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 Three Hundred Sixteen
I returned to my office for the first time since last March when it became clear the grippe reborn had arrived in these parts and was beyond our control. The weeks leading up to that moment had made what occurred seem an inevitability. It was only a matter of when we too would be forced to adopt quarantine protocols. We speculated on the matter constantly in those days – it was hard to focus and get any work done when the whole world seemed to be sliding off its axis.
I recall that one of my coworkers was in the process of moving to Europe with his family. They had to move up their plans by weeks to ensure they could get out of the Greater Dominion and into Europe before everything was shut down and ended up leaving on one of the last flights out as if they were fleeing a war zone. The quarantine protocols had already been enacted here – I was spending my first week working from home – and we never got a chance to say our goodbyes. They were simply gone.
Returning to the office brought back those memories. I was there because I had been drawn for a gift for participating in a charity drive in November. Before I picked it up I went to my office to grab the few things I had left behind in my hurried packing last March. Shoes, a baseball cap I kept there in case I went for a walk in the summer sun at lunch. The rest – notebooks and pens, a mug and a French press, a water bottle – I left for whenever it is I return.
Everything was more or less as I remember it being. It felt as though I could sit down and start my work as I always did. It was as though the place had been frozen, out of step with time and all that had happened, a well-preserved insect in amber. I found it strange and eerie walking these familiar hallways, my senses heightened, noticing everything. They were largely empty, as they never were when I was at work before, and there were signs warning about the dread lord everywhere.
As I was gathering my things in my office I heard the card reader beep, announcing that someone else was entering our area. The door opened and someone started down the corridor. I was bent over with my back to the door and by the time I looked up the person was already past the doorway, so I only caught a glimpse of their form. A ghostly blur. By the time I made it to the doorway they had turned down the next corridor and were gone.