The Plague of 2020
And the Tale of Two T Cells
by Corey Saucier

I am always screaming that the end is nigh! But I think now it actually is.
Last decade while fighting cancer, thirty minutes before the beginning of the New Year, I finished writing a novel about the coming of the end of the world. Cut to a year and three months later, in the year 2020, and people are walking around in breathing masks, waiting for the dead to rise from their graves. This is not fiction… (The Zombie part hasn’t happened yet, but give it time.) There is a new and deadly virus that has broken out across several continents, and like some horrible contagion film, this pandemic has brought on the Apocalypse. I am literally waiting for the sun to go black and for sparkling bottled water to turn to blood. Hopefully this will all be over soon: The zombies will have been killed, and death and famine will be behind us… But as I’m writing this everyone is locked inside on indefinite quarantine, and no one is allowed within six feet of each other or “their blood will be upon them” and “the Destroyer will enter into your houses and strike you down.”
I haven’t left the house in days. Not everyone is in danger of dying from the plague of 2020. For those who are young and healthy, it is a celebration of Passover; I guess they slaughtered the lamb and placed the blood across the frame the way they were supposed to. Only those who are over sixty-five, immune-compromised and struggling with underlying medical issues are at risk. It’s only around three percent of the population. Which normally would be really good news…

Except…

At the moment I have just two extra T cells—just two extra T cells over 200. 200 T cells is the cut off from having normal everyday “I’m on my way to the gym” HIV to having “Oh! Hell No! Everybody panic” HIV! I have just two extra T cells that keep me from having “Full-Blown AIDS” (as they used to say). So death is playing footsies at my door, and like “the days of futures past” I am once again “the most vulnerable among us.”
I thought that after beating cancer almost a year ago, I would be traveling to Italy (I already bought the ticket) and celebrating life! I got my passport! And from the generosity of strangers, I could afford a life-changing trip. But Italy has the highest death count in the world, and after my chemotherapy, my T cells fell to 148 (which means I don’t have enough protection against infection.) And where fifteen years ago I would have been nervous about catching some cat diseases or being poisoned by sushi, these days, I guess Kaposi sarcoma has better things to do. But COVID-19 is hanging out in front of my apartment coughing, and licking vegetables in grocery stores!

The Apocalypse has my name on it!

And I’m kind of freaking out about it! Luckily I’m slowly getting my T cells back:148, 150, 180, 200. And now 202.

I am two T cells from dying of a very real new virus that is killing beautiful compromised people like me. So those two guys are my superstars. I’m going to call them Sodapop and Ponyboy. I’m going to make them characters in a subplot of a teen novella where they’re in a socio-economic gang war between the Greasers and the Socials (Socs).

I’m going to dress them up in “denim on denim on denim” and put hair gel and Aqua Net on their membrane follicle and have them run away after stabbing one of the Socs with a pocket knife; and have them engage in homoerotic wrestling, where they read Robert Frost poetry to each other in abandoned churches.

I have two extra T cells that are fighting to keep me from coughing delicately into a red fisting handkerchief like lovely Mimi’s introduction in the first half of La Bohème.
Sodapop and Ponyboy are keeping me from being Roger dressed in leather and plaid: singing “One Song Glory” to the tone of Musetta’s Waltz (this is a reference to Rent which was based on La Bohème) I hate when queens don’t know their references. Don’t you know people are dying?! The least you can do is know your theater! (And stay inside during the plague!)

I can’t with people!

I’m fine.

All I need is Sodapop and Ponyboy bleaching their hair so they are not recognized, and stitching “T Cells” on the backs of their black leather jackets in bright yellow letters!
“Nature’s first green is gold.”

I’m fine. I’ll BE fine. I pray. I’m giving up leavened bread. I have disinfectant, tissue paper, and soap. And plagues don’t last more than 40 days, right?

I mean, I love a reason to panic.

I love a reason to paint myself in diva makeup and die a dramatic death in the spotlight.
I am nothing if not willing to play the part of a beautiful victim.

But….

If I can survive this Passover and not be eaten by zombies, I’d be eternally grateful. So stay at home and stay six feet away from me!

Love and Light.


Corey Saucier is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and Non-Fiction and is currently looking for a publisher for his first novel. His musings and wanderings on Love, Life, and Nonsense can be found at www.justwords.tumblr.com.