This week I received in the mail special glasses I ordered from the back of an old comic book. They enable me to see COVID. He is a tiny little green monster with a coat of suction cups. He is not just one fellow, but an army of millions of little green monsters.
I sit in the ambulance and watch COVID soldiers pour out of my patient’s nose, which keeps sticking out from his sagging mask. Other hordes of green mercenaries slip out from the bottom and sides of the mask, even a few blow right through the mask. Some of them float about in the air like spacemen in zero gravity. Many bounce off my face shield but others find purchase with their suction cups. They stick to my gown and my hair and my pant legs which are too long for the gown that does not fit me. I try not to breathe too much as I do a 12-lead ECG, and put in an IV giving him fluid to try to rehydrate him. The green men begin to accumulate on the floor and pile up upon each other and the green man level rises like a flood, above my boots, and up my pant legs, till I was sitting half-buried in the soft green little buggers.
When we arrive at the hospital, the gowned EMT opens the back door, and the little green men tumble out like millions of tiny ping pong balls. Some float up into the air and I can see their shapes against the lights of the hospital room, many stories high, and I can even see their reflections against the moon.
We wait with our patient in triage along with other stretchers of gowned crews and masked patients coughing, Patients on stretchers coughing and patients in chairs coughing. Green clouds emerge like dragon’s breath. Clouds of COVID civilizations float in the air like blow bubbles from a child Some bubbles bounce off the walls while others burst on contact with patients and staff alike. When it strikes them in just the right spot, there is a puff of green and the person turns entirely green just like my patient. The COVID civilization bubbles move slowly away from those who are now green so they won’t waste their time targeting someone who is already colonized.
I doff my equipment and then head to the EMS room where none of three people already in the room wear masks, not even the one who is already green himselves. I sit in an armchair with my mask on while the big screen shows a green man riding a motorcycle.
I look in the mirror in the restroom and while I am covered in green dust, my eyes are still brown, my teeth dull white.
At night, I throw all my green clothes in the washer and then wearing only my underwear walk up to the bedroom where I shower until the water at my feet no longer has even a hint of green.
I have a restless night. I dream of little green men inside me battling with my body’s natural battalions. In the morning I stand in front of the mirror with the glasses by the sink. I am afraid to put them on.