The Outbreak: April 2005

Saturday, April 30, 2005

I drank milk today. Fresh milk, for the first time in how many weeks? I poured it into the big little white and blue mugs just like I always used to, and gulp gulp gulp, ahhhh. Amy had to stop me from refilling it too many times in a row. We got it from the food mart down the block. The 7-11's boarded up and still inoperative. But mmmmm, milk. The word traveled so fast around the neighborhood. Good news, more please.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Today is my birthday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


The reason we were gone so long is because we went to see Dave's parents. I just got tired of seeing him beg for information in the comments here, so we loaded up and off we went. I guess we were tired of being here, I don't know. The notion that your life is proscribed is the hardest thing to deal with, for me. Anyway it took us forever to get to Sea Cliff, and we couldn't remember exactly where we needed to go anyway. Every other exit it seemed there was a checkpoint, and they weren't exactly comfortable with letting anyone through regardless of your explanation, unless you were an 18-wheeler carrying food or a tanker. After what seemed like a couple of hours they just started waving people off the road onto an exit ramp, and then from there into a big lot next to a Target--apparently there'd been a rev-related accident and their SOP is to clear the roads so it doesn't spread and leave hundreds of stranded cars and kill the road. That is actually where we spent the first night, which scared us to death. I'm not sure how concentrating everyone into a lot is any safer than leaving everyone stranded on the road. It's safer for the road, I guess.

And you know what? I'm tired of writing this out because the ending just fucking sucks. When I emailed Dave to tell him I sat there for hours, literally hours, trying to think of how to put it. I never thought I'd write a message like that, ever. I still remember when I'd go over to their house in Garden City and chit-chat with Mrs. G. about politics, and how she was so far out, bless her, that she made me look like Pat Buchanan. I remember Mr. G.'s reaction the time I clogged their toilet and they didn't have a plunger in the house. I remember getting stoned and watching Texas Chainsaw, playing D&D and drinking Sam Adams, being young in the home of a family that no longer exists. Gone, wiped out, devoured by tragedy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Tell me how you are

Whoever you are, all of you, how are you doing? Leave a comment. I'm trying to take my mind off of the one who was running up and down the street today, and I feel like the more people I am connected to directly, the better things are. I'm sure that this is not true, but I don't care.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The big truck fleets are rolling again--that's the major news here on Long Island today. They take forever because of the security on all the bridges, which took about twice as long to clear as the major arteries did, but they get there. The moment I see one I will cheer, I swear. Putting off the inevitable, which is how do you rebuild from something like this? Unless they come up with a cure a vaccine it will never, ever stop. Every time you see footage from a developing country it's a holocaust. Trickle-up economics. And trickle-down, too: Weeks of completely arrested commerce means how many millions will starve to death? And then what?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Lovely weather today, and yesterday.

So they've established that not everyone comes back. Bite victims, yes. And some non-bite victims. But not all of them. What does this mean, besides that they're really going to need to work a lot harder on figuring out the epidemiology of this? Does it mean that I'll be able to worry a little bit less about having an aneurysm or something overnight and dying and coming back and eating my wife? The answer is no.

I think the trick is to not let yourself get worn down by the fact that you have to ask yourself these kinds of questions and worry about these kinds of things. I get to a point every day where all my brain wants to do is yell "not fair, not fair!" and it's so tempting to self-medicate or go to sleep. But you can't do that. I just say, "Things are getting safer and safer every day." Which isn't always true, but it is generally.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Underworld, U2, David Bowie, Tori Amos, Nirvana, Roxy Music, Joy Division, Massive Attack, Nine Inch Nails, Rolling Stones, Nick Drake, Dandy Warhols, Doves, Orbital, Pink Floyd, The Who, Iggy Pop, Azure Ray, Death Cab for Cutie, Interpol, Guns n' Roses, Wu-Tang Clan, thank you, thank you, thank you. You still sound the same. Thank you.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Next time I leave for this long I will post something first, I promise. I didn't mean to scare anyone, but then I get back and I've got all these emails. Here I am, I'm here, I'm okay.

After we heard about Ken's mother, that was it. The next morning at dawn we packed up a few things, put Lucy in the carrying case--because we had no idea if it would be feasible to come back once we'd left, and we didn't want her starving to death or becoming yet another animal for the Leopolds to feed--got in the Altima and started driving to see my family in Garden City.

