The Illnesses (improved)


This is an improved version of an earlier answer to this prompt by u/RealityScribe:

There are five fatal illnesses discovered across the world. Each only may infect only one person at a time and until the illness takes the life of the afflicted, nothing else can kill them. To your horror and amazement, two of them have chosen you as their host, and neither can run their course.

I originally answered it five days before, but wasn’t quite happy with how it turned out so I rewrote it.


In the safety of his own home, Edward allowed himself a proper cough. He blew his nose long and hard, relishing in the way his airway cleared. It’d been a long day. He turned on the television. The newslady looked grave as she continued her story.

“It’s been two months since the last Infected died. We urge everyone to report any sightings of people showing the Symptoms. It’s a matter of national security.”

So it was finally on the news. Edward would have to be extra careful from now on. He wondered where they were looking for the Infected. Were they scouring the rain-forests for remote villages? Were they invading monasteries high up in the mountains? That’s where the Illnesses were found last time they went missing after all.

He shuddered, thinking of the poor monk and tribesman that had been found with the Symptoms. They disappeared long before the Illnesses had run their course. On the internet they called them The Healers. The people conducting research into the Illnesses. Bullcrap, Edward would have said in the past. Futile immortality research that would never go anywhere. Humans weren’t meant to live forever, the Illnesses only proved that fact. Immortality could only lead to more death.

Now though, Edward wasn’t as certain.

There were five of them. The Illnesses. All of them named after their first and most prominent symptoms. The names weren’t the interesting parts though. No, it was what resulted from being infected. Any person infected with one of the Illnesses, which could only ever be five at the time, couldn’t be killed by anything other than the Illness itself. That’s why The Healers were so interested. If only they could isolate the thing causing this semi-immortality…

There were no laws stopping The Healers from taking the Infected. There was no outcry from the masses. When you became infected, you became a lab-rat for The Healers to play with and there was nothing you or anyone else could do about it.

That is why Edward was hiding in his living room, curtains drawn and only lit by the light of his television, as he coughed and blew his nose. That’s why he’d made peace with being known as the weirdo with the incessant need to clear his throat. The guy who couldn’t stop crying to the point the tears were coming out of his nose…

Edward didn’t want to know what The Healers would do to someone who was infected with two of them.

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