Exhilaration. That was the one word that I could use to describe what this freedom felt like. Ever since the day I was spat out of Mother Earth’s bowels, she had trapped me in her cage; like she does with all of my kind. You see, with too many of us, Her precious world would succumb to pestilence. Lush, vibrant land reduced to a barren waste. Humans, animals, nature, all perished with our fury. She keeps us alive because frankly, She needs us. When the world starts to go in a direction that She doesn’t like, She releases some of us, and we vent our pent up rage on Her creation. Some of us are much more creative, much more savage than the others. The strongest of us coat the world in ice, showing those living parasites that She is in control, that they are nothing in her presence. The weakest of us barely do a thing.
Common colds, stomach bugs, even headaches are among the pathetic attempts that some of my kin have made to do Her bidding. She was not best pleased with those; those she burned from existence, forever denied the chance for recuperation and redemption. My grandfather, whoa baby he went down in the ages. She’s let him free again and again, old Bubonic. His first time off the leash he massacred around a quarter of Her worlds population by the end, but they named it after some stupid Roman Emperor of the time. Justinian plague. As if it shouldn’t have been named after Bubonic himself. He wasn’t happy about that, not one bit. She sympathised after a few centuries and finally let him free again, whether it was just to shut him up is still debated among us now. Either way, his previous unhappiness became a searing revenge on the world, tearing through Europe and leaving one of Her favourite continents weeping. The old bastard even made the French and the British call a truce, when nothing else could. He collapsed on those British isles for a while, catching his breath. Usually this is when She brings us back in, but for reasons unknown She left him there. Maybe because She knew what would come next: he got greedy.
Revitalised, hiding for almost three centuries in some city called London, he started his glorious work again. But one thing you never, ever do on Her world, is move without her say so. He killed almost a fifth of that city before She realised, and her grief only made her retribution swifter and more brutal. As the idiotic humans began to slaughter dogs and cats to stop Bubonic, She wreaked Her destruction in a style only Her grace can muster. She burnt the city to the ground. The humans still think to this day that the fire could be explained, but this so called Great Fire of London was really the Mother’s way of burning my grandfather from Her world; also serving as a lesson to the rest of us to not get above our station. Well we considered that a lesson learned, and kept our attacks to Her standard from that point on. I myself, started very slowly in China, but we’ll get to me later. I’m much more recent for you.
She began to keep us chained for much longer periods of time now, allowing our ancestors work to rise again at small intervals, but never letting a new strain go. Bubonic even appeared again, but that was one of my cousins attempting to revive the past, that fool was sent the same way as my grandfather just out of Her spite. My Auntie Cholera however, was the next shining star. She hit seven times from 1817. They made one of those pesky vaccine things the humans had begun to make, which eventually slowed her down. She fought hard though, and still killed millions over the world. She was one of the last to get her infection named after her; Mother was proud of her work.
Cholera’s daughter got free next, who had obviously inherited her mother’s brilliant talent. She spread like wildfire around the world, not being stopped or even slowed by any of those vaccines or medicines. She killed millions in her spectacular year travelling Her world, the numbers still aren’t certain. But Mother Earth tired of her quickly, not appreciating the hard graft that Cholera’s spawn had put in to do the work she was released to do; all of a sudden the humans apparently gained immunities, and she died out quickly after that. I didn’t see my cousin come back home, so my guess is she was discarded just like my grandfather. Cholera was furious that her daughter didn’t even get her name in the history books, but in the face of the great Mother, you can only grit your teeth and soldier on. The Spanish flu. The thought that all my work will go named after a disgusting human country makes me shudder.
My brother Sars, well he was a complete runt of the family. I think she only named his virus after him to appease my family after the Spanish flu incident, but as I watched him get tossed back in to the cage he hung his head in shame. Sure, the humans still panic in their little food factories, but nothing more. All he did was make it harder for the rest of us later on. This, my little friends, is where I come in.
Most of you have heard nothing but my name in this past year, which I am not ashamed to say that I’m insanely proud of. The Mother wasn’t sure that I was the right choice when she let me go, but my grandfather’s legacy still holds strong with her, even after their bad ending. From what I can gather, she’s happy with my results. I finally got caught by the humans in November of 2019, which I can tell you I wasn’t happy about. I’d been careful, tried to spread my seed around before finally allowing it to birth. But when some doctor in China dished the dirt, China then had to come clean to our mortal enemies of this age: The World Health Organisation. I killed him about a month after that. Petty I know, but he pissed me off.
It wasn’t until March 2020 that I really started to shine. I’d got around to most of the world by this point, and none of you even realised my lethal threat until I’d already been on your doorstep. Her world finally shut down. I’d not killed anywhere near as many as my predecessors, but I’d achieved something just as great. Mother Earth began to heal, once all your machines spewing had come to a halt; She could finally breathe again. A lot of you probably thought it was great.
“A few weeks off in the sun then the world will be back to normal.”
This phrase was bandied about a lot at the start, as the vulnerable shivered in fear at my name and the old were confined to their homes. But when the weeks stretched in to months, you began to realise my potential. Some of you began to flout your governments rules, partying and mixing. You lot helped me more than you will ever know, as I ripped through your parties, hiding until I could jump from you to others you met. I travelled the world! I’ve been, for want of a better saying, living the dream. Then as 2021 came, I began to hear the dreaded word: vaccine. Those damn injections are protecting the people that I’m able to snuff out easily, and I’m starting to falter. You humans are too clever for your own good, I was just getting used to the Mother’s world too. It seems all good things must come to an end, and there’s no chance I’m going to push the boundaries like old Bubonic. Ha! That name still makes me writhe. I’m winding my way back to my cage as I recite our history to you, and I tell you this to ensure you know we still live, despite your medicines. I am Covid-19, and this is my legacy.