January 15th. Extract from email from the Danish Embassy.
“The KH 15 virus appears to have jumped species from the observed Whale population to the cod population. We have been unable to fully map its genetic sequence. Please advise.”
January 24th. Communique to the UN. Level Five security in place.
“This is a code one alpha. The Variant KH 15 virus has become a class one biohazard. 23 cases have been reported in Norway. The VKH 15 virus is non respondent to any countermeasures. The facility has been quarantined and all infected terminated and disposed of by regulation 453 measures. 47 civilian casualties.”
England seals it borders. Any attempt to cross the channel is met with terminal force. The PM announces a State of of Emergency and the UK is now under Martial Law. Looters are shot on site. Report from the Continent indicate that the Ocean ‘Flu, as they are calling it is spreading faster than anyone could have predicted. It is 99% fatal.
There are no more reports from Europe. A few long wave signals from the US show that the ‘Flu has started to take hold there. Boston and San Francisco have been sealed. Their Military are shooting anyone trying to leave the quarantine zones. The BBC are looping an address by the Queen for calm in the face of the pandemic, to stay in our homes, protect ourselves and avoid the infected.
There is no more power. The water, electricity, everything has stopped working. There are gangs breaking into peoples homes to steal whatever supplies they can find.
We arrived a little after Midnight I think. It’s hard to keep track of the days let alone the time. My Husband Joe has been awake for almost 30 hours. He was a Doctor before all this began and it seems that everyone needs something from him. When he eventually comes back to the Barracks, he is so tired he can hardly speak. I can’t help but kiss him. I take off his shoes as he lies down. I know he won’t sleep for long. He is constantly worried. He has almost no appetite. He is too young to bare such responsibility. He is asleep almost in seconds. Connie, who got us out of Manchester pops her head around the small curtain that divides our cel from the rest of the room. “Hello old thing. Are you okay?” I try not to cry. I want to weep until there is no more tears left in me. My parents and my Brother both died within seven hours of infection, I am one of the Zeros apparently. Amongst the very, very few who have a natural immunity to the ‘flu variant. ” Hi Connie. Joe’s asleep.” She nods smiling. She was his teacher once I think, Im not sure how she knows him.and has a bit of a soft spot for him. She strokes my arm and hugs me, she is too kind and trusting, I pray that she never meet the sort of people we escaped from before we left. “I’ve a little treat. Colin and me baked some bread, we are sharing it out but I thought our dashing young Doctor and his lovely wife deserved a loaf of their own.” I start crying. I can’t help it. Connie hugs me and I see tears start to well at the edges of her eyes. ” Oh Come on now love. Let it all go.”
Connie and I sit drink slightly bitter tea for while chatting about nothing. Joe wanders, bleary eyed into the room and only dressed in his boxers. he blushes and stumbles a “Oh sorry” before heading off to dress. Connie and I laugh. “You lucky thing!” Connie mutters. We both laugh and as Joe returns we both have tears streaming from our eyes. It wasn’t really that funny but I think that she, like me needed a release from the last few days.
I’m only half awake as I feel Joe move next to me. He leans over and pulls the hair out of my eyes. He is more beautiful to me now than ever. When he kisses me, I feel shivers. We make love. It is long and slow and passionate. Every part of his skin is touching mine. Afterwards with his head rested against me, I cannot think of a time when I have loved him more. There is a knock at our door. “Doctor Munroe?” It’s Dominic’s voice. I can’t say that I like him very much but when everything turned to hell, he took what was left of our group and he had a boat. We are now on the Isle of Man. Connie, her husband and 11 of our original group made it. Between the variant ‘flu and the roaming gangs, we were lucky to survive. Joe is dressing as he calls out “I’m coming.” He is the only trained Doctor on the Island. There are a couple of Nurses and a few people that know First Aid but when anything serious happens, the come calling for Joe. He is terribly thin. He barely sleeps. I have tried and tried to ask them to go back to the mainland and find another Doctor but they say it is too dangerous.
I didn’t mean to fall asleep but it is almost 4am when Joe comes back to the cottage we share with Connie and Brian. “Hello Love.” Joe smiles the same easy smile he always does. “Everything okay?” I prop myself up on my elbows. ” Patrice fell while she was out hunting. Nothing broken but she dislocated her shoulder falling from her horse.” I don’t really know Patrice very well but she is always very flirty around Joe. “God. Is she okay?” Joe smiles and strokes my hair “She’s fine, bit of a bugger putting it back but Max found Morphine at one of the clinics. She’ll be fine. She’s built like a bloody tank!” When the world went insane, when everything fell apart, Joe always chose to do the right thing. He was nearly killed in Manchester rescuing a woman from her car. When we were in Dover he spent four days looking after an infected Family. During the early days they started testing blood groups, it’s how I know I am a ‘zero’, zero chance of infection. There are very few of us that have any natural immunity to the Ocean ‘Flu. Joe doesn’t. The thought of loosing my lover, my Husband, my best friend, the man who can make me laugh even when I am furious with him, the man who always has time for everyone, never asks for anything in return, never complains. It makes me cold.
