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.

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 Three Hundred Ninety Eight

The last few weeks have been exhausting. My correspondences have been overwhelming. Planning and meetings, meetings and planning, all seemingly without end. There has hardly been a moment to think of anything else, and when I do glance away from my work I find the news all grim. It has been dispiriting, the days all drudgery and no hope to be found on the horizon.

What a change from the beginning of March when the grippe reborn seemed in retreat and the inoculations were at hand. It seemed only a matter of time until the dread lord was driven from these regions, his dark desires thwarted. But that was a false springs, as so many springs are in these parts, when a few glorious warm days are abruptly ended by the arrival of more snow.

The dread lord has turned the tide, marshalling all his forces and marching across the Quarter. Wherever he goes he brings more and more unfortunates to his side. His numbers are as great as they were in December when the strictest of the quarantine protocols were put in place. It seems only a matter of time before we must do something similar again, though our leaders are loathe to do so. The lesser ones that were restored several weeks ago have seemingly had little impact and the inoculations are not arriving fast enough.

It is hard not to be grim in the face of all this, to surrender to gloom, to gnash our teeth and wail in despair. How, after a year, and all that we have sacrificed, can this be happening again? Have our leaders learned nothing? It seems not. They will have much to answer for when all this is at an end. For much of the last year we prided ourselves, not without some gloating too, on the Dominion’s response to the dread lord. We looked to south and saw the ravages he left in those United States and felt relief. Well now things are improving there, with a few exceptions, and they are inoculating at a fantastic pace, beating back the dread lord’s forces, while we take our meagre supplies and try to plug the holes in the dike as they appear.

But the inoculations are still coming. Every day more and more. Many of my friends and family have received it and I know it is just a matter of time now for the rest of us. As terrible as our situation seems now, it is within our power to end it and we will. It is a matter of weeks, not months or years, even though every day often feels like an eternity. I will keep reminding myself that soon we will have the upper hand and as hard as the next few weeks will be, there is a light at the end of that misery.

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 Three Hundred Ninety Three

A town surrounded by mountains, their peaks white with gleaming snow in the sunshine. Everything in the town feels small by comparison. It is being swallowed by a gaping mouth with jagged white fangs that will forever be hungry and open. There is a strange claustrophobia about the place as a result, a feeling that there is no escaping this place.

Normally the streets are busy, crowded with visitors, but today it is empty. There are few cars on the road, no one walking about to the various shops. The dread lord still stalks these parts and people are staying away. Oddly that only accentuates the sensation of being trapped. People provide a distraction from that feeling, but there is no avoiding it now. The shopkeepers minding their stores, all open and empty, feel it acutely. They ramble on at anyone who ventures near, desperate to keep a conversation going, to not let the quiet back in.

It is locals only on the patios at the bars, the tables spread out across the courtyards, those who have lost their jobs with the latest quarantine protocols commiserating with those who have them. But for how long? Everyone knows everyone and yet they keep their distance, friendly but unavailable. Someone talks about leaving, about an opportunity in another town further west across the mountain range. No one else seems interested. There is no leaving this place.

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 Three Hundred Eighty Five

These past weeks walking about on the streets there has been a jarring sense of normality to many of the scenes. Restaurants and bars have been crowded and people have been gathering despite the quarantine protocols remaining in place. There has been a sense, nearly everywhere you look, that people are just done with the restrictions, with our shadowed, rule bound, existence, despite the fact that the grippe reborn remains as dangerous as ever.

With the rise in truancy from the rules there has been a rise in cases, with the result that we have returned to the place we were back in November. Our hospitals are not yet overwhelmed, but the numbers are rising. The only solace is that with the inoculations tricking out we have protected those most vulnerable to the dread lords depredations and so this wave of destruction has not resulted in as much death as the previous ones. But with so many falling to the dread lord’s touch there shall inevitably be more death.

In the fall, during the previous rising tide, there was a growing sense of dread and a knowledge that something would have to be done. When stricter protocols were put in place most people followed them. The moment seemed to demand them. Now is different though. Our salvation is at hand, but it is not here. The inoculations are coming, but at what seems a trickling pace. Elsewhere we hear stories of incredible numbers being dosed and we look at our meagre few and wonder why we have been left behind. It was fine to be patient and wait when numbers were dwindling, to imagine the summer to come, but when numbers are rising there is a renewed urgency.

