The Tide is High
“(Never Give Up) The tide is high, But I'm holding on, I'm gonna be your #1 I'm not the kind-a girl who gives up just like that, Oh no-oh-oh” - Deborah Harry - Atomic Kitten
“We're coming to the edge, Running on the water, Coming through the fog, Your sons and daughters, Let the river run! Let all the dreamers wake the nation. Come, the New Jerusalem.” - Carly Simon
This is the way humanity ends, not with a bang, but with a Pop!
The sealed bag is dragged from next to the hospital along with 342-pounds of trash. Together, it is collected with 1.32 tons of waste which is dropped into a landfill down by the river Gandaki. It rained 14-inches that night. The little baggie of humanity's demise teeters at the top of the trash heap, until a gust of wind sends it toppling towards the river. The fresh rain slicks its way as it toboggans into a stream.
The rapidly disappearing Gangtori, Satopanth and Khatling glaciers roared through this river, bending land and scooping up all along its path. The waters formed into the planet's most polluted river, the Ganges. Long considered sacred, the Ganges had become a cesspool which bubbled with disease, shit, piss, blood, industrial waste, cremated human remains, and the runoff from chemical plants, textile mills and slaughterhouses.
Half-a-billion humans would drink from its dirty and diseased waters daily. These loving, crying, singing bodies, dying of thirst, whose skin burned and cracked from the heat, found a moment of satisfaction as they drank from its waters, swallowing the cholera, hepatitis, staphylococcus, amoebic dysentery and typhoid which would distend bowels, yellow the skin, rage through bloodstreams and kill. Most often, the bacteria attacked their guts, wreaking diarrheal horrors which caused dehydration in an ongoing vicious cycle dubbed the Thirst Trap.
And through it all, down flows the bag.
The sealed bag bounds through cities and towns, bobbing and weaving around corpses, shit, piss, rotting food, maggots, the runoff of factories and bounces along with 768,432 tons of trash.
For five days, the bag flows through northeast India until the river arrives at the border with Bangladesh. A Trump wall stands forty-feet tall, made of reinforced steel, and soars along the border and over the river. The wall spreads the 2,500 mile expanse of this imaginary border between imaginary nations. The rapidly industrializing nation of India rallied against the poor riff-raff on the other side and screamed no more!
“They'll steal our jobs!”
“They'll jam up the roads and trains with their useless bodies!”
The river roars unapologetically underneath the wall, across the border. Early engineers erected a criss-cross fence with barbed wire under the wall, along the river, but this quickly became clogged with debris and bodies. This caused the river to swell and flood the plains on the Indian side, threatening to damage the Trump Taj Mahal Farakka Casino, Hotel and Whorehouse. A team of scuba-clad construction workers pulled down the fence and replaced it with metal spikes to dissuade any illegal entrants from attempting to swim upstream. Once a week, sanitation workers would kick off the bodies and trash caught on these spikes and send them flying, flushing down into that great sewage funnel of Asia, Bangladesh.
The hermetically-sealed bag bounces off three bloated bodies stuck to the spikes and swirls seamlessly across a border one hundred million humans could only dream of crossing. Over the border, it flows for another three days until it reaches the Port of Aricha Ghat.
Barshana bobs in the water. Unable to swim, she digs in her heels and grabs the wooden pilings of the dock. She tries to wash Sharukha's blood off her face. When she hears the last truck roll by, she claws her way along the port's underside. She hopes she has escaped the sight of any remaining Pinkerton Snipers.
The bag spins right round, like a record, gently worn from the journey, and approaches Barshana. A gush of water grabs her sari and whips it around her neck. As she chokes, she slashes at the water and her sari. Her left pointer finger punctures the bag and the hand rolls out. She rips the sari from her neck as the hand bobs before her, swollen and rotted. The days of heat have loosened the skin and the pustule ruptures.
1.7 million individual particles of brick-shaped double-stranded DNA with a hairpin loop at both ends burst forth. Each is a perfect encapsulation of the pox virus, able to replicate without assistance from its million siblings.
Free from her wardrobe noose, she gasps! In this moment, she unwittingly inhales 234,862 virions of Variola maximum.
For thousands of years, this undead invader lay dormant, waiting for its freedom to strike again.
The virus latches onto the warm, wet membranes of her inflamed lungs and infiltrates her body, ready to divide.
And conquer all humanity.
Above her, a flock of seagulls squawk.