This is a story that popped into my head a while ago. Since I've been editing lately it's given me a chance to work on my writing. This isn't meant to be political, just an idea. It's also kind of rough since it doesn't get the attention my books do. But it was interesting so I thought I would share.
My name is Bob. Bob Stackey was the name on my mail, but it’s been a while since anything has run around here. When the Pandemic hit, I was a shut in, so my life didn’t change much. I was a freelance programmer which meant I never had to leave my house. Companies just sent me the specs and I would work in my office with the blackout curtains drawn. If anything, the lockdowns were great for me. I could get groceries delivered to my house and they would just leave them at the door. I never had to so much as look at another person again.
In my free time I played games, anything strategy. I had a Steam library with over a thousand games. My favorites had well over one thousand hours logged. I never paid much attention to the news. There was some big hubbub about an election I didn’t vote in. Then the vaccine was made and they all said, “Get the vaccine if you want to re-enter society.” I didn’t care about society so I didn’t bother with the vaccine. That would mean leaving the house. I tried my best to ignore the internet fights. One side said they were safe and everyone should get one. The other side said they were dangerous and no one should get one. I didn’t know, and I didn’t care.
Things started getting weird in the summer. My food bill started getting really high. I made more than enough to not care but it was odd enough to make me call the store. The manager said they were having trouble getting deliveries, but they didn’t expect the price to stay high for too long. I shrugged it off and went back to life as usual.
About mid-October I started hearing people running around outside my house screaming. When I looked out the window, I saw about half my neighbors in the streets. Some were crying, others were screaming, and others were just wondering around looking lost. I didn’t know what was going on and didn’t want to. I just double checked my locks and went back to what I was doing. By the end of October, I stopped getting work and the companies I worked with stopped emailing me. Then the food delivery stopped. Then the weird behavior of my neighbors stopped. By the first week of November the power finally stopped.
For the first time in a long time, I needed to go outside. My neighbors who had been acting so weird for weeks were nowhere to be seen. Their cars were still in their driveways and in front of their houses but the people were just gone. I tried knocking on their doors but no one answered. The whole neighborhood was just quiet. No house had any lights on and there was no sound of traffic. I live in the suburbs and it’s often quiet, but not this quiet. If all my neighbors were gone that really didn’t concern me. I never cared about them before so why start now. I couldn’t even tell you their names unless I looked at their mailboxes. What did concern me was the power, and my lack of food. I decided to go to the store.
I have a car but it doesn’t get a lot of use. I remember praying silently that it would start. It had been about four months since I had last used it, and it wouldn’t be the first time the gas had gone bad. Thankfully it started. If you have never driven after not doing it for several months it can be a little trying. Luckily there was no traffic. The store was only a few miles from my house, but there is still no one on the road. It’s not late, but I can’t see any people walking around. The parking lot of the store is empty and I could tell the lights were off when I got there. I tried the doors but they were locked.
Being a shut in, if I have to go to the store I usually do it at night. The local Walmart used to stay open 24 hours a day, and my local grocery store was open till midnight. I didn’t like being there when anyone else was. I figured the power outage must be affecting them so I knocked on the door and shouted inside. I could see emergency lights through the tinted windows but I see no movement. Since there’s was no answer. I decided to see if the second entrance was open. As I walked toward it. I notice the large garage door for the carts is open, but only a few feet. I didn’t want to get arrested for breaking and entering. I leaned down and shouted for anyone. I never got an answer. My stomach was growling so I decided I would risk going in and getting something. I could return the tomorrow and pay them.
The store was dark except for emergency lights and the shelves were half stocked. Since the power appeared to be out everywhere I decided to get something that didn’t need to be cooked. I got some jerky, candy, and beer. The beer was warm, I had to take it from a display since the coolers were locked. This might not sound like a meal, but I’ve eaten worse. Since I used to do everything in my office, I usually ate whatever took the least amount of time to prepare. I remember living for a whole month on potpies and liquorish.
Leaving was a little more complicated since the door was only raised by about two feet. My life style didn’t lend itself to exercise of any kind. I’m not fat, but I also don’t have any muscle to speak of. It didn’t help that I was wearing the same sweat pants that I had been for the last week, or was it the last two weeks? The days just kind of blend together.
It was finally starting to get dark as I drove home. There were still no lights in any of the houses and the streetlights weren’t coming on. I wished I had brought my phone. It was sitting at home on its charger. I remembered someone on a game whining about people over using their phones. My computer did more than the phone did, so I usually left the phone on its charger unless I needed to make a call. I put it on silent when I got it. I’ve never gotten a call from someone who wasn’t a telemarketer so there’s no point. It’s a smart phone so I could at least check on the outage and maybe read about what’s going on.
I still don’t see any neighbors when I get home. Everything is just as I left it, or at least I think it is. I don’t pay much attention to other people so lots of stuff could have changed since I left and I wouldn’t know. I stumbled my way through my dark house to the kitchen. I leave my phone in there since I don’t like to be bothered when I sleep. I sat down at my kitchen table that was covered in trash, cleared a space, opened my bag of jerky and turned on the phone.
I’ve had signal but it wasn't very strong. My local tower must’ve been down, so my phone locked on to one further away. There are no updates from my power company on their site and I can’t see any reported outages. I thought that was weird since in every blackout before I saw several hundred reports and I knew this black out reached pretty far. I tried to check the local news site. The newest story is about three weeks old. The headline read, “Hospitals full, Acting Governor tells people to shelter in place and wait for response to Chaos.”
I stopped eating. Chaos? Was he talking about the weird stuff the neighbors were doing? I read the article. “The acting governor has issued a statement advising residents to stay in their homes and not to bring relatives to hospitals as they are too overcrowded and there is not enough staff to care for them. Residents are also advised to store any bodies to the best of their abilities until government workers can pick them up. Please follow the link below for emergency preservation techniques for bodies.” Bodies? I hadn’t seen any government vehicles picking up bodies, but I also hadn’t been looking. The craziness of the last few weeks didn’t seem destructive so I just closed my blinds and curtains and did my best to ignore them. I saw no bodies on my trip to the store so I guess they got them.
I try a national news site. It doesn’t load. I try another, same problem. I try one more and this one finally loads. There is an article from two weeks ago. “Madness spreads in Vaccinated and Unvaccinated” That didn’t make sense. Wouldn’t it be one or the other? Might as well read the article. “It has been discovered that the madness caused by micro strokes due to blood clotting caused by the mRNA vaccine is not confined to the vaccinated. It appears that merely having contact with the bodily fluids of a vaccinated individual is enough for the effect to spread. The interim government has released a statement that if you have or suspect you have had intercourse, blood transfusion, or even kissed a person who has received a vaccine you are at risk and should take preventative steps. Pleas follow the link below to see what you can do to protect yourself.”
Was that what was going on? I knew my neighbors had been arguing about the vaccine. I could hear them in the streets months ago shouting at each other. I guess they may have been doing more than that. Surely, they all couldn’t have been vaccinated or sleeping with someone who was? Not like I would know, I haven’t talked to almost anyone since college, almost a decade ago. They weren’t exactly celibate back then either. Maybe they were doing more than I thought.
I looked out my kitchen window. It was now truly night and there was still no power and no street lights. I figured I would have to check tomorrow. I spent the next few hours reading what articles I could find. When my phone reached 50% power, I decided to hook it up to the charger and go to bed. Maybe the power would cut back on and it would recharge.
November 10, 2021