This is what happens.

You don’t panic when the first entrance is sealed. There’s no reason to: that’s why there are multiple exits. You move to the next exit. It also is sealed. You’re still not concerned. Of all places, this is where you’re supposed to be safe. Nonetheless it is troubling that two entrances are sealed. You check out a third, and a fourth. All sealed. 

You’re not the only one to notice. Many of the younger members of your community are confused, discomfited. You and some of the others of older generations reassure them, the same way members of older generations among your kind have always reassured those younger when they’re scared. You say again and again, “It’s going to be okay.”

Others do start to calm. Then one of your daughters—she’s nothing more than a pup, really—begins to complain of nausea. Her grandmother—your mother—rushes to her side, begins to stroke her head and back, talking to her constantly. Then one of your nephews doubles over, begins moaning from abdominal cramping. Someone, too, rushes to his side. The nephew lets go with explosive diarrhea. This does not deter the elder from comforting him. 

You find the father of your children. You sense something wrong. You cannot tell what it is. He opens his mouth as if to speak, and blood gushes out. Without a thought you begin touching and stroking his hair, whispering to him. Blood starts coming from his nose, from his other orifices. He cramps, then begins to convulse. He tries to speak. You say to him softly, “Don’t talk. You’re going to be okay. You’re going to be okay.”

You’re having a hard time holding down your own panic. Around you, your friends and family are losing control of their bodies. They are vomiting, defecating, bleeding all over themselves. Some are moaning or keening. A few are screaming. You want to attend to them, but you need to help your love.

And then his body stiffens, seizes, seizes, then seizes. Something shifts inside of him, and something leaves, and he is finished.

You turn away, turn toward the chaos that until very recently was your community. You begin to bark out commands, telling this one to take care of the young, that one to start trying to find a way out. You don’t know what is killing you all. You just know there must be a relationship between the forced sealing of the entrances and the deaths that have now followed. But no one seems to be listening to you. They are vomiting, convulsing, seizing. Those who can still control their limbs are clawing at the walls. You move from individual to individual, trying to calm those you can, comfort those you can’t. You keep saying to anyone who will listen, “We will get out of here.” 

And then you feel it. Your mouth begins to water, and the first wave of nausea rolls through you. You force it down, but it returns. Your chest tightens, and in that moment you know—as you’ve known all along, but would not allow yourself to say, even to yourself—how this will end. You begin to vomit blood, and you desperately wish that there was someone here to touch and kiss and stroke you, someone to whisper to you over and over, “It’s going to be okay.”

But no one appears.

-Derrick Jensen