|>> || Can see the walls squirm, feel the air writhe as it enters my nostrils. Hall a cramped tube, a virtual deathtrap. Pray to God no neighbors come out before I reach my door. Would probably scream, run back outside to my car. These people are vile enough on a good day; with the plague afoot, they’re guaranteed to be ground zero for contamination. God knows what filthy places they frequent while the rest of us are out trying to make a living. |
My just-concluded supermarket trip was a disaster. People online say they’ve seen shoppers fighting over toilet paper, rolls of paper towels. I missed all that: my trip yielded naught but empty shelves. No eggs, tuna, or tampons to be seen. Stocked up on the few canned goods left in stock. Saw a cute guy—or, at least I think he’d be cute if he took off the breathing mask.
Finally at my apartment door, I twist the key, flop through the entrance. Slam it home, bolt bolt. Rush to bathroom and bathe in rubbing alcohol. Please Christ, don’t let me be infected. I was only outside for thirty minutes!
Hyperventilate a while, then put groceries away. Surf the web. For hours. News, news, drama, drama. President said something dumber than yesterday, scared people worse than ever. At least the virus has put a squash on mass shootings. Same for mass-anything. Well, except for mass hysteria. Practice social distancing and call Big Brother on anyone who doesn’t.
All my friends have gotten into cybersex with European dudes, but I still miss the intimacy of real dates. In real restaurants, holding real hands, grinding real groins. Besides, I’m not the President, I’m not content with any hottie with a stupid accent.
Schools went on permanent summer break; now bands of bratty kids roam the apartment hallways, wiping their dirty hands on people’s doorknobs, licking car handles in hopes of spreading infection. Little bastards should be rounded up and shot. Same for their parents.
Christ, when will this end? Maybe I should pray harder.
Wait, what’s that I hear through the wall? Could it be? It is! Coughing! Someone’s sick! I fucking knew it! Five cans of Lysol later and I still don’t trust the wall between us. Should call the CDC, get this freak carted off. Can feel the virus trying to crawl between the cracks in the plaster, invisible chthonic tendrils reaching in, tussling my hair before pushing past my lips, burrowing down my gullet and flopping around inside my lungs, coating me with their infectious ooze.
“Not on my watch!”
Hall between apartments reeks of marijuana. Could that be the source of the coughs? Damn bongers—don’t they know smoking marijuana on property grounds is a violation of their lease? If the landlord wasn’t in self-quarantine, he’d be slapping an eviction notice on their door this very instant.
Move to pound their door, then stop. Picture all the germs writhing across the surface. Fuck that. “Hey,” I shout. “I know you’re in there, sickie! You better go to the hospital before you get us all killed!” Not sure if I’m being heard, “And stop coughing on my wall!”
My bedroom feels like enemy territory. Anything could be compromised. What if the kids got in while I was shopping? They could have done anything: wore my clothes, brushed their teeth with my toothbrush, blown their noses into my couch cushions. Abandon ship!
The very thought leaves me puking in the bathroom sink. As I’m washing the chunks down the grate, a pounding starts from outside. “Don’t think I didn’t hear that,” someone hollers. “You’re sick! I’m calling 911.”
I press my face flat against the door, shouting through the crack, “I’m not sick, you nosy little shit! The only thing I’m sick of is people like you!”
“Fuck that,” they snarl. Stomping away, “Do the world a favor and kill yourself.”
Dammit! Are they really calling the fuzz? What if I get carted off to the plague pit? I’m too cute for the plague pit! I may not be sick, but I will be after being thrown in with the rest of the infected. The mere thought makes me want to puke again, but now that I know the neighbors are spying, I can’t let myself. Forehead drenches eyebrows with perspiration; eardrums ring with whine. Breathing in short, jerky gasps. Limbs shaking. Anxiety? Why now, at a time like this? Curse you, body—always turning against me when I need you most.
Time to restore some sanity to this madhouse. Tired of living in fear; I’m ready to reclaim my life. A couple minutes later finds the halls between apartments thoroughly s…
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