eventualities when we do not know whether this will be over next year, or linger on for several.

My feeling is that we will be able to begin erecting strong defences against the grippe reborn next year. There will be treatments that prove at least somewhat effective. But to build up these defences will take time – it is no easy task. As a result, the dread lord will still cast a shadow upon the Quarter for some time, and we will have to find a way to endure.