Days of Pandemic

It was a very calm and blue day, to be experiencing a clumped streak of neuroticism in the broad skies of Canada. Some two-hundred human beings were up there on that day, crammed into a metal bird, flying above frozen wastelands. So rapid was their advance, that the number of meters attained in a second exceeded the count of useful thoughts most of these passengers would have in a year. In this future of some history, a journey as such had become mundane… almost boring. Ordinarily, the logisticians of aerial necessities would have been busy answering with fake smiles to the annoying and often obscene demands of the morally degraded, may they be richer or poorer, their lips being adjusted appropriately.

 

Yet in this special time and during that most extraordinary of occasions, the clerical germs inside the gut of the giant vessel were elated. For due to causes they did not clearly understand, fate has bestowed upon them a noble goal:  the protection of the public’s health and safety. They were deemed ‘essential workers’, while others were designated as redundant. This convergence of circumstances had gifted them with White – the color of priests, and an authority over those with a spiritual inclination to Death.

It was on that day that Dwight, a meritorious servant of his sky-services company since long ago, had one of those rare, meaningful thoughts. With a sudden streak of blatant genius inspiration, Dwight had come to realize, that he was no longer a mere little screw in the greater system, distributing toxic meals and catering for petty emotions. Rather, he was now a full-time serviceable saviour of mankind. Which meant, as fate would have it, that now they and them aboard, would have to listen to him solemnly.

Overjoyed with this revelation, Dwight went to work that day with the enthusiasm of a true zealot. Neither salary nor promotion, formerly of importance to him, seemed now to matter. For Dwight has been reborn! His old materialist mind has receded and surrendered to a higher cause… which Dwight overheard was some kind of menace. But the details mattered little, as long as the sheep in the hovering haul were unusually attentive, and he could now wield the staff of fear to direct them at will. Armed with a silly piece of cotton to cover his human emotions, gloves in the color of royalty to avoid touching the impure, and a flimsy outfit in the spectrum most reflective of light, Dwight now felt aligned with the priests of old, and undoubtedly as wise.

Things were made easy for Dwight in advance. Powerful forces have fed his ‘truth’ to the masses already, and it has infiltrated their bodily tissues to the utmost, causing their blood to bubble. Even those temporarily inhabiting the aviating bus who have come to think of such ideas as distasteful or unpleasant, were usually too thoroughly invested in the social pretense to make a scene by acts of rebellion. For traitors as such were marked as progenitors of disease and mayhem, to be shunned by their peers and even family members. All of this, much to the advantage and satisfaction of Dwight, whose rank and esteem as the keeper of order and civility was thus raised among the people. In the era of utmost alienation, the bureaucrat is king.

On that same flight with the evangelical Dwight, resided Wallace – a retired senior micro-biologist from a prestigious academic production line of even more prestigious characters. Wallace had made a career for himself looking at very small things, which has earned him the favour of society, as no one else thought it interesting or meaningful to do the same. The government of some timely Empire also very much decorated and adorned Wallace with words and symbols, as his efforts were instrumental in the importation of Freedom into an enemy nation, by means of freeing 10% of the population of the other 90%, using some of Wallace’s miniature critters. Sadly, so focused was Wallace on the things unseen by the naked eye, that he had lost vision of his own gregarious mouth and inflating abdomen, earning him a diseased body. Now, he was hard of breathing, and stiffer still with his common sense.

That Dwight could see that this fellow Wallace was sitting in his domain whilst neglecting to adorn a mask, was as attractive as a golden fortune which tempts greed. Recruiting the muscles of his forehead and eyebrows to their utmost, Dwight initiated the usual litany about a sinner’s fate, and need for repentance. The sacred cloth must protect the front – so was the common belief in those times. But Wallace, an old bulldog of stern demeanor, neither flinched at nor indulged in Dwight’s routine. Countering the young enthusiast’s dogma, Wallace heretically suggested that this whole ordeal with the concealment of bodily features and distancing of people from their brethren, had been a careful plot, brilliantly though viciously orchestrated by the fellows who were paying his retirement funds. Besides, Wallace added bitterly, the mask was making his already weak breathing uneasy, and contributed to his exacerbating panic-attacks. Upon hearing this, Dwight became all-the-more swayed by his inner fires, and sought the continuation of their verbal conflict.

The result of that frivolous encounter, which lasted several minutes, were soon forgotten by the witnesses. Even Dwight could not well recall that man’s name the day after, as he was telling his girlfriend of that “old, pesky passenger whom he had definitely saved from the dangers of the raging virus”. A tad more memorable was Wallace’s funeral, a week later, after his heart had succumbed to the final penetrating pressures of conflict, following a life of strife over trifles. He was otherwise free of disease at the time of his passing, or so the doctors said.

Never has a human invention captivated the repressed terror of the masses as well as the airplane. Like worms in the belly of the feathered fowl or sardines in a tin can, they are asked to be the allegories of food and occupy a celestial layer in which they have no chance to survive as individuals, bound by the mercy of hostile guardians. Throughout their journey in the clouds, all they yearn for is the quick release out the mouth of the beast into which they have been inhaled, bidding parts of their soul for distractions from the perils of their own imagination, as ignited by anonymous forces. The aircraft indeed is the temple of Self-sacrifice, whose iconography and symbolism are by themselves sufficient to inflict dominance by fear.

by Jonathan Bluestein