November 17, 2962
There’s nothing anyone can do to save her. The doctor said we can put her into an induced coma until there’s a cure, but there won’t be one. There’s no cure for this damnation. This is what the human race gets for being a plague of its own. A disease, a parasite. Growing, spreading, consuming all in its path and leaving nothing but destruction and despair. This is punishment for all those evils, all those beautiful jungles we cut down and turned into our dining room set. What God would create such a creature. What God would allow such a creature to consume to such an extent as we have. Did we unknowingly seal our own fate? Fate. What is fate?
What can we do while we wait for the inevitable to happen. What is something she has always wanted to do, where have we not gone that we should? How long does she even have? Can we safely travel on a plane even, will they let us? So many questions, so little time.
“Mr. Barrie, the doctor would like to have a word.”
The words of the night nurse startle me. Enveloped in my own world of worry, I momentarily forgot I was in a hospital and not our home. Dr. Albright was standing just outside the door gazing at her clipboard. The dimly lit corridor hid her expression, though I could sense that he was not here with good news. Upon seeing me standing there in front of him, his gaze drifted up to meet mine. It definitely was not good news.
“John, I’m afraid the best thing to do is to just leave her in our care. You should go home, rest, and leave the city. This epidemic is spreading like wildfire. The military is setting up camps up north, I recommend you pack light and head to one.”
Panic set in at his words. Leave? I can’t leave my wife at this time. Till death do us part. That was what we said in our vows. But then, is it really getting this bad that the military is stepping in and taking over? Should I leave, get out of the city and save myself?
“I can’t. I don’t want to leave her like this, I need to be with her.”
“I understand John, but if you don’t leave on your own, any survivors may be drug out of here in a matter of days whether your wife has passed or not. The best thing you can do for yourself, for her, is to head to a camp and stay there until this whole thing passes.”
“Then let them! Let them come in and.....”
Just as Dr. Albright said. The military had come bursting through the doors in full combat gear ready to mow anyone down in their path. There must have been a dozen soldiers. As a few broke off from the group and went down a side corridor, another stopped at the reception desk and started talking very quickly to the nurse seated there. A look of panic crossed her face as he talked. This is it. We are being taken away. She pointed in my direction. My stomach did a somersault as he glanced over and started towards us. He spoke in a very firm voice, like a parent talking to a child that was being scolded for not eating their vegetables.
“Doctor, may I have a word with you, privately.” He looked right at me. This can’t be happening.
“Excuse me John, I’ll only be a moment.” His eyes darted toward Jillian’s door.
As soon as their backs were turned, I slipped back into my wife’s room and gently nudged her awake.
“Sweetheart? We’re going home; it’s going to be okay. I just need you to try and sit up.”
Where did that damn wheelchair go? I wouldn’t dare turn the lights on in here and give myself away. As I move the chair over to the bed, I can still hear the soldier talking to Dr. Albright. It sounded a little heated, but there is worry in the doctors’ voice.
“Here we go, nice and easy into the chair.”
My god. Her forehead is on fire, and she’s sweating like she just ran a marathon. She barely seems to notice. I’ll wrap her in a blanket just in case. It is a little chilly outside, and she’s not exactly dressed for the weather. Now I just have to get down the corridor, to the elevator and we’re home free. I peek around the corner before exiting the room. Their backs are still facing me, good. As silently as possible, I wheel out and start walking with her as fast as I can towards the elevators.
“HEY! YOU! STOP NOW!”
No, no, no, no, the nurse spotted us, that means the soldier won’t be far behind. One of the elevator doors’ still open, please let my luck work in my favor for once and stay open.
“STOP OR I WILL SHOOT!”
I haven’t run like this in ages, I can feel my sides cramping already. Slide into the elevator; hit the ‘door close’ button repeatedly. I know it won’t make the door close faster, but that’s what they do in movies right? What floor is the parking garage on, Ground or Basement? What a time to forget. Let’s try Ground. Can this thing move any slower? Faintly, behind me, I hear my wife, my love, Jillian, trying to speak.
“I’m here, right here.” I gently touch her hand.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.” I can feel my eyes warming and tears starting to well up.
“You need to go, leave me. I’ll always be with you”
No, I can’t. Why does she have to say these things? I can’t hold back the tears. The elevator is slowing, the doors will open at any moment and I have to be ready to run. I’ll wheel her out backwards, with my back facing the door. That way no one will notice who I am.
The bell chimes, alerting us we’ve arrived at our floor, and the doors chatter open. As quickly as I can, I wheel out, turn to face down the corridor and start running. As I pass the other elevator doors, they start to open as well. Push faster, run harder, must get to the exit.
“MR. BARRIE, STOP NOW OR WE WILL SHOOT!”
That didn’t sound like the soldier in the hall. The sounds of many more pairs of boots start running after me. Must get to exit. The sound of rifles coming up and being cocked behind me can be heard over my pounding heart. No, they can’t; can they? Can they shoot an innocent civilian for trying to leave with his wife?
“John, stop. Do as they say, please, for me.” Jillian sounds so faint, so lifeless. I don’t want to give in, I can’t.
The sound of a warning shot and ricochet off the ceramic floor immediately beside me grinds me to a halt. As I fall to the floor in a sobbing mess, the soldiers swarm around me guns pointing at me. The one in charge makes a hand signal and they all lower their guns then back up to give us space. He kneels down and places his hand on my shoulder.
“You did the right thing Mr. Barrie. Unfortunately, you did the right thing a little too late, so you’ll have to come with us.”
Two of the men behind me picked me up and cuffed my hands behind my back. Did they have to make them so tight? Jillian was just sitting there, it was all she could do. I could see tears rolling down her face as she watched them start to take me away. She feebly mouthed “I love you” as she disappeared from my sight. The air outside was cold and crisp, cutting through my light clothes like a knife through butter. There was a convoy of Humvees sitting at the bottom of the steps, and those wooden construction roadblock pieces sitting blocking the stairs. Armed men stood every few feet watching as more were walking around the hospital lot. Dr. Albright wasn’t kidding, but I thought we had more time than this. Is it really that bad? Where will they take me from here? A regular police station, or will they just put me on the next bus to one of their camps?
One of the soldiers forced me into the back of one of the waiting hummvees while the remaining few got in. The cuffs dug into my skin, feeling like the dull side of a blade. It smelled like sulfur, gas, and body odor in the truck. Really bad body odor. Like someone hadn’t showered in weeks. It was also the most uncomfortable seat I had ever sat in. It was cushioned, but it didn’t seem to help the fact that it felt like I was sitting on bare metal.
The hospital driveway wasn’t that long, but it felt like forever before we reached the main road. There were more hummvees with their lights all pointed to the entrance where more roadblocks were in place and it looked like they were checking everyone coming and going. We slowed to a stop at the corner as one of the soldiers standing guard approached us.
“No one goes in or out other than us, got it?” The driver must be the officer in charge here.
“Yes sir. What about ambulances or other emergency vehicles sir?” That’s an excellent point, what about ambulances?
“Ambulances yes, check all other emergency personnel. Martial Law is in effect Corporal, we’re in charge. Use lethal force if needed.” Lethal force? Martial Law? Things have really escalated quicker than I thought possible.