Febrile.

The inner thoughts of someone trying to help her family and those suffering the effects of the inferno that takes over the world. The human population is being killed off by an out of the blue pathogenic fever which kills in a matter of hours and spreads and kills fast and randomly like a brush fire.

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1. Febrile

Nobody stays around for long here, no one trusts, no one loves, no one is loved. Everybody keeps to themselves. No contact with others that is not through glass, plastic, the phone line, a virtual screen. Or the best that anyone can manage these days through a surgical mask. The last time I had any contact with another human being that was uncut, untoched by anything, I was about 20 years old. That day sticks out in my memory because it was effectively the end of my life in the connected world out human population has known for countless generations. It was the end of life as everyone knew it. And though that day I did not know this, I could not have known that in the next room, my younger brother Jack was incubating the virus that was already destroying our world and would soon rip through our family. I heard him coughing through the night and went in to his room in the morning to wake him for school and found him dead, still warm but dead. The fever is so high and relentless that the body remains warm for some time after the patient dies, as though the virus knows that if it keeps itself warm, it can spread itself further. Like it had learned from the example rabies set in dogs and cats. His body was warm, but with no pulse, no breathing, still perspiring but sheet white, the lesions on his skin livid and red as cherries, his lips chapped and chard dry, his eyes still open in horror, wide from the strain of the cough. There was vomit around his mouth and head, on his pillow and his hands were clasped around bunches of his blanket, although he was still shivering.

I rushed to him and checked his neck for a pulse, yelling his name and shaking him. Stripping his button down pyjama top automatically as if I thought there was a chance he would be alright If I started CPR. I yelled for my parents to help. They came and my mother checked him over, in that concerned mother does, picking up his little lifeless body and holding it up to her ear, brushing back his soaked hair and kissing his forehead and cheeks. She could not understand that he was dead as I tried to tell them that he had probably dies during the night. My father looked numb with shock.

Around the world, this virus was on the move. By the time it had hit our family, it had probably hit at least ten other families around the world because from that day forward, the news had to report nothing but the progress of our new found microbial nemesis as it decimated the population. Before the day was out, my mother had fallen ill. I had called in to work that day to advise of a death in the family and of my absence. By that evening, my mother had been taken ill. I did not make the connection then, when she began to cough between my brother’s mysterious malady, my mother’s hysterical caressing of her youngest son, and her illness but within hours, she was delirious, stricken with fever that was about 43 degrees Celsius and my father gathered her up in all her blankets and ran to the car, telling me hurriedly that he was taking her to the ER. I followed in my car. He ran all the red lights, all the stop signs and we arrived at our local hospital within ten minutes. I met them at the ER door as my father was carrying my mother’s shivering violently shaking body out of the car. A nurse met us as we came into the door, as my father yelled for help and looked around franticly. The nurse steered him to place her on a gurney just inside the door. Two more nurses and a doctor came running.

“she developed a fever…” he said, sounding like he couldn’t think what to say. The nurse was stripping away the layers of blankets and clothes to listen to her chest. The doctor was trying to get my mother to respond to him. Another nurse was using the bed as he and I followed them into a cubical. It was there that it hit me as my mother’s body began to jerk. She curled in on herself and arched her back, she turned blue, red foam was spilling out of her mouth, her eyes were wide. the nurse grabbed me by the shoulder and took me and my father out of the room to a corner of the corridor and sat us down. She said she would be back soon to give us more information on my mother’s condition. I had neglected to tell them that her son had died only that morning.

I was numb. I had no idea that my little brother would be thought of as patient zero in the world wide pandemic that would ensue over the coming months. The doctor came around the corner looking dejected. Putting his stethoscope back around his neck and my father jumped to his feet. The doctor stood there and said in what I was sure he was trying to make a sympathetic voice, that my mother had not responded to treatment and that it was the fever that killed her.

In the weeks that followed. My father would die as would hundreds of thousands around the world from the same relentless and ruthless fever, a cough that tore at the lungs, lesions all over the body that blead and itched and vomiting so forceful that the blood vessels popped, and the oesophagus tore from the strain.

As dear reader I speak to you now, three years later, the world you knew them, is now a ghost of its former connected society. Everyone in the world lives on one continent. There are only about four births a year, as the lucky women who had not been left infertile from the virus assuming that anyone survived it. It was thought that those who had survived, had suffered with infertility as well as post-traumatic stress. I had the never had the virus I was told when I entered this outpost community in search of work after months of hiding. This was in of itself a miracle said the doctor who had told me this fact. My mother, brother and father had all died and I was spared, at least from the virus, not from the torment of its lethality. The swift and ruthless way in which it took the lives you cherished. As if the virus knows that it hurts more to be left alone while everyone you know and love is taken and killed, than if it takes you too. As if this insidious microbe picks and chooses who it kills, who it touchers, who it deprives and who it teases for nobody is ever in touched by it. Everybody knows somebody who had had the virus, or who had died in its inferno. The world you my beloved reader know in your hear and now, is connected in its advanced transport, its internet, its emotional, mental, virtual connections between loved ones, between friends, family, co-workers. Your world is huge and yet small in its intricacy. My world is small, a small drop of humanity in this fast, uninhabited ball of rock in space, ravaged and left for dead by one protein covered ball of lethal prions that has established itself as the new Beelzebub. The new ultimate terrorist, the new antichrist of which not one person in tis decimated world has not met.

My father disappeared after my mother died, I had not even left the hospital when I, waiting for his return, herd the rush of a MET call and say doctors and nurses rushed in the direction I had last seen him go. I had to get the news of his death from acute lung injury from a nurse walking back down the corridor covered in blood and visibly upset. I left the hospital.

My world would never be the same.

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