Patient Zero

Somewhere out there is the first woman to look mortality in the face and realize that this life is all there is.

We call her Patient Zero.

The disease spreads through humanity like wildfire, a contagious apathy deadlier than any cancer. Stripping away our illusions killed millions. How long had we told ourselves there was more? That beyond life lay heaven or... something. Alas the wool fell from our eyes, no more denying the void before us. The gaping mouth of death that led to empty bowels wherein our memories were digested and, in time, forgotten.

How could we face our children? Those who were once precious to our eyes now appeared as mere ambulatory hunks of flesh born into the grave. Another shovelful of dirt heaped atop them each day.

Even babies somehow understood, and stopped crying for their mothers. Some voice whispered that only time's short span separated them from Grandma's urn. We chose to die. Slowly humans receded like a morning tide. Realizing that all decisions lead to the same end, we accelerated the timeline. We subsided, until she came, preaching life, proclaiming freedom. A figure of hope draped in simple words, a humble sentiment. Among us she walked, chanting:

"So life is all there is, don't waste it!"

Everyone she touched, everyone who heard, returned to themselves. Her message spread like the plaugue before. Life is brief. Death, is but an end. This truth makes our time more valuable, not less.

So we go back to our lives. No safety net lies beneath us. All quixotic tilts at immortality end in failure.

And we are thankful for that.

We are thankful for her, any display of which she refuses. We try to lift her up, make her our God and she demurs.

"It would belie my point," She says. "We are our own now. This is Eden, the apple taken from us bite by bite each day."

So instead of God, or Prophet, or Queen...

Her name is Patient Zero.