By Thomas de Vries
April 7, 1983
An average day in the office.
Rotavirus swung by again spruiking his wares, but we knew better this time. He was dealt with efficiently. The inguinal team is still working overtime on HSV 2. It seems like there’s nothing that will stop him from coming back.
April 8, 1983
Being a senior advisor in justice is thirsty work. I constantly have teams at my office begging for instruction. I do my best, and I guess it’s a bonus that my best is literally perfection. Sometimes I need to write that down to remind myself of the bloody good work I do, because even though I haven’t had a slip-up in 29 years, being in a team with 1000 other advisors almost identical to me in what seems like a cubic millimetre of workspace, makes me feel somewhat inadequate on occasion.
Got word of a new crim – he was first spotted in the inguinal region (like they don’t have enough to worry about at the moment!) and managed to evade capture. Must have been a slippery bugger to get past those on the beat downtown. They are generally incredibly thorough, so this is a surprising slipup.
Even still, I have no doubt that we’ll have the sucker soon enough.
April 15, 1983
I honestly can’t believe it. That slippery bugger I mentioned is the slipperiest of buggers I think the team has come across. I’m getting mixed reports, but it sounds like my downstairs counterparts are either slacking off, or something smells fishy.
And I can’t even smell; I’m a T-helper cell for brain’s sake.
April 22, 1983
We’re being told that this is the worst crime spree by an “influenza” our world has ever experienced. Clean up is expected to take up to 12 weeks.
I know this is not normal. I’m terrified out of my membrane. We’re being told it’s a flu because it’s something everybody is familiar with and it’s been dealt with successfully before. I think this is something much darker and more sinister than what we’re being told.
Word on the street is that our T-helper cell colleagues are being murdered by the millions. Apparently it’s a slow and painful death you wouldn’t wish upon even Syphilis. Anyone sent to investigate these deaths doesn’t come back. I’m petrified I’ll be next.
My workmate (and best mate), Cedric, has been really supportive the last few days and I guess I’m a decent crutch for him too. He puts things into perspective – we’ve not made a fatal mistake yet, so we’ll smash this one out of the park just like the rest of the crims that come into this world (I just stopped short of reminding him of EBV). Commensal Candida from the oesophagus has thrown all her support behind Cedric. I’ve always been suspicious of her, but maybe I’ve been unreasonable. Cedric and Candida’s support has been pretty reassuring.
April 24, 1983
It didn’t long for the truth to get out. HIV-1 is here.
I’ve never felt terror like this before. Nobody knows how it’s getting around. Every day there are new theories on how this thing is spreading so fast. Every day a new minority is blamed for this uncontrollable carnage; today’s scapegoats are the basophils and their penchant for excessive vasodilation, yesterday it was the keratinocytes for their lay-down attitude to this whole situation and tomorrow it could be anything from neurons’ stimulation addiction to the unending turf war between the osteoclasts and osteoblasts.
I have no idea how, but Cedric just has such a reasonable approach to this whole thing and rises above the gossip.
Cedric is the level-headed hero we need, but not the one we deserve.
April 26, 1983
I’m more terrified than what I ever could have imagined in my darkest nightmares. I can barely tell my endoplasmic reticulum from my golgi apparatus any more.
I have no doors to lock.
Even if I did – I have no hands with which to lock them. That’s a frightening thought in itself.
June 30, 1983
The real messy stuff has calmed down now, and my confidence is no longer left threadbare by fear. Even so, HIV is still out and about screwing T-helper cells over with guerrilla warfare that has our numbers very slowly dwindling. A few macrophages, monocytes, and dendritic cells are being picked off here and there too. Researchers have decided from this data that our CD4’s are putting us at risk. Some thought has gone into trying to take our CD4’s away from us, but I strongly oppose that; my CD4 is my identity. What sort of life is a life without my identity?
Cedric and I have been campaigning for safe antibody use in our down time. It’s exhausting, but we’re wholly committed to the cause.
July 13, 1983
Looks like this bugger is in it for the long haul. HIV should be worried that Cedric and I are too.
Candida is still being supportive, but not really providing any tangible help. I guess you can’t expect much from a yeast. We do appreciate the fresh bread she makes us each morning, though.
May 9, 1985
Cedric has HIV.
May 24, 1985
I feel so incredibly guilty that it should be him and not me. It makes me sick to my nucleus, but even still I can’t bring myself to support him like I know he would for me, because I’m utterly terrified I’ll be next.
The way this is dividing our world is unprecedented. My rock is broken and my confidence is shattered.
It seems the disease itself is cruel enough, but the social disease that comes with it is the real knockout punch.
September 4, 1985
Cedric was lysed today. My guilt has been overridden by numbness. I couldn’t be there for him when he needed me most.
People are saying his lysis can be used to raise awareness.
What’s even the point?
November 7, 1986
That bitch Candida was in on this all along.
She’s taken all of the oesophagus and mouth for herself and defence is spread so thin that we can’t do anything about it. She brought her mate pneumocystis along for the ride.
We’re fighting a losing battle. Cedric would be so disappointed in me.
August 1, 1987
It happened just as I had expected and still I was unprepared.
It got me.
There are about 100 of us left in our cubic millimetre. I’ve lost my job; I can’t afford any sustenance or antibodies and without that I’m as good as lysed. There is nowhere for me to go.
I can do nothing but spawn the very thing I swore to destroy. I am a part of the failure that will be the end of my race and soon after the end of my world.
Thomas is a final year student and originally submitted this article for the Year 5D International Perspectives on Health assignment. He would also like it to be known that his mark is still pending.