Death Toll

Ciara Corr

“According to a recent records, the death toll in England since the covid-19 outbreak now stands at 1 million, the highest record number of deaths in a 3 month period ever recorded in history…”. As Amber came downstairs for breakfast, the familiar blaring of the daily news echoed from the kitchen, the only sound from the house besides the creaking of the electricity pump. Upon entering the kitchen, Ryan, Amber’s older brother, sat at the table staring, unblinking, at the television, leaning forward eagerly in an unconscious attempt to hear some hint of positive news. Perhaps a cure? A decrease in daily deaths? This seemed unlikely to Amber. There was no good news anymore. Since the virus had spread from China, the government had put restrictions on the nation’s normal everyday lives, but they were not forceful enough. At first, people didn’t care. Summer was approaching, the weather was the best it had been in months, beaches were flooded with families, teenagers were still partying, people ignored the restrictions. Then came the insanity. Hundreds and thousands began dying everyday, and people started to panic. Some entered a state of denial, they thought “bleh, fuck corona, I won’t get sick, I’m young and healthy”, and continued to meet friends and live as normal. People kept dying. Everyday the death toll rose. People stopped going to work. Kids stopped going to school. People continued to die. Nearly every single business went bust. Hunger and poverty escalated all over the country, the government left the nation to fend for themselves, locking themselves away in their mansions completely lost for a solution. Water and electricity companies stopped working, with all employees either dead or too afraid to leave their houses. That’s the noise Amber heard now, as she went through the kitchen into the utility room, where her younger sister Anna, dripping in sweat, was heaving the lever up and down with all her might to pump electricity into the house. Most people didn’t have a pump, it was only thanks to their brother Ryan, who was a physics genius preparing for his first job shadowing the CEO of EDF energy before the virus hit, that they had any electricity in the house at all.

“Here, Anna, let me take over for a while, why don’t you go have a rest?”, said Amber, taking the lever from her sister. Anna nodded, unsmiling, and left the room, her whole body shaking with exhaustion. She was only 8, and had been almost completely silent since their parents had died 4 weeks ago from the virus. Amber began to heave the pump, her mind wandering to distract herself from the supreme effort. She thought about her old life, her old friends, how easy everything was. “I can’t believe I used to moan about chemistry homework”, she thought to herself comically. She would do anything for the world to go back how it was. A tear dripped down her cheek as she pumped, chocked by the grief and loss of what she once knew.