Can you ever trust bloggers?
All published excerpts from Apostate: Life after Death in Exile:
From Part 1, Episodes 7: Can you ever trust bloggers?
The first few items in the search results were mainly news sites. Apparently, the Bangkok virus started affecting people last winter. Several people had died, but mostly young children and the elderly. This strain of flu was about as dangerous as strains that had hit in previous winters. In fact, some reporters were asking if the whole “Bangkok flu” scare had been a hoax dreamed up by pharmaceutical companies.
I had heard all of this before. It had been in the news for the last few months. I even thought I had caught the flu a couple of months ago, but it turned out to be a sinus infection. Janice nursed me back to health with her natural remedies.
This was not the information that I was looking for. I thought for a moment and entered “New strain of Bangkok virus” into the search engine, and watched as the results popped up while I was typing.
The first item looked interesting. The title was, “Public should not be alarmed over new strain of Bangkok virus.” Again, this article was from a respected news source. The Bangkok virus had changed, and it had become deadlier. Several people had died during the last week, the most in one week since the virus was detected the previous winter. Scientists and health care professionals were surprised because the number of reported cases of the Bangkok virus had been decreasing before this new strain came on the scene.
I had not heard any of this before. The articles were all new – only a few days old. During those days, I had had my nose buried in a computer screen up to my ears in PHP code. I try to avoid as many distractions as possible when coding like that, even the local or national news.
The next few search items reported the same information. The virus was affecting more people. More people were dying. The public has no reason for concern. Wild rumors or speculation should be ignored.
This last part intrigued me. A few of the articles included this warning. After reading through the first two pages of articles in the search results, and a few articles linked from those pages, I did not learn anything new. I was getting frustrated. So far, I had only found the “official statement.” I could not find anything about the affects of the virus that the CDC had told the deputy about.
I started another search: “the truth about the new strain of the Bangkok virus.” A few items popped up. I clicked on the first one, but the site was down. I tried the second and third item, but again, the sites were down. Strange. The links did not go to news sites, but to blogs. According to Google, these articles were written within the last two days. But, according to my browser, none of the sites existed. I tried all of the sites in the search results, and found that all of the sites were down.
I tried another search string, but again, none of the sites existed. After trying several more searches but getting no results, I stopped. I had to try something else.
Archives! I went back to one of the previous searches, then began looking through an internet archive for those sites. Most of them had not been archived since the interesting post was published. But, finally, I found one.
I could immediately tell that this was what I wanted. The article was titled, “My mother bit my hand.” A young blogger had written the article. From his recent posts, I could tell that he was mainly interested in NBA basketball, partying, and ditching school as often as possible.
A few days before – only the beginning of this week – the blogger’s mother had become sick. She went to the doctor, and she was diagnosed with the Bangkok flu. When he had not heard from her in a couple of days, he went to check on her. (Apparently, he needed money, and he was not happy that his mother had not answered his phone calls.)
When he went into her house, he heard banging from her bedroom. He called out to his mother, but there was no answer besides the loud knocking. He opened the door of the bedroom, and his mother immediately lunged at him. She had been hitting the door so much that her hands were shredded and the door was covered in her blood. He instinctively raised his arms to protect himself as the force of his mother’s small frame pushed him back against the wall.
Before he knew what had happened, his mother had bitten into his hand and was chewing on the flesh and bones. He wrote, “My mother was out of her freakin’ mind! She was gnawing on my hand! I could feel her teeth scraping against my bones!” Shoving her away, he backed into the living room, all the while trying to talk to his mother and staunch the bleeding with his shirt. In the post, he said that she never responded to him. She kept moving toward him trying to grab whatever part of his body she could reach: arms, legs, head.
Eventually, he gave up. He ran out of the house, closing the door behind him, and drove back to his apartment to care for his injured hand. Once his hand was bandaged, he called the police. The emergency operator did not believe him, and told him that if his mother was acting peculiar then he should take her to the doctor or hospital. He then wrote this blog post, complete with a picture of his hand wrapped with bloody gauze. On the last line of the blog post, he said that he was going back to his mother’s house in the morning.
The story was strange and gruesome. But, certain words kept leaping from the screen: blank eyes, stronger than normal, shuffling walk, pale skin, gargling sound. I could have used these same words and phrases to describe Dr. Wellers earlier that day. But, the blogger said one thing that stuck in my mind even more: “If my mom wasn’t moving around, I would swear she was dead.” Yes, that’s exactly how Wellers had looked: like a dead man walking, and grabbing, and biting.
I re-read the blog post. Then, I searched through the internet archive for more. I found several posts, and all of the descriptions were eerily similar. One woman had walked in on her roommate who was literally eating her boyfriend, her head buried in the gaping hole that was once his neck. As with the previous blogger’s mother, the roommate had also complained of the flu, and the boyfriend had stopped by to comfort her. The roommate did not look up from the dead boyfriend, so she ran away as fast as possible and called the police. She did not know what happened after that.
Story after story painted the same picture of the new strain of the Bangkok virus. It all seemed to start with flu-like symptoms. At some point, the person’s heart and breathing stops completely. Then, after a few minutes, the person revives and begins acting delusional, violent, and cannibalistic. Several articles told the story of family members grieving over a father, mother, sibling, or child who succumbed to the flu, only to have their grief turn to horror when the dead loved one leaps up and attacks someone nearby.
I jumped when I heard a noise to my right. A doe and fawn had walked up into the yard to munch on the honeysuckle. I sat quietly and watching them, trying to process the grisly scenes in those stories. I would not have believed them if I had read them yesterday. I would have believed the “official statement,” except that I saw the way that Wellers had acted earlier today. I would have chalked up the blog posts to people’s active imaginations or sadomasochistic fantasies. But, now, I could not do that. It was too real.
When I stood up from the rocking chair, the doe and fawn sprang into the woods with very little sound. I tried to tip toe upstairs. Janice was breathing heavily and shifting slightly in her sleep. I watched her for a few moments, before brushing my teeth, putting on my pajamas, and climbing into the bed next to her.
The crescent moon shone through the bedroom window turning the room into a black and white masterpiece. I stared at the moon and thought. The events of the day and the words on the computer screen raced through my mind. I knew that sleep would not come tonight.
I did not know exactly what was going on. But, whatever was happening – whatever it is they were calling this new strain of the Bangkok virus – it seemed clear that Dr. Wellers had caught it. At some point, he had died, and then come back to life to attack me, Janice, and Deputy Powell. He did not stop until Powell literally blew his brains out.
While all of this bothered me, it did not keep me from sleeping. Only one thought barreled over all the others and caused me to have a sleepless night.
When I wasn’t thinking that, I was praying, “Oh, God, don’t let her have the virus.”
All published excerpts from Apostate: Life after Death in Exile: