Diary of Jack Concannon

After the plague

Day 6: Alone

It’s difficult to get used to the quiet of New York City. The sound of the wind whipping down Lexington Avenue or a torn awning flapping in the breeze only heightens the sense of desolation. There is no one out, no cars, no honking. Construction sites lay empty and noiseless. The snow muffles whatever sound there might be. It feels like being underwater, the sound of being utterly alone.

Two inches of fresh snow lay upon the street and the sidewalk. It stretches, undisturbed, for miles down Lexington Avenue. The snow continues to fall and the sun has not yet risen. I stand in the middle of the desolate street. There are no people or movement other than the falling snow. In the early morning hours the city is even devoid of color, just varying shades of grey. It feels like I’m stepping into a grainy, black and white photograph. The only sound I hear are my boots shifting nervously in the snow.

I pass shops with optimistic signs in the window. Closed due to illness. Will reopen soon.

Quarantine signs are on some of the six story brick buildings, a practice that must have ended soon after it was begun. God has a plan is painted on a torn and battered sheet that hangs from a 4th floor window. 

It would be nice to know what that plan is.


Day 5: Hindsight is 20/20

Maybe we should have known we were playing with fire.

For those of you who have studied up the Bubonic plague you’ll know that it was also called the Black Plague. In the 1300’s the Black Plague broke out in China, spread to Italy and the rest of Europe. It killed a third of the human population. Let me repeat that: it killed 1 in 3 people! And that was without the help of airplanes.

In 2014 a small town in China was quarantined when the Black Plague killed one of the people there. Maybe we should have know something was afoot.

In the same year, a month later,  the highly contagious Ebola Virus began killing people in West Africa. Two of the victims were Americans. The United States flew them back to the U.S. and put them in Atlanta’s Center for Disease Control. A lot of people thought it was foolish to bring a highly contagious, deadly virus with no cure into the country, but they were told to quit worrying- “the government’s got it under control.”

We quit worrying.

Day 4: The Scythe Plague

Sorry I had to cut yesterday’s entry short. I’m on the seventh floor of an apartment building on Park Avenue and E 86th Street. When the wind picks up there are all sorts of strange noises and I get a bit paranoid that someone is trying to break in. The rest of the night I sat in a chair across from the door with a rifle wondering if I could actually shoot someone if they tried to break the door down. I think I could, but you probably never really know until the time comes.

Anyway, like I said I slept through the worst of the Scythe Plague. I was sick as a dog the day they released me from Styman and put me on a Greyhound bus back to Manhattan where my dad and sister live. I felt horrible, flu, headache, sweating, sick in the stomach. I hadn’t seen my sister Dee for 3 years. I tried to keep it together but I was so sick and worn out that I blubbered like a baby. Definitely not the impression a big brother wants to make.

My dad told me to sleep in his room, but I just thought I needed a quick nap. I fell sound asleep on the living room couch.

I woke up two weeks later and everyone was dead.

I vaguely remember dad putting a cool towel on my forehead and making me drink water. I also remember him hammering wood in front of the door.

There was a lot of hammering.

Day 3- The Styman Military Academy

But what happened? How did everyone die?

Fair questions. I like to imagine that someone will find this journal in 100 years. Assuming that they are literate, I will try to give a first hand account of how 90% of the worlds population died. Here’s the problem, I’m an unreliable eyewitness.

For me it began at The Styman Military Academy. Pretty fancy school name, right? Don’t be fooled Styman is… was a place they sent juvenile delinquents. Reform through Discipline was their motto. Discipline- yes. Reform- no. It is- was a place where “youthful offenders” (sounds sweet, doesn’t it?) were court ordered to pay their debt to society.  In reality it was a warehouse for criminals to compare notes with other young criminals so they could become better criminals when they got out. And we marched in formation a lot.

I was sentenced to Styman from 14 years old to 17 years old. The fact that I’m a bit of a felon isn’t what makes me an unreliable eyewitness to the end of civilization. (Was it really all that civilized?) What makes me an unreliable witness is that I slept through Armageddon.



Day 2: The beast must be fed

It started getting really cold early this year. November was freezing. I don’t know if it’s climate change or it was just one of those fluke things that sometimes happen. It got cold and it stayed cold. Freezing. I’ve lived in New York City my entire life (except for the 3 years I was sent upstate) so I’m pretty sure this weather isn’t normal. Winter storms and hurricanes aren’t unheard of, but it has never been this cold and there have never been this many storms.

The other possibility is that I’ve never had to work to stay warm. Before the sicknesses, before people started dropping like flies, before the power went out; you could walk from one warm place to another. We would complain about the cold but really we never had to be in it for long. Now it’s always cold. The apartment I moved into has a fireplace- I call it the beast. I don’t think it was ever intended to actually warm the apartment. It’s probably there to make it feel cozy. I don’t need cozy or romantic, I need heat. And I have to continuously feel the beast. Firewood in New York City is not an easy thing to find. I find small bundles in grocery stores. I can carry two bundles from the grocery store to the apartment building and up seven flights of stairs (yes there’s an elevator and no, it doesn’t run without power) That firewood will last a few hours and then it’s back out in the cold.

I usually bring 4 bundles of wood home a day and store them in the unused bedroom in the apartment, but I don’t use those logs. I’ve decided to break up wooden furniture in the other apartments and burn that. I’m not sue why I’m saving the logs as though they were gold, but it seems like a good idea. I worry that I’ll get sick or break a bone and not be able to gather firewood or have the strength to break up wardrobes. At least I know I’ll  have fuel to feed the beast.

The beast must be fed.

Day 1: After the plague

It’s not really the first day after the plague. I don’t know exactly when the viruses began crossing the globe and I don’t know when or if it’s ended. This is the first day I’ve decided to write a journal about what I do all day long to stay alive.

I guarantee you, imaginary reader, that I won’t keep up this journal. I’ll go full force for about a week and then slow down a little and one day, it will occur to me, that that haven’t written for months. I know myself pretty well and this is how I roll. But, and here is where it’s really unfair, you won’t know if I just lost interest in sitting down and writing or if I died.

How will I die if the viruses that killed everyone are gone? Good question and one that I obsess over nonstop. This is how I think I will die in no particular order.

1. Starvation

2. Wild dog attack.

3. Freezing

4. Someone shoots me for my food

5. I shoot myself either on purpose or by accident

6. I slip on the sidewalk and crack my skull.

I thought about the last one yesterday and started laughing to myself. I was walking down Park Avenue. It was freezing and the street was a sheet of ice because water mains have been bursting and I slipped. My feet went completely out from under me, like a cartoon, and I landed on my back. Luckily I was wearing a back pack so I didn’t break anything. Except the graham crackers (the good kind with the cinnamon on top)  that I found in a store I had looted a few hours before. It’s rare to find crackers that haven’t been eaten by rats. Anyway, the thought of surviving all the viruses that killed almost everyone in the world and then dying because I fell seemed funny. As I write this it occurs to me that it isn’t that funny and I might have laughed too much about it.

Maybe, I’m going to crazy.