A mystery in the sky above as virus panic grips region

Charles Owens

It is approaching midnight. I should have been in bed nearly an hour ago. But I can’t sleep.

Standing on the deck porch, and staring into the heavens, I am perplexed by the sights and sounds of an aircraft hovering high above. The aircraft, which sounds and looks like some type of military plane, has been hovering around in a circular motion above our small community for about 45 minutes now.

What in the world is going on?

Well, actually a lot.

A global pandemic. A national emergency. A state emergency. A local emergency declaration. A “stay at home” order for the entire state of West Virginia. The cancellation of the current school year in Virginia. The closure of all but so-called essential businesses. And a growing sense of panic and fear among local residents.

Oh. And don’t forget that there is a mad race among the local populous to find toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

Yes, these are strange and scary days.

That fear is grounded in reality. No longer are we sheltered from this global plague. We have two confirmed COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in Mercer County. And a student from Bluefield College also tested positive for the virus. That means we have three local cases.  One of the patients in Mercer County also came into contact with other individuals in the community, who are now also being isolated.

I am careful not to use the word quarantined here. But these individuals are being isolated from other people.

It feels like I am suddenly a cast member in one of those end-of-the-world global pandemic movies.

All this while a strange, unidentified aircraft, continues to hover in a circular motion high above.

Who is operating this aircraft? And why do they continue to fly in a circular motion high above this small, isolated community?

Finally, I walk outside with a flashlight in hand as I try to get a better look at what is going on in the sky above.

Our new arrival, a cute solid gray cat with large fluffy fur, is running around wildly outside.

I think she, too, senses that something isn’t right.

The cat has a couple of names. They include “Gremlin,” “Meow,” and now “The Apocalyptic Kitty.”

I prefer the latter name since she ended up at my doorstep begging for food just a few weeks before the onset of this global coronavirus pandemic.

Yep. She, and the other cats, are all worked up. I also hear dogs howling somewhere in the distance.

As the cats come running up to my feet, that mysterious aircraft continues to circle high above.

It is the witching hour. Midnight has arrived. And my mind is now moving into strange places.

I openly ask myself, is this some type of ongoing military operation stemming from the coronavirus pandemic?

A few minutes later, someone on a motorcycle drives by at a high-rate of speed on the road below.

Keep in mind it is well after midnight. I’m not used to seeing motorcycle traffic on this road during the early morning hours.

Yep. It keeps getting stranger.

High above that aircraft is once again repeating its circular motion.

But a few minutes later, the mystery is finally solved. I think? My sister informs me that local authorities are apparently looking for a missing person.

That would explain why the aircraft continues to fly in a circular motion high above.

I eventually go inside. The Apocalyptic Kitty is not happy about me walking away.

A strange evening in a suddenly stranger world is finally winding down.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Oh, that’s right. The stay at home order is now in effect for West Virginia. We are about 12 hours or so into this new order, by the way. Virginia, at least at the time of this writing, doesn’t have such an order in place. But it’s probably coming.

I hope everyone is abiding by the rules.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com

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