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 Four Hundred Fifty Five

We are truly in summer now, the days warm and the evenings pleasant. It has been as hot a June as I can recall with several days in the thirties. With the lifting of some of the quarantine restrictions, restaurants with their patios are now fully open and people are flocking to them. It is wonderful to see people gathering, smiling faces and laughter.

The retreat of the grippe reborn continues in these parts. Each day brings dwindling numbers, even with the relaxation of the protocols. It is proof, as if we needed more having seen what has happened elsewhere, that the inoculations work. I am due to receive my second before the end of the month. Hopefully my love will be able to as well. It seems most everyone who wants them should be able to have their doses by the end of July.

But therein lies the problem. Those seeking out their first doses have dwindled as well. We are stalled just below the seventy percent mark that the government has set for ending restrictions. They have grown desperate to encourage more people to take up the doses, launching a lottery and trying to reach out to those communities where the uptake has been slow. With the shrinking footprints of the dread lord many must feel that there is no rush, that the risk without is minimal. And for now that may be true, but in the fall as flu season returns the dread lord will as well, perhaps armed with new and seductive powers.

There is no convincing some people though. No matter how many millions receive their doses, with few showing any ill effects, no matter how much the dread lord is thwarted by those who have received it, there will still be those who claim the inoculations don’t work. They talk of it as being an experimental treatment, as if every treatment we receive from doctors, every drug from every pharmacy wasn’t based on experiments and trials. They dismiss the dread lord’s power and say there is no need to protect themselves against him, forgetting all those who do not have any defences.

It would be one thing if they simply declined to have their doses, but they feel the need to always loudly insist upon the righteousness of their refusal and to verbally assault those of us who make another choice. They demand a choice for themselves, which they have, but that isn’t enough for them. They loudly scream against anyone who feels differently and it is evident if they had their way none of us would receive an inoculation. They are the same loud, vain, fools who have spent the last year crying out against the quarantine protocols, preferring to pretend that the dread lord isn’t real. Life would be much easier if the things we can’t control were all illusions. What will happen when they are ended, I wonder, where will their anger take them?

As I write this my parents send word they at the inoculation site awaiting their second dose. Day by day there will be more. It really does feel as though we are approaching the end this time, though, of course, the war against the dread lord will never be won entirely.

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 Four Hundred Fifty

The rivers are swollen, lapping up on the banks, threatening to overflow as the current races by. My love and I were in the mountains several weeks ago and the higher reaches were still heavy with snow, the peaks gleaming white in the sun. The water was trickling down from everywhere, the long, slow release of winter’s grip. Our last night it rained for hours, what seemed a passing storm getting caught among the summits and settling in to empty its cargo. Overnight the rain turned to snow and we awoke to a white world. That is life in the mountains. Pack for four seasons when you go, as you will experience all of them, and certainly we did. 

My love and I went for a walk along one of the city’s rivers last weekend, a return to our habits of the previous year when we were still acclimatizing ourselves to life with the grippe reborn. All those new practices have become routine now. It is hard to recall a time when we didn’t have masks at the ready or to ask each other whether we felt comfortable sitting on this patio or entering this place that before we would have wandered into without a thought. An anxious existence, though that anxiety has faded to a dull ebb that exists mostly in the background, cropping up only every now and again to paralyze us.

There are two rivers that wander through the city, each distinct in character. One is narrow and winding with a lazy current, the other broader, but still shallow, always moving at a quick pace. This time of year, with the spring melt, they are transformed, unrecognizable, much of their banks underwater and their currents a loud torrent. If there is to be flooding now is the time when it will happen, June bringing both rain and melting snow in the western mountains, the source of both waterways.

The last year feels like we have spent all our days with a swollen current, eroding the banks we had established to keep it at bay. Before a little upsurge from dark and stormy days would hardly be noticed, but now, even the smallest shower can send the waters spilling over the banks, wearing them away. There was a great flood in this city nearly a decade ago now, the two rivers overflowing their banks everywhere, swallowing up whole streets and neighbourhoods, leaving devastation in its wake. We have spent the years since restoring all that was ruined and building new banks and berms to help stop that from happening again. It is a long, slow process. We will all have to do something of the same kind of work ourselves as our lives begin to return to what they were before the dread lord stalked these lands.

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 Four Hundred Forty Two

What a change two weeks has brought us. The tide that threatened to overwhelm us has at last begun to recede as the grippe reborn slowly loses his hold on these parts. The speed of the drop in those afflicted has been as startling as the rise and must surely be the result of the inoculation campaign which has picked up pace in the last weeks. It is heartening to see the effectiveness of the inoculations play out in real time.

