It was, perhaps, too late. Or so we were told. Previous estimates had been too conservative; windows of opportunity were closing or had closed. Everywhere there were “looming fears”, omens of disengagement and decline. There were irreducible risks, mortality vectors, assessed damages, failures in correlation. There were infographics and charts stacked with color-coded skulls. The science was irrefutable. Everybody was concerned but nobody could move.
Most of us got out before they closed the airport but by then I wasn’t worried about anyone else. Just myself. There were some other Americans huddled in a nearby hotel, the only hotel that was still open. A rumor was going around that they’d gotten through to the embassy, another rumor said the embassy was no longer taking calls. I didn’t try to find out. Hurtling in a cab to the airport through the pre-dawn suburbs of Barcelona, we passed red-and-blue police lights, strobing on the sides of the highway. A thousand apocalypse movie scenes played out in my head. Similar scenes had played out in front of me in the days before the Spanish lockdown had been announced: the grates over the restaurant doors, the Catalan police driving through the streets with loudspeakers, the elderly faces peering from behind half-closed curtains. It had taken me two hours to finally get through to American Airlines to try to book a flight home.
“You’ll want to get to the airport four hours ahead of time, around 4 AM,” said the airline operator when I called. “And, sir….” she said uncertainly. “There won’t be another flight.”
I looked around the apartment. I still hadn’t unpacked. We were going to retire here, I thought.