Monday, September 10, 2007

I was only half paying attention, so I don't know who said it, but someone on CNN just used the word "zombie" to refer to the infected. Great. Engineered bioweapons reduced to the level of a 1940s Val Lewton b-movie.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

the talk

Today's New York Times reports that all over the country people are having the talk: what they expect their loved ones to do if they get infected. Tonight, inspired by the article, Christina sat down next to me at the small table in the kitchen. I knew that there was going to be trouble, because she reserves sitting-at-night-at-the-small-kitchen-table for quarrelsome talks. She gives me that much warning, at least.

She said we had to talk about what we should do if the other exhibited signs of the virus. I said that if one of us was infected, it was astronomically unlikely that the other one was clean -- we were both going to be infected or healthy until this infection burned itself out. I hoped against hope that she would accept that flimsy logic and drop the entire subject. She said that I was most likely correct, but it was also likely that the one who was infected first was much further along in the disease than the other one, and so we still needed to talk about it.

She said very clearly that she wanted me to kill her at the first sign of disease. I felt as if the bottom had dropped out of my chair. We've all been exposed to so much violence on tv and the movies (and lately in real life), so many gunshots and killings and dead bodies discovered by morning joggers, that we think we can deal with death they way they do on TV. We see war movies where a soldier grimly but determinedly kills his wounded buddy, and we think "That's not so hard. I can do that." It's not the same when it's in front of you.

It's funny -- I've always been ambivalent about my feelings for Christina. I liked her a lot, but I could never say if I loved her or not. I was inclined to think I didn't. But when she asked me to kill her I was, for the first (for the only?) time filled with such love for her I thought my heart would fly out of my body. Kill her??? Kill the woman I've spent the last two years with? Who laughs when I do my Groucho Marx voice even though she isn't quite certain who Groucho Marx is? Kill the woman who rallies me when I fail, and who yells at me when I leave the sponge in the sink? The woman I agonized over on 6-17? I couldn't do it.

Plus, television bravado aside, if you're middle class, educated, and liberal in the grand scheme of liberal democracy, you're going to have a hell of a time actually getting down and killing someone. Did she expect me to strangle her? To hit her on the head with a candlestick? To SHOOT her? I actually began to grow resentful that she was putting this all on me.

All of this took my brain about a second and a half to process. Then I realized what was going on. I was taking her too literally again. She didn't want me to promise to kill her -- under the rules of female logic she would actually get angry if I promised to do what she asked me to do. No, she was merely looking for reassurance, as always, that I could take care of anything. That was also unfair, but it was a lot more reasonable that expecting me to kill her of she became infected.

I scooted my chair over so that we were sitting 90 degrees apart, and I reached over to wrap her in my arms. I told her in my most reassuring voice that we weren't infected, and that if we were careful we weren't going to become infected. I started to say that it was too early to talk about something like this, but she literally put her hand over my mouth and shut me up. Once again, my insides froze. I've watched so much television that I knew what was happening: she was going to tell me that she was already infected!

She said that she was at a greater risk for infection because she had been out on 6-17, and she needed to know that if she became infected, she could count on me to help her end her life as quickly as possible. I told her frankly that my instinct would be to take care of her, and that I couldn't do violence to her. She said she appreciated that, but this situation was different: she really needed to know that she could count on me not to leave her to become a zombie.

I asked what she had in mind. She said that she was going to hit the stores and buy as much bebedryl and dramamine as she could. Thirty to forty of either pill would be enough to overdose on, according to Google. With alcohol she could probably do with less. She said she would get enough for me as well. There's no fucking way I want to die in the convulsions of a benedryl death. I made a lame joke, saying why can't we just overdose on heroin -- at least it's painless. She said that she had already thought of that, but apparently so has everyone else, and they've started stockpiling: according to friends of hers who know such things the streets are absolutely devoid of heroin.

Isn't that nice: The Epidemic for a Drug-Free America.

Monday, September 03, 2007

is it official?

It seems to be the classic pattern. The disease puts the patient into a coma, as it reproduces into every niche of the body. It then wakes them up and gets them out into the world infecting people. Then it turns the original carriers into brainless berserkers.