1st: Phantom’s Pulse

Like a glass plate beneath the scientist’s microscope, the window of time reveals more than the eye can see.

As society settles into a wary state of being, I feel change and notice it in people also. Strangers, neighbour and friends have that tentative, un-easy feel about them, as if their halo of ghost is showing. I worried if my own phantom was exposed for all to see.

At first, I wondered, is it just me?

My first apparition came to me soon after having the vaccination shots for Covid. I had chanced upon lucky jabs while on holiday in Melbourne. ‘Stop infection. Your help will return us to normal,’ advertising slogans preached to us all, from the villainous smirk of a leader beset on control.

My first encounter came to me in a lonely hotel room, in outback NSW, on my road to home. I sat at my laptop tapping out a digital version of my holiday, lost in reminisce and reverie. A ghost writer had penetrated my security system and interrupted my rendition of events, as I hastily typed unchecked, leaving it all for spell check later.

Un-usually warm weather embraced us all, Melbourne, basked in warm…

 ‘Help us, they have forgotten.’…

Easter days of lazy wandering through the Royal Botanic Gardens. The autumn change of…

 ‘Help us please, they have forgotten us’…

 colour shows on the trees as leaves turned orange and… 

‘PLEASE, we need help, NOW.’… 

and tan glow with sunlight filter. Couples holding hands look on as a gondola nudges a path through…

 ‘NOW, help please, they have forgot us.’….

a confetti surface of sprinkled down leaves. Lush green grass…

 ‘Please help us, they have left us.’ 

It was then my neck suddenly erupted in pain, a fierce throbbing on the right side. It felt as if something was biting, but there was nothing to feel or swat away. I abandoned the laptop and rushed to the bathroom mirror. The room still held a shroud of fine mist from my shower earlier, or that is what I put it down to, as a different face appeared in the mirror, unshaven, contorted in pain that reflected the throbbing of my neck. Letters formed on the mist covered glass…H E L P….

I forsake any thought of story process and sought deliverance of sanity in front of the other screen of information, the TV and a football game.

‘News reports are confirming suspicion that Covid vaccines came from bodies of those that died.’ A news reader prattled her disbelief at such a hideous story of scientific liberty. I changed the station.

‘The mouse plague across NSW continues, authorities have admitted…’ I gave up on sport and turned the TV off. My neck still throbbed, and pain hounded my head. I felt I needed to be somewhere, elsewhere, anywhere. I checked out and got back on the road to home.

The navigation device came alive, ‘Help us’ appeared on the address bar, ‘I will take you there.’

My distorted senses had surrendered, ‘Whatever’ I mumbled in surrender. I had long ago given up arguing with the anonymous voice of navigation.

 The navigator controlled the van and took me to another motel, not too far from where I had been.

‘Help, they have forgotten us, inside.’ The voice, a gravelly, struggling, hollow sound stood my hair on end.

 As I ripped away barriers of quarantine tape and opened the motel front door, mice scurried in all directions. I felt a whisper of breeze in my ears, ‘folllowww, folllowww,’ a hollow kind of sound beckoned.

My mobile phone vibrated, and the screen lit up as I came to a door. ‘Come inside’

A family lay prone, in peace, the mother cradled a child as two others lay in perpetual sleep, their heads resting upon each thigh. The man’s head moved, a slight tilt to one side, his mouth and cheeks moved, I recognised it as the face in the mirror. There seemed to be an injury on the side of his neck, the right-hand side. I touched my own neck, the throb, as I watched a pair of ears appear, beady little eyes then the head of a mouse look out at me, through the injury on the side of the man’s neck.

That was my first encounter with the ghosts of Covid, as they tell us their own stories of what it is like to die of Covid.

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