Short Story: I Don’t Feel Like Myself Today – Chapter 1

I know the exact day I was infected. The bracelet on the right wrist won’t let me forget. Not like I would without it. You know the saying “The first day of the rest of your life?” I like to twist that to my situation: “The first day of the rest of my death.” The disease slinks slowly, lurches forward with baby steps. Some call it the “Creeping Death,” though that is a misnomer. It may cause death swiftly or it may take its time, like it is doing with me. And causing death is only half the worry.

I was never a health nut before I caught it. To this day, I don’t understand how I wasn’t one of those people you see on the news, the ones that catch CD and immediately keel over. Of course, a good percentage of those types of death are self-inflicted, either from the shock of being infected causing accidents, or just plain suicide. Those deaths are the most senseless and idiotic. They only cause more problems than they solve. Way to put yourself ahead of anyone else.

Back to my health nut topic: I am now. Oh, how am I ever. I need to stay alive. I fight for that every day. I don’t workout in gyms, not anymore. People saw the bracelet, saw the fire in my eyes, and spewed epithets at me or steered clear. The people who steered clear were the worst of that duo. I could take the hate, because I knew that came from fear. Fear from being infected themselves, fear from me passing out and waking up something wicked. The people who avoided me were avoiding the disease. Safe, yes, but ignorant. I wanted to get up in their faces, yell at them to look at me, to know what I am suffering from and how it didn’t mean the end of the world (though the early reports concluded as such).

Some of the psychologists I have visited have said that the desire to confront people is a symptom of the disease. That on some biological level, the disease is pushing me into situations where blood may be spilt and it may be spread. That the bouts of insanity people seem to have while battling the disease is the disease, not a human reaction to it. I try not to think about the behavioral aspect of CD, but then again, I remember smashing plates against my head, blooding dripping onto my linoleum floor. My cleaning service refused to ever back to my apartment after they saw the blood puddles. Said it was too dangerous. So I remember that. And the blackouts.

I have been referring to the disease as “Creeping Death” or CD for the last couple of paragraphs. As I said, that’s one of the more popular nicknames for it. Officially, it is called Continuus mortis or “Continuing Death.” You can see where “Creeping Death” comes from. I have also heard “Disease Z,” “Zoom Disease,” and the “Superflu.” That last one always makes me laugh, as if CD could be treated with a cold wash towel on one’s forehead. I have personally been called a “Zeta,” “Short-timer,” and “Deadhead.” Some people, in that faux-politeness that accompanies talking to someone on death row without being behind bars, ask me what I prefer to call it and be called. I call what I have “The Curse” and myself, I am an “Afflicted.” I like those terms. “The Curse” implies I am in a hell not of my own doing and “Afflicted” conveys a sense of hope that I can cast of these biological shackles and the reality that it will never happen.

I have heard a new term recently, one that I actually like, partly because of my dark sense of humor. I have heard the infected being called “The Walking Life.” That is an excellent name because of the implication behind it. Because after we stop being “The Walking Life,” everyone with CD, whether that death is creeping or continuing, we all become the same thing: “The Walking Dead.”

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