Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt this week are two pictures Inside Out
It takes one careless slip and one coincidence to threaten humanity, so fragile is our existence.
D minus two: Albert Cockerill banged the dashboard of his van. Out of petrol. What a cretin his brother in law was. As was he for believing him when he said he’d filled it. And allowing a faulty petrol gauge to remain unrepaired. Now he’d not be able to fix the mullions on Madeline’s Cottage and she’d moan about the rain seeping in from the overwhelmed downpipe. At least the weather forecast was better for the weekend.
D minus one: the pigeon landed, exhausted on the gutter. It wouldn’t make its loft. Seeking shelter from the rain and confused by the muscle aches it crawled through the slit in the soffit towards the dry darkness. In an instant the pipistrelle bat took to the air catching the tiny mite that had detached from the pigeon on entry. In less than two hours the bat became disoriented on leaving its roof space before landing with a thump on the stone window ledge.
D day: Madeline Cuthbert opened the window. The rain had ceased leaving a sticky humid legacy disrupting her sleep. She leaned out resting her hand on the ledge. Before she had a chance to recoil her hand, which she had scratched earlier pressed into the bodily ooze from the tiny, now dead bat.
D plus one: Madeline Cuthbert swallowed another two paracetamol and hefted her bag onto her shoulder. Damned weather, she thought, she was always getting a summer cold in this fetid atmosphere. Boarding her flight to Toronto she closed her eyes and waited for sleep to come.
D plus two: as Madeline Cuthbert began to lose her sense of place, Jonathan Pilgrim, having sat next to Madeline from Heathrow, changed planes in Atlanta for onward transmission to Mexico City. He was feeling achy, which he put down to 24 hours of travel after a brief stopover at his firm’s office in Canada for a presentation to 50 colleagues. Nearly everyone present congratulated Jonathan on his partnership, shaking his hand warmly and telling him not to worry about his hay fever.
D plus four: with Madeline on a ventilator and Jonathan being seen by the hotel doctor in Mexico fourteen of his colleagues were returning to their home towns in New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Sydney, Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai, Singapore, Johannesburg and Dubai. In total the fourteen came into contact with 676 other people, who before the day was out had contacted directly or indirectly another 720 people. The remaining 36 colleagues contacted 373 other people.
D plus five. As both Madeline and Jonathan succumbed to their mystery illness hospital staff were reporting an increase in hospital admissions in London, Toronto and Mexico. By the end of the day others were hospitalised in four other cities and those who had come into contact with the infection had risen to 17894. In addition the air handling systems in 41 long Haul jets plus airports retail centres and offices contained the infection.
D plus six. The authorities were now aware of the start of a flu type epidemic. Strains of H1N1 and other deadly flus were tested for on the recent victims without any pathology lab able to discern the nature of the illness. Four hospitals were now shut due to staff shortages and emergency services in 18 towns and cities beyond stretched. The infection now stretched to at least 347,468.
One week after Madeline had accidentally absorbed the pipistrelle bat’s juices the world woke to the realisation it was facing the first really killer pandemic since Spanish flu in 1918. World wide over 27,000 had already died, seven major cities were on lock down, international flights grounded and the total infected over 17 million. Meanwhile the pigeon, fully recovered made for its loft.