Of course I understand that the world was once fresh and green- that things, new things, could be discovered everyday but that’s not the world I live in now. I only know of the green Earth from the textbooks I read in school. This sea of concrete is safe; the strong, germ resistant reality that I live in protects me from the unknown… or at least that’s what the adults tell us.
About forty years or so ago a strain of Ebola hit what was once California and killed 25 percent of the population. A virus is a very strange thing; it changes itself over and over again. The first signs of Ebola originated in primates and then climbed the species’ hierarchy by killing humans. The disease was one of the few times in which humans didn’t seem so invincible. Apparently, from what I’ve heard every able adult within the US dedicated time and even years trying to understand that certain strain. After about five years of testing and hoping they moved most of the state into the desert because in the desert life cannot thrive. There are currently about twenty military bases throughout eastern California. All of the bases look identical, the same monotone buildings, the same tall cement walls, and all lacking anything from the outside world, which makes life quite mundane. There are no trees, no flowers; no life… life lets in too many secrets and the outcome can be scary and unknown. The bases are restricted areas and only a select few can leave; they are the military doctors, the only people with hope. People like my parents, and teachers have adapted to this boring lifestyle because most of them remember the bad times, where just being alive was enough of a victory.
I, however, cannot accept this life because frankly, this is no way to live. I never experienced the hard times and have never- in my whole fourteen years of living have seen this great disease. I’ve never even had a cold! I’ve never been able to climb a tree or play in the dirt because I’m always watched. That’s why I’ve decided that during the second Sunday of this month, when the doctors leave our base for more supplies I’ll be going with them. I heard my mother telling my father of this upcoming trip- my mother generally hits the news first since she’s a nurse here.
People in the medical profession always are the first to learn of new advancements and that’s why, for the first time ever I’m lucky to be the daughter of a nurse. Most of the kids at school dread the doctors because; initially they are the ones that got us stuck here.
So, the night before the long journey to San Francisco I’ll be going to work with my mother… although she’s not quite a part of my plan once I get to San Francisco. After dinner, I’m telling my parents that I’ll be staying at a friend’s house- because, after all, it is a Saturday and they always pester me about having friends. Instead of the friend I’ll be spending the night in our cozy van for when mom goes to work. I’m very thankful for our large American car because I can easily lay down behind the first row of seats… and once my mom leaves I’ll hop out and slide into one of the open military ambulances that are being loaded up for the journey… yeah that sounds easy enough- hah.
I can’t believe it… I can’t believe it. I actually am in the ambulance! Luckily the staff parking is towards the back of the hospital, where the vans and cars are being loaded. The only thing I’m not too sure of is this refrigerator that I’m hiding behind- who knows what it carries. Well, since I didn’t get much sleep in mom’s van the night before maybe I’ll try and just rest for a bit. I have a feeling this will be quite the drive.
Hmm, I wonder how long I fell asleep for… I don’t even remember leaving our base. Did we leave the base? The van seems to be parked and everything seems too quiet. I guess I should have paid more attention so that I could have gotten out to explore. I finally stretch my neck and try to peer over to see the driver. There’s no driver. No anyone. The car’s still running though and the sight of this refrigerator is making me ill, in theory that is. I look once more to make sure I won’t be seen… although I don’t think anyone is here to watch me leave. I get up and jump over to the front of the ambulance from there I leap to the ground. The ground! There’s grass everywhere. The smells are so intense as well coming from all forms of life up into my nose… and that’s when it happened. I sneezed. The sound echoed across the floor of the woods- at least I think this is what woods or a forest would be. The sunlight seems to radiate off of everything. It’s far more beautiful than any base could ever be. Maybe I should look a little more, or at least take a step. I examine the flowers, and trees and the way they all coexist in perfect harmony and then in the midst of my thinking I heard a small crunch. I turn around in a quick whirl and see no one… I haven’t been found yet. I figure I’m just being paranoid so I go on ahead. Not five minutes pass until I hear another soft crunch. While turning my head I see out of my peripheral a small creature… it’s not a mouse, which I know from many children’s stories but it’s a little larger with a bushy tail.
It’s a squirrel! I have never in my fourteen years seen something so cute and innocent. How can something so small feel so at home in an endless space?
Wanting to somehow be closer to this creature that I’ve only ever read about, I bend down and extend my hand. That’s what people do isn’t it… offer themselves to appear less grand. To my utter delight the tiny animal slowly inches towards my hand. I whisper for it to “come on” and it does. The little squirrel reaches out a tiny hand and places it on my finger- it twitches its tiny nose and then suddenly chews my finger.
Oh no. Could I have caught something… it did bite me after all. I’ll just have to go find someone and tell them I came by mistake? Will they believe that?! If my mom could just quickly look me over I’m sure she’d say I’m fine. Which I think I am…
That’s when it hits me. No one ever comes on the base. People only go to the doctors’ or hospital with self inflicted injuries.
I won’t be able to come back.