Authors: Samie Sands
I can’t stand it. I can’t take it for another damn second. This is horrible. Being alone is driving me insane!
Every single day I wish that I’d been brave that day I went to the airport. I know it seemed like a dangerous decision to get on a plane with all of those people, and all of the unknowns at the time—but is
really any better?
I keep leaving notes around town, just praying that someone,
will eventually see one of them and come rescue me from this hell. But nothing. No one. I know I should probably give up and accept that it’s just me, but it’s too much of a horrifying prospect.
That can’t be it. I can’t be all that’s left.
I thought for a while that people may return. That if anyone
survive, they might return to England to look for any other survivors, or to cure the infected, or even to have another go at living here. But it seems that I was wrong. It’s been such a long time and I haven’t seen a single soul.
I spent a short while considering suicide. I can’t live in this world; I’m just not strong enough. I remember the day I stood there, a rusty blade in my hand. I ran it along my neck, willing this whole nightmare to be over. I was ready to die. I tried to push it in; I attempted to apply some pressure. That’s all I needed to do and I would be free from this hell. But courage never came to me. As desperate as I was to end it all, I wasn’t brave enough to even do that. I’m useless. I’m pathetic. I can’t do anything right.
So I just keep on going, waiting for something, anything to happen to take the decision out of my hands.
My OCD is definitely getting worse. Before all of this happened, I had been struggling with it, but it had been under control—now, it’s slowly becoming all consuming, infecting every single one of my thoughts and actions. It was going to get me killed eventually, I’m sure of it.
I keep finding homes to hide in, just as I did before. There might not be any running water to clean myself with anymore, but I still feel safer inside, with four walls to keep them away from me. Not much safer, but it’ll have to do. It isn’t like I’m surrounded by options at any rate.
Occasionally, I’ll eat. Often, I won’t. Usually, I have to be on the brink of starvation before I’ll allow myself to do so. These days, my doomsday voice is telling me—screaming at me—that AM13 is everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore it.
“Don’t eat that
that’s where the virus is hidden.”
“Don’t breathe too deeply
AM13 is airborne.”
“Don’t touch anything; you’ll become infected in a second.”
It’s actually becoming exhausting to listen to, and it’s increasingly getting louder and more insistent. I’m finding myself heading towards a place where I’ll be too afraid to even move. I know what it is, and I wish desperately that I could accept it for what it is and ignore what it’s telling me, but I just
. I’ve tried, I really have, but it gets me every damn time.
Really, all I want to do now is go back to Clare. I want to be with her. That’s what I’m currently working towards, but I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get there. It’s a situation that ends in certain death, which is why it’s going to take a whole lot for me to act upon my wish. For a coward, considering it for
is damn near impossible. But then again, if I’m going to die anyway, why not do it with the woman I love? And on my own terms at that.
I step into a new home, flickering the lights on and off—even though they don’t work anymore. This tick has become intrinsically linked to my one bout of good luck, and now I can’t do without it.
Then, instead of instantly racing from room to room, like I know I should, I sit quietly, peering out of the window, just waiting for someone to magically appear.
I’ve just come out of a review meeting with the board members
the people in charge of this whole operation. Two things are now very clear to me. The first is that the writing of this report is absolutely useless. I’ve tried to keep it as professional as possible for them to read, which has been hard for me because I’ve always had an assistant to decipher my scruffy notes. They didn’t want to see any of my work; they weren’t interested in any of my progress. All they want are answers, solutions. I can understand why, I suppose
this is a desperate situation. But I have to do it this way; the process must be completed for a sensible conclusion to be drawn. This is how I’ve always worked; this is how I was trained. Answers don’t just jump out from mid-air.
One of the men
the sneering one, I’m not sure of his name
suggested that I keep on making my ‘little notes’ for the next scientist to come and take over my work. He winked at me, making me feel sick to my stomach. This is when the second realisation hit.
I’m not going to make it out of here alive. If I don’t solve this soon, they’re actually going to kill me. They didn’t say that, of course, but I’m smart enough to recognise when I’m being threatened. I have no idea what these men are really capable of
society is currently abiding a new set of rules. One where human rights aren’t considered. That’s terrifying.
I begged to see my family. After all I’m doing, you’d think this simple request would be met. But no, they might become a ‘distraction to my work.’ Surely it’s more distracting not knowing if they’re okay? They just want another thing to dangle over my head. If I’m going to die down here, I want to at least be able to say goodbye to my wife and child. That’s fair, isn’t it?
I’m far too angry at everything and everyone at the moment, so instead of continuing with my research, I’m going to write down my experience here. All of it. Maybe as a warning for the next person that comes along. Or maybe so my legacy is complete. I don’t know why, but I feel like this is something I need to do.
For me, it all really began only a few days ago, although it feels like a different lifetime now. The Lockdown was quite obviously failing; it didn’t take a genius to work that out. The number of infected on the streets was increasing rapidly, almost by the minute.
I was scared, I’m sure we all were.