Dominic and his horrid little sidekick are running up from the cliff path. I can’t hear what they are shouting but it can’t be good. I have little Maisie on my hip and put her down and tell her to run home. As I look back Dominic falls down on the path and Jason, Justin, whatever his name is starts screaming then he falls down to. There are men with guns. I look back but Maisie is out of sight so I start to run back to the cottage. Brian comes running out. “What the hell was that noise?” I can’t even answer before he is pulled back into the doorway. There is a hole in his chest. Joe is at the clinic and I think I can run that far. I make only a few feet before one of those men in that camouflage outfits hits me in the side of the head with his rifle.
They rounded up all the men on the Island and shot them. They let Joe and Max live because Joe is a Doctor and Max is an electrician. The woman, apart from me have all been taken and kept in two barns. Some of the men take the children away and some come back, some don’t. I cannot think about it or my heart would break. In five months since the Outbreak the world has turned into hell. Last night Joe refused to treat one of their soldiers unless their Commander, Adam promised that the children would be protected. They beat him until he couldn’t stand. I’m not really very good at this but I cleaned his wounds as best I could. He keeps trying to speak but I can’t hear what he is saying.
One of them grabs me by the arms and drags me out of the room. I know I shouldn’t but I can’t help but scream. As I am pulled past the school I see the children at the windows crying.
“Elizabeth. Thank you for joining us.” Adam is the most terrifying man I have ever met. If I could I would scratch out his eyes and bite out his neck. Kick him and punch him until he was dead. He is about 6 foot 5 and heavily muscled. I think he could probably kill me with one hand. “I understand your Husband is become fractious. I don’t like that. No, I don’t like that at all. You see I promised my men that I would take care of them, food, water, safe air and anything they wanted to fuck. Your Husband is the first Doctor we found, lucky us.” Adam actually laughed as he said it. “Now you are going to tell your husband that unless he wants to be forced to watch you being raped by every single man under my command he will do what he is told, when he is told. Do we understand each other Elizabeth?”
I want to kill him. I have never felt such an overwhelming and cold anger before. I swallow it down. “Yes. I will speak to him.”
“Good girl.” He turns away dismissing me with no thought of my total hatred of him. “Run along,”
Connie and I are side by side, we have been told to bake bread and roast the pigeons the soldiers have shot. She has barely spoken since Brian was shot. I put my hand over hers. ” Are you okay?” It i a stupid question but I don’t know what else to say. “What did you do before all this?” She is staring straight into my eyes. It is the most I have heard her say since that day. “I… I worked at the University. I was a Librarian.” She smiles and pats my cheek. “Do you know what I did?” She turns and stares off out of the kitchen window. “Brian thought I was secretary. When people used to ask me what I did I said ‘I am a secretary’ and change the subject. Official secrets act darling. I don’t think that really matters any more. I can speak nine languages. When anyone ever says ‘I work in Whitehall’ they are normally part of the Intelligence service. I was. For 19 years. I was the language officer for Department Six. Can you imagine what I did before that? No of course you couldn’t. I am the daft old woman next door. Connie the far too loud and silly thing. I don’t want to be here anymore and I am old, rusty and will probably get myself and all of you killed. Isn’t that just slightly better than being tortured by rapists and pedophiles?”
“Oh God Connie, whatever you are thinking of, please i beg…” One of Adams soldiers walked into the kitchen. “Hurry the fuck up, we are fucking starving out here!” Connie turns and smiles. It is such an odd smile that it scares me more than Adam does. “Darling the water seems to have stopped. I’m sure strapping young man like you could sort it out.” He tuts and spits on the floor. As he bends down to open the cupboard under the sink, Connie smashes a meat cleaver into the back of his neck, he jerks upright, eyes glazed over and Connie, I don’t know how, seems to twist and pull on his head at the same time. He drops dead at her feet. She takes his rifle and his handgun. “Go and find everyone and get them to the docks. I really don’t have much time. Go!”
I think that Connie must have known for a while that she had become infected with the VHK 15 virus. I don’t or could ever know what she really did that day. I know that she killed 23 of Adams’ soldiers and Adam himself. Me, Joe and a few of the others made it to the docks and we sailed away. We followed the coast line to some remote island. We do the best we can.