Strange dystopian thoughts creep into my conscious as I walk down the city street. People stay a little back from each other—hands in pockets. No one hits the button to cross the intersection at the circle. The church looms ahead. The structure, all brick with heaven reaching spires, crosses time from 1874 until the urban now. The city seems quieter as I approach. I don’t know why I am here.
When my mother was alive, she had wanted me to get baptized. The Episcopal church she took me to as a child—the same one my great grandparents attended mass—is long gone, degraded to a mission. We had stopped going as I got older and rebelled.
The red doors are large imposing wood. I push one open with the sleeve of my jacket. The air inside is still and musty. I look expectantly for a priest or an acolyte. None are around. The church is empty. The holy water slightly ripples in its basin. A tentative step forward reveals inspiring and haunting architecture. I take in the sights. A mural of saints and an altar are flanked by the the vastness of the sanctum. I move around to a side to inspect the Stations of the Cross. Paint peels in spots from water damage. Hush surrounds only broken by my occasional, heavy, combat boot, footstep on the creaking floorboards.
There really is no one here. Empty space in a dead world. Multi-colored light shines into the church from the stained glass windows creating prisms on some of its timeworn walls. A feeling of anxiety buzzes in my head. Colors shine in red, green, and blue reminding me of the tricolored eyes of the aliens, and the similar lenses of the electric eyes of their ships, from War of the Worlds. In the 1950s film, the last survivors of the Martian siege are holed up in a church praying for salvation from the death rays. A spaceship crashes into the church. All seems lost until the survivors realize the Martians are dying, not from weapons but disease, because their alien immune systems cannot fight off Earth’s germs. Now in 2020, an invisible threat is spreading across the world in the form of Covid-19 and this church is empty. The inversion of the invasion story hits me. I feel a chill and make my way out.
In the late 1980s, War of the Worlds returned to television for a second invasion. Apparently, the Martians did not die from the bacteria but were comatose for thirty-five years. The world moved on and they woke, in secret, and began gruesomely hiding inside humans to survive. Body snatchers of sorts, the tone changed from an outside threat to anyone could be infected—an alien invasion from within. Among the casualties, fighters rose and adapted to the danger leading to hope in humanity. These dystopian thoughts fill my mind as I walk down the streets staying away from crowds and any contact. War of the Worlds is only fiction but the ideas and parallels to today’s society intrigue me. Paranoia rules when fighting the invisible. Fear is the mind-killer. This plague will end like all the ones before it.
Like the classic film take care and have faith and suddenly it will be over… until the next outbreak.