People are desperate. They are tired of just hanging on, of all the rules and restrictions, necessary as they may be. Everyone is so tired of everything. We are all reduced to squalling children unable to articulate why we are angry. We are only looking for a target to direct that anger, be it the government, those who support the greater protocols, those who ignore them, those who have been inoculated and those who will refuse to be.

Today word came that the government is restoring some of the restrictions. There will be those who say it is not enough and those who say it is too much. They will shout at each other while the rest of us settle down to waiting some more. 385 days and counting with the grippe reborn. It seems impossible that it has been that long and yet it also seems as if it must have been so much longer.

Even as I write this, I receive word that my parents have their first doses. A glimmer of sunshine on a gloomy day. Two weeks and they will be able to go about their lives with some measure of security. I long for that day and I will choose to hope it will be soon.

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 Three Hundred Seventy Seven

If I was capable of jinxes, hexes and spells I might believe I was responsible for the turn in weather that came after I wrote last week’s diary. But I am not, despite what I might claim otherwise, so I must grudgingly admit it was happenstance, though it felt inevitable. But there are precious few things in life that actually are, much as we might want them to be. The fates do not sit in their caves weaving our futures, they are just darning socks to ward off the winter’s cold, which does come most every year in these parts. But not always.

Several days last week we awoke to snow on the ground, a storm having blustered through in the evening. By afternoon the snow, which had been barely enough to cover the ground, vanished as the temperature rose past freezing. A typical late spring. Following that came two of the warmest days of the year, sunny and glorious. Then all hell broke loose.

The wind picked up in the afternoon, blowing fiercely, though it was still warm and sunny out. Buildings shook and detritus flew everywhere. South of here, with the ground bare and dry, a grass fire broke out, racing with the wind across the countryside. The firefighters fought frantically to stall its eastward spread, knowing that by nightfall the storm the wind was carrying would arrive and quench any flames.

The wind didn’t cease – it is still howling and twisting out there now – and as darkness arrived it finally brought snow with it. A whirling squall rendered everything white, the snow and wind combining to make an impenetrable wall. Only a little snow fell here, though in other parts highways were impassable in the heavy drifts. The frantic wind carried the storm by too quickly, leaving a reminder of winter.

The sun is out now, the clouds have gone, taken by the wind too. It remains, as it always does in these parts, angry and fierce now, though that fury is slowly subsiding. Soon it will just be a breeze, calm and light, having forgotten what stirred its ire.

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 Three Hundred Seventy:

The glorious weather continues, so different than last year when winter seemed to cling on for dear life until the end of April. There has been no snow, not even rain, just sunny day after sunny day. I can already hear the farmers and ranchers muttering in the distance about how dry it is, how poor the grass and crops will be as a result. A true sign of spring – there is never enough moisture, except when there is too much. We had a bit of snow the other night, just enough to cover the ground, and some of it still lingers in shaded spots.

Blizzards in late spring are not uncommon in these parts, though always unexpected in the moment. I can recall my first year away from the Quarter, when in mid March a storm blew in over the mountains. Overnight the bare ground was covered in piles of snow, forty centimetres worth. There were drifts that came up to the waist. The whole city shut down the next day, hardly a car to be seen on the road. My friends and I walked down the middle of those empty streets to see a movie at a nearby mall in an empty theatre. Every year since a part of me waits for a storm like that to come in March. Some years it seems only a matter of time.

This weekend my love and I took advantage of the weather and went for a long walk by the river, our first of the year. We bought food from a café and had a picnic on an island in the river. The pathways were crowded with people out enjoying the day and we enjoyed watching them come and go as we ate. This idyllic scene was marred by the appearance of a crowd protesting the quarantine protocols, several hundred strong. They marched along the pathway, blocking access to a bridge and yelling at anyone who disagreed with them.

These protesters have been gathering every weekend since the mask requirements were added to the quarantine protocols, decrying it as some sort of assault on their freedom. Their numbers have ebbed and flowed through the last year, but on this day they seemed ominously large. The leaders of the marches are familiar figures in this city, known for their involvement in hate organizations, and it seems they have seized this moment as a means to reach out to those disaffected and angry at our long lost year of the grippe reborn. They have no answers, unless crying out for freedom and muttering darkly about lost ways of life are answers.

