It’s a local news story that Stephen King could take notes from: Five people fell ill and started hallucinating, one after another, following contact with one woman who started seeing things in the dead of night.
The caretaker of a 78-year-old woman called the police in North Bend, Oregon’s pre-dawn hours to report people vandalizing her vehicle, KVAL news reports. The cops came and went, finding nothing, only to be called back at 5:30 a.m. for a similar complaint. The officers suspected she was hallucinating, and took her to the hospital, where she was given a clean bill of health and discharged.
But as the day wore on, everyone who’d come in contact with her started showing similar symptoms of mental distress: Both deputies, the 78-year-old woman, and a hospital employee all had to be hospitalized for similar symptoms.
That afternoon, a hazmat team descended on Oregon’s Bay Area Hospital, and the home where it all started, decontaminating vehicles and clearing the emergency room. They turned up nothing. “No source of the contamination has been found,” Sgt. Pat Downing told KVAL. “The vehicles, equipment and uniforms have been checked with no contaminates identified or located on or about them.” Not a blip in the patients’ blood samples, either. (1)
We are the others.
The others are us.
Sometimes we believe this holds true at a metaphorical or symbolical level. Only when we truly realize that this is true at the lowest literal level possible (as it is the case with all great philosophical truths), will we be able to let go of our prejudices and see others as they truly are.
Are we healthy?
Or are the sick healthy instead?
Are you humble enough to accept the unacceptable?