A Society of Health
“Aaachoooiee!!” Alyssa Taylor sneezed mightily into a tissue from the box on her desk.
“Bless you.” Raymond Bins, her coworker said as he tapped away on a computer spreadsheet. “Coming down with something?”
“I think it’s allergies. Ever since we moved here––”
“Who sneezed?” Ariana Blight stepped ferociously around the office partition. She looked a bit like a crow with her tiny, birdlike frame, black sweater and pants. Her dull gray hair was pulled tightly back into a bun that rested heavily on top of her little, wobbling head.
Alyssa raised her hand. “Guilty,” She smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, I know my sneezes are so loud. My daughter always says I sound like a firecracker.” She drew back into her chair as the older woman stepped up to her, the woman’s beady eyes bright with anticipation.
“Do you have a cold?”
“It’s…just allergies.” Alyssa exchanged a glance with Raymond who had stopped typing. “This building is so full of dust…” Ariana continued to inspect her, bending low enough to look up her nostrils. “Is everything all right, Ariana?”
“You have mucus,” She pointed to the left nostril. “There. It appears yellow, not clear. Blow into this.” The small woman brought forth a crisp handkerchief from the bowels of her sweater. Laughing a little, Alyssa obliged. Raymond rolled his eyes and made crazy signs that the old woman couldn’t see. It had never been clear to them what exactly Ariana’s job at the company was, but she always seemed to know everything about everyone. Ariana fearlessly opened the handkerchief and proceeded to inspect the leavings. “As I thought. Yellow, going on green. You, Ms. Alyssa Taylor, have the beginnings of a very bad cold, an infection.”
Alyssa shrugged. “You know, I did feel a bit off yesterday, but I thought it was the weather. And my allergies get so bad this time of year…” She trailed off when she saw the glinting triumph in the older woman’s eyes. “Is there a problem?”
Ariana Blight pulled a small flip-top notebook out of a sweater pocket. She proceeded to read: “United States Code, Title Forty-Two, Chapter Two, Section Eight Thousand Four Hundred and Nineteen: All persons shall take precautions to prevent the spreading of the common cold. Subsection D, Four: Any person expectorating or sneezing in a public place shall be examined for infection. If infection is found, said persons are duty-bound to report to the nearest Health Center and receive treatment. Upon refusal to do so within one hour of infection report, said person may be subjected to a fine of One Hundred Dollars or up to Thirty days in the local quarantine cell. Subsection D, Twenty: Any and all persons failing to comply with this Chapter shall be labeled as a Spreader of Disease and a criminal under this Title Forty-Two.”
“What?” Alyssa blinked up at her. “I don’t…I’ve never heard…”
“They didn’t publish it, you see,” Ariana whispered softly, leaning over her. “Only passed it, our wonderful…New Congress. Now, let’s come along down to the office Health Center, shall we?” Alyssa sat there blankly. “Ah, and Raymond…” The crow-like woman filled out a yellow slip from her pad of paper, ripped it off, and handed it to him. “The citation number, should you wish to pursue legal action in the near future. Being around her nine hours out of the day, you are the likeliest to suffer from her…negligence.” Raymond took the paper and paled at its contents. “Of course, should you also come down with said infection and fail to address it immediately, you will be issued a citation as well.”
A Society of Health is a one-page short story I originally wrote in 2010.
On Totalitarianism: The desire of one human or humans to have power over another human or group of humans has provided a wealth of storytelling throughout history. As modern society continues to bow to the grand sham of collectivism and the tyranny it inevitably leads to, it has become imperative to me to fictionally explore just how dangerous it can be to allow fallible human beings nearly unlimited power over oneself and life, even if said people declare themselves to be operating in one’s best interest. These stories reflect my thoughts on the matter, but are by no means the final word on the subject.
It’s weird, I sneezed right before I clicked on this entry.