“…they bore in their bones so virulent a disease that anyone who spoke to them was seized with a mortal illness.”
-- Michael of Piazza
A virus that swept through the world at the end of World War I, killing up to 50 million people, goes into hiding in the body of a victim, preserved by the Alaskan ice for nearly a century until a trapper stumbles on it. Once unleashed, the virus renews its assault, killing thousands within a matter of weeks. Strangely, many of those exposed to the disease remain healthy. But their immunity isn’t a result of genetic luck. Rather they are all followers of a fringe religion; but because they are being vaccinated without their knowledge they naturally account their immunity to their faith. But then the virus mutates, as viruses tend to do, it puts everyone at risk, believers and nonbelievers alike. Without human intervention, the virus, however virulent and insidious, would never have spread so fast or so widely and with such devastating effects. So to defeat the pathogen it’ll first be necessary to defeat the human forces that set in motion.
"The Dying" is available from:
"…1918 has gone: a year momentous as the termination of the most cruel war in the annals of the human race; a year which marked, the end at least for a time, of man's destruction of man; unfortunately a year in which developed a most fatal infectious disease causing the death of hundreds of thousands of human beings…." That grim diagnosis was rendered by The Journal of the American Medical Association in its December 12th edition of that terrible year. Far from being another seasonal outbreak, the influenza pandemic of 1918 killed as many as 50 million and possibly up to 100 million– a total that far surpasses the 16 million killed in all of World War I. As many as 650,000 died from the flu in the US alone…. More people died of the flu in a single year than in the four years of the Black Plague (1347 to 1351). It was popularly, if inaccurately, known as the "Spanish Lady.” And while most flus are more likely to carry off children and the elderly, the 1918 flu was more indiscriminate. In fact, it singled out the young and the healthy; the Spanish Lady appears to have been almost custom-tailored for the young, especially young men.
That the flu pandemic has virtually disappeared from the history books might have had a lot to do with bad timing (from the virus’ point of view anyway). The First World War grabbed all the attention. People can get their heads around only so many calamities at once. In fact, the two catastrophes are inextricably linked. The virus would never have become as virulent or as widespread as it did if humans weren’t active accomplices in its dissemination. Packing all those young soldiers together in troop carriers and in trenches only made the disease’s spread much easier.