By now you've probably done this yourselves, whoever you are, in some fashion or another. My guess is that's why there's been this relapse over the past couple of days. Once people got the message that traveling was potential suicide, they stayed in. But at a certain point, you start running out of food, water, supplies, sanity. So people start emerging. And even if most of the revs from the breakout days have been put down, now we know that it's self-perpetuating. There will always be new ones, usually quicker than the crews can get to them. If a dad in a family of six dies of a heart attack in the middle of the night--oh, Christ. Get out, out, out, out of my brain, get out.

Anyway, the car ride. I don't know if you remember this anymore, because it seems like it happened so long ago, like the '80s. But if you remember the big ice storm/blizzard thing that happened in February, I guess it was? It took me five hours to get home from work that day. It alternated from being the scariest driving I've ever done--zero visibility, couldn't go any faster than 20 miles an hour without careening right off the road, terrified that at any moment the car ahead or behind or, god help us, passing might lose it and smash into me--to the most exruciatingly dull driving I've ever done--15 miles in three hours.

This was like that. And thinking of it like that helped: "It's like being stuck in a blizzard. Yes, it's scary, and frustrating, but if you go slow you'll be okay." If you repeated that last part often enough you believed it.

They'd cleared the Southern State, mostly. I mean, there were wrecks everywhere, more wrecks than they could tow away, but they were at least moved off to the shoulders, or at worst to the far right or left lane. Crews were EVERYWHERE. Flashing red, blue, yellow lights as far as the eye could see, cops standing on top of the cars with their guns out at each exit. Each one had a little pile of bodies next to it. There were more of those than they could tow away too, I guess.

We took a guess as to what exit to get off at, trying to figure out what roads would be the clearest. We went with Hempstead Avenue. Our guess was that if we took side-ish roads, there was just not enough volume on them ever to produce much wreckage, and hopefully all the neighborhoods were cleared out enough to travel through. We got lucky. Garden City South was clear enough that people were actually outside, mostly just sitting on their porches or standing in driveways and talking to each other. Or not talking to each other. We saw a lot of people just standing around, not doing much of anything except staring at us as we drove past. Some people were like us and covered from head to toe with coats, gloves, scarves, hats, sunglasses. Sweating like bastards. Other people were in their pajamas. There weren't a whole lot in between. You either have your act together at this point or you don't. It makes it easier to know who to steer clear of.

The house was pretty much the same as it always was aside from the boards. It wasn't until I stepped inside that I realized how fucking scary the whole fucking fucking thing fucking was fucking. I was 100% convinced that someone would pop out of the backyard and grab Amy the second we stepped out of the car and walked the three feet into the side door, I realized. And we did it anyway. I don't know what that says, does it say anything?

Mom, Dad, Ryan, Caitlin, all okay. All glad it happened at Easter so Caitlin was home and not in Philly. Cats okay, Dad looking thinner, thank god. Neither my mom nor my dad drank a drop since it started, they told me, which i had been worried about. But I think I remember that from 9/11, too. Or did I make that up? I went to Amy's apartment that day the moment she got home from work and slept over. Years ago. Anyway, he was eating better. My hero. I love my Dad. I always think about him being in the Marine reserves at Parris Island, like, what the hell was he doing there? He's my Dad! They better be nice to him! He and Ryan were so quick that they hadn't had to kill anyone, not even poor Mr. Stone next door, who finally twigged out--that whole place looked like a hurricane hit, or that tornado that went up and down the block the week we moved in in 1985. They said they'd never been so happy they lived near so many nuts--for days they were in the basement not because of the revs but because of the bullets. Even Mr. DiFazio, finally out of the closet, so to speak, a bunch of "friends of his" took an afternoon last week and went house to house before any of the crews.

News of the extended family: Grandma and Pa-Pa got one phone call out of the rescue station. They are NOT fucking around in Florida, which stuns me, but people made it their business to focus on those retirement communities first thing, which makes a lot of sense if you give it any thought. Which someone obviously did. It's all individual initiative that gets anything done right, i'm completely convinced. Cousins, aunts, uncles okay. Except for my cousin Chris. He was on tour and they haven't heard from him. I am trying not to expect the worst. It is impossible not to suspect the second-worst, though. Impossible. You hold onto the second-worst as hard as you can, actually. Don't YOU?

Why did we come back? Because we had to. It's not our house, and things are not so bad that getting back to a semblance of real life is completely out of the question in a month, two months, maybe less. Staying there is just--well, well, it's like this. If you can go back and forth, how bad can it be? "See you next week, Mommy. I love you." Say it and mean it. Mom was really upset, didn't want us to leave. And I'm worried it inspired Ryan to try and get Sarah. But maybe he should.

