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I walk down the street, heavy rain pouring down my light coat. A droplet hits my exposed hand, burning the skin. I quickly slide it into my pocket. That pain will dull in a few hours, even if it won’t ever go away. People are lying on the ground, covering their faces, moaning, coughing, hacking, while others are still. One woman reaches out her hand, begging me to help her. I look away. I keep walking.
Another boil erupts out of the flesh on my hand.
I reach my house. Some of those who still have the strength to move are crawling across the sidewalk. I kick a shivering child out of the way to reach our front gate. I don’t feel any remorse.
Another boil erupts on the skin of my ankle.
I walk inside my house, lock the door securely, and take off my coat. My shirt has obvious lumps underneath it. When I walk to my refrigerator and take out an apple, not looking at the people outside who are starving in the heavy rain, I bend down in agony, barely managing not to vomit.
Several more burst upward around my stomach.
As I slowly recompose myself and begin to wash the apple in the sink, I don’t think about those who live outside. I don’t think about those who don’t have a home, who are forced to live in the constant, searing rain. I don’t care about those who can’t work to feed themselves or their families. I don’t care about those who have had everything taken from them.
New abscesses flare all across my shoulders, my arms, and my back.
I turn to look out my window. Another nameless, faceless sufferer stumbles through the street in front of my house. I should have been surprised. Nobody outside could walk anymore. Nobody should have had the strength left even to stand. But I feel nothing. He falls flat on the asphalt, and he tries to get up. He manages to get to his knees, but his legs quiver too much. He collapses. The rain is quiet enough that I can hear his ravaged breathing and sobbing through the ringing in my ears. I turn away. He will probably die in a couple of minutes anyway. I take a bite of the fruit in my hand, wondering if the sun will come out tomorrow. Not that it ever has. Not that it ever will. I simply don’t care about the outside. I am inside, in the safety of my house. Why should I go out of my way to help them? I am content. Why should I feed them? I am well fed.
I try to swallow past the cysts swelling inside my throat.
I will live for myself. If they cannot do that, why is that my problem? So what if it means turning a blind eye?
I cry out in torment. I cannot take a step or move my limbs without feeling pain. I raise my hand to my left eye and pull it back. I see only red. I look over my shoulder at the mirror on the wall. I should have gasped. I should have felt fear, or horror, or… something. Anything. I see the mass of infected flesh that has replaced my eye, but I feel nothing. Nothing except pain.
It is the disease of
And we are all infected.