Guy watched the news; it was the same thing every day. “This was a temporary emergency. Stay as close to home as possible, no unnecessary travel, conserve when you can, take care of your family.” That is what the news had been saying for a while, and Guy had found it easy to do, he did not want to go anywhere, his family grew a lot of what they needed so conserving what they had was just smart. Heck he was complying without trying.
A week later there was a change, Guy did not notice it at first, but the wording got a little different. “This was a temporary emergency. Stay home as much as possible, only necessary travel, conserve when you can, if you have trouble taking care of you family cooperation, with your local government might be necessary.” Guy went about working on his farm knowing he did not need any help taking care of his family. Then he thought about his mother, she lived in town in an Assisted Living Home. He decided to not just call her tomorrow but to go and see her.
At the high rise where his mother lived, Guy noted the presence of more staff than before and where the front desk was almost never manned there were now two people. This was the first time he had to give his name and who he was here to see. It was nice to see they cared. His mother was fine, she chewed his ear off about bingo, church and stuff on the news. Guy left but not before checking out her cupboards and seeing if they were well stocked.
Two weeks later Guy was helping his wife with her annual canning. She was serious about her canning and this year as he did every year he kiddingly complained about the perpetual mess in the kitchen and how everything tasted like whatever they were canning. The news was all ramped up about the problem and how it had grown much worse and the steps needed to ‘fight it’. This time the wording was much more direct. “This was a temporary emergency. Stay home, necessary travel was permitted, conserve and have an estimate of what you have on hand, contact your local government with your needs.” Guy turned off the news and had a second cup of coffee mulling over what he had just heard. Things were getting serious; he had checked with his wife about the food they had on hand and they had both decided it would do them a good while. Guy also thought that maybe his mother should come out to the farm, at least until the crisis passed over. He called her, she did not want to leave and assured him she was good where she was, and he was always such a worrier, but things were fine. Guy got off the phone and went to work, there was a fence he needed to mend.
Ten days later things changed again. The news now stated “This was a temporary emergency. Staying home is required, travel is limited to only the necessities of life, estimate how many supplies you have and if you can share with your neighbors if the need arises, local governments will be conducting a census to better assess the situation please cooperate.”
Guy was unsure how to take this, he was pretty much a homebody, but these requirements rubbed him the wrong way. He agreed with the need to stay home but he was not sure about staying home just because he was told. He decided to go into town that night to see his mother and if things were bad, he would bring her out to the farm. Driving in he saw several checkpoints, or maybe they were just guard posts to keep things calm, he was not sure what the difference was, but he made it to his mother’s building with no problems. Well that was until he got to the front door.
Pulling on the door he realized it was locked, it had never been locked before. He looked around for another way in, normally there were people sitting outside enjoying the evening, but no one was outside, he recalled the drive in there was no one on the city streets either just the occasional car, no one walking, no one out.
Trying the door again he was met by someone looking out. One of the people that had been sitting behind the desk the last time he was here. After a brief exchange he was turned away and then called his mother. He could tell something had changed in her tone, he heard something that he had heard only a few times before, she was afraid. She explained that the staff thought it best for everyone if they stayed in their apartments and did not venture outside. Guy tried to talk her into coming down to the lobby, but it was no use, she felt safe where she was, and he should go to where he would be safe as well and this was a temporary emergency. Guy drove home shaken.
Two days later changed everything. Again, the news reports changed subtly but seriously. “This was a temporary emergency. All law-abiding citizens are to remain in their homes, travel is limited to government officials and authorized activity only, a survey official will be visiting all homes to determine ways the government can better serve the community with allocation of resources. Fines and penalties will be placed against those not in compliance with the temporary special directives during this phase of the emergency.”
Guy watched the roads around his farm, there was hardly any traffic, his nearest neighbors knew nothing more than he did. On that day government officials came, they wore armbands to help identify themselves. Guy said very little. Their questions were polite and short, but Guy realized only one talked and asked questions while the other simply recorded his answers on a clip board. The conversation was about how the farm and garden were doing and they observed that the tomatoes had already been picked.
They left Guy but right before they left the one recording asked one question and one question only. “If it was necessary would you be willing to share with others in need.” Guy did not answer right away and before he could say a word the man simply nodded and made a notation on his clipboard then the both simply went away.
On the day the officials visited his home he attempted to contact his mother, he could not get through, just the recorded message, no lines available at this time, please try your call again later.
The next day he decided that his mother was coming out to the farm no matter what. When he got to her building it was locked up. He banged on the door, no one answered. He was looking around for a rock to break a window when a government official with an armband approached. A short conversation gave him all the answers he would ever get. The residents of the high rise had been moved for their own protection, he was unsure of where to and it would be best if he returned to his home for the duration of this temporary emergency.
He went to his truck.
When had things gotten so bad? What was happening? He loved his community, but he was unsure how to react to what was going on. Should he live as he had always lived? Should he speak up? Should he do something?
Or should he just go home.
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