Viraj Shankar

January 8th, 2005: Nestled behind two thick maple trees, both radiating with sunken, yet somehow towering branches, stood a perfectly proportioned craftsman house. Its navy blue hue stood out amongst the darkening clouds. The tall, coarse bark snaked its way down from the tree’s peak to its base, where it encountered an expansive stretch of chilled concrete. A contiguous surface, the marbled concrete flowed like a river at its calmest hour. The steep gradient of the hill, where the driveway met the road, made the perfect duo for a disaster waiting to happen. Then, a snowflake, effervescent in nature, raced to the street, and congealed upon contact.

By Spencer Williams

It’s January 25th, 2019, and Portland is in a state of emergency, an old disease’s onset being the catalyst. Costcos, Amazon locker pickup stations, schools, churches, dentist offices, public bathrooms, and the Portland International Airport have all been rendered unsafe (Stanley-Becker). The symptoms begin with a dry mouth, an itchy throat, a strangely orange tongue. Then, the skin breaks out with red spots like flattened pepperoni, and the pepperoni sprouts caviar, and the body bakes what must be a culinary disaster of a food metaphor.

The victims were counted and tallied and herded into hospitals by epidemiologists: confirmed, 21 pepperoni-caviar people, now patients in Portland (Stanley-Becker). Measles. A dead disease, beaten into hibernation by a vaccine that is 97% effective (CDC).

Was Portland unlucky enough to house the remaining 3%?

by Zoe Strothkamp

The dog was visibly traumatized. From her muzzle—open and panting—to her tail—tucked deep between her legs—the signs of fear radiated from her body. Her unfocused eyes, ringed with white, stared like a deer into headlights. Something in this wide room would harm her, she knew. Her sense of impending doom and overwhelming terror, distracting her beyond all other thought, made her freeze, sit, cower in a corner of the room by the door. She noticeably shook, her muscles, ready for flight, contracting a hundred times a second as she waited to run. The reason for her fear? An unfamiliar room.