Latitude

Olena's stream of consciousness

Why did he suggest I come from this direction? It’s a lot longer around. Oh, I see. The bastard is charging the door, he’s breaking our deal, he promised equal partnership and the first thing he does is oh my GOD did he run that guy down? He didn’t get the other one I can’t get there in time doesn’t this piece of junk go any faster he needs me there right NOW oh god hail of bullets this can’t be good. Oh good the biker’s hit that means the bastard reporter’s not dead. I’ll help him out shoot it’s hard to shoot out the window of a moving car shit I missed but at least the guy took cover and Mittel’s out of the car now. One death trap escaped, let’s both run into another one, why don’t we?

No one else here yet. Mittel followed the guy into the alley. He’s down. Looks like the reporter is good in a fight after all. Door ahead. Have to rescue, have to stay focused. Mittel will be right behind me. Wish I could get in the front door, but Mittel blocked that one. stupid, stupid, that’s the one with the stairs by it. Corridor; enemies! Shoot! Oh my god oh my god I just killed a man oh my god oh my god the other one ran back inside and closed the door. Why haven’t they all come boiling out of there yet? Loud music must be too loud. Other door on the left, maybe to the stairs, try it first. Was that more bullets from outside? Who’s left to kill out there? Why isn’t Mittel right behind me? Room’s empty, door at other side; closet, also empty, what a waste of time. Wonder if the guy who ran away has got reinforcements ah yes he does SHIT gotta run back outside Mittel’s fighting one of the door guards and the other one’s not dead either maybe he isn’t as good in a fight as I thought. I’ll get that one who should be dead. I’ll make him pay attention to me!

Who’s touching me stop it stop it HOW DARE YOU time to show you I’m not a scared kid to be raped by the likes of you. Drop weapons and throw him, no I won’t just knock him out. Oh god I just killed another one. No time. Pick up the escrima stick, leave the gun, draw the other stick, face the guy behind. He’s got a baseball bat and he’s not moving. What, little man, you scared of me? You should be. Or are you still in shock from seeing your friend’s head imitating a water balloon at a fall fair? My target is behind me now but I have to deal with this guy first. Mittel will have to take care of the other one.

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Olena's Journal: August 16th

I never knew before what it meant to see red. It didn’t occur to me that it was more than just an expression.

Monty Mittel, the reporter, went out to take pictures of the biker bar and see if he could figure out whether they were looking after as many people as we are to be taking all those supplies. He saw a bunch of bikers bring two young girls into the bar – crying, being handled roughly, hoods over their faces. I was ready to get a shotgun and go get those girls, and so was Mittel by the look of him – in fact he said as much.

But those wusses running the community centre decided to start defending the centre instead – boarding up the windows and making the place into a fortress. They wrote off those two girls as outside their control.

I expressed my opinion – which was that we needed to go rescue those girls and anyone else the bikers are holding against their will – and was pretty much patted on the head. I left the meeting before they could get me hammering plywood over windows.

I was angry a lot in Africa last year – angry at the general injustice, angry at the specific injustices, angry at a world that had need of Medecins sans frontieres. But I’d never been angry like this.

This is the part where I’m glad this journal isn’t live at the moment. I’m not sure I believe it myself, except that the evidence all says it happened.

I was wandering the corridors, angry and frustrated, debating and discarding ideas for suicidal rescue attempts with every step, and I wasn’t watching where I was going. I stepped on a nail. It was about six inches long, about four inches of which were showing through the other side of a two-by-four. I think it went right through my foot. I remember seeing the bloodied point sticking up through the top of my foot.

I admit I panicked a bit. I really had two choices – I could scream, or I could take the nail out and risk bleeding out before I could get to the makeshift hospital. I chose the latter – I wasn’t sure anyone would be able to hear me from where I was. Now, a good little medical student would NOT have done that, because taking a sharp object out of a wound makes the bleeding worse. But when you can see a nail sticking out of the top of your foot, you’re probably not thinking too hard about whether the nail hit a major artery. You’re thinking OW this fucking hurts son of a bitch get this fucking thing out of my foot OW. So that was what I did. Then I took off my shirt to apply pressure to the wound. (Yes, prurient minded readers of the future, I had a tank on underneath.) I am 100% certain that I was bleeding from the top and sole of my foot.

I limped my way to the hospital and asked for Dr. Glover. I hadn’t done a shift in there in several days, and there are still people right on the edge of death; he was rather busy and it looked like I hadn’t hit an artery. So I sat down and continued applying pressure top and bottom. I stayed like that a good ten minutes, and then took the shirt off the wound to look at it.

