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DEAR DIARY by Jo Baker

Any and all comments appreciated - mail to jobak@primenet.com

January 5, 1995
 My name is Lisa Stroub.  I live in Phoenix, Arizona.  I'm starting
this journal to keep my sanity - I have no one to talk to anymore.  Dave,
my husband, died a few days ago.  It took me two hours to get him out
the back door and into the yard.  I can see him sitting there, where I left
him, propped up against the fence if I go to the laundry room and look
out.  For some reason, It makes me feel safe to know he's still around.
It's just me and Justin, and he can't talk yet.  Just a few words like "ball"
and "outside" - he cries nowadays when he says the latter because I
won't let him go anywhere near the door.  He doesn't smile or play
much anymore.

 I guess I should explain.  Two months ago, people started dying
all over the world.  Some kind of deadly virus.  The people on the news
called it the "Sudan Strain" at first.  I call it "SS"  because it is cold,
black, and will kill anyone or anything without remorse.  Just like in the
concentration camps in World War II.

 They say some scientist became infected in Africa while doing
his thesis on  animal husbandry.  He flew home before he developed
any symptoms.  By the time he landed at La Guardia, everyone flying
the friendly skies of Air Africa with nonstop service to New York
became a card-carrying member of the few, the proud, the infected.
Evidently SS multiplied like rabbits in heat upon touchdown.  All you
have to do to join this elite club is to share the "personal space" of a
member - wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am - your application has been
accepted.  You now have two weeks to live.

 By the time the first people started dying, it was too late.  They
said on t.v. that the good news was they knew exactly what everyone
was dying of - the bad news was there wasn't shit anyone could do
about it.  Best thing to do is stay inside - and don't open the door for
strangers, including your own family.

 I'm getting tired.

January 6, 1995

 When you get infected with SS, there is no cure, no way to
hinder the inevitable.  The first week, everything is basically normal,
except for a runny nose and other basic common-cold symptoms.  The
final week of your life begins with blurred vision, and a splitting
headache.  It hurts so bad you can't even get up out of bed.  The
headache gets so bad that a lot of people attempt to relieve the pressure
with a large caliber handgun pointed directly between the eyes - or
above the left ear, whichever happens to be the focal point of the pain.
If you live through this stage, it only gets worse.  You develop a fever,
but not like your normal, run-of-the-mill-just-take-some-aspirin fever.
This one makes you see things that aren't there.  You hallucinate like
there's no tomorrow.  I know this first hand.  One night, when Dave
was in the final stage and I was sitting up with him reading, he suddenly
grabbed my arm and pointed at the wall.  Nothing there but that ugly
picture I painted in art class three years ago.  Only to Dave, it must have
been much uglier.  He just pointed to it and screamed.  He screamed for
5 minutes straight.  There was no way to calm him down, I just sat on
the bed next to him and held him while my ear went numb from the
noise.  When he finally passed out, we were both covered in sweat.
That was the first time I had ever heard Dave scream.  Funny, just
when you think you know everything about a man.  I never did figure
out what he saw in that painting.  I don't think I want to know, although
the way I see it, there is a 99.9% chance I'll be probably get a firsthand

 Stage three, the final and by far worst stage of SS, is the
complete breakdown of all internal organs.  Quite literally, your insides
come out from every available opening - blood, mucus, vomit, and
other unidentifiable stuff all rolled into one great big care package.
When you reach stage three, there is no turning back.  A one-way ticket
to the afterlife - no deposit, no return.  It's not fun to watch. Dave died
twenty hours after his first bleed-out.  He had not been able to
communicate with me for three days before that.  If his mind was
actually aware of any of this, he gave no sign of it.  His eyes were red
and unfocused.  He didn't eat.  He didn't recognize my voice.   He
wasn't Dave.

 Justin wants to eat - I'm glad one of us can.  Bye for now.

January 7, 1995

 No more electricity as of 8:00 a.m., Pacific Standard.    I knew
it was just a matter of time.  Three days ago, the last television channel
went off the air.  Suprisingly, radio seems to be alive and well - better
than ever.  They must have some kind of back-up system for power.  I
don't know much about that stuff - I'm just thankful I have something to
listen to.  Most of my knowledge about the end of the world has come
from the radio.  Not from Tom and Dave, by old morning favorites, but
from a guy who calls himself "The Messenger".  The Messenger has
been on the air for two weeks now, almost nonstop.  In between his
religious ramblings (I haven't quite figured out yet what religion he is -
sounds like a cross between Jerry Falwell on Acid and Father Mulkahey
from MASH) and out-and-out sobbing, he has been the only source to
the outside world.   He says God called him from his home in Sun City
to share the word with the outside world.

 I don't know if the messenger is correct in all his information
about SS, but he certainly hasn't been off the mark on everything.
When the army started picking up bodies in public places and burning
them downtown in Republic Square,  The Messenger warned anyone of
coming near the soldiers, as they were authorized to "take any and all
action needed to prevent self-contamination".  The messenger was right
on target with this one.  My neighbor across the street, Mrs. Wright,
learned that one the hard way.