Restrictions are now being lifted. Across the Dominions the story is the same. Numbers are falling precipitously and plans for a return to normalcy are being announced. In these parts the plans are aggressive, with an end to all quarantine restrictions called for by the end of June. We are, again, out of step with the rest of the Dominions, who are much more conservative in their proposed plans. It looks even more odd when one considers we were the last to see the tide of the dread lord begin to retreat.

Of course, given the events of the past month it is no surprise. The government is being torn apart by the debate over the necessity of the restrictions and the premier desperately needs some kind of win to save his leadership. A cautious approach would probably be better. Far better to be able to move up relaxation of the quarantine protocols than to move too quickly and be forced into retreat yet again. But that seems to be this government’s preferred mode of operation.

Despite all that, it feels as though a weight has begun to be lifted from our lives with the falling cases. I will still be cautious, regardless of whether the restrictions remain in place, at least until I have my second dose. How can one not remain cautious after all that has happened the last year? It is hard to allow myself to hope after all the times I have done so and it has been thwarted. Instead I shall wait and see what comes, giving in to neither hope nor despair.

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 Four Hundred Twenty Eight

I have been largely forgiving of our politicians during the struggle with the grippe reborn. They have been thrust into a situation they had not anticipated, and while one could blame them for that failure of imagination, it is abundantly clear that it is a failure shared across the world. We have known forever that the dread lord might rise again, have instituted plans and policies for just such an eventuality, and yet so many government’s, ours included, seemed to be utterly paralyzed at his appearance.

The various mistakes made in those early days, some from ignorance of the nature of the dread lord’s power, some from a bizarre inaction and almost an unwillingness to believe that this was happening, allowed him entrée into these parts and so many others. And here he has stayed, embedding himself deep in the fabric of things. All these early failures have meant that we have been unable to stamp out the dread lord’s forces in any meaningful way, which has meant our governments have found themselves vacillating between strict quarantine protocols and trying to allow some semblance of normal life.

Every government in the Dominions has made the same mistake at one point or another in the past year, thinking they had things under control, but in fact allowing the dread lord to march unopposed through the populace. Our leaders in these parts have the distinction of having twice allowed things to get so out of control that they nearly ran out of hospital beds and medical supplies. Once I suppose is explicable, but to allow the exact same thing to happen again a few months later, despite having seen the earlier consequences is unconscionable.

Yet it is not surprising, especially given the events of the past week. There is a significant minority, perhaps even a majority, of the governing party who claim there is no need for any quarantine protocols, who declare that the dread lord is of little concern. Many are representatives of rural ridings in these parts and they claim the dread lord is a scourge of cities only and that the rules are too onerous and unfair. It explains the great reluctance of the leadership of the party to enact stricter measures sooner when they might have saved more lives.

The tensions within the government caucus, which have been repeatedly publically stoked by recalcitrant representatives, exploded last week with one representative writing a letter demanding the resignation of the premier for his various failures. That such disputes should be taking place, while we all endure another round of restrictions and fear at the growing power of the dread lord, explains everything about the government’s response to the pandemic over these last months. For many, it is not their main focus. They have other priorities than defeating the dread lord, and we are living in the results of that. I can only hope that no one forgets by the time we come to vote again, for our leaders have amply demonstrated they are ill-suited to governing in any kind of emergency.

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 Four Hundred Twenty Two

My love has received her inoculation, truly a momentous day. In some ways I was happier for this moment than I was to receive my own. This to me signals the beginning of the end of this long battle with the grippe reborn. I know it will linger on into the coming years, but it will soon be a different sort of struggle and for that I am thankful. All of this took much longer than I had hoped for, and there is still so much work to be done, not only in these parts but across the world, yet I feel a weight has been lifted from me. A burden that we had to carry will soon be gone.

In the evening we went out and sat in park with a couple of friends, having drinks and enjoying the sunshine. It was the first time we have done something like that in a month or two and it felt like a new beginning.