I couldn’t find the wound. No, it wasn’t obscured by scabs of blood, though my foot was very bloody. When I rubbed at the spot where the wound had been, the skin was unbroken. There was no wound.

I looked at the sole of my foot. Same thing there – no wound.

I got up and walked back to my cubicle of a sleeping area, without so much as a limp. Also without my flip-flops, because I’d been wearing one and it was still impaled on the nail. I got changed, put on some sturdier shoes, and went to look for it. I mean, surely I didn’t imagine puncturing my foot on a six-inch piece of iron?

But no, there was the flip-flop, the left one, with nearly four inches of nail above it. And I wasn’t even limping.

I wandered the corridors a bit longer, still angry over those wimps nailing plywood (and leaving nailed boards lying around willy-nilly, then went to find the reporter. We’re going tonight to rescue those girls. I’m going to have to find a way to make sure I take most of the fire, though. I don’t want to get him killed. I wonder if a bullet wound would just disappear like that nail wound did?

I’m crazy. I’m going to get myself killed. Who am I to be going into that den of iniquity to rescue anyone? They probably weigh more than I do.

But I’m doing it anyway.

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Olena's Journal: August 15th

It looks like I’m not going back to UBC to start medical school next week. I wonder if they gave my spot to someone on a waiting list already, thinking I was dead? I wonder what I’ll have to do to get another spot once this is all over?

Not that there’s any sign of it ending. The military is still manning the roadblocks. They’re now made of concrete. Nobody from the community centre has checked to see if we can get through the fields, because the nearest town in those directions is several days’ walk, and we really can’t spare anyone. And nobody wants to get shot.

The situation is starting to get desperate. The reporter – I suppose I should start using his name – Monty Mittel, then – found a ham radio on a farm, and the operator was still alive. For a while we were getting outside information that way. It seems the pandemic is mostly contained to towns like ours around the globe. Mexico has fallen off the radar entirely, and it’s being blamed on the lack of quarantine measures. The situation in the Midwestern States is dire – martial law, vigilantes making sure nobody leaves the quarantined towns, bloodbaths when people get desperate enough to try. Meanwhile, people are being told that everyone in these towns is dead or dying, and they’re scared enough to believe it. They’re also being told that supplies are being airlifted in on a regular basis. We got our first shipment two nights ago, and it was enough for maybe a third of the people still alive in the town. Since they didn’t bother to check with us to find out how many people are alive, they’ve underestimated to a degree that might kill healthy people via starvation. And we can’t tell them, because shortly after we found out all that information, the radio towers were taken down. The ham radio operator now has a range of less than forty miles – not enough to get to the next big town or to reach any of his usual contacts. The shortwave radio messages have changed, too – instead of reporting real news, now they’ve switched to everything-is-fine-we’re-taking-care-of-it crap.

The constable was unwilling to secure all the pallets of dropped supplies for the community centre – he said the holdouts had as much right to them as we did. Mittel was really upset at that. Sarah (Ms. Schiller) pointed out that we weren’t sure at the moment if there was hoarding going on, since we’d accessed less than half the pallets that were dropped before they were gone. I volunteered to find out.

They wouldn’t let me go alone – the sounds of gunshots in the streets has gotten more frequent with each passing night, and people look at my hundred-pound frame and assume “fainting flower” for some reason – so I took Mittel with me. We planted a pallet in a side street and watched from a deserted house.

Four guys in a pickup truck, two armed with assault rifles, drove up, grabbed the pallet, and drove off. Mittel had his camera and telephoto lens recording the whole thing, and Rath confirmed it: they’re members of the biker gang that’s been plaguing Regina for years. They never cause trouble here – what’s that phrase? Never foul your own nest? – but they’re organized crime for sure, and they’re armed with weapons that are really difficult to get in Canada. Those two assault rifles could take out most of the hunting weapons we’ve got at the police station.

What we don’t know is whether their need is as desperate as ours, or whether they’re stockpiling. We suspect the latter, but the community centre only has about a quarter of the people we estimate are alive in the town, so it’s possible they need it as much as we do.

Mittel painted a billboard out near the road blockade, asking for three times the supplies that were dropped. Meanwhile, the harvests are starting to rot in the fields. There’s no one to bring them in. The supplies of canned goods and staples to make bread are dwindling. We have enough medical supplies to keep our weakest patients hydrated for a few more days at most, and several have already died for lack of clean sharps. Dr. Glover vetoed the idea of sterilizing old ones – the risk of secondary infections will go up dramatically if we do that – but it may be the lesser of two evils. A few healthy people have started raiding weedy vegetable gardens, but they haven’t been tended for the last month and the local deer population is looking very well-fed. A few of the hunters have been out taking care of that. Mmm, venison. But it won’t keep us going for long, and Rath is understandably reluctant to release ammunition for hunting when we’ve got a gang sitting on an arsenal of unknown size just across town. (I’ve learned that fifty healthy people and twice that many recovering people can get through an entire deer in one meal.)

