I am doing the same thing I do every day. I receive my orders and run my errands, just as my employer asks. The days run by in a blur, always doing the same thing. My employer is a scientist, searching for a cure. The disease he wants to heal is far away. I’ve never seen it and I don’t know very much about it. I simply do as he asks, and fetch whatever he needs.
In what feels like an instant, everything changes. Alarms are set off and we are put in lock-down. Buildings are quarantined and sanitized tunnels connect them. The disease has spread. It is here. I do not feel a sense of urgency. A cure will be found soon, I’m sure. I continue to work as an errand girl and help in whatever way I can. What else am I supposed to do?
As I run through tunnels and work in sanctioned areas I think nothing of the people on the outside. Occasionally I glimpse one of the diseased. I swallow and turn away from their emaciated frames and damaged bodies. I run faster. I’m helping as best as I can. As the weeks go by a new routine is set. The healthy ones continue their jobs and use the new routes, all of which have been carefully cleaned. The diseased are forced back. They cannot enter any purified buildings. It is better this way. People are less likely to be infected and that means more healthy people can work to find a solution.
Excitement builds as my boss learns more about the virus. The cure has not yet been found. He needs me to get a few things for him. I dash out, racing up the stairs and through the building. I race by some meeting being held and to the outer door.
I stop. My heart slams into my throat, racing and shooting adrenaline through my veins. A woman is right outside the door. Her skin is covered in lesions, and she is holding a little girl who is just as sick. She is sobbing. Before I can think I open the door a crack, just enough to hear what she is saying.
“Please.” She sobs. “Just take my daughter. Take her, she needs help! She might die, but she might live if only you will take her.” She is holding her little girl out to me. Her hands tremble, too weak to hold her daughter for long. I look into the child’s eyes. They are calm, but they are the eyes of a sufferer. The large brown eyes are pleading me to have mercy.
I am overwhelmed. I slowly shut the door and step back. I turn away, my footsteps firm and my mind numb. I’ve made my decision. I walk down the hall and into the large meeting room. The others sense my presence and stop their conversation. Everyone I know is here. Everyone who wants to help, everyone who wants to live, everyone I’ve ever loved. These and so many others are here.
“Will anyone help them?” My voice gives out, but I don’t need to say anything more. Everyone understand what I am asking. Their faces are grim. I’ve heard it all before. It isn’t safe. It’s no use dying in vain when we can do so much more in here. The dead cannot heal the dead. In the midst of this, one man stands. I know him well. To my surprise he begins to sing. He sings of saving lives, and doing what is right. His song fades. He weaves his way through the horrified crowd. He turns to them one last time.
“You had better leave now. We are letting them in.”
His words jolt us into action. We run to the door. The others disappear. I stop just in front of the glass. The woman is crumpled against it, cradling her child to her. She is dejected, her last hope destroyed. I tap on the glass. She turns and stands, holding her child close. I breath deeply and open the door. I slide the screen back and stand straight. Slowly, deliberately, I step outside.
Several months ago I dreamed this dream. Ever since I’ve been wondering why. What am I supposed to do with it? Was it meant for me alone, or was I supposed to share it?
Apparently the latter.
You don’t have to wait for the problem to come to your doorstep. It might not be yours, but it’s someone’s life. Their health, their safety, their soul.
When the time comes, will you stand?