Unlike most people, fallout from The Bob has left me largely untouched, so much so, that when people tell me about things like the problems in India, I have to stop and think, and then I remember. Oh, yeah — there’s a pandemic going on.

India is dealing with heavy death tolls. Other countries have stringent curfews to help prevent heavy death tolls. But here in my almost forgotten corner of Colorado, there have been a few deaths, some even, that have affected friends, but mostly, we’ve been spared a lot of the agony the rest of the world has experienced. Oddly, though, the last two months of 2019 saw an upsurge of a horrific and devastating illness being spread here in this county. Back then, The Bob hadn’t yet been identified in the United States, so people were told they had a bad case of the flu, though in retrospect, at least a couple of doctors changed their diagnoses. All the symptoms these people had matched The Bob symptoms, even to the severity, the aftereffects, the collateral problems and complications.

By the time the official restrictions in the state were put into place, I’d already been curtailing my activities to keep from getting that abysmal flu. Even though no curfew was ever in place here, I had my own curfew. (To be honest, it wasn’t disease related — I generally save my wanderings, such as they are, for daylight hours.)

So basically, I’ve just lived my life as if there were no dread disease floating around. I do wear a mask when I’m in stores or at the library, and I probably would wear it elsewhere if I were ever around groups of people, but for the most part, I only have contact with a couple of people.

Because of this, because of the prevalence of the vaccine, because the library is open, and because I am boycotting the news, I hadn’t given much recent thought to The Bob. I guess since it hadn’t really affected me, I more or less figured that it was pretty much under control around here, but apparently it’s still rampant. This coming week there was supposed to be a town fair and celebration, but it has now been cancelled because of an upsurge in the number of Bob cases in the schools.

I hope you know I’m not making light of anyone’s problems that stemmed from The Bob. I’m aware that a lot of people have been affected in disastrous ways, and I am truly sorry for that. At some point, I might even be one of those people; the longer this goes on, the greater the chance of being affected in some way, and not just because a local festival and parade has been cancelled.

So far I’ve been lucky. Lucky that I haven’t gotten sick — with anything! (Amazing how staying away from people keeps one away from all sorts of contagious diseases.) Lucky that I can do so well without a lot of contact with people. And lucky, too, that a lot of what contact I have is via this blog — I can talk about what’s on my mind, and though it’s often a one-sided conversation, it serves its purpose of making me feel connected to the rest of the world.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Confusion Is the Name Of The Game

We’re back in near-lockdown again, or rather buildings are in lockdown. For me, that means no library, though if I were desperate, I could send them a list of books and they would hand them out the door when they books were ready to pick up.

I understand that people have died from The Bob, and I know many people who know people who have died, but I don’t personally know anyone. Instead, during this time, I’ve known people who were diagnosed with cancer, heart problems, and a whole host of other horrific diseases. I’m not really trying to be controversial, just mentioning my experience.

I feel bad for people who are having to deal with catastrophic diseases during this time because no one seems to care about anything but how many tested positive for The Bob, even if most of those positives were not accompanied by symptoms.

Except for the library being closed, and my feeling bad for those with untreated illnesses because of limited medical services at this time and my feeling even worse for those undergoing various treatments while trying to steer clear of The Bob, my life isn’t any different. And it hasn’t been. I guess it helps being a hermit — one who is quite content reading, playing a computer game or two, and watching one’s property slowly being brought into submission.

Others have a different experience, I know, and I am in no way making light of those experiences, but some of the bureaucratic idiocies surrounding The Bob are appallingly ridiculous. For example, Colorado has implemented a color dial system to let people know how they are supposed to behave, with purple being the most restrictive and green the least. It makes me wonder how many of our tax dollars were spent coming up with such an utterly unnecessary system. Why not just tell people they have to stay home or they can go out but not in groups or whatever. Being told one is orange or red only confuses the issue because then people have to try to figure out what that means. But I suppose confusion is the name of the game. It keeps people focused on something other than that we are still dealing with governors with delusions of greatness and illusions of total power.

It’s funny that no one talks any more about the original projections that put all this insanity into play. If, as was postulated, that 80% of the world’s population would die, then yes, these restrictions would be necessary. But although people are getting sick and dying, the numbers simply don’t add up to such a destruction of normality.

And yes, I do take precautions, but that’s not because I’m being forced to. It’s because I always take precautions when it comes to illness. To force people to stay home, not because they are sick, but simply to protect their neighbors who might get sick if one didn’t stay home is beyond anything I could ever have imagined while steeping myself in conspiracies and government machinations for my first books.