I have to go. Rath put me in charge of figuring out who among the healthy can be trusted with a gun. Obviously the hunters can, but there must be others, and we need to start training them.

Hopefully I’ll be able to update again soon. My life has turned into an apocalyptic adventure movie, but there’s no walking away from a burning town on the arm of my newfound love at the end of my version. With any luck, Dr. Glover and I will someday write a world-renowned medical treatise on our experiences during the pandemic. But that seems a long way away somehow.

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Olena's Journal: July 28th

Geez, this is insane. I have to find time to document things here. I don’t think anyone else is doing it. Historical record and all that. But there’s so much that needs doing, and so few people who can do it.

There are committees set up to go knock on doors and encourage people to centralize in the community centre. About half of those we talk to end up coming. A lot of doors go unanswered. They mark those ones and someone comes around later to find out if everyone inside is dead. It feels rather medieval – a pickup truck with two people in back, carrying sheet-wrapped bodies for burial in mass graves. The only thing missing is the smell of sulfur being sprinkled on them. I know Ms. Schiller is trying to ensure that not too many people realize how many have died, but I saw her numbers. About half of the people who appear on a list, appear on a list of the dead. Half. HALF. If that number is accurate, there are more than 2000 people dead in this town. That death toll hasn’t been seen since the Black Plague. I wish I could remember the specific numbers – I think even the Plague didn’t carry off that many of its victims.

There’s also a group of – the only word that comes to mind is “scroungers.” Their job is to go to all the houses that have nobody left in them and take any foodstuffs that are still usable. Ms. Schiller’s efficiency strikes again – she’s even attempting to keep track of where stuff comes from. All the guns and ammunition from local hardware stores have been stored at the police station across the street, but we didn’t get to all of them – most of the holdouts are also armed. Anyway, the scroungers are also going to the outlying farms. We’ve got one farmer’s wife who isn’t sick, who said she had no real love of taking care of sick people, but she can bake bread all day to keep people fed. Since flour, sugar, and water are all non-perishables that are available in every household, and she’s using a sourdough starter rather than dry yeast, she can keep us going in bread for weeks on end. She even went back to her house long enough to harvest some herbs – so each loaf tastes a bit different. Whoever thought that in this day and age, an old-fashioned skill like breadmaking would be more than a curiosity?

A group is developing, of people who want to take an interest in the makeshift government we’ve got going. There’s about six of us. The mayor is dead, the deputy mayor is still ill, and we haven’t been able to contact the other three town council members at all, so the most official person is Constable Rath, the police officer. There’s Ms. Schiller, and Dr. Glover, and the reporter is on it, too. He’s an idiot. Actually, that’s unfair. He knows his job and his role in the crisis, but he insists on patronizing people and he’s too jolly-good optimistic. Still, he’s working hard to get the word out to the people who need to hear it, so i guess I should lay off him. Probably. I’ll let you know when I do.

Let who know?

I can’t let myself think about that. This is a private journal now, at least for the time being. When the army lifts the quarantine, I’ll publish it for the world to see. Until then, it appears we’re on our own.

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Olena's Journal: July 24th

A lot can happen in 24 hours.

I called the next-door neighbour, Julie. She has four kids and works for the newspaper. She was at the end of her rope caring for them, so I made sure my family was as comfortable as I could make them and went next door with some of my electrolyte solution. She was upstairs with her husband.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that he was dead – probably within the last five or ten minutes. July didn’t seem to be acknowledging it. I got her to go downstairs and I saw to the kids for a few minutes. I couldn’t deal with forcing her to see it. I suppose I’ll have to learn to do that at some point, but today I couldn’t.

Anyhow, the reporter came by. He’d heard people were gathering at the community centre as a makeshift hospital, and he’d come to drive Julie and her family over there. He did that and came back to tell me what was up. I borrowed Julie’s van and took my family over there, too. The librarian, Ms. Schiller, is the main organizational force there. The woman is insanely organized. She’s got me working triage, mostly, and sent the reporter off to do a mini-version of the paper and let people know they can come to the community centre.

