God save us.
I am a priest in a parish church in Rome. What was once a holy city; a safe, blessed place, has become an abyss of agony and terror. The people’s faith has been challenged. They cannot see the light of God past the blood shrouding their vision.
The filthy, diseased streets teem with weeping, suffering townsfolk - nonetheless, still - begging God to take the pain away. They thrust their blackened fingers towards the sky as they sob over the piles of pustular bodies. Hopeless. Beyond salvation.
Until he came.
He came in a long, black robe and towered over the crawling, cowering sick. His face was masked by a massive beak. We had heard this man was a doctor, and rejoiced at his arrival. He could heal us. A sign from God. Heavensent.
I rushed to the doorstep of my parish to greet him. He was doing something in the city square. He opened rows of cages at the bottom of his wagon. A cacophony of squealing. A screaming black ocean of rats spilled onto the streets. The doctor departed on his wagon.
Now, I write with hours to live.
God help us. God save us all.