When we got back today the people who ran away from next door, their car was gone. But Kurt said one of the people down the block took it, hotwired it, took it. That's all.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Hello, Ken. I'm so sorry.

Ken's mother was killed last week. I've known her since I was in sixth or seventh grade, I guess, and she's the first person I'm close to to die from this. As communications get better, I'm only going to find out about more. It's like you're taking a step and your foot just keeps moving downward and downward. There's nothing to stand on.

Monday, April 11, 2005

My best friend

I haven't heard from Ken since this started, really. I know his apartment hasn't been destroyed because the server that houses my old email account is located in it and the email is still working last I checked; that's it. Everything is so maddeningly spotty is the thin; sometimes I think I'd prefer that everything was melted down, rather than all this "sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, cell phones no, land lines yes, email yes, wireless no, power yes, cable no" shit. You just get so frazzled, never knowing what the hell is up with this or that, how long it will last, what's going on. The upside is that thre is an upside, really--things still seem to be getting better. And I'm getting more and more anxious to try to go see my parents. We've talked to them on the phone now and then--except yesterday, when a crew actually took out a whole utility pole as they were getting chased down by a rev; they're never going to finish finding all the ones from the funeral home; but miracle of miracles they fixed it by noon today, working through the night, which takes more courage than I'll probably ever have. IT workers are the firemen of this whole disaster, I mean, just keeping Blogger up and running must take a small army of civilians who are literally willing to die to maintain it. Anyway, yeah, no idea if the roads are clear for that long, but we are running low on food and we're going to have to try at some point.

This was extremely disjointed. I'm sorry. But then, why am I apologizing, who cares about this sort of thing now? The other day I actually wrote "spoiler alert" in a post. Can you believe that?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

I don't want it to happen again

Our wireless connection went down yesterday and it scared me to death. It turned out just that something got unplugged or something like that, but it took forever to figure it out because we weren't even sure who's connection we'd been using, and Kurt was asleep when it happened and we didn't have the heart to wake him so we just sat there like idiots, not having anything to say, just pulling the towels and blankets to the side and staring out the window. It's not like we need it to keep in touch with people, even--the phones, while spotty, have been okay for the past few days. It's just that each time something fails or shorts or goes down, you think, "Well, that's it for that. That's the last time we'll have that." I don't want entropy, I don't want things to disintegrate. If there's anything good you can take from the horror of the past two weeks it's that things haven't fallen completely apart, at least not around here. And then you think about the places where it HAS fallen apart, and then you cry and cry and cry.

I'm going to try to visit my family. Soon, soon.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

I think things are going well, but here's what's bothering me today. The couple from the other day, their car is still parked next door. But they're not there. Nobody is. Maybe they got picked up by the crews. I keep telling myself that and I keep going to the window and looking at it. It's still there now.

Ken, are you there? Taft, Marlaire, Savas, Patrick, Gary? Karolyn?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Turning the corner?

Woke up today after what can only be described as a bender. I know I said I was done with all that but after Sunday--I know, this is not a good habit. I've seen some people I'm close to, very close to, get in the habit and really hurt not so much themselves but the people they're close to, very close to. I don't need that, Amy doesn't need that, the people downstairs don't need that, my family in Garden City, where I hope to go maybe next week, they don't need that.

What I was trying to say yesterday is that they went house to house all day, into the night, and then all day again today. Up and down, block after block, cops, firemen, EMTs, and the occasional military person, though I really don't know well enough to tell you what branch. The word is that things are okay. Not great, but not Manhattan, which I don't even want to think about and probably couldn't if I wanted to. God, I hope all my friends are alright. That almost sounded like a direct address, that last sentence, didn't it? That is not something I've been in the habit of doing for the past, I don't know, decade or so. I do not think I will get back in it now.

So yeah. You hear the occasional gunshot, and you can definitely hear the big dumptrucks roll through when they roll through, and you know the difference between them and the fire trucks or transports because the dumptrucks smell. They always say it smells different than anything else but you know what? It smells familiar, like every other awful thing you've ever smelt, only you can smell it in your mind, if that makes sense. Knowing what you're smelling makes it worse. It was like when I was always coughing and sneezing in the city when we all came back to work in 2001. Worse because you knew why.

Dave, I hope you are still alright. Please sit tight. I don't know what the situation is like on the West Coast but they are making progress out here. I haven't heard one yelling in almost 24 hours. Sit tight.

