Subject: Day 19 of 2nd region wide ‘recalibrated’ lockdown
[unspecified frequencies]
Time started: 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time
Location: West of the Capital

He left his car keys in the fridge. I paused from minding the tv.
It was agreed that the last beer was mine.
I wasn’t ready to die. Therefore, I took it.

A state funeral was taking place.

Each had earlier received a notice of clean bill of health from the state’s medical workforce, or what’s left of it after waves of infections cut down nearly half of its uniformed personnel in charge of the health of remaining heads of state.

All eight of them were asked to serve as pallbearers to the chief of the ‘pangolin’ state: three especial moneyed sycophants, two military ‘persons in command’, a forex advisor who came early with two other companions, a zoo owner and an old mining czar, all arriving by chopper.

The original pallbearers would be replaced by five alternating teams.

All were at one point in their lives procurement lawyers.

‘Luckily, all the children were gone,’ I said to myself, as the news followed the funeral line cut through the main roads of the capital, even at this point encountering few pockets of resistance, ‘what silliness!’ I added, as the event, anyhow, decided to redeem itself.

With Pied Piper-like effect unfolding on television screens and online news channels, a throng of remaining infection-free state devotees, wearing no protective suits, went along the slow funeral lead.

I rushed to look outside.

I wondered, ‘since when did she learn to speak Portuguese?’

3:38 p.m. A local reporter for foreign news channel in hazmat suit started yelling with bootless effect in live coverage of the parade. ‘You are witnessing behind me the most indolent relapse into non-stupidity!’

The thing is there were roadblocks all around, hurriedly assembled on orders of the state during the early days of rioting.–

Roadblocks consisting of antiquated army trucks, WWII air force and navy vintage tonnage (the entire armed forces in an otiose display of defense preparedness), stacked up on critical choke points by hundreds of tall cranes, ballast tractors and flatbed trailers, massive front-end loaders working in the inner cities in droves.

At 4:45 pm., more than seven hours since the funeral march started,the media is now reporting that the final order of the state was supposedly relayed through the adjutant of the chief of the quarantine police, at this point presumed dead or infected, a former cleric turned jeweler before he was recruited in the academy.

The adjutant, according to a police defector in the news, warned that the city’s defenses would fall sooner than expected.

He conveyed his apprehension to few non-commissioned officers in the army who were mixed with their division to form a combined defense corps, some of them broke ranks upon seeing ‘his’ list.

Losing the army’s entire tank divisions to plague infection and defections in the air force lowered the morale of the remaining services loyal to the regime.

Apparently, the final order was to re-enforce the barriers using thousands of impounded cars, defective ambulances, shopping carts, beer and carbonated water cases, not to mention tons of junk refrigerators, aircons, automobile and computer parts, even body hair removal machines…

…’all sorts of industrial scrap, combining with hundreds of full gravity flow fuel tanks, truckloads of wood piles, tree logs, and repurposed stumps, mining rubble piles, all dispatched from the provinces, starving wild animals still in their cages – everything in ‘his’ list would have formed a whole ‘climate change’ footprint consisting of top-heavy defenses to protect the state’s last remaining stronghold.’

The news anchor was reading from a list.

{‘Money couldn’t buy you Cohiba.’ I muttered to myself as I went about with a cigarette in hand to return to the balcony}.

Not that it escaped the news channels, but the boundary between reality and all the panic bordering on the unspeakable quickly merged into a stunning pastiche of maximum alertness. In addition to a preposterous trailer hoard of ‘blessed icons, and liturgy booklets’ to redouble their defenses with, there were to be, in an itemized list tucked inside the adjutant’s front combat pocket,

‘eight more shiploads of pre-Vatican sanctuary lamps;

two tanker volumes of communion rails;

an Olympic swimming pool storage capacity of decades’ old credence tables;

four hectarage of cheap ablution cups,

all the churches’ pews in the whole central region, detached from their floors, which could overload two cargo planes, the last to land in a heavily bombarded airport, south of the capital, among the worst-hit by the pandemic;

thousands of broken tiles, once parts of churches’ naves,

and a regular marine invading division truckloads of lavabo dish,

including precious wooden panels from choir lofts one could imagine spitting tunes of muted church songs from all the dead children in the world, tailored to forgettable occasions, name it,

baptisms, weddings, and funerals.’

No sooner the pangolin state ground to a halt.

The adjutant and his crew fled into the inner cities.

5:32 p.m. News reports indicated that the ‘last additions’ were all incredibly amassed by select squad teams of the quarantine force under the ground orders of the chief in charge of the roadblocks who was the first to succumb in his unit to faith starvation, later joining the piles of corpses he was supposed to wedge a protective barrier from.

Anyone who survived the first assaults knew this.

There were hardly any supermarket, grocery, and pharmacy around, triage centers, near public sinks and common wash-hand basins, outside of the only government hospital still functioning which decided to restrict its emergency room services to uniformed and medical personnel, sick or wounded in the battles. The dead ones among them were no-brainer.

