Taking shelter on campus
They said the city had to be put in quarantine. The authorities would not let any one in or out. The first week Dijon started to be wiped off the map, everybody called their families to ask them how it was like outside the city and they said that the government decided to build up walls to isolate the area without going into details. Every body was scared. Riots started raging downtown. I lived near Place Darcy, which was inconvenient for most of the population moved up to the heights of Talant to have a clear view of what was going on as well as to avoid the chaos roaring downtown. Some said the scenery looked like one of a science-fiction movie. It was uncanny. The Paris-bound down on the A38 was congested with dump trucks loading huge piles of earth and concrete so that no car could get on or off the highway. They closed all the roads linked to the city as well. People were all over their computers and phones, trying to get some help from the outside. The walls reached such heights that it became harder and harder for people to observe what was happening at the doors of the city. People disappeared. Some said as they came from what they called the “inner wall” that authorities were setting up fires all around the city to persuade the population not to try to get through the barrages. Some others said that those whom nothing could dissuade them never returned. We were trapped and from were I lived I was literally stuck between two threats – riots got even worst downtown and the deranging silence from the A38 highway up to Talant worried people so much that everywhere you could see men, women, old people breaking down in the streets, hysterical, sometimes naked and lost children crying, looking for their families. The population got insane. Dijon turned to a block of despair where chaos ruled over everything leaving nothing in the streets to enjoy but fear. Gangs were squatting strategic points such as the Theater or churches from where they could easily get to the food rationing containers dropped from helicopters every week.
I stayed home for one week with all of the shutters of my apartment closed. I got to hear from a few friends whom we agreed with to meet up on campus where it was said to be safe. I barely slept at nights so I decided to pack and leave my building to find my friends. I had decided to take a long detour to avoid the gangs. It took me an hour and a half to get from Rue Devosge down to Boulevard Strasbourg ; I avoided avenues and preferred narrow streets and made it to Place du 30 Octobre safely. As I walked up the hill on Boulevard Strasbourg, I realized I had to get around the hospital where there would probably be a hypothetical concentration of horror scenes and crazy people trying to steal drugs from the storage. Better be paranoid than in danger. Psychoanalysis is not worth being put away in books. I chose to live it. It was impossible to get any pieces of information from anyone. Most of my friends texted me, telling that they had lost contact with most of our friends and acquaintances. Edouard said he went outside twice the first week they decided to put Dijon in quarantine to get some food and he got into a fight he managed to run away from. I was about to get to his apartment, texted him, asked him if he were still there. No answer. I had to hurry. It was almost sunset. I walked up Rue du Point du Jour, then Rue Henri Joly and all the way up Rue des Planchettes. The scenery was hard to believe. The whole place looked like a ghost town. Down the avenue, ashes were fuming where you would expect to see huge amphitheaters and half of the main building facade fell down on the grass and trees and cars. I could feel my whole body shaking and my blood boiling. What happened there? Who did this? There was no way gangs could have done such a thing. My phone broke the silence. I almost had a heart attack. I answered. 'JM! Run! There are people coming in your direction! RUN!!!' 'Where are you?' 'RUN!!! TO THE GROUND FLOOR!!! NOW!!!' I ran across the avenue as fast as I could and then stopped abruptly. They were here. My friends. Edouard held me in his arms so tight that it hurt. I was speechless. What the hell happened here? Why were they all here? There were chairs and tables everywhere. Some were thrown randomly in front of the doors while others were piled up looking like barricades. Elsa gave me a cup of coffee. Tatiana was sitting on the floor staring at her phone. Florian did not turn his head from his computer. Agathe was fixing a radio. She looked up and smiled. 'We're glad you made it.' 'When did you guys arrive?' I looked around. There were blankets on the floor. Sleeping bags. A kettle. Bowls. Spoons. A knife. A bat. Edouard looked at me and asked me if the group of people he saw followed me. 'I don't think so.' 'How are you?' 'Feeling much better now. I'm glad I can finally see you guys. Downtown, it is so silent that it freaks me out. I don't know where they all left.' 'We heard that they built up more walls to close all the gates around the inner wall. It seems they only left the one located in Lac Kir open.' 'So do you think we're safe here?' 'It's better than downtown and there's a lot of spots where we can hide in case...' He voice shook and he started crying. 'I'm sorry. I haven't slept in days. I can't help it.' 'Don't worry man. We're all here.' 'No we're not,' said Tatiana. Everybody looked at her. Florian stopped typing on his laptop. 'We know Tatiana. But don't worry. I'm sure they're fine.' said Elsa, trying to be as reassuring as possible. 'I meant, at least, we're together.' Edouard put his arm around me and pulled me aside. We went upstairs and sat in an amphitheater.
They have been here for a few days already and Edouard mentioned scary screams that they can hear at night. He barely closed his eyes and spoke quickly. He surely seemed exhausted and stressed out. I asked him if the gangs made it this far for they only have interest in controlling the food rationing. He said that they never showed up here but that we had to leave this place and find a better shelter anyway. They were here two nights ago when the facade of the building fell. He said there was an explosion and that they could hear planes patrolling over the area. They still did not know why they stroke only once but he assumed that the rest of the population outside the walls knew more and disapproved of such a move from the government. He mentioned Tatiana's state of panic and told me what her family said. Apparently, the government justified the quarantine for there were high risks of a rare infectious disease reported by the hospital a few weeks ago. They said people were dying here. They said that the government decided to destroy the whole city. We went back downstairs. Elsa was holding Tatiana in her arms. They were sobbing. I could not believe my eyes. I never would have guessed that such a thing would happen to us. And what was that so-called infectious disease anyway?
It was getting late and Florian and the others already fell asleep. Agathe, Edouard and I decided to stay up all night. 'Do you think it's gonna happen again?' asked Agathe. 'I don't know,' said Edouard 'But we have to be careful. I don't know what this so-called disease is and I don't get it. Why would they keep it secret from the public? Why can't they simply send people to check up on us?' We were tired. Agathe dozed off. Edouard could hardly keep eyes open. It all became so silent when I could hear a crack coming from the end of the hallway. I panicked. I did not want to wake the others. There was another noise coming from the same direction. Was anyone trying to break in? It was pitch dark in here. I decided to go and check this out. The doors were closed but I could feel a cool draft coming from the back. I stopped and looked up and turned around. Suddenly, I could hear someone grunting right behind me. 'JM?' Edouard's voice echoed from the other end of the hallway. 'I'm here!' I turned around and a hand grabbed me, pulling me down. I screamed and all of a sudden, Edouard, Agathe and the others appeared in the hallway pointing their flashlights in my direction. A body was scratching my face and biting my neck. I could hear my friends shout out my name while my vision blurred and my mouth tasted like blood.