Everyone, all my other friends and family, if your'e reading this, I love you so much. Please sit tight.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

We're winning

Monday, April 04, 2005

What happened

Somehow the old lady next door's daughter and son-in-law made it over here. (I think he was an auxiliary fireman.) They found the place empty and trashed and as they were going through it I overheard them. I went downstairs and got Kurt and Kevin and we went to talk to them. When we told them what happened to their mother they teared up, but it's like they expected it, so they didn't break down. It was only after we told them we had her dog that the guy got mad, really mad. (The daughter not so much--come to think of it, maybe she was drugged up too.) We thought to rescue the dog but not a human fucking being? Kevin tried to explain that we didn't think, nobody thought anything for the first couple of days. The only reason we were able to rescue that dog when we thought to do anything, finally, was because they don't eat animals apparently. If they had wanted to eat the dog they'd have eaten the dog. (She would have eaten the dog, but I ddint' say that.) But the guy was completely apeshit at this point. How could you resuce the GODDAMN dog but not her? She was a HUMAN FUCKING BEING! His wife was trying to calm him down. It was going to take forever for them to get back home even though they only lived in like Levittown or something like that, I mean you could see from his Jeep that it's sstill hell on earth out there. It was all dented and scratched up and there was at least one dark brownish stain on it, and the windshield was cracked on one side. Before things got ugly with them they'd said the crews had pretty much swept the whole area but tehy can't stay all in one place for long, obviously, they've got a lot to cover what with the Army tied up in NYC. The helicopters they're using as gunships they only just got the helipads cleared--apprently a lot of people thought the'd be safe in areas like that, which was wrong. Anyway he's flipping out, she's choking back tears or whatever on whatever she's on and me Kurt and Kevin are trying to like inch back toward the house, because this guy's raising such a fucking racket, I mean they'd have to be deaf if they were around, you know? Suddenly Amy yells from the deck, like it was ripping right from her throat instead of actually travelling through her mouth first, SEEEEAAAAAAAANNNN!!!! And I can't see her from where we are, but what she said later was that she could see one just completely hauling ass through the backyards, trying to find us. You can see into like 15 different backyards from our deck on the second floor, which is exactly why we've stayed off the damn thing, but she wanted to check and see if things were going okay with this family. Anyway she says the thing looked at her for like a half a second but then forgot about it, like it knew it couldn't get to her and was just gunning for us. So this guy is still yelling and all of a sudden he hauls off and punches Kevin right in the face, smashing his glasses off his face, Pow! And then I swear to God the guy just runs, just like books right out of there, leaving his wife who's standing their slackjawed at this point. So Kurt, you can see him for a minute completely torn, because he's had this martial arts training and he's totally ready to deck this guy who's not far away yet, but his brother-in-law just got cold-cocked, and the look on his face, it was like that cartoon sound the cartoon characters make when they shake out their heads after something happend to them. It was almost comical. So he decides and bends to help Kevin off the ground, then BAM! Right through the crack in the fence comes this guy, looks like a delivery guy only the entire left side of what you can see of his body is just this one giant mass of red, from the cheek down, this giant mass where whoever killed him just gnawed and ripped away until he came back to, which is when they stop, which I don't know have you ever heard of anything like that before in nature before now? Ever? Uhhhhhhhh, he yells or shouts like he's been punched in the stomach and is trying to get his wind back, uhhhhhhhhhhh, and the woman now she runs too, in the direction of where her husband ran to. She thought to do this right away, and as I stood there what popped into my head as clear as if I was watching it on TV the day it first aired was the final episode of Season Five of The Sopranos (spoiler alert) where Tony and Johnny Sack are standing in Johnny's backyard talking after everything's blown over and they're making friends again and you're like "ahh, I'm really glad about this," then you see Tony notice something over Johnny's shoulder and he all of a sudden takes off, and there's like two or three seconds where neither you nor Johnny have any clue WHAT'S going on, you're just frozen there in the snow, and then Johnny turns and it's the FBI running over the hill to come get him, and he moves but too late. So that's what I'm seeing even as I'm standing there closest to this guy as he's making that horrible fucking sound running full tilt like he's gonna jump over me when he gets to me, like a high jumper, that's how much this guy is just flooring it with his tongue hanging out between his upper and lower jaw on the left side of his face because there's barely any cheek there at all and you can see like spittle or whatever that is literally flowing off his tongue and blowing backwards he's running so fast. So I just make this "huhhh" sound, the same sound i made that time when I saw Ryan out of the corner of my eye in the dining room and thought he was a ghost, and again I just like fall almost to the ground like I did that time. But as I bring my arms up to shield my face not specifically agains tthis thing but just shield my face I all of a sudden notice the knife is in my hand, I'd had it tip away from the man and woman so now it's like classic Psycho position, and fump the thing runs into me and I bring it down and slush right into its eye and the bridge of its nose, you can feel it scrape against the bone and then bump against the back of the skull because everything in between has slowed it down and you don't have enough momentum to push it all the way through, and the thing just falls down dead. Dead dead. I let out a couple more "huhh, huhh"s and just like back away, like what? And then I go "hooooo", as in "somebody say ho!" rather than an owl going hooo, hooo. Amy's now down at the front door and yells "get inside!" And that's enough to get the three of us sort of snapped out of it and we move inside. But i go back for the knife cause we'll need it. It pulls out pretty easy and at this point it's not even disturbing, because you know it's not alive or even ambulatory anymore, it's just matter. So we get inside and Kurt and Kevin stay by the door to make sujre if that man and woman come back, and Amy and I go back upstairs. I tossed the knife in the sink and covered it with a pot because we don't need Lucy licking at it, who knows what's in that blood. I told Amy the story and she got that quiet demeanor where it's like she knows she's expected to say something but also knows that whatever she'd say almost redundant compared to what she's expected to say. But I don't really expect her to say anything, except she hugs me for a long time, which is good and fine. It wasn't that hard to do. Honestly, it was mostly instinct coupled with an accident--instinctual self-defense. But you know how you can feel like an echo of certain physical things you do in the muscles and bones that did them? I can feel that scraping, like the way the meat of my hand vibrated as the knife scraped against the bone. In terms of things I ever expected to feel in my whole life that was not one of them, no SIR. In my worst nightmares I was always in the army or in prison or in permament high school, someplace where you couldn't control what you got to do with your life and you weren't free to just leave if you didn't want to be there. Or like when people are captured and tortured, I always thought, Don't they know my mommy loves me? I mean, don't they know my mommy loves me?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Killed one today.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

