It’s 2012 already – Part 4

This post is fourth in a series by Edward W. Pritchard.  To read more of his writings please visit:

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The 'Glasses Apostle' in the altarpiece of the...

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it’s 2012 already-part 4 

edward w pritchard

Normalcy establishes itself even in a mass movement of people trying to escape bad air. I have forgotten everything I ever cared about, and I am instinctively driven to survive.  A bit of a philosopher anymore, I have decided that I am driven by an ancient drive to keep alive the species that I am a small part of. I have established a routine to deal with the bad air that drifts north to south at seven miles per hour, twenty four hours per day.

No mechanized vehicles can survive the bad air, which is viscous and clings to the throat and lungs, and is coughed up by humans as blackish blue phlegm, or urinated out as sharp crystal slivers in painful daily ordeals. Machines and horses cannot survive, only humans survive, and in particular those of us with an immense capacity for suffering.

It’s been about three weeks here in 2012 since the bad air started, and most of those who planned for Armageddon based on astrological Mayan Calendars and those type of things died in the first few days. About one in ten people, at least that’s the mortality people where I am now, here in lower Kentucky and heading South, have experienced. The air will get us all eventually but I don’t think about that; I just walk, stumble forward until I collapse. If I didn’t have to eat and throw up the foul concoction that now is food, or drink and fight not to scream as I urinate, it wouldn’t be so bad.

A complication. A little girl of about eight is traveling alone. Those she cares about or started with are gone. She was staring intently into the fire I was sitting by and I started to get paternal or something with her because someone had stolen her glasses. Glasses aren’t valuable because what’s to see anymore. The landscape is nightmarish. I’ll describe that later, I just ate.

The girl is thin, probably losing weight, like everyone else and studying her as she sat by the fire bravely staring forward, my heart went out to her plight. Other than her thinning hair she looks like a normal, intelligent, curious little girl. Not afraid, just marching like the rest of us. I gave her some food and water, and an asthma inhaler, and a small Indian blanket that I have for warmth at night, and we have been walking together.

I guess I have a wild look about me, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Most people have taken to avoiding strangers and I guess I have become pretty strange and savage looking.

I got the little girl, who I call Laura, not her real name, her glasses back. I offered publicly to trade one of the twenty asthma inhalers I carry for a pair of child’s glasses, if they had purple frames, after she told me her glasses were purple.

The next night at the fire a man approached and I took him aside, and after I saw and confirmed the glasses were Laura’s, I took the glasses and beat the man to death with a tree branch. Morality has changed here in post-2012, and I am no longer a man of peace but now live by ‘an eye for an eye.’

Laura was happy to get the glasses back and my reputation for sudden violence continues to grow, which will help both Laura and me to travel without harm.



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About Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

CYNTHIA J KOELKER , MD is a board-certified family physician with over twenty years of clinical experience. A member of American Mensa, Dr. Koelker holds degrees in biology, humanities, medicine, and music from M.I.T., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the University of Akron. She served in the National Health Service Corps to finance her medical education.
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3 Responses to It’s 2012 already – Part 4

  1. Shaggy says:

    I like it… I do agree with the above poster on the unbelievability of the “bad air” scenario, but a mass migration could happen for any number of reasons… advancing glaciers, nuclear fallout, migrating from a war zone, famine drought, etc.

    I also thoroughly enjoy all the medical information on this site, but a bit of fiction is good to read every now and then

    Oh, and I would of beat him to death with a branch too… who steals a little girls glasses!? lol

  2. Jennie says:

    WHAT?! A random gas that moves South at 7 mph? Doesn’t dissipate, doesn’t follow prevailing wind patterns, and doesn’t change speed? Please, that is really far fetched.
    1 guy carrying 20 inhalers? I have asthma and the most I’ve ever been prescribed is 4 or 5. Where on earth did he get 20? Knock off a pharmacy on his way out of some town escaping from this gas? Abuse of inhalers for their steroid or amphetamine content is prevalent enough that I doubt even a serious prepper could stockpile 20. And how does an eye for an eye equate to bludgeoning a guy to death?
    I think this blog is kinda new, so I’ll be bold and put forward a bit of reader feedback here. Stop with this weak sauce and stick to the medicine. I’ve found the medical information posts to be really, really strong and worth my time. This shtick, not so much.

    • Doc Cindy says:

      Thanks, Jennie. Thanks for your kind comments on the medical information. You’re the first to offer an opionion on the fiction. I looked at my stat counter to see if anyone else was reading these entries and see about 1000 people have done so. Does anyone else care to comment on the fiction category?

      In times of scarcity, I do believe medication could be used as a form of barter. Maybe the author would like to comment on the source of his character’s inhalers.

      One medical note: it’s true some inhalers do contain steroids, but the active bronchodilators are beta-agonists, not amphetamines (though the two classes of drugs do have similar side-effects of increased heart rate and jitteriness).

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