I look forward in the weeks to come, as the tide that the dread lord has brought forth is slowly rolled back, to going out again and seeing more of friends, having a beer on a patio, and all the rest of those things we have been denying ourselves. Maybe later this year we can travel and see something of the greater Dominions. At the very least we can allow ourselves some measure of hope 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 Four Hundred Twenty One

Restless and unable to sleep these last nights. It is like I have forgotten how to drift off and I spend the darkened hours in bed trying and failing to do what should come without a thought. I almost dread sleep now; it holds no promise of rejuvenation, just anguish. Here, after more than a year with the dread lord grippe, it feels as though I am becoming untethered, just as the end of our struggles comes into sight. I have received my inoculation, and my love will receive hers soon as well. Yet I can find none of the peace I thought this moment would bring.

In part it is the inoculation I received, which has vanishingly rare but potentially deadly side effects. I knew about these beforehand, but was unconcerned. With the dread lord only gaining in power in these parts, there was clearly much more risk to me from him than from whatever might befall me from the inoculation. And there was not just me to think about. There is my love, who would undoubtedly be infected if I were to be, and any others who life chanced to send my way. The choice was clear.

My reaction to the dose was so powerful that I began to doubt that logic, even as I knew it to still be correct. The news in these parts did little to provide confidence. There were cases of the rare side effect (but of course there would be when millions of doses were given) and experts who advised against using the inoculation and experts who disagreed with them. It was exhausting in all the ways this past year has been exhausting. A cacophony of noise which you wish you could ignore but somehow cannot, a blanket of fog that leaves you turning this way and that wondering what direction to go.

I have turned away from the news and all the various mediums that extract so much time from our lives. Over the last year I have consumed it all voraciously, reading story after story about the dread lord, checking updates of numbers of those afflicted by his powers, and now updates of those who have been inoculated against him. It felt important to bear witness to our collective struggle; it was the least I could do so far from the front lines of that battle. And it was a comfort too, knowing others were enduring as we were enduring.

But it is a comfort no longer. This morning I went for a bike ride, following one river to where it met another, a great confluence at the centre of the city. I looked out upon that ancient meeting place where Those Who Went Away and many others gathered over the centuries, the water glimmering under the rising sun, the light as only it can be in these parts. I felt a sense of peace knowing that I was standing where so many others had looked out upon these same waters under this same light. Today, I said to myself, is going to be a good 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 Four Hundred Twenty

I dreamed while still awake, or perhaps I drifted off for a few minutes, though I do not think so. Sleep has been precious these last days, hard to come by. In the dream I had returned to the central parts of the Quarter. There were the rolling hills, the vast blue sky and the endless horizon that I know so well. The prairie extended in every direction I looked. There were no roads, no homesteads, no markers. I walked for what seemed like hours but encountered nothing and no one. The birds and insects flitting about, and the wind that carried them, provided the only sounds I heard.

It seemed I was seeing the Quarter as it once was, or perhaps as it will be again someday. I walked until I came to a small valley where some chokecherry trees grew, their branches heavy with unripe berries. There was a spring there, hidden amongst the bushes and I cupped a few handfuls of water to my lips. It was cool, a revelation. I sat in the shade of the trees for a time.

When I emerged from the valley the light in the sky had changed. It was a faded kind of blue as if something had been drained from it. There was something on the horizon, massive and dark. Metallic. It was hard to tell whether it was moving on the ground or in the air it so filled up that part of the sky. All I could be certain of was that it was approaching, growing larger and larger.

I blinked and it was gone and though I stared at the horizon trying to find some trace of its presence I found myself alone again. The birds had gone quiet, only the grasshoppers whirred on oblivious. The wind shifted direction and began to blow. 

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 Four Hundred Thirteen

May and the days gradually grow warmer. It has been a dry spring, aside from a few days of snow flurries, and the air is thick with pollen and dust. My throat is raw and my nose stuffed. I would fear that the dread lord has visited me except this happens every year. Still I linger inside, my own personal quarantine, as others race to enjoy the weather we have all been waiting for all winter, while I long for some rain to clear out the dust and pollen.

The news only grows worse in our battle against the grippe reborn. After spending much of the last year far from any main engagements we now find the Quarter on the front lines of the battle. More and more fall each day at a terrifying rate. To this point our hospitals have managed to care for all the afflicted and the loss of life has been minimal, no doubt thanks to the inoculation campaign that is slowly picking up pace. But for how long can we hold the line when the numbers continue to grow?

There were those, and our government leaders seemed to be among them, who felt the dread lord would go into a kind of hibernation as spring came. He did last year after all. That and the inoculation campaign would hold him at bay. Further restrictions were thus unnecessary. But just as we have learned so much about the nature of his powers, so he has learned how to evade our controls. And so we are faced with a tsunami our leaders could not conceive of and which they have no answers for. Worse they have spent the past months downplaying the effectiveness of quarantine restrictions and then imposing new ones despite that in a kind of tortured dance. People in the Quarter no longer know what to do and have stopped paying attention, deciding to just proceed as though the grippe reborn has been vanquished.

