My name is Washte Kte and this is my story.
I’ve written what will probably be my last message of hope. I don’t know how much longer they can keep the Internet functioning. It’s a wonder they’ve kept the electricity going as long as they have.
I hope that my message reached the thousand or so people for whom it was intended. People like me. It included my update on safe havens throughout the country. My little town is one such.
I can’t know what the next few months will bring. I feel like there will be a settling in. A digging in for the long haul. A lot of people seem to think there will be a return to “normal.” I think they are delusional. But that’s just me.
The Virus has pretty much changed the world and the creatures living in it. It was not species specific as we had first hoped. Humans were the first to begin dying. But it seems to have jumped the gap and now everything mammalian is at risk.
So far, the birds and reptiles and amphibians and fish have been spared. The insects are thriving. But the whales … it’s so sad to see what it’s done to the whales and their kin. The beaches are a nightmare.
Sometimes I think those who die outright are the luckiest. After making you really sick for a couple of months, the Virus inserts part of its DNA into the host’s DNA. It doesn’t do this throughout the entire body. Generally, a person can guess where it will end up by their symptoms while actively sick.
It can lodge itself in skin cells, or heart cells, or nerve cells. Rarely does it take up residence it more than one kind of cell. Although there was one case reported where it invaded stem cells. That was a bad one.
The Virus sits quietly in the DNA until something triggers it and then it goes to town. I know of one case where it was in skin cells. First the poor man’s skin started to thicken. It became so thick all over his body that he had trouble moving. Then it really got bad. His skin started to harden in patches. First it was his knees and he had to walk by shifting his hips. Eventually, it hardened all over his body and he couldn’t move at all anymore.
His caregiver gave up at that point because she couldn’t move him. He weighed too much for her and she shot him in the head ending both their misery. Her heart gave out not long after that. It just sort of exploded inside her chest.
Not all cases are a drastic. Some are actually beautiful. There is the little girl with rainbow skin. And the man with brilliant green crystals growing all over his body where his hair used to be. Others thought it was beautiful. He thought it was … inconvenient.
Then there are the people who are immune. They call them “Angels.” You can always tell an Angel on sight because they exhibit heterochromia. Their eyes are two different colors. Or sometimes, half of each eye is one color and the other half is another color.
They are called Angels because their blood is the only antidote. It doesn’t cure or prevent the initial infection. But if given soon enough after the initial sickness, it can prevent the further expression of the Virus.
Luckily, you don’t need much Angel Blood to do this. I say luckily, because I am an Angel.
In the beginning, the Government … while it was still functioning … rounded us all up and kept us warehoused and used our blood for members of the government pretty much exclusively.
But when word got out about us, the people rose up and busted us out and farmed us out around the country so we could serve the common folk. We had a little more freedom, but not much.
Then we Angels rose up and demanded concessions. Mine were books and the freedom to come and go as I pleased. Maybe you are wondering what my bargaining chip was. Suicide. Plain and simple. I wouldn’t have done that. My Blood and what I do is too important. But they couldn’t be certain. Doubt was on my side.
I’ve made a home for myself in a library in what used to be a small town and now is a very, very small town.
When they send me to other towns to help the people there, I collect as many books as I can and bring them home with me. Chief on my current list of needs are “how-to” books. But I have books on just about every topic you might imagine.
I am going to protect this library for as long as I can. I will dispense the knowledge I hold here to anyone who comes asking.
But honestly, I don’t know how long we have. The animals are dying and Angel Blood does nothing to help them.
Demoralization is taking its toll. No one wants to work. They mostly bemoan what they’ve lost, when they could be farming and doing what they can to save the remaining animals. Maybe someone somewhere is working on that, but I haven’t heard about it.
Still, I am hopeful. I think that humanity can survive this. Yes, it will be a drastically altered humanity. But it won’t be all bad. I believe we are learning some good lessons and that what we build in the future will be better.
My name is Washte Kte and this is my story.
Every now and then, I will have a hyper realistic dream and then feel compelled to turn it into a short story.
Often, much of the rich detail of the dream is lost to me upon awakening. But usually, I retain enough to flesh out a decent tale.
This is one of those.
My thought after waking from this dream was “and we thought it was global warming that would do us in.”
Obviously, this dream was inspired by our ongoing battle with Covid-19. But it’s taken it a bit further. I hope my dream is never realized in any form.
But I wonder sometimes …
2 thoughts on “After”
This piece is unique as the delivery is very low key but the direness of the threat is evident. The way you made your character so real and vulnerable as I read further was amazing. Well done.
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Thank you so much! And thanks for reading.