Disclaimer: notes transcribed as is, no editing has been made so as to preserve my original feelings as I read the chapter.
Max Brooks makes a good argument to his superior regarding the human factor. Reports shouldn’t just be about cold facts & figures, especially regarding any kind of human event, global or localised. It is important to remember what the human cost is on a personal level.
How else are we to learn from our mistakes, “our” meaning the entire human race.
35 million+, reduced to 50,000.
That’s one heck of a dent in China’s population. What a way to open a chapter!
Dr Kwang Jingshu begins his account on the war with somewhat nostalgic reminisces on pre-war China, it’s politics and what average doctors were expected to treat.
A far cry from what is to come.
He muses about trying to find a village that technically doesn’t exist, in the dark, in deep rural China.
It doesn’t sound like an easy or comfortable drive but Kwang, being the good & concerned doctor he is, finds his way.
Although his mood suffers in the process.
This better be damned serious
Be careful what you wish for.
The villagers are afraid of the sick, Kwang’s grand cultural criticism may have some valid points but at least he doesn’t direct his anger at the villagers themselves.
He is a doctor first & foremost and proceeds to tell a most disturbing account, not only of the sick in their makeshift, cold & damp quarantine shed, but also of the boy.
We never learn of his name, only that his father is missing, his mother may be one of the weeping and that the boy himself is patient zero. The father is never seen or heard of again and whatever attacked the boy must be responsible for the father.
Kwang’s explanation of the physical examination and observation of the boy are enough to raise goosebumps. Kwang’s clinical analysis does nothing to diminish this feeling.
I’m only glad I’m reading about it as opposed to witnessing it. I understand why the villagers of New Dachang are so fearful and cautious. Any sensible person would be, educated or not. Danger is a primal and (I think) base instinct that no-one in their right mind should ignore.
Kwang then goes on to tell of his comrade doctor friend from his days in the People’s Liberation Army and the man now in charge of the Institute of Infectious Diseases.
The sudden change from close personal friend to a flat monotone impersonal voice is ominous.
Dr. Gu Wen Kuei knows more than he is probably allowed to say.
Don’t worry, everything is going to be alright.
Gu uses this odd phrase to forewarn his friend.
Kwang understands the meaning behind this personal old joke when instead of hazardous material suited medical personnel coming to New Dachang’s aid, a troop of military types arrive instead.
Kwang tells the story behind Gu’s warning, it’s just a pity the isolated doctor cannot avoid his fate at the hands of the mercy bringers.
What I am glad about is that Gu’s warning allows Kwang time to advise his family to leave China. Will their story also be told?
Max Brooks closes the interview with a short paragraph concerning Kwang’s illegal incarceration and subsequent escape. Unfortunately, the virus is no longer contained within China’s borders. I can only imagine how Kwang would be desperate for news about his family.