It seems not quite everyone is sick. It runs to about three out of four people getting sick, which is about four times the infection ratio of the 1919 Spanish flu. The people dying are dying mostly because there’s no one around to make sure they get electrolytes. Katarina was put on an IV as soon as she got here, because I hadn’t been able to keep enough fluids in here. They’re only starting IVs in the most desperate of cases – they’re starting to run out. But she looks better even just a few hours later, and she’s going to get better care here.

I’m glad Ms. Schiller sent that reporter to work out in the town. He was getting on my nerves. The curse of being short. I made sure he was there when I mentioned to Ms. Schiller that I had a degree in biology and was heading to medical school in the fall.

I have to go. I’m stealing time from sleep to write, and I’m only guaranteed six hours before I’ll be back on duty. It’ll be the most sleep I’ve had in days, but still not enough.

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Olena's Journal: July 25

Everybody’s sick except me.

Great-Aunt Olena (yes, I’m named for her) stopped answering her phone yesterday. That was the day Mom and Dad both came down with whatever-this-is, so nobody’s gone to check on her yet. We’re getting no outside news at all. The internet is down, long-distance calls get busy signals or, “We’re sorry, the number you are trying to reach is not in service” messages – even if the number was in service until the day before yesterday, even the number for the local MP a few townships away. The army guys at the roadsides tell people to go home, and avoid answering questions about food or water. The local phone lines still work, so we can call anyone we know here to find out how they’re doing. Answer: everyone’s sick except me.

The pharmacy was broken into last night. The vandals appear to have stolen some pain meds and anti-convulsants, and the diabetic supplies – at least some of them. It looks like the Home Hardware has been broken into, as well. Nothing is open. Even the reporter guy has stopped posting his updates in the window of the newspaper office.

When people have been calling here, I’ve been giving them the recipe for homemade electrolyte solution. Thank God I printed that for the kitchen before the internet went down! I’ve been telling them to boil water, too. I don’t know if there’s anyone at the water treatment facility, but I suspect there’s not, so if we’re not on a boil-water advisory, we need to be.

I got out Grandma’s canner and one-litre spaghetti jars, and sterilized everything as best I could in a hot-water bath, like I used to do when I helped her turn her tomato patch into sauce every August. Then I started making batches of electrolyte solution. If I’m the only healthy person around, and the only one with medical knowledge who’s not running themselves to exhaustion at the hospital, then I might as well do what I can to help. Once Katie and Mom and Dad got over their latest bout of puking up their toenails, I took the car and went on a little mission of mercy to drop off a one-litre jar at the homes of friends and neighbours who I knew really needed it. I told them to leave the jars on the porch and I’d collect them and make more. But if I couldn’t get a hold of them on the phone and they didn’t answer the door, I didn’t leave one for them. I suspect they’re not going to get much use out of it anymore.

Katie’s badly dehydrated, in spite of all the gatorade and electrolytes I’ve been trying to get into her. She’s raving, she’s occasionally convulsing, and she’s lost more weight than she could afford to lose. Her eyes look so big in her face now, but sunken, and I don’t think she’s seeing me when she looks at me. She’s got an icon the priest gave her a while ago, and she hasn’t let go of it for three days. I’m so scared for her. Nothing’s working. Why won’t she get better?

And why am I the only one who isn’t getting sick?

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Olena's Journal: July 22

Sorry it’s been a couple of days, guys. A lot’s been going on here.

Katie’s sick. She started throwing up yesterday, and this morning my parents wanted to take her to the hospital. I’d been reading a few things online earlier in the day about the pandemic in the cities, and I wasn’t about to share that stuff with my parents. They were worried enough already. Anyhow, I convinced them to wait until I’d at least called the hospital to see how the situation was there.

I got a busy signal. A busy signal. Who still gets busy signals? How twentieth century is this place, anyway? But I figured it meant everyone and their brother was trying to call the hospital, so I convinced my parents to keep Katie at home and try to get more Gatorade into her. She’s keeping some down, and she got enough tylenol that her fever is down into a more normal range. The gravol’s doing nothing, though.

Main Street looks like a ghost town. I went over to the pharmacy because we were almost out of tylenol, and it was locked at two o’clock in the afternoon. Even more worrisome, when I peaked in the window, I realized they’d cleared the locked cabinets behind the counter, rather than just locking them. That is, any medication that absolutely must not be stolen isn’t in the store anymore. Pharmacists only do that when they think they won’t be back for a while to open up. Meanwhile, the insulin and diabetic supplies were piled on the counter. It’s almost as though they’re expecting people to break in, and not for shits and giggles – they put out the most obviously necessary supplies in plain sight. I can’t think of a single scenario where that would be a good thing.

EDIT: Oh, shit. I seem to have lost connectivity. Stupid one-horse town. I guess I’ll save this to my LJ client and try again later.

