I guess I should have been alarmed. That’s the polite way of saying that I was frankly too brainless to realize that the world was being pulled apart by the seams but a virus. For us here at the office it all began when we started getting trauma losses. First it was just one, and then another; sure these kinds of things oddly come in small bunches but when that bunch didn’t end?
It used to be we received more water losses than anything. You know, the usual water heater breaking or the latest storm flooding someone’s basement, but suddenly I wasn’t answering the phone to someone asking “Do you take water out of basements?” it was “Can you guys clean the blood out of my house?”
As alarming as it was to find so many were meeting violent ends the pay was good enough that none of us really noticed. We didn’t question anything— I mean if it was bad the government would tell us, right? Looking back I want to smack myself upside my head and loudly proclaim, “They had more brains than you did! Get up from your desk and go north!” Sadly I don’t have the ability of time travel.
You might wonder how our production crew managed, and they did well. We always used full containment suits, and sprayed the areas with a chemical treatment that eliminated blood and airborne pathogens within seconds. No one got sick, no one was hurt, I can’t say they weren’t a little weary after the tenth trauma loss in three days but these things happen.
There came a point when we realized that something was going on. When we called an insurance company to speak to an adjuster as we always had and heard the answering service say:
“If you are reporting a loss to your home, press one. If you would like to speak to an adjuster, press two. If you are reporting a loss regarding the remains of a loved one, press three now.”
Just for the hell of it I pressed three.
“Welcome to the Pathogen Action Team hotline. We are sorry for your loss, and a representative will be with you shortly to answer your questions and recommend trusted contractors to clean up your estate. Please make no contact with any bloodily fluid, and if you have seek immediate medical attention.”
I hung up, my face pale and dripping in a cold sweat. All those college days watching cheap movies about the undead were slowly coming back to me in this twisted climactic symphony of agony. In this madness where the violins were replaced by the screams of children who discovered their family eating the family dog, and the drums frankly my own heartbeat I stood from my desk.
Many of you might think we stopped helping after that, but we didn’t. As much as I protested potentially subjecting our crew and ourselves to the undead plague that was claiming much of our world, they remained me “Who else will do it?”
They were right. Who else would go out to begin cleaning homes, sanitizing them, and getting them ready for new families to move in? Who else would clean the safe zones of blood, of sewage, or when their water heaters burst? It wasn’t going to be the landscaper, or the doctor, it was going to be us.
Our men were given an option, they could stay and do a good thing, and risk infection or they could leave and run away without fear. They all stayed. Sure we were more careful with our suits, a single rip meant that person wasn’t allowed out on the field but we did good. I mean real good, made a difference kind of good. No, we didn’t have the praise the doctors or the carpenters got but in some twist of fate they needed us as much as we needed them.
What used to be just a line we told the new hires actually meant something now. “We’re giving them back piece of mind; It’s what we do.” Until then I had no clue what my boss meant by that until I saw the faces of a young family who was able to move back into their childhood home. I saw something on their faces that told me they would be okay. That wash of relief.
I wish I could go back in time, and tell myself everything would be okay; that I could get through this and come through even stronger. I’m just not a time traveler.