 Ever since the outbreak started killing people, I mean *really*
killing people - like half the population - The National Guard had been
conducting regular patrols through all parts of the city.  I really don't
understand why - I would assume to prevent looting and things like that
, but what's the point?  There is no structure to society anymore - but
then again, there isn't really a society, either.  Anyway, Mrs. Wright is
the last one alive in her house.  I know this because before Dave died,
she ran across the street and began banging on our door, screaming.   I
stood on the other side of the door, listening.  She kept saying she
couldn't stand it anymore.  Everyone was dying.  She said she called the
police, but no one answered.  I wouldn't open the door for her.  I won't
risk contamination anymore than absolutely necessary.

 Anyway, a couple of days ago I could hear one of the big Army
trucks rolling down the street.  Mrs. Wright heard it too - she came
running out to meet it.  The truck stopped, only because she was
standing in the middle of the street.  The driver started honking the
horn, and yelling.  Mrs. Wright kept right on screaming, banging on the
hood.  A soldier stepped out of the truck, wearing full combat gear
(including gas mask) and pointed his gun at her.  I couldn't hear what he
said to her, but I'll bet it was the type of ultimatum you take very
seriously.  Mrs. Wright fell at his knees, and wouldn't let go.  So he shot

 The truck's tires rolled over her as it continued down the street.

January 8, 1995

 The messenger relayed more information about SS this
morning.  It's killing everyone (I knew that)  except dogs (I didn't know
that).  For some unknown reason, the virus can't penetrate the DNA
code that makes spot who he is.

 He also said the city is nearly out of food.  Since the outbreak,
grocery stores were the one area the Army has left alone.  No sense
shooting people for stealing - they'll be dead enough soon, I guess.  The
store was the last venture I made out of the house.  That was back when
Dave was still alive.  I loaded the truck with canned goods, fruit and
vegetables (not much of a selection) and cigarettes.  I preserved
everything I could.  By my estimates I can last another four days.

 I started this diary in the first place because I knew I would most
likely be faced with hard decisions soon about what to do with Justin if I
start to get sick.  Every time I sit down to write, I can't bring myself to
think about him.  I don't want to be faced with a decision like that, not

January 9. 1995
 Last night I dreamed Dave was back.  He talked so softly,
stroking my hair.  He said everything would be all right.  When I awoke
I felt more depressed  than I have ever felt in my life.  I walked into the
laundry room, where I could see Dave, propped up against the fence in
the moonlight.  I just stared at him for what seemed like forever.  I was
proud of myself that I've held together through all this so well.  I'm sure
that if I were alone, I would probably end up like Mrs. Wright from
across the street.

 Justin is upset because of the electricity situation.  He sleeps
with me at night (he has every night since Dave died), but it's still cold.
In the morning, I can see his breath in the air.  I sit there and watch it,
thinking, until he wakes up.  Sleep is about the only thing he has these
days, I don't want to take that too.

 We're getting low on food.  I have to figure something out.
Going to the store is out of the question, I'm sure there isn't anything
there worth having.  Besides, I can't leave Justin alone that long, and
taking him with me is out of the question.  I have no idea what kind of
people we would encounter.  Actually, I do.  People who are dying.
Unstable.  Crazy.  Whatever.

January 10, 1995

 'Tiny', the Wright's German Shepherd, came over this morning,
sniffing around.  Probably looking for food.  Sorry, guy, so are we.

 I have an idea.

January 10, 1995 3:00 p.m.

 Tiny ain't so tiny anymore.  It took awhile to bring myself to do
it.  I let her in the house.  She was all over me, licking, whining.  I used
Dave's hammer from his tool kit I bought him for Christmas last year.  I
got her right on top of the head.  Her legs gave way, and she fell to the
ground in a heap.  It didn't kill her, though - the second or third did the
job.  I used the turkey knife to remove her legs.  Justin was so exited.
He just kept clapping and smiling at me.  Maybe the smell of blood
awoke some deep instinct in him.  Anyway, he was awfully glad to see
me throw Tiny's hindquarters on the grill outside.
I'm really glad we had charcoal.

January 11, 1995

 I have a headache.  Don't feel much like writing today.

January 12, 1995

 I know now this is the beginning of the end.  I haven't been able
to sleep.  The pain is intense.  Justin is upset because I can't play with
him.  I've got to do something.

January 13, 1995

 I sat up all night thinking (as much thought as one can take with
a head that feels like it will explode any minute).  I know that I'm just
going to get worse.  I've got to take care of everything today.  I cooked
more of tiny for breakfast - if I had known how much Justin loved the
taste, I would have started him on do long ago. Ha, ha.

5:00 p.m.

 I held my son all day.  I don't think he really knows anything is
wrong, other than I don't feel good.  It really hurts to concentrate on
writing.  We watched the sun go down together.  I went to the window
to look at Dave.  He's still there, although I think something  started
working on him during the night, because he's fallen over.  His face still
faces the window, though.

January 14, 1995

 So this is how the world ends.  No nuclear blast.  No collision
with the sun, scattering us to every part of the galaxy.  Just a little germ
from Sudan.  I'll bet the cockroaches are laughing their little asses off
right now.  So are the dogs.  Except for Tiny, of course.

 I took Dave's gun down from the closet.  I forgot he put the
safety lock on it last April when Justin started walking.  It took over an
hour to find the key.  It was still on his key ring - I had to fish it out of
his pocket.  I'm going to put Justin to sleep first.

January 15, 1995

 I buried Justin out in the back yard, wrapped in sheets.  Good-
bye, baby.  Momma loves you.

1:00 p.m.

 Well, this is it.  Thanks for being my only friend.



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