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Blessed By the Plague (standard:drama, 3810 words)
Author: Kenneth MoonAdded: Jun 05 2003Views/Reads: 3266/3043Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Gregory sees death all around him, but the deadly disease never strikes him. And he wants to know why.

Blessed by the Plague 

Ignoring the gut-wrenching cough coming from the next room, Gregory
dipped the trembling quill into the ceramic inkwell.  He had only 
become used to the incessant sound after hearing it for two straight 
days and nights.  Master Kremen was as stubborn on his deathbed as he 
was in life.  If Gregory hadn't already blocked out the sound, his mind 
would assuredly have brought the man's image into view – cracked, white 
lips, partly covered in blood that a servant would have hastily wiped 
away before it could form a dark puddle on his chest.  His eyes would 
be clamped shut, keeping most of the tears from touching his velvet 
pillows.  His face would be ashen white except for the dark purple 
blotches where the sickness had taken hold.  His stark white beard, 
always the cause of admiring gazes by the women of the court, would now 
be a sickly yellow at the roots, as if death reached outward to engulf 
the once shiny hair. 

Such an image Gregory dealt with for two days without respite.  Only
taking the task of writing the news of Kremen's death offered solace 
from the nightmare that was the Blooding Sickness.  Gregory's quill 
scribbled on the parchment in rhythm with his short breaths.  The 
servants would soon join their master as small purple splotches already 
covered their necks.  They walked the halls with shaking legs, from 
fear or the sickness Gregory didn't know.  The plague spared none, and 
while Gregory's neck was still unchanged, he knew it would within a day 
or two.  Then his body, too, would be piled into the large hole.  
Unless of course there was no one around to . . . Gregory shook his 
tired head, and brushed one of his few strands of dusty brown hair away 
from his eyes. 

With a sigh he rolled up the last piece of parchment, disappointed that
the task was completed so quickly.  He was not surprised at his speed.  
He had been Master's scribe for years, no one ever guessing that Master 
Kremen had long entrusted Gregory to compose entire letters, handing 
him only core ideas to be included.  He looked at the last message he 
would ever write for Kremen and stifled a quiet sob, not noticing that 
the fire had long dissipated to smoldering coals and the candle was 
almost spent.  Gregory closed his eyes and slouched in his chair, his 
faithful companion for so many years it had molded itself to fit his 
body perfectly.  He glanced at his hands, black with ink, brown with 
dirt.  Since when have I been so sloppy with the ink?  Since when have 
I been so dirty? 

A quiet knock alerted him to the presence of Jaqs and Gregory noticed
that the coughing had stopped.  “It is through with him,” the haggard 
man whispered. 

Gregory shuddered inwardly.  Most people only lasted a day after
starting with the cough and Kremen had lasted two.  He half wished that 
Kremen had quit like the rest.  He would have suffered for a shorter 
period, and though he hated to admit it, Gregory could have done 
without the terrifyingly prophetic suffering of a dying man.  “Thank 
you Jaqs,” he returned.  “You were faithful to the end.” 

“Didn't have anything left to hold on to, after . . .” he trailed off,
trying to shake the memory of loved ones who had died only a week 

Gregory spared him the wasted breath.  “Go home.  Rest.”  And I will
tend to you if I am still here, he said to himself.  And with a muffled 
creak, Jaqs shut the door. 

*  *  * 

Why am I still here? 

Why is he still here?  Why is she still here? 

Gregory's glazed eyes darted past the handful of people laboring away. 
They had argued for hours about what to do with the bodies and they 
finally decided to burn them.  There were no more priests in the city 
to condemn them and Gregory assured them that long ago it was common 
practice, before the Church took over. He told them they would pray 
over the bodies, of course, and that seemed to satisfy them.  How they 
were able to hold onto their faith after all of this he couldn't 

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