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Sickly

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Gregory Magnus hated seeing his daughter like this. Frail and weak. Curled up in bed. Pasty white and a fever that could rival the sun. He had barely left her side as he worked. Quietly working on a cure. He knew Helen’s coughing kept her awake even though she kept her eyes closed. Her breath was ragged and the dried blood around her mouth was an unsavoury sight.

James came to check on her regularly, covering his nose and mouth as he sat by her bed.

Gregory liked James, a bright young lad who would make a fine detective one day. He also liked the valuable input he would bring when he came to visit.

It wasn’t until Gregory walked into Helen’s room as she was crawling back into bed that he noticed the weight loss. Her bones poked out from underneath her nightgown. Her beautiful blonde curls, wet with her sweat, clung to her sunken face. The black under her eyes making her look ghost-like. He almost dropped his book. He needed to find a cure. And fast.

Gregory stayed up all night with James and Selman Waksman- an abnormal he had rescued many years before, who had a fascination with human biology. Working on a cure. Creating anything that would help Helen fight the disease that had invaded her body. The men slaved over the lab. Receiving regular updates from the night nurse. Their urgency rising every time she visited.

It hit Selman like a brick. The sudden discovery of a compound- Streptomycin. It was in his own blood. All they needed to do was extract and remake the compound into a synthetic serum.

Gregory dared not get his hopes up as they sat by Helen on her bed. He stroked her hair as he explained the cure and how they had found it.

He waited for her to agree. The drug was experimental at best but Gregory feared his daughter would not make it through the night without intervention.

James prepared the needle, tied the rubber around her arm and gently punctured the needle head through her skin. Helen winced as the liquid entered her body.

Once the vial was empty, James removed the needle and wrapped a cloth around her inner arm, spending a moment to gently stroke her hand before he turned away.

All they could do now was wait.