Panacea

Panacea
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There was a high rise in Mungo City where everyone got sick one year. It wasn’t one of those cases where everyone has the same new disease; this was no epidemic, everyone was dying of something different. The place had everything from heart disease through aggressive infections and all the way to spontaneous human combustion. Then one day, at about fifty percent of the population left, they discovered this young woman on the top floor who was the picture of health. When they asked her how she was so vibrant and well, she explained that it was because she had made this juice. She didn’t know why she made it; some voice in her ear or something or other compelled her to make it. It was nasty stuff, made of mouldy lemons and old milk and a bunch of other stuff that you might be able to take a sample of from a human or animal. Anyway, that was the cure for everything.

 

The fifty percent that were left were back to full health, in fact, they were far better. See, this high-rise was in a particularly poor neighbourhood in the city, and it was quite normal for someone to die at fifty and it be considered un-alarming. But now they were perfect specimens.

 

The people who ran the city were quite frightened by the whole situation. They didn’t understand it, and when people like that don’t understand something, they tend to try and get rid of it or push it away and pretend it isn’t there, like a teenage boy with tissues. So, they decided to cordon off the whole high-rise flat until they had discovered the cause of all of this. It was, of course, lies. They weren’t looking into any cause. But the people of the high-rise just kept on drinking their potions and staying alive in the hope that their city would help them.

 

About a year went by, and, as you can imagine, hope was snuffed out like a candle. See, there’s only so much telly you can watch and cheap tobacco you can smoke before your mind starts running up the walls. And they did. They were all losing it. They had no real connection to the outside world. They could watch it, of course, through their t.v. or their phones, laptop, tablets and gadgets, but they weren’t even allowed to talk to their neighbours as the government had implemented the strictest containment.

 

The first to kill themselves was Mr Harris on the twelfth floor, who splattered on the ground at 11.03pm, Saturday the 16th of August, 2018.

 

The second was Mrs Patterson an hour later. Same floor, same death.

 

Eight more killed themselves that week. But, it’s hard to blame them for their actions. You would probably do the same.

 

I’m telling you this because you likely only know one side of the story, and that these flats were derelict and have since been brought down. But I want you to know something: the people leaping to their deaths were not crazy, they were not ill, and that is not why they were cordoned off— they would have sealed the windows shut, think about it.  They were good people who were ignored.

 

What I find saddest was that the young woman, the girl who brought them hope in the form of a disgusting potion they tossed down their gullets and begged didn’t come back up, that young woman’s end was much more worrying. She didn’t hurl herself out the window or slash her wrists or put a bag over her head. The young woman quite simply stopped drinking the potion; she gave up. She watched the world for another few months until her mind had tired from running up the walls and hope wasn’t even a memory. Then, in the middle of the night, as she sat up watching the world through a screen, something came and stopped her breath.

 

I’m telling you this, not because we should do something, but, just because I think you should know the story.

 

Do with it what you will.

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One comment

  1. KeithHoerner KeithHoerner says:

    The even-measured, psychic distance exhibited by the narrator in this piece is appropriately harrowing. A riveting, relevant, and resonating piece which is guaranteed to stay with me…

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