Writing prompt: “What if a disease that causes schitzophrenia became common?”

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“What if a disease that causes schitzophrenia became common?”

The man on the far corner screamed at the sky. Little Alicia pointed at him and laughed. “Daddy, that man is funny.” I pull her back from the curb harder than I intend to and she starts to cry. Somebody else will call this one in, probably. I pull Alicia and Tania behind me, against their protests. When they’re older, they’ll understand. I hope, I really hope, that when they’re older, this will just be another terrible chapter in history like the yellow fever of Memphis or the swine flu.

The schitz strikes men more often than women. The latest statistics suggest 5% of adult men have been stricken, and 2.5% of adult women. Nobody really knows why. Only about 10% ever recover. Unlike many more ignorable maladies, the schitz first struck in the wealthier classes. Scientists think it first became widespread through air travel. They say that the sickness doesn’t actually have a gender preference, but that businessmen are more common and thus were more stricken. I’m skeptical. The old disease, schitzophrenia, which this one so strongly resembles, selected for men. I’ve seen many of my old classmates go down to the illness.

I tighten my mask. Alicia’s has slipped down and she is fingering her nose. I swat her hand and pull her mask back up. The kids don’t see it, which is frightening and heartening. Maybe they will make it through these times not much worse for the wear. We walk, rather than take the tram, which is empty, back to the flat on the edge of town.

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