You can hear sirens all the time now, through the wind and rain (this is the second huge storm in a week). Clearly they're regrouping and pushing things back, starting from the main roads--they all seem to be coming from the direction of Newbridge, and maybe there from the Southern State and Hempstead Turnpike. I think they use the sirens to attract them. Siren goes on, and within two minutes, bang bang bang. Still nothing right where we are.

At around 3:30 Amy woke me up to tell me that the old lady next door had gotten loose from the basement. I looked out the window and you could see her running down the street, toward the sirens. I went downstairs and knocked on the floor. Sarah came up and let me pet the old lady's dog. The poor thing, how can it understand? I can't understand. Nobody can understand this.

Dave left another comment below, if you've noticed, whoever you are. It sounds like the cities are a bloodbath. They've probably been working on them first, but god, that could take months, months.

We turned the news on today for the first time since I don't know when. They're calling them revenants, the cops and the Guard call them revs. Nobody use the z-word.

Another dream

I overhear a girl I knew from work describing that she just had sex, and was still horny so she wanted to use her vibrator, but her batteries were dead. Now I get turned on, so I go look for a place to masturbate. At first my brother is around, so I look for someplace else. Soon I find that I am in one of those enormous institutional settings I'm always in when I dream--some enormous high school/dorm/train station-type thing. This one is more hospital-like than usual, sort of a cross between hospital and high school. Instantly the sexual undercurrent disappears. The building is haunted, and the ghosts usually take the shape of children or animals. I know that the ghosts are evil and want to harm people. I'm in a long, white hall with a brown carpeted floor and wooden handrails along the walls. In the distance an old woman approaches. She's heavyset with stringy red hair, a blue bathrobe and a walker. She's a ghost. I take Amy's hand and we lower our heads, hunkering down, and start walking towards her. We walk faster and faster and I say "we can do this, we can get out of here, we just need to go right THROUGH HER!" and at that moment we walk through her. That was the end of the dream.

When I woke up it was still light out and I could hear sirens, for the first time in days. I thought I heard gunfire too, but I really don't know what the hell "distant gunfire" sounds like. I do know that they are getting more agressive with houses, including this house (I just got done reboarding the patio doors). But this draws them into the open more often, and if things haven't completely fallen apart yet someone could really do some damage to them.

I am tired of feeling sorry for myself as it allows the enormity of this all to smother me. I am not going to take anything anymore. Maybe if I have legitimate trouble sleeping, but that is it. I do not need to become a subtance abuser. I'm out of beer or I'd stop drinking that too. Now I just feel mad, mad mad mad and determined.

Phones went back up. I'm amazed at how much is still functional. These people must be defending their posts like it's the Alamo. I don't want to have to kill anything. I'm mad about it but I'm sorry, I don't/can't.