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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Year Of The Bat

I’m watching The Last Man On Earth starring Vincent Price about the sole survivor of a virus that wipes out the entire planet. He lives alone in a boarded-up house and goes through his daily routine of buying supplies, eating alone and setting up fresh cloves of garlic to fend off gangs of zombies outside. In one scene he loses his composure, fed up with the futile redundancy of it all and screams, breaking things out of frustration. “That’s how I felt today”, I whispered to myself.

When I first heard of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the news bulletin was accompanied by a photograph of a Chinese woman eating a full-bodied vampire bat, wings and all, in a ramen bowl. At first people waved it off as just another exotic disease, yet it spread like wildfire.

My job has been deemed “essential” by my company, a global intelligence organization, so I have been mandated to report to the office every day. I’ve also been mandated to wear a mask while walking down the hallway, however upper management doesn’t share this concern and continue to walk around without masks.

The building is like a ghost town. Many of my co-workers were granted Work From Home privileges but I have not. In order to cut costs the coffee makers, vending machines, refrigerators and microwaves have been turned off.

Driving home from work has been a bizarre experience: people jogging down the street, unmasked and reeking of sweat – body fluids is the chief conductor of the pandemic. Others are happily bicycling down the road.

One night at the market I saw a girl with her dog on a leash in the produce section. The dog tugged on the leash towards a stand of apples and licked the produce.

The first two weeks of the pandemic were the worst. It began at the onset of spring and my sinuses went berserk from hay fever, limiting my ability to breathe properly and making me wonder if COVID-19 was on the attack. This results in many nights of staying up with paranoid anxiety attacks, finally passing out eventually at 2 AM from sheer stress.

It’s my mother’s birthday so I visited her grave at the cemetery. The cemetery is high atop a hill by Warner Brothers Studios on Forest Lawn Drive. The sky is uncommonly blue, bright blue in fact, due to the decrease in cars racing around and polluting the atmosphere. In fact, I don’t think I can remember the sky ever looking so deep blue like this before. It’s lovely.

Everyone’s on the internet with their theories and amateur remedies about the pandemic, some of which contradict each other, establishing endless waves of confusion. I decide to stop reading what these experts have to say. It only creates more stress.

The only remark on the internet I agree with is when someone said CORONAVIRUS is an anagram for CARNIVOROUS. Exactly. Maybe if people stopped eating so much meat this shitstorm wouldn't be happening.

I’m at the Laundromat and have stationed myself in a far corner towards the back, away from everyone else. Nobody cares about the pandemic; the manager walks around sweating through his tee, no gloves or mask worn. All the more reason I’m glad I have them on, however people keep hovering around me and my area in spite of the fact that their wash is on the other side of the room. What gives?

Wipe everything down, wipe everything down with disinfectant. Do it again. And again. Wash your hands. Count to twenty. Slowly. Repeat. Repeat again. Don’t touch your face. I touch my face, anyway. I simply wash my fucking face. Slowly.

I have decided to order my groceries online because people at the market are manically shopping, jumping in front of you to beat you at grabbing something in spite of the fact that there are fifty more blocks of cheese on the shelf, etc. Shopping has become this frenetic experience, even though there’s more than ample supply of everything, except toilet paper.

The network news shows the virus dead in body bags getting loaded onto a truck because there’s no more room at the morgue. Some may get a proper burial, but many will simply be burned to prevent the spread of the disease.

I finally get permission to Work From Home for one day. In the middle of the day my employment agency calls and tells me that next Friday will be my last day at work. I have been at the organization for over a year and they’re letting me go. Actually, they’re unplugging me, just like the microwave, the refrigerators, and the vending machines.

My time is currently spent writing and editing in the solitude of my home. I look out my living room window and the hordes are still jogging, bicycling, motorcycling like it’s a bank holiday and the pandemic fatalities keep going up.

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