Blood on Your Hands
You hadn't finished stirring the sugar into the gross brew that was more a suggestion towards coffee than coffee itself when the phone rang. You looked at the caller ID skeptically. It was a number that you couldn't remember, but the right area code. You pick up the phone and start the spiel that had been drilled into you for the years of answering said phone.
"Good morning and thank you for calling," but before you could finish.
"Hello!? Is this Alex?"
"Thank Christ. This is Paul. From the blood bank. We need you to see a specialist immediately. There's a police escort waiting outside. Go. Now! I'll call your boss. It's Bob, isn't it?"
"Yeah, wait. What's this about?"
"Just go. It's vital."
You grab your badge, your bag, your keys. You slip on the coat that was slowly becoming unnecessary as Winter gave up its cold dead hand's grip on the weather. Walking out, you see that office gossip, Sandra, peeking over her cubicle. She tried to get you fired because you were "against the Lord." Fuck her. Every day you avoided her, but if it was that bad you took few extra steps towards and around her cube on your way out the door.
Outside, there were a pair of black and white cruisers, an ambulance, and a man in one of those yellow radiation or haz-mat suits waiting outside of it.
"I'm Doctor Mbongo, infectious disease specialist. I'm going to need you to get into the ambulance."
"We'll talk more about it in the ambulance."
You look at the ambulance, there's already a driver and he's got one of those suits on, too.
"Before we go, do you have any open wounds, any cuts, any abrasions that you know about."
"Okay. That's good. Please get in?"
You follow him. The ambulance smells like antiseptic and a hint of fried food. You get in, he pulls the doors closed, and you feel the truck move immediately. No sirens.
"Can you tell me what this is about now?"
"Alex. When did you get back from Africa?"
"Wait, what? I've never been."
He looked confused. "Okay. You never have been to Africa. Then the ebola had to..."
"Yes. I'm afraid that the routine blood tests we run at the blood bank flagged something unusual. We did some additional testing and found Ebola antibodies in your blood, along with the virus itself."
"That's not possible."
"I'm afraid so."
"I'm going to need a list of every person you've come into contact with for the past month. 21 days is the incubation period, but we have to find others who may have been infected," the Doctor said. "Of particular importance is anyone you may have transferred fluids with."
You thought back. There was that date a few weeks ago. They were nice, but you didn't even kiss them.
"I'll need some paper."
"That's fine. We're almost to the hospital."
The doctor was quiet for a minute. You started to think about the pictures. The pictures your brother made you look at on the computer; those horrible pictures of the dead and dying people on the other side of the world. You hated him for making you look at them, but you secretly did, wanted to know. And now...this!
"Doctor, am I going to die?"
"Treatment options are very good for you. You'll likely be fine, though we'll need to quarantine you for at least a month for the incubation period to elapse."
The work. The job. The other responsibilities. "I can't. We've got an inspection in a week. I've got to be there. I haven't prepared the documents."
"I'm sorry, but we can't let you leave."
Before you really think it through you say, "I have rights!"
"A judge has implemented a court order to keep you sequestered for the incubation period. It's for the best. It really is."
You think about Sandra. You hope she gets ebola too.
"Sandra. At work. I walked by her desk."
You ride in silence. The dead march through your imagination, their bleeding orifices leaving trails of contamination; as you mentally detach from the images, the camera of your mind lifts up and looks down and the word "Ebola" is written in a bloody cursive on the ground, drawn by the leaking fluids. The path ended in a bloody pile of bodies, a period. The correlation with the word "period" with "menses" fluttered up and away. You always did have a particularly vivid imagination, and it usually ended up in these weird places.
The truck stopped. A knock on the door. The doctor opens it and instead of the back of a hospital you are in your driveway and your brother is standing there, stupid grin on his face, a balloon in his hand. The mylar glints the sun and you flinch away from the light. When your eyes adjust you finally read the balloon and it says, "Happy birthday."
"Oh you," you say. "You fucking asshole."
Your brother stands there and laughs and laughs.