I’ll admit, I’ve been scarce for a few weeks now. I’ve gotten a few knocks on the basement door from the others asking if I finally succumbed to the heat, and half of that is probably because I smell like something dead. However, it’s all been for a good cause: I’ve been going through records and attempting to find patterns in all of the cases I’ve handled over the past few years. Yes, I know I mentioned in my first post that I don’t offer medical services to the Stalked outside of this team, but that doesn’t mean I won’t take a look at someone if I happen to be on a delivery anyway.
I’ve been part of this business for several years, and I’ve been one of the Stalked for many more. After I performed my first few deliveries, I found myself awestruck by the seemingly endless variety of physical symptoms present within other Runners. On my fourth delivery, I started to perform physicals on the other Stalked, even accepting a medical history and physical in lieu of monetary payment if it was a freelance job. I’ve amassed quite an impressive collection of names and symptoms over the years, and I’ve begun to see patterns emerging from the murk and mystery. It’s nothing conclusive, and nothing universal. Some of the Runners display few or none of these symptoms, but the majority of cases I’ve been able to document match at least some of these criteria.
Before I launch into my explanation, I will say this: viewing this condition as a disease may be flawed, but it does make some sense. First of all, there is no hard and set definition of disease: after all, centuries ago, corpulence was seen as a sign of wealth, while today we tell an obese person that they should consider a diet and exercise program. Secondly, though I cannot define a universal set of symptoms, I can attempt to list and understand symptoms originating from a common cause. Chronic exposure to the Slender Man has been known to not only exacerbate preexisting medical conditions, but also to create new ones. If I attempted to list off every symptom I saw during every examination, you could probably find about a hundred diseases that could be blamed for only a fraction of those symptoms. Thirdly, I would claim that this disease could almost qualify as an infectious one. The Slender Man has been known on numerous occasions to find new victims who interact frequently with current ones. Though the pathogenic agent in this case is not microscopic, some manner of transmission is possible.
The most common physical symptoms I have noticed include fever, chills, joint pain, nausea, vomiting, predisposition to bruising, stomach ulcers and bleeding, fatigue, headaches, muscular atrophy, bleeding in the trachea and lungs, and bone degeneration. Many of these symptoms are also found in a variety of autoimmune diseases such as lupus. While a more controlled study into the possible similarities between autoimmune disorders and exposure to the Slender Man is necessary to draw any conclusions, I would be curious to see how patients would respond to treatments given to sufferers of autoimmune disorders. Quinine, which is usually used in the treatment of malaria, has been shown to be effective against lupus, though the precise reason why quinine works so well in those cases is still under investigation. I’ve been considering adding quinine to a few of the team members’ treatment plans to see if it helps alleviate some of their symptoms, but some of its side effects may be deadly, so I’m wary. For now, I’m going to continue to recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (such as Ibuprofen) to deal with fever, pain, and inflammation, as well as prescription antiemetics as needed.
I’ll admit, a few weeks of pouring over old records is not enough to produce a viable hypothesis. However, if I’m right, the implications could be huge. I wish I could devise an ethical way to study the disease nature of this sickness, but try as I might, I cannot think of one. That’s just as well, I suppose: I don’t think He would give me enough time to complete and publish it.I may need to get out of this basement for a while. Before it swallows me.