We are too late.

Of course, we are too late. I think part of me knew this already – we still have the mass meetings after the police come into the campus. They take the anti-virals, so may have spread the virus among us.

Twenty-four people on the campus are sick now. My neighbour in the next room was coughing all of last night. I make food for her and leave it outside the door today, and she takes it, but does not answer anymore when I call. The coughing stops now – I think she is sleeping. I will know soon, if there is a return when I knock on the wall. If there is no reply, she will not be the first to die, and there will be more. I do not know her, only her name. I ask on the forum if anybody knows who she is – her friends say they SkIMp her and will speak to her family.

There is no point to send a medical student – just like outside, they can do nothing. If somebody goes to the doctor now with flu, they put them in a secure ward. There is no treatment, no cure. Mostly it is young, healthy people dying. Children and elderly people do not get the virus so quickly – it takes longer and they can recover from the illness sometimes. But the most healthy person will always die. Li explains why this is to me, about how the virus uses the immune system to attack the body. It seems crazy, to be healthy makes you in the most danger. We fear our own youth and health now, but more than this we fear that our quarantine will be broken from outside. The army patrol the street, shooting anybody who leaves their homes. They stay away from the campus so far – we think they are too busy to enforce our quarantine when we enforce it ourselves, but perhaps they will decide they need to patrol the street inside our gates, too. Then we cannot reach our stores – all our careful planning and rotas will be useless. Perhaps it would be better if we all keep a personal store in our room. Many of us did keep some personal food as well, but not everybody, and not enough for the whole quarantine.

When I finish writing this I know it will be time to find out if my neighbour is alive, and I do not dare to stop writing. This morning, as I go to fetch the food for my corridor, I meet a cat, following me all the way to the dining hall and back to the dorm building. I do not know where he comes from – maybe his owner is dead. I know the virus cannot travel through an animal, so I let him into the building. He follows me all the way to my room. I give him some rice and fish sauce and he eats a little, but mostly he wants to sleep on a human. Like me, he wants to feel a touch, comfort, company. I feel grateful that I have this, and guilty that others do not.

The girl next door to me must know that she will die, and she is alone. She makes little noise, she does not cough anymore. She does not talk. Is she so brave, to make sure she will infect nobody else? Or does she have no strength to go out of the room? If I listen, I can hear her breathing. It sounds so painful, like she breathes through water. I wish she will cough again. I cannot stand this sound. I don’t know how I didn’t hear before, it is so loud.

I cannot sleep when she sounds so bad. What will happen if I go in? I can put on my mask, and look at her, and hold her hand, then wash my hands very well. I might not catch the virus, and nobody will know.


13 thoughts on “We are too late.

      • You’re right to be afraid, and to be cautious. You’re doing all you can for the others in your quarantine. Just remember that you’re more use to them alive. You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.
        I hope you managed to sleep.

  1. Just be really careful, OK? Don’t take unnecessary risks. Are you sure it’s safe keeping a cat? I know the cat can’t catch the virus, but if somebody else is keeping the cat it could spread germs between you, couldn’t it?

    • I am not sure anything is safe anymore, but I know that if I catch the flu from something through touch it is probably from a door handle, not a cat.

      • Oh, that makes me feel so much better. Don’t go touching any strange door handles, then. And just…I don’t know, wrap up warm, take vitamins? I don’t know what to tell you. Just be safe.

    • There is nowhere safer. Of course people here are sick, people all over Asia are sick, soon people everywhere will be sick! But we have plenty of food and we are free to go around the campus by our own rules. And when somebody dies, as my neighbour has now died, we wait long enough to know the air is safe and the volunteer group who have special suits from the biology labs, they take the body and put it into the cold storage, and other people find out where the family is and tell them. We do things better here than outside, where people have little supplies, are shot in the street for leaving their home and nobody knows about the dead until the area is safe.
      This is the best place for me to be. I cannot leave, and I do not want to leave. I will survive here, or I will die here. Can you understand?

      • I can’t understand why you didn’t leave when you had the chance. I can’t understand how you keep saying you’re better off there when people around you are dying.

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