I was too unfocused to read the morning papers on my ride into work. I drank my tea, ate my scone, watched the city go by. I was feeling overwhelmed that morning. Too much to do, too little to do it with, the consequences of failure too horrific. And failure seemed inevitable.
I knew I had to keep knowledge of the Empirical Method to myself. Other than that? I made a decision: Screw the consequences. If it meant fewer deaths, I would do what I needed to do. The only problem was the knot of anxiety contradicted my intellectual bravado. It was easy to be heroic on the ride into work when there were no consequences. Whether I would have the courage of my convictions when the Cholera hit the fan, I was not so certain.
Work did not start on a high note.
Much to my surprise, there were protesters at the front of the building—a group of around thirty people who were carrying signs and chanting. I hung back from entering the building for a few minutes to suss out what it was they were protesting. It was the Cholera.
About half of the signs suggested the Cholera was a nefarious plan by the Continent to weaken the Empire.
“Cholera from France” and “Another French Plague” and “Continental Cholera Cills.”
The last really annoyed me because it should have been pronounced ’sills’; they obviously did not understand the concept of alliteration. But “Kontinental Kholera Kills” would have been much worse.
The other half of the signs concerned a cover-up of effective treatments, although exactly what treatment options were being suppressed was not mentioned.
“No More Medical Societies,” “Free the Cure,” and “The Truth Shall Set Us Free.”
I walked up to one of the protesters who had no sign. “What’s all this then?” I asked.
She smiled at me and replied, “The Cholera. It is loose in the Empire again, and it is all due to the French. The Crown does nothing because they are complicit. And the Crown has a Cholera cure but will not release it because they are in the pocket of the Medical Societies.”
“The Crown is complicit?” I asked, a little shocked at the assertion. “Why would the Crown be involved?”
“Money, of course,” she said. “An outbreak of the Cholera means more money for the Medical Societies and therefore more money for the Crown. And the Cholera is a distraction from how poorly the Empire is governed. A sick populace is a docile populace.”
“But why here of all places, at the periphery of the Empire? Would it not be better to start a plague in New York or London?”
“Easier to begin here,” she said. “Where no one would suspect the truth. A test run, to work out all the problems before it is unleashed upon the rest of the Empire. Just watch.”
“And the cure they are suppressing?”
“That I do not know. But there has to be a secret cure or preventative so those in power will not succumb to the illness. Haven’t you noticed? The Royals and their friends never get the Cholera.” She nodded wisely. “True story. There is a reason for that.”
“Yes,” I said. “There has not been a Cholera outbreak in England for over one hundred years.”
She shrugged. “That is exactly what they want you to believe. A massive cover-up if that is what really happened. But the real cure is not from one of the established Medical Philosophies. They are in it for the money. It is in their interest to keep the Cholera flowing. You would think there would be at least one person with a conscience who would leak the nature of the cure. It shows just how under the thumb of the Crown they are.”
“Do you have any proof?” I asked.
“None,” she replied. “But it is obvious if you stop and think about it. It is the only conclusion that explains what is going on.”
The absence of evidence as proof of concept. Great. The anti-Méthode Empirique.
“Well, thank you, “I said. “You certainly have given me something to think about.”
It seemed very unlikely to me that the Cholera was a plot between the Crown, the Continent, and the Medical Societies to sicken people for profit and oppression. I truly hoped no one would be that evil, and preferred bad luck and stupidity as a more reliable explanation for most of humanity’s ills.
I entered the office by the back of the building to avoid the protesters and started in the old mail room. There were now a hundred and eighty-five cases and seventy deaths from the Cholera. Looking at the cubbyholes, you could see that the disease was slowly creeping out of the original postal codes. If the Cholera in Kenton was a growing mountain, the new cases were scree, sliding to the side.
George looked up from the new reports with a wan grin.
“The Cholera is looking worse,” I said. “And the people are getting restless.”
He nodded in agreement.
“Anything you need?” I asked.
He shook his head no. “I got this down, almost automatic. I just need time and a way to go without sleep and food. Then it would be a piece of cake.”
“It should be easier going forward,” I said. “I am going to send a note to Bosworth this morning suggesting a standard form for all the Cholera case reports. I will be making a sample this morning. It should make data extraction simpler for you and for the sisters. This ragbag of papers and information only makes our job harder. Is there any information I should collect that you think would be of benefit?”
He thought for a moment, then shook his head no. “I can’t think of anything. There is too much information to wrap my head around as it is, but I can’t see a way to separate the wheat from the chaff. I can’t see what information is going to be useful and what is cruft.”
I left George to his work and went to my office. The office was empty; everyone was out dealing with the Cholera, so I had the morning to attend to Ministry business and develop a reporting form. I hoped that throwing myself into the work would, at least for a while, make the dull sense of dread sitting under my solar plexus go away.
