For three hundred years…
No, once is not enough. For three hundred years they had lived under the Phage. How was it even possible? No one lacked a victim in their family line. Before the Phage, the planet had enjoyed a great many things: art, war, hope. It’s funny what you remember fondly once it’s gone. They knew only misery now, because the Phage came, and it never went away.
It ate away at everything. There used to be records of exactly how it had developed, but even those were neglected now. And what would be the point otherwise? The fact that there were any Vidiians left at all was something of a miracle, and it’s absurd when survival is the only thing an intelligent species can celebrate. Everything was lost. For a time, there was even madness, but even that was lost in time.
Somehow they survived. For three hundred years minds that had nothing else to cling to tried to figure out how exactly that was possible. Medical science had thrown up its arms a century ago. If so many could whither and die for two hundred years, what’s another hundred years? What meaning is there to anything? If life was condemned to misery, what was the meaning of life?
Yet somehow children could still be brought into the world, and maybe that was enough. If a baby could be brought into the world and begin healthy, if some trace of beauty could be found, then even the grotesque could be endured. It would never be seen as normal, would never be considered anything but degenerative, never be considered natural, but the Phage could be survived, because it did not mean the end. It was a process. That was the key. That was the kernel of truth that still seemed to exist.
And if three hundred years could be endured, who knew what else was possible. Who knew what the future would bring? Who knew what future Vidiians might imagine? They existed in an eternal dark age, but it was no longer incomprehensible. Even though medicine had proven to be futile, there were still those who thought answers might be found, some relief, no matter the cost. They’d lost so much already. What else was there? Dignity? There was no dignity associated with the Phage. There could be no doubt.
But there could still be hope.