What starts with just a little tickle in the throat soon becomes a deep cough. Before you know it, children and grandmothers and otherwise healthy adults are coughing blood into their waste bins. Take one last deep breath, and then prepare for a pandemic. Whether a terrorist cell stole vials of biological weaponry from a secret military lab, a rhesus monkey infected an unsuspecting scientist with a demonic bite, or an unwitting explorer churned a forgotten virus from the soil of some rediscovered tropical enclave a pandemic is doubly dangerous. By the minuteness of pathogens, it is an apocalypse rendered invisible; by the inevitability of human contact, it is rendered omnipresent. In addition to the bodily afflictions of a skin-eating virus or wicked strain of influenza, a pandemic prevents us from working together with our friends and neighbors. Instead, we fear them. First, the body breaks down, and then the body politic follows. And no, that surgical mask won’t protect you or spare your family. A real pandemic is nothing to sneeze at.