I had made a decision, just before the Lockdown. One that would come to haunt me the entire time I was quarantined inside my home. I decided to shun work and spend the time with my family. I knew I wouldn’t be missed; I was hardly the most talented or the most experienced scientist in my laboratory. At twenty-nine, I’m still considered very young in my field. I’m a microbiologist, so although I know about disease, it isn’t my specific area of proficiency. There were many virologists working on AM13, so what use could I possibly be? I didn’t think my level of knowledge could bring anything innovative to the plate, so I chose to let the bigwigs take control.
I spent every waking moment listening to the news and worrying about their lack of progress. Was I wasting my talent by not working? My wife, Ashley, and my five-year-old daughter, Melody, were glad I was with them, of course. They relished the time with me. It did make me realise how much time I actually spent away from them normally. I’ve felt a lot of guilt about that ever since
just another burden on my shoulders. Then the announcement came. Everything had broken down, fallen apart, and we were to get to the nearest airport as soon as possible.
I guess that during this time, if I hadn’t been with my family, they wouldn’t have survived. At least I’ll always have that to be grateful for, whatever bad decisions I made.
As we stumbled into the airport, exhausted and stressed after having a few near misses, we were ready to breathe a sigh of relief. But things didn’t stop there. I was immediately taken aside by a government official. He told me with great vigour and enthusiasm that I’d been handpicked to join the medical staff working on a cure. I was so pleased—finally a chance to make up for my mistake, an opportunity to help—that I didn’t even think it through. I was happy, can you believe that? To make things even more tempting, he told me that if I was happy to comply, my family would be taken really good care of for the rest of our lives *wink wink*.
Who could refuse an offer like that? I should have, of course; it was far too good to be true.
I tried to explain the importance of this project to Ashley, but she became distressed and hysterical. I couldn’t make her understand that I was doing this for her, for everyone. That I was doing it to get rid of AM13. I think she just saw it as abandonment. Regardless, I was forced to say a quick goodbye before we went our separate ways. She got on the plane with everyone else while I waited behind to get on a different flight. Of course I was upset by her reaction, but I was more pleased that I’d been ‘handpicked’ for my skills.
Before boarding, I was inexplicably blindfolded. I didn’t question it at the time, assuming there was a valid secrecy reason for this. I was ushered into my seat, where I became increasingly confused, nervous, and excited in equal measures. Someone told me not to remove my blindfold until given explicit permission, but curiosity got the better of me and I peeked.
I was stunned to find myself sitting completely and utterly alone in the economy section of the plane. I could hear muffled voices coming from behind the curtain, in the first class section. It seemed I was the only one not travelling in luxury. Where were all the other great scientific brains and doctors on this so called assembled team?
Turned out there wasn’t any because, of course here I am, completely and utterly alone.
I wasn’t officially allowed to see again until long after we had landed, so I actually have no idea where we are. By the flight length, I am going to guess somewhere in Europe, but I could be wrong. I was taken into my laboratory, shrouded in secrecy and whispering. I asked repeatedly why there was no one else here with me working on this completely alien disease. No answers, not really. Just that I’m the best available.
That’s not what I wanted to hear, not at all.
Does that mean all the other scientists have died? Got infected? What about all the guys from my workplace? Did none of them survive? Of course, even now no one will tell me anything, but I can’t stop these questions from whirling around in my mind constantly. Am I really the best left? If so, who do they think is going to follow me? That was probably just empty threats. Even so, this responsibility is such a hard one to shoulder.
Actually, on that note, I think I will try to keep this report detailed, even if it is just for the scientist who follows me. Then, if anything does happen to me, my work won’t be wasted and the next person won’t have to start from scratch
especially if it’s someone more inexperienced than I am.
Here I’m going to describe the laboratory, just because I feel like I should. It may add to the understanding of my work. This room seems to have been purpose built for this exact scenario. Of course, that can’t really be true, there hasn’t been enough time to develop anything like this, but to be honest I’d rather not know what went on here beforehand. The possibilities are endless and frightening.
It’s small. That is the most notable thing. It is a fairly small room, with no window. But then that’s probably a good thing, because sunlight can affect results. There are eleven individual enclosures surrounded by bullet-proof glass. These are where the specimens are being kept. These are tiny. I feel terribly sorry for the people who were brought in during stage one of the infection. I felt awful staring at their confused faces inside these ‘cages,’ which have barely enough room to move about in. It’s undignified.
There’s an adjoining room, which is just as small, containing a very uncomfortable camp bed, the MRI machine, a toilet, and a shower. I only have running water for an hour a day, so getting an ice cold shower has become a real task. Timekeeping is just not my thing. Very cramped conditions, but I’m not exactly here to live the life of luxury.
This is also the room which contains my desk. It’s messy, of course, with bits of paperwork scattered everywhere, but it’s organised chaos. I keep this report on this table
the only thing I’ve treated very carefully.
So anyway, that’s where things stand at the moment. I think next time I see the board I’m going to ask them to attempt to locate other scientists from other countries. They can’t honestly expect me to believe that I’m now the only living person with any scientific knowledge left? If they want me to find an answer to AM13, I’m going to need help.
If I’m perfectly honest, I’m terrified that there isn’t an answer.