The Lockdown

[Note: this story was originally written for twitter and is broken into tweet size chunks].

The year is 2030. Melbourne has just come out of its 3rd lockdown of the year due to the great Rhinovirus pandemic. You put on your mask, grab the car keys and head out the front door. You close the car door, sit for a while and reminisce.

Coming out of lockdown is not how it used to be you think to yourself. Once upon a time, it meant going back to the local cafe or restaurant. But those don’t exist anymore. The last small business closed its doors in 2027 due to the great Adenovirus pandemic.

You do miss those small businesses. What’s left of the Australian economy now consists of about a dozen mega-corporations. You’re on your way to one now to pick up something for the house. You park the car and stop off to grab a sausage on your way into the store.

While you’re standing the queue a nurse in a hazmat suit walks past and your phone beeps signalling that you’re due for your weekly vaccine shot.

“How many new this week?” you ask.

“Thirty,” she replies meaning there’s been thirty new sub-strains added to the vaccine since last week.

She jabs the needle in your arm. You’ve had so many of these that you barely notice the little prick of pain any more. The vaccine covers 14,397 different sub-strains of the hundred major respiratory virus groups. Well, make that 14,427 different sub-strains.

The vaccine used to be a yearly shot but the government made them weekly in 2028 following the great Enterovirus pandemic. Despite the increased frequency of the vaccines, the number of lockdowns has also increased. There’s now usually at least six per year.

With lockdowns so common, the government needed to make enforcement easier. In 2026, following the great Respiratory Syncytial Virus pandemic, the government installed automated locking for every residence. The locks are controlled from the pandemic response centre.

After your trip to the store you walk back in your front door and take off your mask. A pressure builds in your nose. You grab it and try to hold your breath but you can’t stop it. You sneeze loudly. A simultaneous click can be heard from the doors and windows of your house as the locks snap into place.

A red light starts flashing and a siren goes off. Following the great Parainfluenza pandemic of 2029, the government introduced cough and sneeze sensors in every residence. Once the sensor goes off you are locked in your house until a test team visits and takes a sample.

You sit and wait.

The test team, dressed in hazmat suits, arrive within thirty minutes.

Thankfully, you test negative to the 26,399 viral strains in the database. However, you will have to spend fourteen days in mandatory quarantine.

Your lockdown isn’t over yet.