I have been saying for weeks now that better days are ahead and I still believe that. Having just received my inoculation, how can I doubt it? But it gets harder and harder each day to find hope in this. We see other places where the dread lord has been beaten back, whether by inoculation or quarantine protocols, and wonder bitterly why that can’t be us. It could have been, we think, but we have been led astray by those who lead us, who seem to have shrunk in the face of this moment. Finding the strength to endure another month, maybe more, of this seems almost impossible. I do not feel despair or anguish, just a cold fury that, a year into our battle with the dread lord, those who rule us could have failed so badly. Last night they announced strict new protocols to stem the tide, the only choice now that things have gotten beyond their control. And so we will spend this May as we did last May leading shadowed half-lives, wondering again when all this might end.

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 Four Hundred and Seven

A strange few days. I received my first inoculation dose against the grippe reborn. For something I had spent months and weeks anticipating and desperately hoping for the moment to arrive it was anticlimactic. I did not feel relief or exultation or any of the emotions I expected. Instead I felt a kind of satisfaction at a job done, along with the knowledge that more work remains.

The whole experience was one of calm efficiency. I went to the vaccination centre, which was in the downtown, joining a line that snaked through a large portion of the convention building. The line moved quickly, barely pausing, everyone shuffling along eagerly. We were offered new masks to put on by cheery support staff and then ushered into the hall where the vaccination stations were set up. The nurse who gave me mine was talking as she did it, so I didn’t even realize the moment was upon me until the needle was already in my shoulder. I wandered off to wait my twenty minutes in a sort of daze.

Even as I left to a bright and sunny day I still didn’t quite know what I was feeling. My emotions felt distant, not even my own. I was almost lightheaded. When I stopped to get a coffee as a treat to celebrate I forgot to message my love to ask if she wanted anything and had to go back. The barista noticed the vaccination papers I had folded in my hands and congratulated me, offering a fifty percent discount. I said something, I don’t even know what, and went on my way.

When I returned home the day went on as before. It didn’t seem as though it had even happened. What had changed? I found out that night when the side effects arrived. That evening and the next day were an ordeal. I have never felt so exhausted. My joints and muscles ached. I could barely open my eyes let alone get out of bed. In an odd way that was comforting. The inoculation was doing its work, taking a piece of the dread lord’s poisonous magic, so that our bodies might become familiar with it. In other ages it was said wizards would give themselves small doses of poison so that their bodies would learn to manage a larger dose of the venom.

The effects of the inoculation lingered into the next day, only gradually fading. Even now I am still somewhat tired, my body exhausted from its ordeals. Now I begin counting the days until the inoculation takes full effect. And until my love and everyone else in these parts and the rest of the world can get theirs. How long?

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 Four Hundred

Every entry in this diary for the last few months has felt the same. It feels as though I am treading along the same well worn path, wearing away the grass until it won’t come back. The dread lord’s power is increasing and we await inoculations, while our government’s failures become more and more apparent. What else is there to say, four hundred days into life in the Quarter with the grippe reborn?

I have become tired and irritable with everything, especially my own thoughts. There is an itch of impatience with every minor task or disruption as I long for this struggle to be over. Four hundred days and it seems as though we’ve returned to the beginning in so many senses. The grippe reborn is here, beyond our control and nothing we have done seems to change that. It is tempting to surrender to it’s inevitability, to return to some semblance of normalcy and if we join the dread lord’s ranks so be it.

But that is an easily dismissed temptation when logic tells us our salvation is nearly here. No one wants to be the fallen soldier on the last day of the war. On that front there is some good news. I have my first inoculation scheduled for next week. I still fret about it though, worried that the supply will be used up by the time I get there and this piece of hope will vanish along with so much else in these past four hundred days. Until it is in my arm I can’t quite allow myself to believe it will happen.

Even then it is only half the battle, or only a quarter. I will still have a second inoculation to come and, more importantly, my love will still be waiting for both of hers. There will be some measure of relief that in a few weeks time I will be less likely to infect her, which has been my greatest fear about the grippe reborn since this all began, that both of us would end up falling into his clutches. By that time hopefully she will have her dose as well and we can start down a new road, trying to put all this behind us.