'Just a cold'

  • Some of the older folks remembered the last plague, remembered the cracked, ashen skin, the piles of bodies, the stench of death.

    The old lamp seller had closed his shop, said we'd have no use for lamps if we were all dead.

    The drunkard claimed they'd made it all up, they would see! he was always right! at least, he always said he was right.

    A cough! A runny nose! No worse than a cold claimed the scraggly, bearded man. They should stop this stupid quarantine, after all, how was he to ship his opium when the gates were locked, and his workers not allowed out.

    'Just a Cold' they said. 'Just a Cold'.

    But soon the news grew, news of death, news of more than just a runny nose.

    Some came to the gates seaking refuge, guards turned them away. A makeshift refugee camp grew, but still they were turned away.

    To begin with the townspeople grew angry with the gaurds, with the Council for allowing this, said it was 'a blight on our humanity', but soon the stench of death and disease from the makeshift camp grew. The complaints stopped. 'We have to protect ourselves' they said.

    Supplies grew low.
    Morale fell lower.
    Finally they cracked.
    'Let us out' they demanded.

    And so the gates we're opened. Messengers sent out. Had the world collapsed? had it survived? Refugees had stopped trying to get in months ago, but surely they couldn't be the only survivors.

    As messengers returned they all told the same story, a nation ravaged by plague, so much death. How lucky they had been to have locked their gates and quarantined themselves.

    How naive they were, thinking they were safe, thinking it was over.

    Slowly signs that something was wrong appeared, runny noses amongst the messengers, some coughs in the sawmill. 'Just a cold' they said. 'Just a Cold'.

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