EDIT II: It’s not just LJ or my connectivity that’s down. I’ve called or been called by half a dozen people, and nobody has any connection to the world outside this town, at all. The Army has blocked off the roads into town (does that make us as whiny as Toronto? I hope not) and everyone’s being told to stay put. And there is no internet connection. That scares me more than anything.

I think I’ll print this entry and start keeping a paper journal.

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Olena's Journal: July 19

Okay, that Guatemalan Flu thing is looking scarier every day. We all know Toronto overreacts to everything – remember when they called in the army to deal with a bit of snow? – but they may actually have cause now. I can’t believe they actually shut down Pearson, though. Nothing shuts down Pearson. 9/11 didn’t shut down Pearson. So, Toronto friends, check in, please. For that matter, big city friends around the world, check in, please.

It looks like it’s here, too. My sister was at day camp today at the Y. She goes every few days, whenever she’s not following me to join the beginner class at the dojo. She’s pretty good, actually – I was surprised that the spoiled brat would actually work at anything as hard as she’s worked at Aikido with me teaching her. Anyway, when a kid started puking in class and complaining of earache, they sent everyone home. Those are the two big symptoms of the Guatemalan flu, or so CBC has reported. Mom got the same information from the local reporter who’s been headlining that the hospital isn’t ready for a crisis. Of course it’s not. It’s got thirty beds, three doctors, and its supply of antivirals wouldn’t be enough to keep the doctors themselves alive in a pandemic. Nobody expects a small town to be ready for a pandemic, though everyone’s OMGsoSCARED by that word. I’ve tried to explain what it means to Mom three times now, and each time she’s brushed me off. It’s simple, really: three countries with confirmed cases = worldwide pandemic. That’s it. Still, if this turns out to be the pandemic the medical community has been expecting for ten years, we may yet be in trouble.

I was just about to head out to my afternoon class when Katarina came home, all worried and upset about not getting her newly-fired pottery back. I told her she had nothing to worry about – the worst that would happen would be getting the flu for a few days before getting better. But I called the sensei and cancelled my classes for the afternoon, then went out to stock up on gatorade and soda crackers. Kat has been sharing a bench with the puking kid for several days running, and if it’s like most flus, her most contagious day was yesterday. Probably half the class will come down sick. But they’re healthy kids – they’ll get better.

That reporter managed to get the town to shut down the local businesses catering to truckers. It would appear they’ve succeeded admirably at shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped.

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Olena's Journal: July 15

Why did I think coming back to Smallsville Saskatchewan for the summer was a good idea? I mean, really – what was I thinking? I could be in Vancouver right now, taking a couple of courses to get ready for med school. I could be in Africa or Indonesia on volunteer work, doing something useful with my life. Instead I listened to my parents.

“You’ve worked so hard since you went away to school – you need a rest,” said my mother. Because it’s so incredibly restful to sneak out in advance of the passive-aggressive bickering when the other parent enters the room already occupied by one. “Your sister has really missed you; you should spend some time with her,” said my dad. Because we all know Katarina gets exactly what she wants from our parents, in thanks for saving their doomed marriage with her birth. “Your sensei would give you a job for the summer.” Mom again, and the only thing she was right about. What Mom doesn’t know is that I’m his equal in Aikido now, and his teacher in Kali, the new Art I picked up at UBC. It hasn’t even occurred to her to ask what those two black wooden sticks are that I keep in my bag. Then again, she may not have noticed them; after all, no good Canadian girl goes around armed, and if they did, I’m sure Mom would think of “armed” in terms of rounds per minute.

I tried to get together with my high school friends last night. We got there at eight – “Oh, the twins took forever to go to sleep, I couldn’t slip away until now” – and they all had to go by ten – “You know, you’re so lucky not to have a toddler who will have you up at five-thirty no matter how late you were out the night before!” Three of them, all laughing in unison. Since they graduated high school, their collective trips to Regina or Saskatoon can be counted on one hand. I don’t think Mandy has been at all. The farm and the twins keep her too busy.

Ugh. Anyway, the private dorm room I got comes open on August 15th. I’ll be there on the 16th. It’s only a month away. I survived a refugee camp in Rwanda last summer with Doctors without Borders. I can survive a few more weeks in a sleepy one-horse town where the biggest social justice issue is littering.

EDIT: Guys, I keep a livejournal so people can commiserate with me when I’m whining. Where is everyone? Surely that Guatemalan flu thing hasn’t got you all shutting off your computers? It’s just a few old folks in hospitals in Toronto, right? It’ll blow over like all the others.

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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