PANDEMIC

Chapter 5

Matt

“Rochelle’s not answering her phone,” Jessica said to Matt the next morning.

Working in his office, he turned to her with confusion. “Who?”

“Rochelle? From work?”

He still didn’t know what she was talking about. “Okay.”

She dragged her hands through her hair. “When I called her last night she was sick. She was going to the doctor this morning, but she’s not answering her phone.”

Knowing Brooke’s mother had died from the flu, Matt understood why Jessica was worried. Still, he didn’t want her to jump to conclusions. “Maybe she was in with the doctor when you called.”

Jessica’s face relaxed a little. “Maybe.” She pulled her phone out of her pocket. “I’ll text her and ask her to call me.” She gave him a quick kiss. “Sorry to bother you.”

He smiled. “You never bother me.”

She returned his smile. “I’ll let you get back to work.”

* * *

Later that morning the doorbell rang. Ready for a break, Matt got to the door in time to see the UPS driver walking away from the packages he’d left on the porch. Watching the man through sidelights beside the front door, when the driver lifted his hand to his mouth and had a coughing fit, Matt recoiled. He couldn’t bring the packages inside. The virus could be all over them.

“Are those our packages from Amazon?” Jessica asked.

The kids were right behind her.

“Who was that?” Dylan asked.

Frowning, Matt turned to them. “Yes, it’s our packages. But I think the delivery guy was sick. He was coughing up a lung.”

“You can’t bring them in,” Kayla said, her eyebrows bunched. “I mean, what if the delivery guy has the virus? Could we get it?” Concern filled her eyes. “I don’t want to get sick.”

Matt stepped away from the still-closed front door and went to Kayla before pulling her into a hug. He knew she was thinking of Brooke and her family. Besides, he agreed. “We’ll do everything we can to stay healthy.” He stepped back. “Any ideas?” He glanced at Dylan to include him in the question.

Dylan, who usually made fun of his sister at every opportunity, was uncharacteristically helpful. “What if we leave them on the porch for a few hours? Won’t the virus die?”

Kayla didn’t look convinced, but Matt smiled. “That’s actually a good idea, Dylan.”

Dylan grinned under the compliment.

“How long does it take for the virus to die?” Kayla asked, her eyes tight with worry.

“I’m not sure,” Matt said. “Let me look it up.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and Googled the question. Moments later he frowned as he looked at Kayla. “This virus can live on hard surfaces for up to twenty-four hours.”

Jessica looked thoughtful. “What if we spray some disinfectant on the boxes?”

“Do you really think that would kill the virus?” Dylan asked.

Looking grim, Jessica shrugged. “I don’t know. Or we can wait until tomorrow to bring them in.”

“And risk someone stealing them off of our porch?” Matt shook his head. They had important supplies in those boxes. He wasn’t about to risk someone taking them. The way things were going, he was becoming more convinced by the minute that all the things he’d bought two days earlier plus the items on their porch would become vital. Especially as the news reported increasing fatality rates.

Jessica sighed, clearly stressed by all that was happening. “What do you want to do?”

That’s when Matt got an idea. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.” He went out to their RV which was stored in the side yard, took a small box out of the storage area, and came back into the house. He held up the box of disposable gloves that he used when emptying the RV’s waste tanks. “Problem solved.”

“What are you gonna do?” Dylan asked, his face bright with interest.

Matt put on a pair of the blue disposable gloves and a face mask, then he went to the laundry room where the cleaning supplies were stored. He took out a spray bottle of disinfectant and carried it back to where his family waited.

“I got this,” he said with a grin. He went into the garage and pressed the opener. Once the garage had rumbled open, he went to the front porch, sprayed a generous mist of disinfectant over the boxes that sat on the porch, then carried them one by one—careful to hold the boxes away from his body—into the garage. When he was done, he tossed the gloves in the trash, closed the garage, and went inside where he washed his hands with soapy water before putting the face mask aside and turning to his family with a triumphant smile. “We’ll leave them in the garage for at least twenty-four hours.”

“Dad,” Dylan said with an ear-splitting grin, “you’re a genius.”

“That was pretty smart,” Kayla said.

Jessica wrapped her arms around him. “I knew I married you for more than your good looks.”

Enjoying the accolades from his family, he laughed.