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Fermius Firefly

A Dream Log, whenever I remember the dreams I've had.

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Location: San Marcos, United States

Fermius is a pen name drawn from a series of short fiction I wrote when I published the small press magazine Stellanova (on paper.) I play RPG games to escape from my daily grind as a technology wage slave for the state of California. I eat out a lot in order to do my part in supporting our increasingly service level economy. I am butler to 2 feline masters. If you ask them they will tell you I'm not very good at it, late with dinner, don't have enough hands with brushes in them, and sometimes I even lock them out of their office.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Plague

This dream was more than two weeks ago, but I dreamed last night that I wouldn't remember any other dreams until I wrote it down, so, here is what I remember (Without super graphic smell-o-vision, thankfully.)

Plague.

We had it, worse, in sheer numbers, than anything the human race had faced before. In pure percentages, we were only headed for sixty percent fatalities, or perhaps a little more. Some people had suffered a mild case early on, and that made us less likely to die. No less likely to get sick, it seemed, but less likely to die. Cities were the worst, of course, and places so isolated there was no food and water delivery system to keep everyone hydrated.

We thought the whole west coast would fail, but when the fatalities started racking up, the resources were suddenly sufficient to keep water flowing and heat and food delivered. Who knew we'd be so resilient in the suburbs.

Still. Things were bad. The death rate had gotten so high that there were two collections a week. One for normal refuse, and one to pick up the dead. Every week on Sunday night, the trash cans would roll out, and the bodies of the dead, marked with their names and birth dates, and the date they passed on, if there was someone to write it. Sometimes the people left inside could not take a person out, so they called on their healthier neighbors to help. So much sadness. So much despair.

I was headed home from one such outing when I noticed two little ones on the lawn bags next door. They were laying arms at their sides like little soldiers at attention, their names and vital dates written on their naked chests. Six and four, so little. I stopped, my breath catching. And they sobbed. I started.

What are you doing out here?

"Won't last the night."

"Don't want to stink up the house." the little one sniffled and coughed weakly.

Such brave little souls, I couldn't stand it and had to bite the inside of my mouth to keep from sobbing myself. I looked at their almost skeletal frames, though the younger one still showed some signs of baby fat, someone had made the attempt to comb their curly mops of shoulder length black hair, but hadn't succeeded in reigning in the wildness. Can only guess that they'd been asleep or unconscious when they'd been set out. They were both awake, and just, well, being brave about the whole thing.

I didn't think they would last the night...but I wasn't about to let them lay out in the chill night air.
I covered my mouth and nose, then put on fresh gloves, scooped them up and took them inside.

They were a mess, dried vomit, diarrhea, snot and mucus everywhere. I took them straight to the bathroom where I had the de-humidifier running full tilt to heat the room. (I found that helped keep me comfortable, so thought it might help them.) I filled my bath with water as hot as I could stand it, then took the little pair to the guest shower and washed them gently. They fussed a bit about their names and dates, but I promised I would be careful not to wash them off completely. On the other hand, they couldn't wait to be out of their soiled panties. Oh, they stank. I didn't even try to rinse them out but put the right in the trash and tied the bag shut.

I cleaned them as gently as I could, and they didn't fuss about it, falling asleep or passing out from time to time, so they were just limp on the pile of wet towels. However, soon color was coming back to their faces and limbs. I wrapped them in a big towel and carried them in one big pile to the hot bath, where I set them in to soak and warm up. Despite the warm shower water, they were still shivering. They agreed that they were much more comfortable than out on the garbage pile. I had to arrange towels in the tub to keep them from slipping under they were so weak. I didn't think they would make it through the night, but I was determined to make it as comfortable as I could. I arranged them so they could see each other and hold one another's hands, that seemed to help a lot. I closed the door and left them to warm up and let the warm moist air do its thing, I hoped.

I had fish stew, well it was more soup at this point, frozen fish heated up and cut into a batch of rice, kumquat peels, dandelion greens, grape leaves, peppermint and a dose of salt and brown sugar. It was still a little bit bitter, but it made me cough less and my throat was starting to heal, so I kept eating it. I brought some to the girls, hoping they hadn't drowned or died while I was fussing with the food. One of the side effects of the plague was that everything seemed to take twice or three times as long as you thought it would.

