A free sample (about 10%) of the story.
Plague Doctor Tale One
By Paul Gresham
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The plague doctor strolled through the homeless camp in San Francisco, a figure from the Great Plague which struck England in the 17th century.
Yet he was strangely relevant now that ancient diseases such as the plague were beginning to manifest themselves in the homeless camps.
He was wearing the traditional attire of his grim profession, a long black coat, a black brimmed hat with a black band in it and a black mask with a long beak at the end of it.
He was also wearing the normal style of clothes which were worn in that period, black knee-length stockings tucked into knee-length breeches and black shoes with silver buckles in them.
The walking cane that he was carrying was used to detect any symptoms of the disease.
He would simply have to point the cane at someone that he suspected was suffering from the disease, then inspect the tip of it by sniffing it with his beak.
Circulating around the tip would be certain ‘airs,’ which only a plague doctor could detect.
Most were harmless but some were harmful, or ‘bad airs,’ which meant that the person who was suffering from them was also suffering from the plague, and required urgent treatment.
There were several kinds of treatment including applying leeches to the patient to suck the blood which contained the bad airs from them.
Another treatment was to apply treacle, a sticky, syrupy liquid made from sugar, to the patient’s skin.
Some of the homeless people were still sleeping or drowsing in their tents, perhaps because they were unwilling to rise from their sleeping bags to confront another day in the camp.
Their negative attitudes contrasted vividly with the positive attitude of the tents, which were invariably a cheerful bright red, blue, or yellow color.
The homeless camp resembled a bizarre camping ground for those who were enjoying a vacation.
Except the inhabitants were not enjoying a vacation.
They stared curiously at him as he walked past them with his cane, sometimes pausing to inspect his surroundings for bad airs.
He was most impressed by the homeless camp.
The insanitary conditions, the lack of personal hygiene, the absence of medical treatment, were ideal for his purpose.