• Sydney Contreras

In Which Our Hero Takes a Pandemic for a Plague

Updated: Mar 2

By Sydney Contreras


“Huzzah!” cried Verily gleefully upon watching the last of his suitemates roll their Hartley moving bins into the elevator. “A kingdom of my own!” (He had changed his mind about desiring more company after having to nurse his would-be roommate back to health following an overzealous celebration at 1020.)


As Verily began to dance about the empty EC suite in his dressing-gown, he wondered how he had ever blasphemed the solitary life. He was happily rearranging his new abode when he heard a knock at the door.


“Hospitality,” a monotonous voice announced, trying the door handle impatiently.

Verily rushed to let in his uninvited guest, noting that the woman was wearing a strange mouth-covering and gloves—rubber, not silk! He reached to shake her hand, but the woman jerked back with a glare.


The woman turned to Verily, clearly annoyed. “I’m guessing you didn’t get the email,” she said.


“Email?” Verily inquired in confusion. “I will confess that I haven’t gone to Wien in a seven-night or so, but I wasn’t expecting any correspondence…”


With a heavy sigh, the woman closed her eyes and muttered, “I thought the Dean of Housing was kidding.” She handed him a stack of paperwork and tried to explain the coronavirus, but her explanation was lost on Verily. His only response was a terrified screech, “The plague is upon us!” followed by a dramatic faint.


The hospitality worker reached for a miscellaneous cane she saw in the heap of Verily’s disorganized belongings and poked him awake. “It’s not a plague, it’s a pandemic,” she said as Verily awakened with a gasp. “And the more important part is that you’re no longer to leave your residence for any non-essential business.”


“Oh my! I can only leave East Campus to go to the bookstore, the grocer, and the haberdashery?” Verily asked worriedly.


The hospitality worker laughed. “Keep it to Morton Williams and Duane Reade. We thank you for respecting the quarantine,” she said, leaving the suite.


Oh dear, thought Verily, at least I’ve got Locke and Hobbes to keep me company. How long could this plague last, after all? Certainly not longer than a fortnight!


But two weeks came and went, and Verily found himself tossing aside his books in frustration. Oh, how he longed to see another human! He was starting to get nervous; if all of humanity died, who would be left to read his set of 12 journals, perfectly primed for posthumous publication?


He determined resolutely that he would cure this godforsaken plague himself. He had not taken a single course in chemistry, biology, public health, or anything else that could have been remotely helpful to this endeavor, but no matter; he would turn to the works of 14th-century philosophers and plague doctors.


After weeks of research, Verily tested the concoction he had derived from alchemy books and Facebook tutorial videos, but succeeded only in knocking himself unconscious.


When he awoke, he was in an overcrowded St. Luke’s hospital room. Surrounded by coughing and sneezing, Verily realized that he would certainly catch the plague here. Rather than fight it, he embraced his impending doom. On a hospital napkin, he scrawled his last will and testament with careful instructions for what to do with his belongings.


He had just about readied himself to submit to the plague, when a nurse walked in. “You’ve tested negative for COVID-19. You’re free to go,” she said flatly, handing him back the dressing robe he had been found in.


“You mean I have to return to my previous state? To the yearning for human connection? To the mind-numbing boredom? To the complete lack of purpose, th-th-th-the sheer madness?” Verily screamed. The nurse nodded.


Verily left the hospital in despair. But suddenly, he had an idea: If he’d tested negative for the virus, didn’t that mean his concoction had worked? Oh, the money he’d make selling his elixir!

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