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 Ninety Two

He walks with an arrogant swagger, hips loose and head jutting out in challenge of anyone who walks near. A sneer twists his lips, his hands clenched and swaying widely, announcing his intentions.

Comes another man down the street, younger and slouching, wheeling a bicycle, his clothes loose fitting and layered. His whole life is on his person. A meek expression, eyes downcast. He doesn’t see the other until it is too late.

A terrible dance ensues. They circle one another. The arrogant elder, grey stubble on his face, his eyes dark and furious, lunging and muttering as he stalks around the other. It seems he is waiting for an opening. The younger keeps pace with him, not quite looking up, hand still on the bicycle, though he makes no attempt to get on.

He is looking for an escape and when he thinks he spies it he goes, dropping the bike and darting down the street. But there is no escape, the elder man pounces, pressing back against a building, leaving him nowhere to go. He clenches his hands around his throat, the younger offering no resistance, eyes downcast, expressionless.

“Give me the money. Give me the fucking money,” the elder mutters in a low, dangerous voice.

The younger doesn’t say anything in return, his gaze fixed in the distance, surrendering to whatever his fate may be. “Give me the money.” The repeated refrain.

Finally the elder releases his quarry, stepping back with a glare of warning, before moving on, unsated. His hungry eyes scan the horizon like a hawk afloat in the air.

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 Ninety One

My love has received word that many of her coworkers no longer have jobs. (Let Go. Terminated. Laid Off. Made redundant. Downsized. Fired. How many euphemisms we have, all straining to put a kindly face on a miserable act.) They join the millions of others across the Dominions who have suffered the same fate. Until now her work had escaped such grim decisions, though it seemed inevitable given the stagnation resulting from the world’s quarantine laws.

It is devastating news to receive, even if not entirely unexpected, for of course there were people she knew among those who lost their jobs. Mentors and friends. And, as always in these situations, there is not less work to do, just fewer people to share the burden of doing it. So, in addition to mourning those who have lost so much, she must also take on new duties, all while worrying about what is to come. For if things do not improve, which they may not for so long as the dread lord retains his full powers, then there may be further cuts to come.

After such a sorrowful day, during which we had to toil at our desks, we went for a walk together in the sunshine. We began in solemn silence, before talking of our fears for both our jobs and what we will do if we lose them. We talked of changing careers, starting our own businesses, or even moving to other parts of the Greater Dominion since opportunities are meager here for the foreseeable future. Of course, who knows if they will be any better elsewhere after the grippe reborn has been vanquished.  

Hard choices await so many of us, but it is near impossible to plan for them with so much uncertainty in our lives.

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 Ninety

Last night, as we were getting ready for supper, a tremendous storm erupted. The sky was filled with dark, foreboding clouds and flashes of lightning that rippled across the darkness. One could not help but ponder what the storm portended. The thunder was distant, which made me think the worst would pass us. Instead, a deluge arrived, a torrential downpour that lasted for over an hour. The streets were filled with water that had nowhere to go.

Only after the storm had passed did word reach us that the worst had indeed missed us. Hail the size of tennis balls and grapefruits had fallen elsewhere. Windows were shattered and siding ripped off of houses. Roads were inundated with lakes that formed out of nowhere, sweeping cars away. Their drivers left them in the middle of the road, after being rescued, and they are still there this morning, abandoned, as though an army had beaten a hasty retreat against a violent onslaught.

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 Eighty Nine

Every headache, every cough and sniffle, every twinge in the throat is now suspect. Is it just allergies? Thirst? A lack of sleep and nerves? Or is it something more? Has the dread lord come to stalk us?

These are the questions that come at the hint of any symptom. I felt a scratching something in my chest earlier in the week and worried at it for a time, but it passed as soon as I got busy with something else. It returned for several days whenever the thought came to me, disappearing just as quickly when my mind moved on to other matters.

I felt tired for much of the week too, just washed out. Was it only that I was exhausted from poor sleep and the worries of my correspondences and the general conditions of existence, or am I feeling the first cold touch of the grippe reborn?

I think back over these last months – near four now – and can think of any number of days when I felt similarly. A bit of a sore throat. Maybe a fever. An inexplicable exhaustion. They all passed and were forgotten. And I also think back to months before the dread lord’s arrival on these shores. How many days did I awaken and not feel quite right, but gave it no further thought whatsoever because it wasn’t worthy of note. There are days that one just feels like crap and it isn’t a sign of anything except that.

But now any minor deviation from regular health feels like a portent doom. My mind refuses to ignore it and worries at it, returning again and again to wondering if this is something more than it seems. That is where I feel the mental burden of the dread lord’s invasion most fully: the constant awareness, the vigilance and the anxiety that never quite fades away. It is always there, waiting to bloom, even if I am unaware of it, especially if I try not to acknowledge its presence. It eats away at you slowly, day by day by day.

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 Eighty Eight

A sunny, hot day, the first truly hot one of the year. In the morning I transplanted tomatoes, peppers and herbs under the glare of the sun. I was soon sweating, though the work wasn’t hard at all. Everything in the garden is growing by leaps and bounds now that the weather is warm, the nights not getting particularly cool. I can see the difference day by day, which is satisfying indeed. Soon there will be spinach and chard to eat.

