The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind.
The Bible tells us of the flood God sent, to cleanse the Earth of all things, clean and unclean. A new beginning.
Of the second flood, though, He gave us no warning. Perhaps it was time to start anew once more. Perhaps the Earth had finally had enough of us. Perhaps it was our own sins, the rampant pollution, the rising global temperature.
Perhaps He did warn us. Plenty of scientists warned us of the dangers. Yet, we pushed it off. We deluded (I can’t help but laugh bitterly at that phrase now) ourselves that it was a problem for future generations. That we had time to fix it.
The first flood may have removed the unclean from the world, but the second dredged them back up.
We thought the coastal cities would be hit the worst. It only made sense, after all.
What we didn’t think about were the unclean things that lay under the rivers and lakes in the middle of the continent. That, in the unprecedented volume of water moving through the rivers, more sediment would be moved than ever before. That the rivers were digging deeper even as the water levels rose.
I cannot speak for the other cities. All I know is what happened here, in the lakebed of an ancient body of water never seen by human eyes. Flooding was a normal occurrence during the spring here. We gave it no more thought than we ever did; just a coordinated effort to fill and place sandbags. Nothing united our Midwestern community like the occasional sandbag effort. It was a source of pride for our citizens. We united in the face of Nature, and held Her wrath at bay once more.
We thought the first set of sandbags that had been displaced was the act of teenagers, of perhaps a sociopath who wanted to see the city go under. The police and National Guard started patrolling the riverside and diversion canals more thoroughly, and warning was put up that anyone who touched a sandbag in a finished area would be charged to the full extent of the law.
It was after some of the patrols started disappearing that we began to worry, I mean, *really* worry. There was nothing but official silence, of course, but it’s tough to ignore the abandoned police cars, the abandoned HMMWV’s. We never did figure out what caused those first disappearances.
We didn’t have time to do anything about it, though. The Fever had begun to run its course through the city. It started with fewer and fewer people showing up to help sandbag. Then, fewer police were showing up. Camera crews, always there to keep an eye on the action, abandoned their news vans and returned to their hotels.
We know now that the Fever was water-borne. That the Water Treatment Plant on the river didn’t, or couldn’t, remove the ancient microbes from our drinking water, water taken from the flooding river.
We know now that it breaks through the blood/brain barrier. That it parasitically attaches itself to certain neurons, feeding on certain hormones and neurochemicals. It forced the brain to produce more dopamine, more epinephrine. It shut down the parts responsible for creating serotonin, oxytocin, GABA, and MAOA. It overloaded the thalamus and pre-frontal cortex. The result was that everyone turned paranoiac from the excess of epinephrine and lack of oxytocin. The overload of hormonal fear, the amplification of our fight-or-flight instincts, ravaged the pre-frontal cortex, limiting people’s ability to make rational decisions.
When the thalamus was hit, the victims began to suffer intense hallucinations; a situation not helped by the lack of sleep caused by the complete shut-down of the behavioral inhibition system. For many of the victims, it was like a permanent PCP high, until their bodies burnt themselves out and simply ended.
We know this now, but we had no idea then.
I will attempt to give voice to some of the best and some of the worst we saw in the wake of the Fever. God willing, this chronicle might even survive.