A number of private hospitals were the first medical facilities to succumb to the social fuses of collapse, burned down by a group of youth insurgents, combining forces with hundreds of army deserters, security assets, led by an air force mutineer, with the rank of a major, sans the assault choppers and fabled aircraft under his command. The allegation was these hospitals had been infested by money.

6:00 p.m. These are the ones fortified by the most capable crowd control units of the leftover police and military corps, down to a pitiful undersized yet combat-ready platoon manning a 50-meter radius for each defense post duty, skilled to carry out mass extermination by sheer horrible instincts, turned on by the fear of lethal microbes wiping out exposed human populations with natural precision and brevity.

But this was before the final human tsunami overwhelmed the ‘Bureau of Trolls’ building that was constructed by the state three years ago (giving in to public pressure).

{‘The media was having a field day’}…

It became the last command post, where the government was protecting vast stockpiles of farm and vegetable seeds, food and essential supplies that could last for several months to ride out the rebellion, stored in a mammoth airconditioned steel vault, built in secrecy during the early surge of the plague, after the state retreated in rapid stages from defending the lifelines of the cities, and after rheumatic and pneumonic diseases cut a swathe through the ranks until the killer fever set in.

Besides the plague, implanted cadres reported that there were still sizeable columns of infested hordes physically capable of wreaking serious damage, armed with stashes of automatic weapons, army explosives, unquantifiable caches of ordinary warheads, mortars, and counter-assault equipment used by government troops in the early days of the siege. Their eagerness to go ahead with the final push reflected the fact that they were racing against time before the affliction reduce their bodies to urban rats’ daily intake statistics.  

Despite being plague-ridden, and abandoned by their old units, these imbedded agents chose to remain loyal to the regime by feeding information to every quarantine post they found, using the old technique of wireless telegraphing during the day, in exchange for ‘washed meat’.

Now lacking a central ‘diversion’ committee as in their heydays, the funeral party had to literally shovel themselves away from the physical ruins of their cowardly depravity. This time they couldn’t pass up the chance to celebrate defeat.

This is breaking news’ [media announcement].

6:45 p.m. {‘chomping at the bit, the media was complaining of a long coverage that beat all purposes of buildup.’ ‘impatience was compounded by the fact that their ground correspondents had to cover the event in hazmat suits, maintaining a lazy distance from the funeral.’ ‘there were a handful of drones left to sweep an air coverage’. ‘chopper news pilots refused to fly.’ ‘and how the parade managed to go past these enormous blockades using only hand tools was a mystery to many.’ By now the godhead was leading silent torch-bearing funeral attendees past the old treasury building.

Ahead of the frontward pack of the deathly parade loomed the most strategic of all rallying points. It is the biggest place in the capital, renamed in honor of a 70’s revered swindler.

They were making a noble sacrifice for the surviving herd despite widespread infections among them. What also defied explanation is most of the survivors refused quarantine passes at the height of the pandemic.

Now they knew it’s time to comply…

Thousands of hungry hordes, unable in the early days of the riots to push beyond crowd control units unleashing brutal weapons of a massacre, now with little force required, stormed into what used to be protected high-tiered communes, close societies’ mansions, spotless garden-decorated villas, all gates left opened by the last caretakers to man them before scarpering on their own, upscale condo units of stir-crazy owners who rushed to the city’s most historied place the instant they heard the news. The pangolin godhead is dead!

Some wealthy political clans from nearby provinces flew in with private helicopters to get to the capital for the chance to meet their Maker. There were incredibly thousands of them, enough to build an enormous war machine, except these hordes were extraordinary for their unexpected mute demeanor, much to the amazement of, still in comparison, thousands more left, now following the tv coverage and internet feeds in newly found but now infested colonies, from a previous population of millions decimated by the starvation apocalypse.

7:58 p.m. Online news feeds were still showing what happened during the early swell of resistance, leaving thousands of dead, mostly seniors and children, rotting adult corpses littering on and about the major city thoroughfares, deserted inner streets, minor road arteries that follow discreet tunnels of water distribution systems that border on dense citywide grids of garbage regulation underground. State workers using power shovels from the early days of roadblocking were ordered to pile up the corpses in run-down meat factories that used to supply a third of the region’s monthly consumption.

City officials also banned burning the corpses and mass burials as encouraged by health authorities before the rioting erupted, a last-ditch effort to leave the naked alternative to the food rationing nightmare to bare survival instincts.

9:15 p.m. {At first, I couldn’t say I was familiar with its origin. I must have read it somewhere.

There was an old edition of Blue Mars, at least. An open crate sits beside the bottom rim of a small private collection bookcase. To the right of the boxed set was a 59-inch Futura column lamp.

