The Day Before the Pandemic Arrived
The Last Ferry
‘Get in, Kira, we’re running late.’
‘OK already.’ Kira climbed in, she had to perch beside Red on top of the dog chow. Red whined, putting out a paw to her. ‘Hey, boy. Ready to live on the island?’ Red put his head down beside her. Kira shot a look at May who’d managed to grab a more comfortable seat. May had her face stuck into the pages of ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and was just nodding her head to her music, oblivious to anything.
‘We’ve got forty-five minutes to get to Tsawwassen,’ Frances declared.
‘We can do it. We have reservations.’
The truck lurched forward, laden; it swayed a little, but it was strong and her father was a good driver.
Kira looked back at the house, the vine that hid most of one side of it and she had a strong feeling she’d never see it again. Nothing decisive, but it was a strong feeling nevertheless. She’d already decided that if she got the virus she’d make sure she’d kill herself. She’d read about the symptoms and how almost no one survived and those that did couldn’t even breathe on their own. You’d be a cripple with a huge ventilation machine attached. All your joints would swell and people screamed when they tried to walk, the pain was so bad. No way. If she caught it she’d make sure she died and make sure she’d take the evil Frances with her.
‘Don’t look back, kids,’ her father was chirping. ‘This is a big adventure and we’re going to survive this thing.’
May looked up at Kira then and pulled a face. Kira shrugged. Both of them knew it was bullshit. Even if they survived, what would they come back to? Empty malls? Empty cities.
The traffic was crazy. Seemed like everyone had the same idea. They had priority with reservations, but even so, no one was sure they’d get on, and someone was stalled in front of them blocking the line.
‘Go around, go around them,’ Frances screamed, suddenly fearful they weren’t going to get on the ferry. She, like Kira, was growing ever anxious at the presence of armed police controlling the traffic flow onto the Tsawwassen ferry. They had been in the line-up for thirty-five minutes now and they knew there could only be one or two places left, even with their reservation. The SUV in front wasn’t going to move and there was a clear line in front of him. The ferry crew were signaling they were about to close the ramp and losing patience.
‘Go around them,’ Frances screamed again. ‘This is the last god-damned ferry.’
He swung out and immediately people behind were honking their horns, perhaps thinking that they too should have thought of this. A cop began to signal to them to get back in line but a crew loader on the ferry was waving them forward and shouting something they couldn’t hear to the cop.
‘They’re pointing guns at us, Dad,’ May was yelling, her face pale now. Red was barking with excitement, snarling face pressed up the greasy window. A man in a police uniform wearing a mask was aiming something at them. Another person next to her was reading a scanner.
‘They’re taking body temperature readings, not shooting,’ her father declared, trying to reassure them all. ‘They’ve got thermal imagers. They can stop anyone traveling with a reading over 38c.’
They made it to the edge of the ramp and the roar of horns protesting behind them rose to a crescendo, but still the stalled SUV didn’t move. Kira was looking over her shoulder at it. The driver was awful still, the passengers behind him weren’t moving and the emergency lights were flashing. She felt sorry for them; this was definitely the last ferry. They’d all be trapped on the mainland for sure.
‘Out of the vehicle now,’ a cop was yelling at them, the thermal imager aimed at each one of them as they got out of the truck. Kira and May stood together as the man took a reading, then he pointed it at Red. It was reading 38c.
‘Dogs have a higher temperature than humans,’ Kira told him anxiously, in case he tried to deny them onto the ferry.
Red whined, but Kira made sure he had a window open and some water to drink. ‘Be a good boy. Sleep, OK?’
The man turned to her and nodded, surprisingly sympathetic. ‘I know that. You’re all clear. Get back into the vehicle and proceed.’
They all quickly complied, didn’t want to risk being denied access, all extremely nervous in case something else should prevent them escaping. They were on the ferry at last and the ramp was already up behind them and locking into place.
“Everyone but Red out, OK. Get some fresh air,’ her father ordered.
Kira turned around and discovered the family had left already. Typical, but she wasn’t surprised, this would be the way it was going to be on the island. Everything was to keep Frances happy and sweet. Her dad was a total sucker, couldn’t see through her at all. She walked towards to the stern as the ferry cast off from the dock. She could see there were a lot of resentful people in their cars left back there who now knew they had no place to go but back home.
The SUV still hadn’t moved. From nowhere men in HAZMAT space suits were cautiously approaching it. Like something from a horror movie. She watched, fascinated, as they opened the vehicle doors and two bodies fell out onto the ground. Everyone in that SUV was dead.
© Sam Hawksmoor - March 2020
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