Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 69 of the my online book “Excited Delirium”. Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index.
While the rest of the world clamoured at the doorstep of Beijing, the city itself was slowly and painfully coming back to life.
Leading the charge to recovery was an unlikely crew: the tens of thousands of athletes, managers, trainers and other personnel that had arrived in Beijing in the previous weeks.
A vast salvation effort began, with the Olympic Village at the centre of activities. It was relatively unharmed, along with its inhabitants, during and after the quake, mainly because it was built to much more rigorous standards as demanded by the International Olympic Committee, or IOC. When compared to other new Chinese buildings, it was like comparing Bill Gates to a beggar. They weren’t even in the same universe.
Efforts to rebuild and assist the dying were slow at first, with the vast language barrier causing the greatest source of friction between all of the people who were contributing their skills. In time, however, language was a pale obstacle to the sheer will and determination of these heroes to do what was right. They were here to compete against each other, but they were loath to shirk their responsibilities as human beings, let alone as ambassadors to the planet.
Simple tasks like communicating locations and efforts were delegated to the speediest runners and sprinters, modern day Mercurys that kept everyone informed. Until communications returned to normal, these people played one of the most important roles.
Teams were then built to reflect a balance of skills. Weight-lifters, runners, swimmers, gymnasts and others were spread out across about 1,000 recovery teams, all with the objective of crawling into tight spaces, lifting mass that no normal person could imagine, acting as guardians or running back to the base to inform organizers of major finds, be they living or dead.
These teams were also assigned the task of finding living people, encouraging them to return to main Village and to volunteer for services after they had taken care of themselves. Most of the non-Olympians were asked to either work with others to scrounge for food and water or they were asked to leave as soon as possible so as not to tax the limited resources that the city had left. It was difficult for some to accept, but with a little encouragement, they realized that if they couldn’t contribute, they shouldn’t be making demands on this small, yet brave army of humanitarians.
Managers, trainers and other professionals were assigned to a make-shift triage and emergency centre that became one massive repair operation. Within 3 days, 250,000 people were inspected, operated on, sewn up or resuscitated; most of these people saved because for the first time in a long time, Beijing was overpopulated with people who had medical expertise. It was a non-stop, full-on rush of repair that finally eased off when people either stopped showing up or reports about the mortality level came in. Or the weaker ones finally fled, once roads and transportation became an option again.
As people waited, they camped out in open areas, like the Forbidden Palace or Tiananmen Square. By the end of Monday, this make-shift city-within-a-city had more than half a million inhabitants.
By the end of Monday, the rest of the world was finally able to peer into the black swirling mist and fog that surrounded China and Beijing, as communications were finally starting to show signs of life again.
It was the CCTV, or Chinese Central Television, that was able to feed stories the people of the West, as they anxiously awaited some kind of information about their loved ones.
But they would be disappointed: the CCTV had no official direction yet from the Chinese government, so all that was made available to the world’s eyes were misty details about the quake, the current situation and how many people were affected.
Even though the media of the world had converged on Beijing to report on the Olympics, they were powerless to report on anything to their homes because of power outages, lack of satellite feed or broken communication lines.
The world would have to wait until China was able to get its house in order.
[Author’s Note: I conceived of this plot component in 2006 and wrote most of these chapters into the story of ‘Excited Delirium’ during the course of 2007. I was stunned like the rest of the world when a tragic earthquake struck the province of Sichuan on May 12, 2008. Please believe me that I do not want to ‘profit’ from the suffering that the hundreds of thousands in this quake experienced. I remind all readers that this is a work of fiction and that my goals are to speak to the symbolic reference that’s used in the numerology along with the viewpoint of one fictional cult concerning the fate of the Chinese.]
(Note: “Excited Delirium” is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)
Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License .
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca .