Oh, How They Tried

They did it. The evil abomination responsible for thousands of deaths was defeated.

Within months of the announcement of the discovery of the antibody that attacks 99% of HIV strains, the disease was no more, merely an horrific ailment that used to exist, spoken only in passing, glimmering memories of lost loved ones.

Lives were saved. Families resigned to losing their loved ones could breathe again, wives were hugged, children kissed, parents embraced. The graves of hundreds were visited by grieving relatives who only wished that such a discovery could have been made earlier. If only they could have saved so many people from such an agonisingly slow and desperately painful death.

The people celebrated this victory. The incurable disease, the monstrosity that mutates and changes, causing an incredible number of different strains, was beaten.

People raised glasses to the long departed, sufferers smiled at the new lease of life they were afforded at brushing off the shackles of the hideous ailment that had belied them so gruesomely for so many years. The announcement was greeted worldwide with a feeling of utter satisfaction, rather like humankind had beaten away an aggressive extra-terrestrial. It was a victory for all.

Until they began to die again.

This time, the disease that afflicted them was more aggressive, more appalling. It began with weeping sores on the faces of the affected. Soon the limbs of the sufferers blackened and simply rotted away from their bodies. Their eyes turned first bloodshot, then fully red until the eyeballs themselves wilted and became useless. They lost the ability to hear and soon enough, full paralysis took over.

Lifeless bodies littered the streets. The virus wasn’t passed through bodily fluids. The virus was airborne and, within a year, it had wiped out the entire population of Planet Earth.

Oh, how they tried to defeat me. How they underestimated my true capabilities. So many names for me over the centuries, so many gravestones that were marked with my own blackened touch. They thought they could defeat me with their science, and now I look over the ashes of this ruined, empty planet and laugh at their simple-minded ignorance.

I do miss them though, the humans. Toying with their emotions, their lives. It is their grief I fed on, the shedding of their sad tears providing me with the nutrition I needed to exist. Centuries have passed without them, and I too am dying. Oh, how I wished I’d kept them alive so I could live on.

But, as I look over this desolate planet for the last time, I realise the mistake I made in destroying them. They had the last laugh, of course. Their feelings of love and warmth have lived on somehow, beyond their own existence. They torture me, stabbing me painfully like slithers of sharp ice stinging my blackened soul. And it is this that I take with me as I disappear into the void. Oh, how it hurts me, to feel their beauty living on.

Link to the science article that inspired this story: New antibody attacks 99% of HIV strains