It might be shocking to anyone else to know there was a silent pandemic that was such a threat to the status quo that the government would rather keep it behind an iron wall of secrecy than expose themselves to the risk of losing their own power while trying to snuff it out, but Sheila McCrae knew. As one of the victims, she was sublimely sanguine over her infection. That was the peculiar nature of the disease and it saddled the CDC with the impossible task of stopping it from spreading while keeping it top secret at the same time. They had no choice. This disease was so insidious that they could never allow it to become public knowledge.
This was not your run of the mill SARS virus, swine flu, or coronavirus like the one that shut down the world in 2020. This was a fungal infection and was infinitely more dangerous to the economy than any typical pandemic, though seemingly not to the victims, themselves. It was ironic that she had spent the last few days in an upscale townhouse less than 2 miles away from the CDC headquarters in Atlanta and as that thought crossed her mind, a smile of self-satisfaction spread across her face.
Sheila did not even know what they were calling it, but it changed her and if it was not for the CDC agents trying to track her down, life would be perfect. Who would have thought a brain infection could have been something so life-changing that the government wanted to hunt down everyone who contracted it?
On the back seat of a Greyhound bus en route to the Big Easy, she was able to keep to herself, only occasionally having to sign “no” to people asking if she minded their company at one of the stops on the way. Life had been beautiful for the last six months since she had become infected. The only problem was staying ahead of the CDC agents, but living on cash and changing locations frequently kept that manageable. It was not like they could put out an APB on her or post her picture in post offices.
She had wanted to visit New Orleans for years but never made the arrangements. Being on call 24/7 and married to her job had made vacations an impossibility for the last three years. Now she looked back wondering how she ever got sucked into the rat race to the point of sacrificing her whole life for it. The slow-motion swaying of the bus lumbering down the highway and the passing scenery, a panoramic kaleidoscope of summer colors, was thoroughly relaxing. Sheila’s cotton sundress was airy and comfortable and aside from her designer fashion sandals was all she was wearing. Living in the moment was the key to happiness, she had decided, and she had never been so happy as she had been for the last six months.
Only the hunger she felt in her loins kept her from being in full-bliss mode but there was nothing to do about that until the bus reached its destination, so she just savored the moment. Without her iPhone to get blown up with messages from the lover she just left, there were no worries or distractions, and soon she felt herself drifting off to sleep. The next stop was New Orleans, but it was still over an hour away. She should send him a message to explain soon. Soon was good enough.