But at this point, there’s not much any of us can do about the situation — and the confusion — except find an acceptable level of isolation and preparedness and interactions with people, and ignore what is anathema.


If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here:

Buy it on Amazon here:

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords:

Free E-Book!

For the next month, A Spark of Heavenly Fire will be available as a free download from Smashwords in all ebook formats. You can find the book here: Be sure to use the coupon code WN85X when purchasing.

I figure that by the time the world gets back to normal — or as normal as it will ever get — people will be sick of the very word “quarantine,” and won’t want to have anything to do with novel diseases or diseases in a novel, which is why I giving it away now. I hope I’m wrong about people not wanting to read about devastating diseases after this is all through because A Spark of Heavenly Fire is more than a story about a pandemic — it’s the story of survival in the face of brutality, government cover-up, and public hysteria. It is also a story of love: lost, found and fulfilled.

Washington Irving wrote: “There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” As I read these words several years ago, I could see her, a drab woman, defeated by life, dragging herself through her days in the normal world, but in an abnormal world of strife and danger, she would come alive and inspire others. And so Kate Cummings, the hero of my novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire was born. But born into what world?

I didn’t want to write a book about war, which is a common setting for such a character-driven story, so I created the red death, an unstoppable, bio-engineered disease that ravages the world, but mostly Colorado where the disease originated. Martial law is declared, rationing is put into effect, and the entire state is quarantined. During this time when so many are dying, Kate comes alive and gradually pulls others into her sphere of kindness and generosity. First enters Dee Allenby, another woman defeated by normal life, then enter the homeless — the group hardest hit by the militated restrictions. Finally, enters Greg Pullman, a movie-star-handsome reporter who is determined to find out who created the red death and why they did it.

Kate and her friends build a new world, a new normal, to help one another survive, but other characters, such as Jeremy King, a world-class actor who gets caught in the quarantine, and Pippi O’Brien, a local weather girl, think of only of their own survival, and they are determined to leave the state even if it kills them.

The world of the red death brings out the worst in some characters while bringing out the best in others. Most of all, the prism of death and survival reflects what each values most. Kate values love. Dee values purpose. Greg values truth. Jeremy values freedom. Pippi, who values nothing, learns to value herself.

It sounds like us, today — the crisis crystalizing our lives and showing us what we value most.

Click here to get your free ebook: Be sure to use the coupon code WN85X when purchasing.

Below is the video trailer for A Spark of Heavenly Fire.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Six Months

Six months ago I embarked on a challenge to blog every day for 100 days, and I am still going, but the world sure is different today than it was back then. The weather, of course, is not the same; then it was winter, now it is spring. Back then, people seemed almost innocent in their ability to block out anything that did not touch them personally, and now everyone is hunkered down over something that may or may not have a devastating effect on the total population.

But it doesn’t feel as if anything is different. With a few small exceptions, the local grocery store is fully stocked.

The library is still lending books, though patrons have to call or email their selections ahead of time, and a librarian will meet them at the locked door to hand over the books. (I can’t help it, but this is such a clandestine, spy-ish sort of thing, that it tickles me. And oh — what a dream job! A library full of books and no annoying customers.)

And people are still struggling with devastating diseases.

I spent the morning with a dear friend who is suffering through chemo. I’m sure she’s only one of many people coping with serious illnesses while the whole world is focused on something about which there is no clear consensus and the draconian measures that may or may not be needed.

I don’t know the truth of the matter. I only know my small corner of the world (though I did face time with a woman in Bangkok today who told me about the steps Thailand is taking to keep people inside, such as closing the malls and dine-in restaurants.) And in my corner of the world, my friend is battling cancer.

It’s amazing to me how many people develop or die of various illnesses every year, including hundreds of thousand dying of the seasonal flu, and yet no one cares. But now, with this particular virus, suddenly the whole world cares.

Except me. I’m more concerned about my friend than those I only know through the various media.

During the next six months, things will change again. The virus will have passed on, will have killed us all, or will become just another disease no one cares about it until it hits home.

And, in six months, my friend will be through with her chemo, and will finding her way back to health.

And I will still be blogging, maybe not every day, but one way or another, I’ll still keep plugging away.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

The Bob

In the following scene from A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel about a novel disease, investigative reporter Greg and his editor Olaf are talking about an article on the pandemic Greg is hoping to write.


“How’s the research coming, Greg?” Olaf asked, a shade too heartily.

“I feel as if I’m drowning in paper.”

“So I see,” Olaf said, laying a hand on the stack of articles. “Mind if I look?”

“Help yourself. They belong to the newspaper.”

Olaf settled himself in his customary chair with a handful of the papers. A minute later, he raised his head.

