Virus # 26”: Director’s Version (A Serialized Novel by Robert K. Stephen)

“Virus # 26-Director’s Version: Chapter One “Who Am I?”

My name is Dr. Evan Terpene. As I start writing this it is 2030 and I have recently celebrated my 56th birthday. I am a cardiologist working at a major hospital in the City of Toronto. Better said I used to work at the hospital but with so much civil unrest and chaos the hospital now only has a skeletal staff. Most of the nurses, doctors and support staff have died with Virus #26 sweeping the country and for that matter the globe. We took a severe hit with our five-year battle with COVID-19 (which became widely known as the American Virus) and COVID-19 Plus back in the 2020’s and then out of the blue Virus # 26 virtually leapt out of the bushes at the beginning of 2030. Virus # 26 genome’s code was entirely different from the COVID genomes.

I lived on a tony street in Toronto but there are few people remaining in their home there. They paid biker gangs (strangely reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans) to patrol my street from looters and then headed off to their mega retreats in “Cottage Country” thinking their money and rural settings would protect them but Virus #26 knew where to find them and then there was no more money to pay the bikers so matters are a bit rough outside. The biker protectors are now the looters.

My wife and two boys did not survive COVID-19 and COVID-19 Plus and I have only my 14-year-old daughter Alexi and an equally old West Highland Terrier Pill-Boy. What remaining family I have live in London in the United Kingdom. So many of them have died with this Virus #26, COVID-19 and COVID-19 Plus. It’s almost better that way as those who perished would not have believed what is happening in the world. It’s painful and I am thinking these days inevitably matters will come to less than a happy ending.

As a cardiologist there was little I could do to stem the deaths caused by COVID-19 and COVID-19 Plus. Were the deaths caused by an underfunded medical system that was on its knees when COVID-19 and COVID-19 Plus hit and never recovered? The politicians promised us we would be prepared for the next virus but by the time Virus #26 struck Canada was bankrupt after spewing out money locally and internationally to deal with COVID-19 and COVID-19 Plus. It had turned all taps on with funding to combat the COVID-19 viruses and then it simply ran out of money and credit. The slashed and burnt out hospital system and its employees was crippled with COVID-19 viruses’ hits and never recovered. Yes, I blame the politicians for stripping down the healthcare system prior to COVID. If they had properly planned staffing, drugs and equipment that might have given us a fighting chance. So when I saw them on television looking and play acting like they cared for us as a physician knowing what they had done to us and themselves, as most of them have died, I had nothing but contempt and by the time COVID-19 viruses had been beaten back the country felt the same way.

Today was a beautiful day and in better times there would have been so many people taking a stroll and enjoying the spring weather and the blossoms on the trees but alas those inhabitants are mostly dead or in lock-down in their splendid Cottage Country mansions assuming they survived the COVID- 19 viruses and have yet to succumb to Virus #26.

So I am in my living room with daughter Alexi and Pill-Boy and there is a pounding on the door accompanied by crazed voices bathed in too many opioids. “Open the fucking door or we will blast your rich fucking head off.”

One of my patients Spike was a vicious and ruthless criminal known throughout the country. Of course, even criminals can have a “bum ticker” and he had a very bad one. He died at my hospital and Spike prior to his demise gave me his keys to his luxurious condo and told me where the guns, ammo and cash were hidden. As tough as he was we had formed a relationship. Like many a criminal he had been abused as a child and trusted no one. Before he handed over the keys he said, “I know I am dying of this fucking Virus #26 and the least I can do is ask you to protect yourself with cash, gold coins, guns and ammo. I got no family and no friends, only enemies and associates. By the way thanks for that morphine and how you got that I’ll never know.” Spike died peacefully in a cloud of morphine.

Guns, cash, gold coins and ammunition. You’ve got to be kidding. I am a peaceful man but living in some very unpeaceful times. Strange that before the COVID-19 viruses swept through Toronto guns and gangs had a bad rap but COVID media coverage left the daily menu of shooting, stabbings and violence in the shadows. Perhaps I should do that very un-Canadian thing and arm and protect myself. Gun sales during the COVID viruses were very robust in the United States and I can see why. Of course, we here in Canada wanted no part of this Yankee “barbarity” and the survivors of Virus # 26 (yes there were some) were easily picked off by gangs of armed marauders. The unarmed were and are slaughtered

It was with a lurid curiosity I found myself in Spike’s condo. $2,000,500 in old fifties. A sack of American gold coins, 3 Glock semi-automatics with plenty of ammo and probably a kilo or so of some white powder which I assumed was some drug. I was a reservist with the Canadian Armed Forces so handling the beauty of a Glock was not going to be a problem. The drugs might prove to be valuable currency.

Well back to my situation. The knocking on my door was getting hysterical so I sent Alexi and Pill-Boy up to her room put two Glocks in my belt and put a jacket on to conceal them. Then I played the frightened” rich guy” and let 3 maniacs in and immediately had a gun thrust in my throat. ”Give us your food you rich fuck.” So I pointed them to the kitchen and they loaded up a sack with what little food I had left. They were ravenous and aided by some bourbon they dropped their guns and stuffed their faces. My military training said know your enemy and take advantage of his inattention.

Very calmly I pulled out my concealed Glocks and said, “This rich fuck is going to teach you a lesson.” Despite my Hippocratic oath I squeezed the trigger then dragged out the bodies and left them on the sidewalk. I would defend myself and Alexi at any cost and to hell with Hippocratic Oath. Two down and I had a feeling there were more to come and I felt no guilt or remorse. A fucking plague will do that to most people and if it doesn’t, they won’t survive. The hell with finding toilet paper at COSTCO. I’d rather have my life. Have I become Dr. John Wick?

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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