Here’s a thing I wrote in July 2009, back when British alternative medicine was simultaneously trying to silence critics in court and complaining that there was a powerful conspiracy against it. It disappeared in blog reorganisations and possibly was just about amusing enough to deserve saving…
So I was rummaging around in my desk draw the other day, when I found this early draft from a famous novelist. Obviously, any resemblance between the characters in this story and real people, alive or dead, would be entirely coincidental.
Chiropractic — a Global profession founded by D.D. Palmer in Iowa in 1890 — is a system of medicine. In 2009, bloggers uncovered documents identifying numerous medical conditions being treated by chiropractic, despite a lack of evidence for efficacy, including colic, earache, masturbation, and racist personality disorder.
The academic discipline known as Science is a deeply obsessive system of acquiring knowledge about the natural world that has been the topic of recent controversy due to reports of its fanatical insistence on hypothesis testing, empirical evidence, and the abandonment of traditional ideas when these are shown to be false.
All descriptions of experiments, medical procedures, documents and secret rituals depicted in this novel are accurate.
The Royal Homeopathic Hospital,
London 10:46 P.M.
Renowned homeopath Professor Sir Paul Angler staggered through the Royal Homeopathic Hospital’s store room, pulling cabinets and shelves from the walls as he went. Suddenly the light from the corridor was blocked, and a man stood silhouetted in the doorway. The sixty-four-year-old homeopath could see that his attacker was tall and slim, with pale skin, unkempt hair, thick framed spectacles and two weeks’ beard on his face. He wore a knitted tank-top over his shirt, and a stethoscope around his neck. The pale-skinned man screamed silently with laughter. He raised his eyebrows. “What are you running from, Professor?”, he asked. “I only want to give you your… medicine.”
Angler froze, and tried to crawl beneath a desk as his attacker leaped briskly over the wreckage of cabinets and medicine jars. The cowering homeopath looked up as the pale-faced man stood loomingly, stroking his beard with the little finger of his left hand, while tapping a shelf with his right hand.
“Sulphur!”, he declared, sharply. “Quinine! Zinc! Arsenic!” Then, slowly, “aha!”
“No!”, Angler pleaded.
“Arnica,” declared his attacker, raising his eyebrows. “30C dilution. ‘Good for physical overwork and jet lag.’” He looked down at the shivering heap of lab coat on the floor. “You do look like you’ve been doing a little too much ‘work’, Professor. You know that this is bad for your health. Let me help you… rest.”
The pale-faced man suddenly dropped to his knees beside the homeopath and grabbed his jaw. Single-handed, he expertly removed the safety lid from the jar of pills, raised his eyebrows and paused. Then he swung his arm down at Angler’s face, stopped an inch from the man’s nose, and slowly tapped the jar. A single white sugar pill dropped into Angler’s open mouth, and his attacker slammed it shut. Angler gulped with fear and the pill went down. His attacker’s eyes, as shallow as his philosophy, shone with glee. “One,” he counted.
Angler was sweating and panting, his skull aching from the repeated impact of his own jaw, by the time his attacker had counted to five.
“Alright,” he moaned. “Please. I’ll tell you the secret.”
The pale-faced man paused, and then lowered the jar of pills. “Good,” he said. “Now we are getting somewhere.”
The homeopath’s speech was physically wearing, but he performed his fiction with ease. This lie was well rehearsed, though he had prayed that the curtain would never rise on this act. He lectured for twelve minutes before stopping to catch his breath. He fancied he felt drowsy.
“That will do,” said the pale faced man. “Yes, that will do very nicely. Almost exactly what the others said.”
The homeopath looked startled. The others?
“Yes,” chuckled his attacker. “The others. All three of them. They blabbed even quicker than you did.” He paused again, staring into Angler’s terrified eyes. He lifted his arm again. “And so, when you drift off to Bedfordshire,” he continued, “I will be the only one who knows the truth.”
The truth. The Truth. The true horror of this situation dawned on the homeopath. If the others are dead, the Truth dies with me. He panicked and struggled against his captor, who cackled with laughter.
“Professor!,” he said, sarcastically. “Please! I don’t want to have to tell the nurses that you would not take your medicine. Be a big brave boy for me now. Doctor knows best.” And he squeezed the homeopath’s cheeks to force his mouth open. He emptied the bottle into Angler’s mouth, and slammed his jaw shut one last time, causing the homeopath to splutter, and send pills clattering across the floor. His attacker watched them roll under benches and cabinets. But when he removed his hand from Angler’s mouth, and saw the drooping eyelids, he knew that his work was done. For five minutes he might survive, before drifting into a sleep from which he would not awake.
The pale faced man rose, chuckled to himself, and was gone.
Alone, Paul Angler surveyed the wreckage of his pharmacy, fighting the urge to lie down and close his eyes. A drive greater than the desire to live drove him.
If I die, all this will be lost. All that we have have worked for, all that we have fought for all these years. I must pass on the secret.
He rose with great effort and began crawling towards the exit. Shivering, he staggered through the great echoing corridor to the top of the great marble staircase. He thought of his murdered colleagues, their teachers and the teachers before them, smiling down on him from their great portraits. He thought of the secret that they had been entrusted to guard.
He summoned the last of his strength, and cleared his mind. He knew what he must do.
To be continued…