“CHRONICLES OF THE BLACK DEATH” (And You Think The Coronavirus Is Bad!) #WeirdDarkness

You wake up on a cloudy morning in late 1348 and glance out your window. Outside, you see carts hauling off lifeless bodies of those you considered friends and neighbors, and you can hear the wails of mourners. You run down to the street to see what has happened, and a man wearing a terrifying bird-like mask claiming to be a doctor says you don’t look too good. Suddenly you notice the sweat on your forehead and a pounding headache. You rush back inside and ask a loved one to check your armpits and groin for dark swelling. Thank heavens, they don’t find any! As your fever rages, you rush to examine your astrological chart. After all, everyone knows the stars can cause disease. But before you find the chart, you remember a strange thing you saw recently: a comet streaking across the night sky. The evil comet must have caused your sickness. With sweat pouring down your face, you run out of your house again, desperate to get to the nearest church. If God sent this sickness, your best protection now would be the prayers of a priest. But when you arrive, the church is empty. You remember when talking to the doctor on the street, you saw a cart filled with the dead – and one of them wearing priestly robes. Apparently religion didn’t protect them, so why would it protect you? Perhaps the church isn’t the best place to protect yourself from disease after all. Maybe penitence is the answer. Or better yet… punishment for your sins. Barely able to walk now, you stumble over to a group of people gathered in the town square – the flagellants; religious penitents punishing themselves to repent. You stagger over and ask for a lash, watching the men and women trying to placate an angry God. Even though the dark swelling in your armpits and groin hasn’t appeared yet, you can tell that something is terribly wrong. Your head aches. Your limbs feel weak. The lashes only made you feel worse. You stumble back to your house and fall into bed. Thankfully, another nearby doctor notices your trauma and offers to help. When you ask him for his medical credentials, he ignores your question. But you’re too weak to fight back. The doctor pulls out two live chickens and tries to strap them to your armpits. He claims it helps with the dark swellings. When he sees you don’t have any yet, he offers you a potion that glows like silver. Since you’re already nearing your end, you drink it. Is that strange taste mercury or arsenic? As you fall into a feverish unconsciousness, the “doctor” takes all your savings, which was hidden under your mattress, and leaves you to perish alone. You’ve only been sick for a few hours, but already you can barely breathe. You drift in and out of consciousness, your breath becoming shorter, until…. you perish. You’ve succumbed to the Black Death, the most prolific epidemic in human history. The plague claimed the lives of millions, with nearly half of Europe’s population perishing from the disease. Some feared they were living through the apocalypse amidst the chaotic upheaval, while others turned to sinful pleasure during the plague to distract from the horror. And as for what happened to victims of the plague, well, it wasn’t opportune. Surviving the Black Death wasn’t easy. How did someone protect themselves from it and who did they blame when they got sick? What happened to their body as the infection spread? Regardless of religion, age, or status, the only certainty was demise; the bubonic plague didn’t spare anyone.