For days on end traffic was light. People stayed inside so much in fear of contracting the illness that coyotes traversed the highway in a habitat returned to them instead of humankind. Mickie counted six dead animals down a short stretch and marveled at the number of circling raptors above the road ready to enjoy the bounty afforded below on the unforgiving pavement.

Between the “Tiger Pride” and speed limit signs, a swollen armadillo lay on its side on the highway shoulder, carapace ripped like a salad plate flung out a window struck a fatal blow. The rotting carcass drew the driver’s attention with the flash of striking red, the sight of blood momentarily paralyzing her via hemophobia. A memory flash of having read about how those nasty buggers shouldn’t migrate that far north made her ponder nature being thrown out of balance, the order of things all higgildy piggildy.

“Sheep,” Mickie mumbled to herself. She balked at the pedestrians waiting in line at the BBQ shack and the masks hiding some faces. Disdain boiled through her much like the sauce in a vat inside Leon’s small restaurant. A few appeared willing to respect fellow patrons’ personal space and back off at least six feet. Others bunched like lemmings following the one ahead off a sheer cliff.

“Good for them. That’s their damn right.” Mickie scoffed, because the governor granted permission for businesses to reopen and brought bored citizens out in droves, their bellies hungry but their attention spans needing satiated as well.

The socially-distanced paramedic team grew so stressed out they resembled their patients more than their usual selves. Their labor love brought on battle fatigue. Feeling a calling had landed them in that line of workn but they’d never suspected being asked to work during a national emergency. A barrage of calls kept first responders constantly busy for endless weeks, each one as heart wrenching as the next.

The sirens’ blasts screeched past her car after it flipped over the ditch and rolled end over end. Finally landing on its top, she hung suspended midair by the seatbelt having done its job. She watched a red and white flash of light from atop an ambulance swish by, moving quickly, too fast to stop for her.

“Wait … wait! What about me?” She imagined screaming to the EMT behind the wheel, but only a fleeting thought passed as her voice didn’t actually work. Instead, she lay and bled, crimson pooling on the seat below her head, much like an out-of-place animal having been accidently hit by a car.

She wasn’t supposed to be there. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

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