“How do these guys get anything printed? If my reporters turned in work as incomprehensible as this, they’d be out of here so fast they’d think they were flying.” He glanced at the papers and shook his head. “Even the titles are incomprehensible. ‘Imitating Organic Morphology in Micro-fabrication.’ I don’t even know what that means.”

“Me neither,” Greg said, thinking if he had to wade through this sort of stuff to learn about the red death, the earth would fall into the sun long before he read half of it.

Olaf tossed the sheaf of papers back onto Greg’s desk. “Better you than me.”

“What do these guys do?” Greg asked. “Take a course in obfuscation?”

“Probably. Convoluted writing and obscure terms are a way of intimidating the uninitiated, keeping the profession closed to non-scientists, and adding to the scientific mystique. Just think, if diseases had names like Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, doctors wouldn’t make anywhere near the amount of money they do now.”

Greg laughed. “That’s an idea. They do it for hurricanes, why not everything else?” He mimed seizing the phone and dialing. “Mr. Olaf? I can’t come in today. I’ve got the Bob.” He hung up his imaginary receiver and looked inquiringly at his boss.

Olaf nodded. “Works for me.”


And it works for me. From now on, I’m going to call this current novel virus “The Bob.” No insult meant to any Bob living or dead, but I need a different name to call this disease because I am already sick of seeing its name wherever I go on the internet and hearing it out in public. And anyway, I named the disease many years ago back when I didn’t know any Bobs.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Living in my Own Story

I am feeling very déjà-vu-ish these days, as if I’m living in the pages of one of my books. (A Spark of Heavenly Fire is the story of a quarantine in Colorado where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death. Insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover who unleashed the deadly organism and why they did it, until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay. This is a story of survival in the face of brutality, government cover-up, and public hysteria. It is also a story of love: lost, found and fulfilled. And is available on Amazon.

Now that was a real pandemic, my red death. What we’re going through now is . . . I don’t know what it is, but it seems more fictional than my fictional disease. Truly, this panic over a rather tepid pandemic has me mystified. Maybe young folks would have an excuse because they haven’t lived through any of the previous named flus (Russian, Swine, etc.) , but most of them seem to be blasé since they are not being hit hard. But for the rest of us? I really don’t get it.

The Russian Flu killed 1 million from 1889 to 1890

The Spanish Flu killed 40-50 million from 1918-1919 (20% of the world’s population)

The Asian Flu killed 1.1 million from 1957 to 1958

The Hong Kong Flu killed 1 million between 1968-1970

The Swine Flu killed 200,000 between 2009 to 2010

Seasonal Flu (the various flus that hit us every year) kill between 300,000 to 600,000 every year.

The Coronavirus has killed 6,500 from Nov 2019 to March 15. 2020, which means we’re almost halfway through the typical period it takes for one of these named flus to run its course. People keep citing statistics, such as the rapid spread rate, the extreme potency of the organism to prove how important the hype is. And yet it is nowhere near as potent or rapid spreading as all the previous flus no one cared about.

The closest thing to this particular reaction that I have seen was the swine flu of 1976. There was a panic to create a vaccine with the ultimate goal of vaccinating 80% of the citizens of the USA. They reached 25%. And all that panic came from a single death. One death. That’s it. The vaccine caused more deaths than that, along with major problems for a lot of the vaccinated people, including an increase in reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Because of that ridiculous mess, and because of being forced to get such a dangerous vaccine or risk losing my job, I will never follow the party line (either party line) when it comes to any sort of flu, epidemic, or pandemic, no matter how wild or how tepid.

Yes, I know. People are dying. For them and those who care about them, it’s a sad and terrible thing, but going by strictly by the numbers, it’s not that big of a thing. And it might never be. I’m not saying taking precautions is wrong, because it isn’t. In fact, most of the precautions, such as washing one’s hands, staying home when sick, and distancing oneself from those who are ill are things we should have all been doing anyway. If we had, there’s a good chance the deaths from seasonal flu would not be nearly as great.

Even if it turns out there are 200,000 to a million deaths from this thing, it’s still pretty much status quo for a virus, whether novel or known.

The main difference between this and previous outbreaks is, as one friend pointed out, an overactive media and an even more overactive social media, both of which seem to revel in riling people because riled people are involved people. (Involved in the story, that is, not necessarily involved in finding solutions to the story.)

I love the internet. I love interacting with people all over the world. But this current reaction has me wanting to hunker down and quarantine myself from all the hype.

Luckily, a friend is coming to stay for a couple of days, so I’ll have other things to think about than living in my own story.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.