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Fear of Disease
No one ever thought that it would get this bad.
It seemed so lulling in the background of our expansive lives; just a mere after thought of the tribes in our country. Ever since years ago, it was never a concern. 1976 was the year of panic, but it all died down. Hundreds turned to many, many turned to a group, and a group turned to few. The fear simmered at the bottom of our pots for decades upon decades, until now. Now, it is boiling over the lid.
Its existence haunts me like a drumming of nightmares, and the rhythms never seem to go away. The patterns of the foreign music in my head can't be followed or recognized; it's all just a jumble of frightening noises that they call a melody. The type of melody that is augmented and resonating; one that never goes away. They say that it can be tracked though, and that it will be gone, in time. With enough of us boxed into one place surrounded by their suits and needles, they’ll find a way to kill it off. But how many of us will they kill first until they find a way to do the same to it?
When the cure comes like a broadcast on their pulsing machines, they will celebrate and dance on our graves like it is a party. A miracle, they say. Yet if you ask anyone who lives here, I can guarantee that they'll strongly disagree.
The scent of my own fear is similar to that of my sickness, if you can even call it that. It is more like a monster that takes children first, then everyone else. Within weeks, most of us are gone. The fresh pain of our losses – my losses – cuts like the knife resting in my hand. All of the people I loved, diminished to figures in black, zipped up bags. There is simply too much terror; too many analytical statements of horror that resound through the streets of my home lands to stop the spreading.
It's getting closer to claiming the fields across the river. If that happens, I hear they will send in more helicopters, more people with suits and needles. Their skin will be so pale that you wonder how they survive the sun. They are odd, and they are evil. I used to respect them, but lately all they do is shout in a language I can’t understand. They are tracking people like me down and taking them away. Once they take them, they never come back. That is why I am hiding like this; like an animal filled with bullet wounds that don’t seem to bleed.
The danger of annihilation is advancing with such speed that discovery is soon-following. They'll find me and my shivering fever in the same place I have always been; and they'll take me away to where they have taken the others. I don't want to leave. But then again I need to. My soul will soon be trapped in the corpse of a victim; unable to fly or to go to the place my ancestors gifted to me. That's what they call all of us now; victims. The word sounds so innocent yet horribly accusing at the same time, and I cannot stand it. I need to leave, but not with them. I need to escape, but not just yet.
I look down at my dry skin and shiver with a newfound realization. They will kill me when they take me. The blood that curses my veins is too unwanted, and their own fear of contamination is too high. Yet my thoughts that run in my mind right now aren’t even mine, are they? The disease has taken that too, I just know it. I have cried too many fresh tears to take that thought back.
I’m shaking with such great intensity now that it scares me. Yes, I know, I was already terrified, but this is different. There are great oceans and shades of fear, and this is the worst. It’s funny; because the worst kind of fear is the one that people have the most of. The most reasons to be afraid and more importantly the constant nagging of it. And my one fear that burns the most is the fear of myself.
There are moments when I can’t stand staring at the dark anymore, and I can tell that now is one of them. I can deal with the ripping hunger and the scraping dehydration; the pervasive smell and the heat that courses my body like a plague. Yet the one thing that taxes me the most from my ninth day sitting cramped in the corner of my collapsed home, is the dark. It stares at you like a dragon you cannot see, and you can’t escape it even when you close your eyes. My shaking fever makes the dark bounce up and down, causing newly founded nausea to pull at my empty stomach. Vomiting on my sweating feet is a regular. It’s gross, but not as gross as what I will become.
The dark blocks the chance to tell time. Day and night don’t just blend together; their meanings don’t even exist anymore. I long for the strength to push away at the rubble I dragged around me and to look at the light of my beautiful sun again, but I do not have it.
My ears, starting to become bumpy and red at the tips, hear a noise from out there. It sounds like the humming of a car engine, but I shrug it off, knowing that my thirst causes steady patterns of delirium. I grind my teeth back and forth, fighting the pain inching up my abdomen. It’s getting worse, I tell myself each day, it’s getting much worse.
The noise gets louder and louder, and a new fear sparks inside of the deep blue of my mind. Is there another fire? Are they coming for me? Have they found me again? There is a grumble as I hear the wheels and the sirens echoing. I recognize it now as an ambulance. I am so raw and numb that I cannot feel anything anymore but fear. Fear, and the pain. My mind is too dull to recognize what is happening, but then I hear shouting.
It sounds like my people, as they are speaking my native tongue. My eyes open a little bit wider as I try to understand their words.
“Regardez partout. Recherche de l'épave!”
There were words I could understand, but the meaning fell short in my mind. I shivered again as I tried to look at my own hand three inches from my face. It was black. All of it was black, and I couldn’t see a thing. Running my fingers over the back of my palm, I could feel that the swelling had spread. The bumps burned like firecrackers and I felt my stomach turning as I felt the identical marks on my face. The distant voices got closer, and I could feel my mind turning for the first time in weeks over the language.
“Ici! Aidez-moi à cet égard. Appelez sur les autres. Il pourrait être utile!”
The man was calling for others. I knew what they were saying, but I was tired. I could sense my eyes closing, and my head crashed against the rocks surrounding me. I slept in short sessions and abruptly. I had no control over when or where I slipped into rest, but when it came, I was grateful of it. Sleep took away most of the pain.
The voices echoed in the background, and as I drifted off I heard scraping and the movement of the things around me. Light trickled in slowly, but I thought I must have been dreaming it.
“Il doit y avoir quelque chose enterré. Un, deux, trois, ascenseur ...”
More brightness struck my face, but I could not open my eyes. My mind was dripping with the thoughts of desolate places, far away from this hole and this sickness. The words came with more and more light.
“Attendez! Faites attention. J'entends quelque chose!”
Somehow, I could pick up the words. They were talking loudly, and their voices cut through my fatigue. In my mind, I silently translated.
“Oh, mon dieu! Il s'agit d'un enfant, une fille. Elle est malade! Aidez-moi! Obtenez de l'aide!”
There is a child! A girl! Get help, she is sick!
I felt strong hands puling at my limbs, and I had the sensation of weightlessness. My eyes were closed and my consciousness was waning, and the light was blinding. I did not know what was going on.
I hit something, and I reckoned that they had put me down. It was not until I heard the sirens that I knew what was going on.
They had gotten me.