Saturday, November 07, 2015

Day 7 - The Animals and Me

Dear Diary; I miss people most at times like this.

The fawn had been weak when I found it, its rear leg was broken and it had been left behind by its mother on the edge of the forest near my cabin. I took it home with me and nursed it, feeding it with warm milk from a baby’s bottle and fashioning a splint for its leg. Over the course of the next month, I looked after it pretty much constantly until finally we were at the point today where it had enough strength to be released back into the wild.

I waited until I saw the mother and her two other fawns emerge from the forest, and then took Bambi (my naming skills are not, I admit, particularly original) out and watched as she warily stepped away from me and the cabin, across the meadow to the edge of the forest where her mother stood watching.  I held my breath as she nuzzled suspiciously at Bambi, and then burst out into a huge grin as she finally accepted her and the four of them headed off and away into the forest.

And that’s when I miss people. There was a time when I’d have filmed this moment and uploaded it to facebook for some likes, or to reddit for some karma; but neither of those exist anymore. It has all gone now, like dust in the wind.

It has been only six months since the Kaplov virus first appeared in the news; twenty fatal cases among workers at Dubai International Airport and a near immediate global panic. Over six million passengers a month flowed through Dubai, it was the single busiest international airport in the world, and frankly it would have been impossible to pick a worse place for a disease to hit. And then the analysis started and the news only got worse.

The CDC led the charge in trying to understand Kaplov and their findings determined that the disease was far more deadly than anyone could have imagined. A fatality rate of over 99.99% and an incubation period, in which the virus lay dormant and yet was contagious, which could be measured in months. The result was a realisation that the entire world was already infected and that there was a clock ticking.

I was working in infectious disease research when the news broke and our department, like countless others around the world, dropped everything to try and solve the mystery of Kaplov. I think it was a Russian lab that first discovered the evidence that finally confirmed what so many had feared; that Kaplov was an artificially engineered virus.

They tried to keep the news from going public but, with so many people working to solve something so huge, it was never going to work. The news leaked, the press got hold of it and Pandora’s Box was well and truly open.

Everything went mad shortly after that; it was simply impossible for the authorities to maintain any semblance of order. The world fell apart. Chaos. Riots. Utter anarchy on a level that had never been seen in the history of mankind. And then the first wave of deaths started, and they just kept coming.

I headed deep into the forest, to this cabin which I’d bought a year earlier and which was stocked with its own power supply and enough supplies to last me several months. While the internet and the TV stations still existed, I watched; and when everything went dead I used a radio to listen for the few sporadic broadcasts as the remaining survivors desperately tried to seek out anyone else who’d managed to make it this far.

I never responded. I wasn’t sure I wanted to meet anyone else who lived through this, who’d seen those horrors. In time, the broadcasts stopped. Within the space of three months, the world’s population had dropped from over seven billion to less than five million.  And there I was; totally immune to the virus.

Being alone, except for the company of Bonny my golden retriever, has given me plenty of time to think. Time to think about how much better the world is without mankind fucking things up. I think about how the forests are growing, reclaiming the cities. I think about how the fish stocks are rising without trawlers fishing the sea barren, I think about the elephants roaming the African plains who are no longer being shot and poisoned for their ivory. The world is finally able to heal itself now that humanity is no more.

The animals keep me company; already they’re becoming less afraid of me. The deer come closer to me now, the birds still eye me cautiously but are seemingly happy to strut only feet away when I am standing outside. It feels like nature is slowly beginning to accept me. After all, it’s just the animals and me now.

Yes Dear Diary, I miss people most at times like these. But I don’t regret a single thing.

Peter Kaplov
June 18th, 2016

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