CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-TWO
“Hedone took me back in history to show me other plagues,” Tanesha said. “We went to London in modern times and then back in history to a plague pit. Same place. That was creepy. The area we had been standing on was the same place men were stacking human bodies — of all ages! — into the pit. Then she took me to Paris when they were moving bones into the limestone tunnels to make room in the cemeteries. But it was the last one that really hit home to me.”
“Where was that?” Jeraine said.
“Mexico City,” Tanesha said. “1500s. There was a plague of small pox. I mean, who gets small pox now? But then it killed 8 million people almost overnight. I looked it up. That was 40% of the population of Mexico City at the time!”
“What do you think that means?” Jeraine asked.
“You know how Hedone is,” Tanesha said. “She doesn’t say anything or fill in the blanks. She just shows you stuff that she thinks you need to see and lets you figure it out.”
Jeraine nodded, but didn’t say anything. He filled his water glass and drank another glass of water.
“Coffee?” Tanesha asked.
“Tea,” Jeraine said. “I’ve been drinking Nelson’s fancy French tea.”
“Good?” Tanesha asked.
Tanesha looked in the electric kettle. Finding it full of water, she turned it on.
“Really good,” Jeraine said. “He says that the Templars own a tea plantation that makes it. He has a lot of it. So he’s happy to share. Why don’t you try some?”
“Sounds good,” Tanesha said.
She got out a couple of mugs and gave them to him. Jeraine took down a tea pot. He filled it with warm water to warm the pot and waited for the kettle.
“What do you think Hedone wanted to you to get?” Jeraine asked when he couldn’t stand it anymore.
“Oh,” Tanesha said. “Sorry, I left you hanging. I think some of it is that these things come and go. There’s no evidence in Mexico City that so many people died all at once. In London, they built over the pits they put plague victims in. They just found them when they cleared the area for a rebuild. In Mexico City, we saw this solemn parade of people going to the cemetery. Weeping women and men followed tiny children’s caskets. But in London, it was all business. Men stacked bodies on cart.”
“And Paris?” Jeraine asked.
“It was like a party,” Tanesha said with a shake of her head. “They danced in the streets as their ancestors’ bones were moved. It felt festive, fun even. But when I say it, it’s so creepy.”
Jeraine nodded. The electric kettle clicked off. Jeraine poured the warm water from the tea pot and made a pot of tea for them. He set it on the counter next to the mugs. She got some cream from the refrigerator and held it up.
“Please,” he said, starting a timer on the tea.
She set the cream on the counter and went around to the other side. When the timer went off, he poured tea, put in the cream, and gave her a mug.
“What was Hedone trying to tell me?” Tanesha asked into her mug. “I can never be too sure, but I think it’s that plagues come and go. We’re so lucky not to have had one in a long time. But our ancestors experienced them for generations. Children died. Grandparents. Even healthy adults. There wasn’t anything they could do to avoid getting sick. It was just something that happened.”
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...
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