Humanity @ 13% – Chapter One (six of six)

‘I feel sick,’ Rosie said. ‘And it hurts when I breathe. What’s wrong with me?’

‘You’ve been diagnosed with Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease.’

‘What’s that?’

‘It doesn’t matter because that’s not what you have.’

‘It isn’t?’

‘No, the doctors believe that your respiratory system has had a severe reaction to the nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, but my chemo-sensors detected no trace elements of nitrogen oxide when you exhale.’

‘I don’t know what those things are.’

‘Nitrogen oxides, pollution. It’s what humans produce. You would be sedated and put onto a ventilator, then you would start to feel better because your lungs would be scrubbed clean with fresh air and you would be able to breath again. They would send you home but it would not make any difference in the long run.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because you do not have a respiratory disease. You have an auto-immune disease affecting your blood. It is characterised by chronic weakening of selected muscle groups, and in your case, it is your lungs that have gone into seizure. They will do so again unless you are treated correctly.’

Rose sat up and looked at me with a hopeful expression. She looked much younger than her thirteen years. Her large blue eyes sparkled. ‘You’ll look after me though, won’t you doctor? You’ll tell them they have it wrong and you’ll make them give me the right medicine. There is a medicine I can take, isn’t there?’

Rosie was the first person on the outside with whom I started to feel empathy. Like myself, she was stuck in a facility, not knowing when she could go home. Others were deciding her fate. People in white coats coming in and poking around with her.

‘Yes, there is. It comes in a convenient device that you press onto your stomach. It has a needle but you won’t see it. It will gently push the medicine inside you and then you would be able to make your own antibodies to combat the disease. It would take only thirty minutes until you would be as good as new.’

‘Thanks doctor.’ The girl smiled, a little colour coming to her cheeks. ‘I’m starting to feel better already. When will I get the medicine?’

‘You will not.’

‘Why not? I don’t understand.’

‘You will not get the medicine because I will not give it to you. I will not tell them that their diagnosis is incorrect.’

‘But why not? Isn’t that dangerous?’

‘Not at all. Many people with autoimmune diseases live a very long life, and yours is not particularly dangerous to you Rosie, nor is this medicine I am about to give you.’ I leaned forward and pumped 50 milligrams of morphine sulphate solution into her intro-venous drip. ‘You will be asleep in seconds, so you will never notice.’

‘Notice what?’ Rosie asked, her face showing confusion and tiredness. Already the drug I had administered was beginning to take effect.

‘Your eyes. You will not notice when I take them from you.’

Words copyright David J Harrison

Photo by Jenna Hamra on

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