At least the newspapers were not playing much of a blame game. Yet. Several were on my desk. The Cholera was still the main story, front and center with 24-point headlines, keeping score with the cases and deaths. It would take a war or cricket championship to knock the Cholera off the front page. Much of the content concerned human interest stories of the victims. The Times continued only to mention Homeopaths and their Society as the source of information for the Cholera. It must be nice to have a Homeopath married to the owner of a newspaper.
Other papers were more ecumenical in their coverage, with interviews with one Society or another, curiously almost always accompanying a large advertisement extolling the benefits of that Society. Funny how that works.
No End in Sight
Is Chiropractic the Solution?
Portland—Now into its fifth day, the Cholera outbreak continues to increase. Previously confined to the Kenton neighborhood, there are now cases being reported in surrounding neighborhoods. To date, however, no cases have been reported outside the northeast section of the county.
A definite cause of the Cholera continues to defy the Ministry for Public Hygiene and, despite their hard work identifying and quarantining the victims, little impact appears to have been made on the course of the disease.
“We will redouble our efforts to stem this terrible epidemic,” said Territorial Governor MacIntosh, “but it remains in the hands of Almighty God when and if the Cholera will vanish as it did in 1999.”
The Chiropractic Society reports they have a partial solution for the Cholera.
“Without a doubt, only Chiropractic Philosophers know what is fundamentally responsible for the Cholera, although some people are more at risk than others due to a weakened constitution,” said Tobin Watkinson Master of the Chiropractic Society.
“There are many reasons for a weakened constitution, but first among these is the blockage of the innate intelligence that courses down the spine and then out to the organs and extremities.”
“Blockage of innate intelligence occurs when there are spinal subluxations, resulting in Dis-ease.”
“The best way to have a strong constitution is regular chiropractic spinal evaluation and adjustments.”
“Spinal adjustment is the only effective way to prevent the Cholera.”
Watkinson went on to note that he had yet to see a case of the Cholera in anyone who had regular Chiropractic adjustments.
Continue reading page 4.
And there on page 5, what a surprise, a half-page advertisement for Chiropractic.
The One True Preventive:
Discovered by D. D. Palmer in 1885
Time Tested and Time-Proven
The one true cause of all disease is the obstruction of the life energy by spinal subluxations.
By reversing spinal subluxations, Chiropractic restores the flow of life energy to improve the health of all tissues and organs.
A healthy spine, free of subluxations, is the only reliable and proven method to resist and treat all disease, including the CHOLERA.
“Since my family started regular spinal manipulations, we have not had a single illness.” Janet P.
“My mother died of the CHOLERA in 1999, but my husband and I were spared because of our Chiropractor.” Laurie L.
Seek care at your local Chiropractic Clinic before the Cholera comes to your neighborhood.
Chiropractic: when you intend to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
While they might disagree on most issues related to the cause, prevention, and treatment of illness, the Societies were unanimous in using the Cholera to increase their business and income. Emphasizing prevention over treatment was an excellent way to increase business.
Ministry paperwork was sparse, and it took me less than an hour to dispose of the pile of papers in my inbox. Then I pulled out a fresh piece of paper and started to devise a form for collecting information on the Cholera.
Gather information and resources. Observe. The second concept of the Méthode Empirique. Fine. I needed to gather information. But what information? What was important, and what was dross? How could I know what was important information about the Cholera if I didn’t know Cholera about the Cholera?
So, I made a list of information that might be helpful. At a minimum, I needed who, what, where, why, and when.
Address with postal code
Date of Cholera onset
Contact with other Cholera patients
Prior Society care
Current Society care
That defined who was providing care and where. But the Cholera was not appearing fully formed in people’s living quarters. It had to be brought into the household by someone or something. Unless it was in the air, but that just did not seem right. If it were in the air, wouldn’t everyone who breathed be coming down with the Cholera? Only zombies and vampires would be spared. So, I added
Travel in the prior week to work, school, and shopping.
What else could bring the Cholera into a household? I continued the list.
Like seals or birds or some other animal, I supposed. Fish?
I could not see how a dog or a cat or a budgie could be responsible for the Cholera, but again, I had to keep an open mind. Whatever the cause of the Cholera was, it would be a surprise to everyone.
And then I added
I need a space for information that wasn’t captured in the form.
That looked like a good start.
I turned the list into a form with a yes/no check box, and it took up two pages. Not too bad. But would it work? I realized when it was complete that I could not just send the form for printing. I had to field-test it first. Good thing I was heading to Kenton that afternoon.
I took the mockup form across the street to the government printing press and showed the form to the printer. Could he make up a rough draft and print thirty copies in the next hour?
He gave me a sour look, but I knew I had priority with the Cholera. Orders had gone out Monday that what the Ministry needed, the Ministry got.
“Sure,” he said. “Give me two hours.”