It was unsettling to see them in such force though, especially given the news of late. There have been a seemingly endless number of incidents in the last month, across the greater dominions and south in the United State, of attacks against those of Asian descent.  Given the dread lord returned to power in Asia this is perhaps not unexpected, but why such hate is exploding a year on from his appearance is unclear. But it has and the incidents seem only to be building on each other. The day following the rally a woman wearing a hijab was attacked not far from where we picnicked and those participating in the rallies seem only to get louder and louder in their assertions.

Even with the end of the dread lord’s power in sight – so tantalizingly near – these incidents remind us that the fractures he has managed to widen in our societies will remain for a long while yet. The repercussions of all that will be with us even longer.

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 Three Hundred Sixty Five

One year with the grippe reborn. I began this journal some days after the quarantine protocols were enacted in the Quarter, some weeks after it had become evident that the dread lord would reach these parts very soon. It seemed necessary at the time, a way to keep the shore in sight on a suddenly tempestuous sea where the axis of the world was shifting and my very sense of reality was being tossed about. There was nothing to hold onto in those early days and so I reached for the first piece of driftwood that seemed solid.

So much has happened in the last year and yet nothing has changed, at least not in my day to day existence. My love and I continue to observe the current protocols, living half an existence, every day feeling more or less the same. It is like we are now shadows of what we once were, the echoes of other lives. When this began I feared the kinds of disruptions to life and society that you see in books and movies about pandemics, plagues and pestilences. The disruption that we ended up facing was in many ways no less momentous than those, but instead of drama and terror, we got boredom, fatigue and endless dread.

It is in our animal nature that we fear the moment of crisis when we are called to action, but in many ways that is what our bodies and minds are actually prepared for, millennia of evolution doing its work. What we were not in any way equipped to deal with was the steady drip of stress and unease that never overwhelmed but also never left. It is exhausting, body and soul.

 Through it all I have written, sometimes daily, sometimes weekly. Yet after a year the thought of looking over any of it again fills me with its own kind of revulsion. It is easy enough to understand why Shakespeare and all the rest who lived through plagues and quarantines wrote about them only incidentally. Who would want to relive this having gone through it? Who would want to read someone else’s impressions of it when it is finally over? There is a certain camaraderie now in sharing and reading such thoughts as we try to endure what is hopefully the last months of this terrible ordeal. But once it is over and we are well and truly past it, no one will want to revisit that boredom and dread. We will want to step back from the shadows and take up the remains of our past 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 Three Hundred Sixty Three

There have been many remembrances in these last weeks as people recall the moment when the grippe reborn arrived and everything changed. Though the dread lord arrived in these parts in late February, perhaps even earlier, and the first reports of his presence were in early March, this was the week when it felt like everything changed. There were hastily announced quarantine strictures as governments frantically tried to stop a tide that had already washed over us all.

It was not unexpected. From the end of January the dread lord’s march had felt inevitable. My love and I had cancelled our travels, anticipating just such a march. That he would reach the Quarter was only a matter of time, yet it still seemed as though it would be a long while until he made his way to these parts. For a while that was true. The outbreaks in Japan and Korea were unsurprising given their proximity to China. Though it seems ludicrous now, I honestly believed that grippe reborn would spread slowly out from these places to nearby locales, reaching other major centres where there was significant amounts of travel.

But the dread lord was much more powerful. By the time those first outbreaks were noticed, others were already being seeded. Italy. Iran. New York. As March came the news grew worse and worse. And then came this week when it suddenly became clear to everyone that the grippe reborn was everywhere. He had crossed all borders before anyone had noticed and was present. No one would be able to escape his wrath.

That shift, from thinking we would have to plan for this inevitable, but sometime in the future, arrival to the realization that the call was coming from inside the house was completely disorienting. Even then I tried to reason my way back to some sort of stability, an utterly futile exercise. This will only be a few months, I told myself, and then things will be under control. But it quickly became painfully evident that was not to be.

The suddenness of the shift was symbolized for me by a sign advertising a St. Patrick’s Day party that a local bar had put up. The party never happened, of course, but for weeks afterwards as my love and I went past the bar on our walks the sign was still there. A reminder of a world that might have been if not for the dread lord. The sign stayed up even into the summer when other establishments opened up. The bar never did though. It remains shuttered, it’s windows darkened.