Blood Mercury by Malachi King

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The whole world has been terrorized and we wallow in terrible fear of getting sick. We placed our faith in medicine and now we pray for redemption. Thatís why our police kidnap the sick and send them to the furnaces.

After we conquered a return of the Black Death, our scientists celebrated the triumph of modern medicine and the awesome power of antibiotics. But our bodies became weaker and the bugs became stronger and soon they were immune to anything our doctors could throw at them. It wasnít long until just the right conditions, high mercury levels in our food to be precise, came along and gave the super germs the breeding grounds for the elimination of the human race. Thatís whatís happening to the United States; thatís what happening to my family.

First, Dad went missing, presumably dead overseas, then Mom caught the common cold and the Sanitary Police came and took her. Now Iím all alone. And Iím tired of wasting away, day-by-day, waiting for my turn to fall ill and be taken to the incinerators. Iíve decided Iím going to rescue her, even if it means the death of all of us. She deserves it. I deserve it. And the whole world deserves another chance to live.

A short story.


Three years ago we voted penicillin the best invention the world had ever seen. It surpassed the battery, soap, the internet, even the wheel. Of course, that was because of a little bug called yersinia pestis, the bacterium of the Second Black Death. It had struck poor countries hard, but like everyone else in the U.S., Mom and I got our penicillin easy. Pill form.

Dad had been in Johannesburg getting shipping contracts when they closed down the airports. I had watched my dad on video chat, in a hospital, explaining to my mom and me that he would be home soon and not to worry; South Africa would get the medicine. There was prolonged coughing and someone vomited blood in the background. My dad turned the view cam away from the other cots and tried to edge the panic out of his voice. ďDonít worry,Ē he said. ďThis is why we have medicine.Ē

That was the last we heard from him. South Africa topped the national list in victims; they didnít get the medicine soon enough.

For us, it was a casual affair to order the pills. Men joked about them during their morning commutes; housewives posted their thoughts on SocialNet. High school kids pretended to snort the pills crushed up. And the medical professionals were right, the Second Black Death didnít affect first world countries.

Here, everyone had access to the cure, and it was completely effective. Poorer areas of the world, of course, suffered the most. Mom and I knew their hospitals were nothing but festering sores and swollen lymph nodes, black and necrotized. Bodies lined their streets like it was the Middle Ages.

After yersinia pestis was controlled with penicillin, people forgot. Donít they always forget? People who didnít lose anyone, that is. My mom created a shrine on our fireplace and a sanctuary in her bedroom. We looked at a few South African maps together, talked about attempting a trip to look for him, but we knew it was hopeless. They werenít letting anyone in or out.

  • Published by: Untreed Reads

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