Apocalypse now? – By @carlyillston

By Carly Illston

Apocalypse now? 


Gatwick was an eerie place on Sunday morning. 

We walked with purpose. With quiet determination to make it out before the borders close. ‘Before the borders close?’ When did it become normal for to drop that into conversation? 

In case anyone is wondering where all the hand sanitizer in the UK has gone, it’s in the Boots in South Terminal. I wade through mountains of it to get to the till. 

Shifting eyes, suspicious glances. I desperately need to clear my throat. I manage to hold it in. The man next to me isn’t so lucky. I watch as he is dragged away by airport security. A gunshot rings out. We keep walking. 

A woman wore bright yellow washing up gloves to shield herself. Adapt, overcome, survive. Her 80-something year old husband dons a BTS branded facemask. I guess we don’t have to sacrifice fashion for safety. 

A few holiday makers wander around as if we don’t have a global pandemic on our hands. Go ahead Susan, enjoy your all-inclusive to Benidorm. Don’t worry about the rest of us. 

The place is swarming with international students. I hear talk of being photoshopped into their end of year photo, prom dresses to be returned, and the kid who’s going to risk not being able to get home because he just can’t miss that party on Friday. 

Our gate is finally called. It feels like the entire population of Bermuda is on this flight. Well, 0.91% of the population, actually. We have lost all sense of camaraderie. Suitcases are used as a barrier, duty free bags acting as a shield. 

Gloved hands reach for my passport. I find my seat. 37F. Before I settle in, I whip out my Clorox wipes and give everything a once over. My neighbor nods in thanks. The plane hasn’t been this clean since the early 2000s. 

I see a man wiping down the fabric part of the seat. Hope he enjoys having a damp bum the whole journey. 

To my left, a young couple are frantically sanitizing, while their unsupervised toddler is licking the plane window. I don’t have the heart to tell them. 

Mid-flight, disaster strikes. A sneeze creeps up on me, and I rush to cover my face. I can’t hold it in. It sounds like an explosion, breaking the peace of the flight. My neighbour, once smiling and, has turned her back on me. I feel her shifting away, edging her elbow off of our shared armrest. I have become an outcast. 

We land after what feels like an eternity. But the journey doesn’t end here. Bermuda government boards the flight and hands out a form asking if we have any symptoms. It seems a bit late to be asking that question, after breathing in the recycled breathe of 550 people. I realize with a heavy heart that I don’t have a pen. My neighbor begrudgingly hands me hers. I rush to complete the form, before making my way through customs, reassuring the officers that I haven’t been to Italy in the last week. 

My family wait for me outside, we greet each other without an embrace. My mum enthusiastically insists on doing the “wu-handshake”, the name of which feels a little inappropriate. It feels like my dog even knows to stay away, choosing instead to wander off and sniff another dog’s butt. 

I am not allowed to touch anything into the house before I shower and wash my hair. My dad sanitizes my suitcase which my mum throws all my clothes into the washing machine. I have been banished to the spare room on the other side of the house. I am an outcast in my own home. 

Related SCABs

Go back

Student Application

  • Fill out the Application Form below to be a part of our next Award-Winning intake.

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY