I’m now about half way through A Clash of Kings, which is awesome. It’s a lot different from the series than the first book.
Beyond that nothing much else is happening. I’ve registered for classes today, so yay for that! Got up SUPER early. Which wasn’t fun. I may be sleep deprived. Life lesson that I will never learn:Don’t stay up till 3AM reading, when you have to get up 4 hours later.
It’s not the first time I’ve done it and it won’t be the last. Still. Reading, educational…so…it’s responsible?
Yeah, I don’t know how that logic works either but it totally does.
On with the show!
The Last Stages.
She hated the nights the most. They all did. It was rare that a night would pass in silence. Inevitably one of them would start their damned shouting and the others would follow, screaming in the darkness at one another, a deafening crescendo, a chorus of the damned and mostly forgotten. She hated working in this place, but it was that or starve. The money was good, very good actually. Mainly as very few people who accept jobs here, which worked out very well for her. Superstition and baseless fear kept many away. She didn’t fear this place or its occupants, why should she. It would be a while before the information spread enough that people would stop believing in old tales. She knew the vast majority of the rumours were untrue and besides that, it could be cured if caught in the early stages. Yes, the treatments were painful, extremely so, but there was a cure nonetheless.
The plague had begun when she was just a child, she could still remember the fear of those days as people had begun to get sick, one by one. It was a death sentence, then a slow and miserable death. The victims face becoming mottled and scarred, their minds melting to nothing. People had been rounded up, put in quarantines, executed, anything and everything was done to stem the spread of the disease. Not that they knew what it was then. No one knew, it could strike down anyone, from the poor to the rich and famous, no one was safe. No one knew how to spread or where they caught it, not then anyway. There seemed to be no connecting factors amongst anyone, beyond the obvious connections that everyone had. People had stayed in their houses, only leaving if necessary and donning masks for the trip. Schools were kept open but attendance was poor, occasionally they would close as a teacher or student became sick.
She remembered the preachers on the street corners best, screaming how it was a plague from god, that the unclean were being scoured from the earth, one man had shouted this at passer-by for months until he too contracted the disease, she noticed that his sermon had changed, though no one else seemed to care. He no longer screamed about those who were unclean, instead they were the chosen ones, gods truest followers being brought home. A day or two later he disappeared. Probably rounded up by the Q-patrols. People turned one another in, hoping that the sickness would pass them over.
They had found the source eventually, a mutated animal disease, spread through cows. Beef sales had dropped dramatically, for a short while at least. They found a way to test the animals, culling them became easier after that, then the cure was found. There were still occasional outbreaks, but there was a cure now. The animals themselves were untouched by the disease, seeming perfectly healthy until the meat was ingested by humans. Cooking the meat properly would kill most, but not all of the disease. Then it just became a matter of luck as to whose body could fight it off before it took over.
She stood, taking her clip board with her, she had to do her nightly checks. She passed by each room, shining her light in the small window, noting the state of the patient then scribbling it down beside their name. Most of them were asleep at this point, those that weren’t sat in their beds and stared at the walls. When she first started working she could hardly bear to look at their faces, but now it didn’t bother her. These people had passed on to the later stages. They were kept alive with medicinal cocktails, ones that would slow the damage but couldn’t reverse it. She couldn’t understand why they were kept alive, it wasn’t like they could function in the world anymore. Some saw it as a mercy, she saw it as a curse. She had made it clear to everyone that should she contract the disease and make it to the later stages, she wanted it to play out, she wanted to die with dignity. Most of the people in the building had been too far gone to give consent to anything, their families begging the doctors to keep them alive what ever way they could. She always felt bad for the ones with families. She didn’t know how aware the patients were, not really, but the families visited less and less the longer the patient survived. They slowly realised the person they loved was gone, that there was almost nothing left of them. A few people still had visitors, Mrs. Jacobs husband still visited her, he always brought her flowers. The flowers were kept in the common room, items were not allowed in the rooms, but Mrs. Jacobs would sometimes sit in front of the flowers and just look at them. But the families rarely saw that, they never saw the glimmers that appeared, remnants of who they once were.
She sat down at her desk, looking at the clipboard, making sure she hadn’t missed anyone. Everything was looking good. Above her a howl began, she shuddered. She could hear pounding feet as orderlies on the floor above raced to the source, but they didn’t make it in time. Around her voices began to join the howl, screaming into the night. She placed her hands over her ears, trying to drown it out, waiting for it to stop. Finally it faded as voices dropped out one by one and finally there was silence. There was nothing she could do when the howling started besides wait. If they were lucky they could catch and sedate the first before the others joined. She sighed and picked up the clipboard again, she’d have to repeat her rounds.