They didn't want to eat, because "you won't have enough, and we're going to die anyway." Without thinking I told them that if I ran out I would just have to eat them.

Wrong move.

They started crying.

I quickly pointed out that they wouldn't mind because they were going to be dead anyway.

That didn't help. It spent a few minutes to convince them that I was only joking around with them, and that I had plenty to eat. It wasn't working, they were just sort of whining weakly. That's when Giles walked in and climbed up on the bathtub. "See, I've even managed to keep my little kitties alive." Giles at this point was probably bigger than the little one.

Gile's happy chirping meow changed everything. I offered them food again, after giving a piece of fish to Giles. They sniffed it, then the little one took tentative tastes, the older one waiting to see what happened. I didn't expect them to have more than a tablespoon or so, as it was obvious that they were nearly dehydrated to death to start with. But the soupy stew seemed to agree with them, so I brought more of the broth for them to drink.

I got them dried off and put each of them in one of my t-shirts. The little one had to hike it up and I made a little belt to tie it up. They really couldn't stand up on their own very well, but insisted on looking at themselves in the mirror, so I lifted each of them up so they could see themselves. (I'd put them in my two cat shirts.) They were very sleepy, but breathing better than earlier. I propped them up on some pillows and made a little tent over them to help keep the air moist around them. I got out a book from my kids book collection and read to them until the fell asleep hand in hand. I went outside and sat in the hot tub, I honestly believe that was what was keeping me alive.

When I came back in I laid down gently so as not to disturb them, hoping that they would have a peaceful night.

They didn't. We made several trips to the bathroom. Several more hot showers, after the first accidents I diapered them with my small white shop towels. They complained but were too weak to fight it, really. The two of them drank the rest of the broth from the stew and so I started another batch. I discovered that combing their hair seemed to calm them down. By morning, they had actually eaten a bit of the rice and fish, picked out the green bits, and, though I was exhausted. They seemed stronger, and in better spirits. I actually felt hopeful we wouldn't need this morning's pickup for them. "Are we in heaven?'

"No, Sweety, if this were heaven you wouldn't need diapers."

I told them that I thought they were going to live. They both smiled, and asked for another story. (I read them "Anne Can Fly.")

At this point the dream turned into me trying to read from the pages, and having that very dream feeling that the words just weren't actually there, or weren't correct, or...well it was so off it pulled me out of the dream. I woke exhausted and drained, throat scratchy, coughing. At least I could tell where that part of dream came from. Miranda and Ember were tucked up on the pillows next to me, like the little girls in the dream. I had pulled the covers up over my head. I uncovered myself and was slipping back into the dream when the alarm light came on, right in my face. (Which is why I remember so much detail.)

I didn't manage to convey how weirdly depressing life had become under the plague. Sure we were pulling together to help where we could, but everyone retreated to their little quarantine zones as soon as a task was done. There were whole households that were empty now, and many places where there was only a couple of survivors. Children and older people were the most hard hit, myself and my neighbor kids being an exception, and even though I'd survived, everyone just expected me to relapse and die so the only thing I could do was help with the removal of bodies, sort of a "let the dead bury the dead" kind of thing. No one wanted me to help with any deliveries and I only drove myself to the store for cat food and essentials. Food wasn't exactly rationed, but people were trying very hard not to allow hoarding fever to kick in, that had destroyed several communities around the world. Social Media had become the news thing, and radio had become the community communication medium, all government meetings were broadcast live, and people could call in, it was oddly effective, and calming, but still somehow desperate seeming. We had plenty of everything, except mortuaries. The rest of the world was faring similarly, but some had used the plague as an excuse to raise up the specter of old wars and hostilities. Large military groupings without good medical support, however, were short lived in the field. Most of those campaigns fizzled and casualty rates were actually higher from disease than from combat. It seems that eventually, everyone's losses were too great to continue, trucks needed to be driven, trains and ships needed engineers, pilots were needed to ferry medicine and supplies, there just wasn't enough manpower to run around shooting at one another. Perhaps that was why things were working so well, we could all follow the news, hear the decisions being made, participate. The whole thing was an oddly utopian dystopia.

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