In the afternoon my love and I went out to sit upon a patio for beers and lunch, the first time we have ventured out since the relaxation of the protocols began. It felt almost normal, despite the servers wearing masks and the fact customers were scattered and spread across the patio. I had not realized just how much I missed sitting out, eating and drinking, and watching people as they go by.

Later I felt mournful, for how long will it be until we can just go out and sit upon a patio and enjoy some beer on the spur of the moment, giving no consideration to the risks from the dread lord and all that entails. A good long while I fear, that is why today was such a joy.

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 Eighty Seven

There are days that feel pointless, way stations on the path to more momentous ones. Those days will matter, those days you will remember forever, and their effects will echo through everything you do. The rest of your days will be forgotten, sometimes even as they happen.

Of course, we can never know which days in particular will be the ones that stay with us. Certainly some are more eventful, but for the most part they are just one after another, without ceasing, until they do. The meaning is only there if we imbue it, for most of what we do seems utterly pointless even when it is necessary. We long for grand deeds and happenings of import, but if we are lucky they are mostly distant, leaving us untouched to go on our way. Those cursed to live in interesting times will be made to suffer.

Today has been busy with correspondences, so that I have barely had time to think or write. Now I look out at a hazy, cloud-filled sky, the sun breaking through here and there. Just another day.

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 Eighty Six

The local authorities have lifted further restrictions on the quarantine law. Unlike before, when there was much trepidation about what would happen, there seems to be excitement and a measure of satisfaction. We cannot help but be pleased that the first relaxation of the quarantine went so well that we are able to move onto the next stage, and there is excitement that maybe the worst is somehow past us and we can return to something like our lives before the dread lord arrived.

Even I can feel the difference. We changed little of our new habits with the first lifting of restrictions, but now we are considering venturing out further into the world. Perhaps visiting a restaurant or a salon. It seems that the protocols put in place have worked and that is good, for it was unlikely we could maintain the restrictions for as long as the grippe reborn shall stalk us.

That is what tempers the hope of this day, the knowledge that the dread lord has not been thwarted and will remain present in the shadows of our lives for the foreseeable future. There is much talk of the walls and defences that are being designed and tested, that these will soon be able to withstand the grippe reborn’s attacks. But it is just talk and despite our greatest efforts so much remains to be done. It will be a long time before they are ready and able to hold the dread lord at bay, longer still before his power wanes.

In the meantime we must find a way through these strange days.

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 Eighty Five

I have found you. The words echo, carried by the winds. They always blow here, sometimes delicate, almost a caress, but now they are fearsome, bending the trees and all else to their will.

There are hills in the Lost Quarter, not far from the Glover’s Lake, that are the most windswept part of this windswept place. They are eruptions of earth, very different from the gentle rolling hills that cover most of these plains. The grass that covers them is sparse and brambly, and their tops are bare in places. The winds have worn everything away so that there are only sandy dunes at their peaks, filling the air with grit whenever they blow.

The hills – there are four or five of them – are grouped very close together, almost in a circle, as though they are guarding something. The land within is hummocked and difficult to traverse. Near the centre is a slough with murky water, surrounded by a tangle of reeds and tall, thick grass, and hummocks so deep that you have to leap from one to the other to get near. The sun doesn’t glisten on it as it does on the Glover’s Lake leaving the water dull and a strange colour of blue, like a painting of the sea. But there is no ocean anywhere near in the Lost Quarter.

Though the hills stand close together, the wind still howls insistently through the hollow. The water is choppy at the slough’s centre, though the waves don’t appear to reach the shore. It seems a trick of some sort, that if you watch long enough one of the waves must break through and touch the land, but they never do.

If you stand still in the hummocks staring out at the slough, back braced against the wind, you can hear it.  The ghostly words, first a whisper, then a scream. I have found you.

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 Eighty Four

It has been my habit, since my love has returned to work, to accompany her on her walk to the tower and then to return home to begin my own correspondences. It is a source of comfort to me for two reasons.

One, I get to enjoy her company in the morning before we both tend to our work. It is that companionship which we both have enjoyed so much during the quarantine and our isolation at home. That she is now going to her tower at least some of the time means the end of that time is at least on the horizon, and that we must seize whatever opportunities we can while they are still available. For soon enough I will be back at the academy and our mornings will be spent in a hurried rush in different directions.

The second reason is the walk home alone. It is a time for me to think of the day ahead, of things both important and not, or of nothing at all. I can observe the city rising from its slumber, people making their first tentative steps out upon the street. By the time I return home I am ready to begin my day.

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 Eighty Three

A family gathering under the quarantine laws is an admittedly strange affair. Just by doing so we all realize we are not following the protocols to their exact letter, at least in the Lost Quarter. But every jurisdiction has rules that are slightly different and it is hard to keep straight just what is allowed and what isn’t. One is permitted to go into a restaurant, but not to see one’s family at each other’s homes? How strange to feel like a law breaker when all we are doing is seeing our siblings and parents.

We were guarded and uncertain when we first came together, hesitant to do anything that might cause alarm. A cough is no longer just a cough after all. But after a time we all were able to relax and enjoy the evening. A necessary one I think, for one can only bear so much time apart from friends and family before one begins to feel the lack of it desperately. There is risk in doing this, but there is risk in secluding ourselves as well. We need our strength to be able to endure the long months ahead, and that comes from each other. The dread lord is not defeated, and we cannot be alone forever.