“Fuck, it’s cold.”
Corporal Mira Feng shuddered intensely as she slid into the drivers seat of her patrol car, two polystyrene cups of coffee in hand. She placed one of the coffees in the cup holder while reaching to hand the other to her partner, Deputy Omar Barajavan. As Omar took the coffee Mira reached and pulled the car door shut, albeit a little too hard, anxious to be out of the freezing November night air. Mira tugged her coat collar up snugly around her neck as she reached and turned the car key, the engine roaring to life. The time was one fifty-eight. “Look at that, still two minutes ahead of schedule.” Mira quipped monotonously as she put the patrol car into gear.
Mira and Omar were pulling out of the station for their regular shift, two to twelve. Normally they would be leaving a bit earlier than they were now but with the weather like it was Mira felt the need to hang back and grab a coffee for them both. Mira turned on the windshield wipers as they pulled up to the edge of the street in front of the station. There was a modest sheet of freezing rain coming down and according to the weather over the next few days it would get progressively colder and bring some heavy snow. Mira knew what that meant, working vehicle wrecks and directing traffic just as a start, especially now - never mind chasing hoods and punks down slicked roads and sidewalks.
You signed up for it. Mira thought wryly as she turned out into the street and peeled down the way.
Traffic was minimal but Mira knew that had to do with the epidemic that was suddenly shaking the city. The day before, early in the morning hours, people were coming into the hospital and showing severe symptoms that resembled a flu. A winters’ illness outbreak was to be expected this time of year but this was something different. It was so sudden. Reports said that by the dozens and then the hundreds people were just flooding in wracked with symptoms, and it was worsening by the hour. By that afternoon hospitals and clinics were overflowing with sick people, many barely able to sit up straight in the waiting rooms - all this within less than twelve hours. Mira had never heard of anything like it. Ambulances were screaming up and down the streets all day and night from people having to be picked up from their homes, not even able to make it to their cars or to a cab to get to aid.
Mira had just woken up from sleeping earlier that evening when she heard about the wave of deaths. The news said people were dropping like flies, slumping over in their waiting room chairs or hospital beds. Mira still remembered that sudden, dreadful chill that had rushed through her as she watched the tv from her living room couch. The mayor had declared a state of emergency and was reaching out to the governor and Washington for immediate aid in this epidemic - whatever it was. Mira was no doctor but she imagined it to be some kind of freak mutant flu. And yet I have never heard of anything that could shake up and shut down a whole city in less than one day.
The Corporal shook her head as she reached for her coffee and took a long sip, the hot coiling steam feeling good against her face. Nearly every business Mira and Omar passed had signs indicating being indefinitely closed amid this strange pandemic. Doors were all locked up tight and blinds and window covers masked the insides of everything from stores to street side restaurants. Few people were on the sidewalks and most wore masks and gloves and were all giving each other a wide birth. A red flashing caught both deputies attention as they passed an apartment complex, an ambulance was parked outside and Mira could see EMT’s were rushing up the stairs.
Mira glanced sideways at Omar as she made a sharp turn down a side street on their route. “What do you know about this virus or whatever it is, Omar? This… flu…” Mira hoped he had something for her, anything other than just a shrug or an “I don’t know”. This whole thing was making her nervous to put it to the least, so many hospitalized and dead with no end in site reported.