It’s only now that I noticed I’ve been staying in the balcony since before dawn, on the 31st of a 40 high-rise, making quick side-glances on the television with puzzling news feeds flashing on the screen, each already offering a final coup d’oeil at the simmering spectacle, terrible head pounders in caffeine overdose!}

Before being overrun by a workers’ union, an international news agency revealed that some of the local rich families managed to escape the country. This was before a news blackout was planned which came to force nationwide only after an incident was lodged by an old couple about the presence of a mass grave on the southern tip of the region.

Curiously, what began as a trend in megapolises overseas, local corporate news channels weren’t also spared from the labor takeover. Spreading the news of the death of god was day one of the new face of broadcast media.

{} It was then that I started to feel something approaching behind me; a cold movement of insidious, quietly amassing force, sleuthing close to my back… I was tempted to swing around… No.

… [Like forcing lilies for Easter, I was beginning to recall its origin]} …

State media outlets later dismissed the place as a fake farm; still one among many fake farms reported on police blotters across the capital by similar suspecting couples.

10:56 p.m. Feeling somewhat relieved to recall, as the other local news channel aired before sundown, that it’s not going to rain for the rest of the evening, I smoked my last stolen cigarette, from a leftover pack that, in his rush to leave the building to join his comrades in the pyre, must have slipped the 3-bedroom size unit owner’s notice. The signatures of his lifestyle reflected the room’s modernist fluency, its slickness to a fault with wisely measured room temperature was once the gold standard for cloud-specialists.

He left his car keys and his phone in the fridge.

At the height of the food riots, anyone’s phone contacts were either dead or had given up betraying their locations to the outside world to seek help from friends or relatives wherever they might be. The army retaliated using geotagging systems to send in vicious tank convoys, mortar and machine gun hellfire, and leaving a trail of carnage. By the second week of rioting, only few select areas of the capital were exempted from citywide suspension of mobile services, signal jamming and frequency blackout for radio broadcast.

I paused from minding the tv.

It was agreed that the last beer was mine.

I wasn’t ready to die. Therefore, I took it.

From the balcony, I was regarding in the skyline the penthouse of the closest foreign-owned hotel to our place, with all the dimming light of the stars from distant galaxies I could harvest in the atmosphere above (alas, the pink moon was still weeks away), from around the range of the high wind blowing unsteadily, perpendicular to the floor level of the building where I was lucky to be brought in, just to help my failing sight. Surprisingly, there were no reports of sporadic takeovers of foreign-owned hotel consortiums sprawling through a popular boulevard, near a foreign embassy, and across the now haunted beachside, casinos and relaxation resorts, all the fancied bathhouses that once preoccupied my adolescent daydreams. I ended up being a priest.

11:34 p.m. A ludicrous life-size graduation portrait, one from a certified male egotist, joined the rest of pricey furniture that lent the place its true character. Along with other movable assets, the condo unit would be divided according to three-person carving up scheme, take it or leave it. Speaking of the picture, it was leaning on a soundproof wall to the left of a large thick vinyl sliding glass window facing what’s left of the skyline. The old world (was it?) was drawing to a close.

An odd couple was preparing the late dinner. They were the ones who proposed how to split the booties. ‘It was the reinvention of democracy,’ I thought. Like cutting up a pretentious looking oar with a certain gauge thickness that only a jeweler’s saw could divide up in precise equal parts.

I recalled a pair of Maine Coon and a band of Brazilian shorthairs were also to form parts of the constituents of ‘the’ theory.

I glanced at the dining table. For the last time, I thought pets were not allowed in condos.

At the heart of the city’s biggest square where the funeral swarm was expected to camp out, a large bonfire was lit to the deafening roars of an eager front crowd, how they broke their silence was a ritual invented almost as instantly as they stepped into what they took to be the main entrance, smelling of diesel oil, their febrile mockup faces a ghoulish mural of combustible physiognomies, excitable dummies of flammable gas, as they set their way in to complete the march of the largest assembly ever organized in pandemic days.

On the northernmost tip of the square, facing the sea, a giant portal hole, rushed to completion by all the best engineers commissioned by the state (this was a media habit that didn’t die with the old world: the ‘entranceway’ hype was catching on), which was supposed to deliver the body of the godhead, and his devotees to Abaddon, was beginning to behave, everyone in the room couldn’t mistake what they’re seeing at the moment, like the bad mouth of a tv evangelist spewing fire and brimstone. ‘This is still a developing news’

I decided to face the couple now who were gearing up to jump on the weirdest impulse that’s about to drown them. I’ve never seen them so anxious. ‘Where did they get the wine?’ ‘Where are the neighbors?’

They rushed to the dining table.

A shorthair in a serving bowl.

I said, ‘I’m leaving in two days.’

They must have heard me, then quickly regarded the portrait on the wall.

All eyes now on an officer jacket, hanging on the floor lamp; then, fretfully, on the ‘Carne de vinha d’alhos’.

It was the woman’s voice.

It occurred to me now why the phone was stuck in the fridge.

4:20 a.m. ‘Day 20.’