Vignettes from a Pandemic
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"It's spreading quite rapidly sir. Perhaps we should—"

"Just how dangerous is this disease?"

"Current trends estimate a 2% mortality rate, but that could rise dramatically ov—"

"And we're sure it's non-anomalous?"

"Yes, sir, but that feels beside the point."

"Then what, exactly, is the point?"

"That we can stop this. Cut it off at its source. We have the power, the technology, and the authority to do so. Why shouldn't we?"

"Because this is outside of our scope. We focus on the anomalous. This has nothing to do with us. We let it run its course."

"…They die in the light so we can live in the shadows, huh?"

Ray Nox was at Site-37 when they began to grasp the gravity of the situation.

"It's that bad, huh?"

"I heard they're closing universities all across the country," Vivian told them. "Panic buying has already started and the CDC is already issuing warnings about hand washing and social distancing."

"Hence why you're standing like a mile away from me right now?"

"Standard procedure now. They're saying to limit time spent outside your home."

"Well I guess it makes sense. I just wonder what that means for…" Their eyes widened in realization. "Shit."

"What's wrong?"

"Please tell me…" Ray quickly pulled out their phone and frantically began searching for something. The worst had been confirmed. "Damn it!"

"Ray, what the hell is going on? You're freaking me out."

"I'm— it's…" They sighed. "Sorry, Vivian. I just got frustrated because… Colin and I were supposed to have date night this weekend. And it looks like the restaurant we were supposed to go to is ceasing operations."

"…Okay, so reschedule. Or spend the night in. It's… really not that difficult?"

"I know it's just… this was supposed to be a special night. It was the anniversary of our first date, and… well…" Ray quickly looked around to make sure nobody else was in sight. Then, they quickly reached into their pocket, pulling out a small box. They opened it to Vivian, revealing an intricate black band with a small purple gemstone in the middle. Vivian's jaw dropped at the sight, her eyes widening in excitement.

"Oh… my… god! Ray are you—!"

"Shh…." Ray looked around again. "Keep it cool."

"You keep it cool, I'm excited!" Vivian said, practically bounding over to look at the ring.

"What happened to social distancing?" Ray asked dryly. Vivian elected to ignore this remark.

"Oh my god, Ray, it's beautiful! What is—?"

"Alexandrite. Colin's favorite gemstone." Ray chuckled. "He's lucky I love him because it turns out that stuff is quite expensive."

"You're gonna ask him—"

"Yeah. Or, I was, but then this stupid thing happened, and the restaurant is shut down, and the whole plan is ruined." Ray sighed. "What should I do? I mean, you've known me longer than anyone else, basically."


"I am not going to Ahmed for romantic advice."

"Fair point."

"It was going to be perfect, Viv. A candle lit dinner, a moonlit stroll, and then at the spot we had our first kiss… ugh, it sounds so cheesy saying it out loud like that. Should I even bother at this point?"

"No, no way are we letting a little set back like this ruin my best friends engagement!" She said, her voice getting quiet and high-pitched on the last word. "Okay, do you have any candles at your place?"

"Maybe? Probably… I think?"

"Doesn't matter, I have so many, you can borrow them. Scented or unscented? You know what, that doesn't matter. You can still cook a good meal and have a candle lit dinner."

"You trust me to do that without burning the kitchen down?"

"Right. I forgot about the Great Fajita Incident."

"Lily is still mad at me for that."

Vivian murmured to herself, trying to come up with the solution. Finally, she had one.

"…You can make the cooking part of the date! It will be fun and romantic, and Colin will make sure you don't burn the place down."

"Okay," Ray said, thinking it over. "But I can't exactly do that moonlit walk anymore. It's on the other side of town, and I can't responsibly justify leaving my home for something so… ridiculous. And then the setting will be all wrong… it's all going to shit."

"Look, I know that place is important to you, but I promise, Colin won't care about where it happens. He'll care about who… it… happens…"

"Wow, that got away from you at the end."

"Shut up, you know what I mean."

"I just… I dunno. It's stupid, but I wanted it to be special."

"Ray, that's not stupid. Maybe sentimental, but certainly not stupid. And I know you. Somehow, you are the most romantic person I know." Vivian paused. "Don't tell Lily I said that." Ray chuckled at this. "If anyone can turn this around, it's you. Take a deep breath. You'll think of something."

"And if I don't?"

"You will. Look, you'll know when the time is right. It's never gonna be 'perfect.' Even if you planned it down to the finest detail, something could still go wrong. This kind of thing isn't a science, it's a gut feeling. And you've got excellent instincts. I'm sure he'll say yes." Ray smiled at her. She smiled back at them before checking the time. "We should get back to work." She walked away. "Stay home, social distance, blah blah blah."

"Yeah, you too."

"And good luck, Ray." With that she left. Ray looked at the ring once more before putting it back in their pocket. They could do this. They quickly texted Colin.

Colin ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

Hey, so our reservation was cancelled. The restaurant is closing due to the virus

Oh no! our anniversary

I was thinking maybe we could stay in? Cook a romantic dinner ourselves.

You mean i cook dinner?

Obviously. Maybe we can watch a movie or something. What do you think?

Sounds perfect! I can't wait for date night. Love you! ❤️

Me either

Love you too ❤️

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