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The Devil's Laboratory.

Let us just say that The Devil is the sum total of human evil.  He is the empty promise of food, the false hope, the unsatisfiable consumption and the bottomless pride of man.

Of course; The Devil is anti-life, anti-diversity and generally a bit of a bad egg.  And so it was that he hatched a perfect scheme in which to entrap good men:

A new disease.

The Devil had long known that, working together, good men were his match.  And so, with bitter resentment, he created for them an illness.  And it was a real stinker

A disease that simultaneously disabled, tortured and discredited its sufferers.  A disease of terrible suffering on the inside that on the outside appeared to be nothing more than mere laziness.

You can imagine how long The Devil laughed when he thought of it!

But then, just as Father Christmas baulks when he sees a request for cold hard cash ("Ho Ho - OH?") so the smile withered on The Devil's face.  Men were his equal, and no matter what disease he could construct, they could produce its antithesis, its mirror in time, its reversal, its treatment, its cure.

The Devil's delight would always be short-lived.

The trouble is, of course, that this ongoing conflict or contest between good and evil shares a property common to all such instances of one-upmanship: escalation.

The idea of winning, conclusively, drives people toward ever increasing warfare.

And so The Devil came up with a new plan.  His disease was perfect: A black hole attached to every suffer, a silent life-partner, sucking the energy out of them for all time.  The genius, (and credit where credit is due, it was genius), was to go ahead and produce the cure for this condition himself.

Why would our fictional "The Devil" do something so revoltingly good?

The Devil didn't have the time nor the inclination to give you an answer.  Like blood and engine oil he seeped through the cracks of the world, targetting, whispering, and infecting.

M.E was loose.

When enough people had been crushed under the weight of this monster of a disease he returned to his laboratory to complete the final part of his (necessarily) diabolical plan.  To the sounds of suffering piped in via intercom; The Devil completed his work.

The Devil took the cure for M.E, and it was the cure, the genuine cure, (it was so good he had to wear oven-mitts to hold it), and he broke it in two.

He broke the cure in two.

Then, like a giant carrion crow he flew back into the world, unmasked, for all to see.  And he looked for hearts that were, through ignorance or envy, open to him.  There were so many.

There were so many.

He found doctors, already, laughing at their patients and calling them liars, because they hadn't yet seen through even the first level of The Devil's concoction.  And, at the same time, (for being in two places at once is a lot less difficult than you'd imagine), he found patients.  And these patient's hearts were charred black with hatred.

And The Devil handed to each a broken, useless, half of the cure for his terrible disease and whispered and lied to them ("This is the real cure for M.E!").

And then, with cowardice and dishonour and wisdom he left them to fight, tirelessly, forever.  Doctor vs Patient.  Exercise vs Rest.  Friend vs Friend.  Goodness vs Goodness.

Yeah, he left a few minions to keep the engine of fruitless endeavour idling, to sell tickets to the Titanic, and to recruit more bodies for the endless war.  But, in truth, the die was cast.

M.E is a disease that requires the utmost cooperation from doctors and patients to beat.

Yet, in the purest sense, M.E is conflict.

Patients know that they must rest.  They see no other option.  They've tried to do as their doctor asked but it only made them more ill.

Doctors know that their patients must exercise.  They see no other option.  If they prescribed bed-rest to chronically ill people they would be harming them.

The polarisation becomes intense.  Doctors begin to see their patients as delusional, "Who else would fight so hard for their right to lie in bed and rot?".  And patients begin to see their physicians as evil, "Who but Nazis would torture us for pleasure?"

And in the miserable melee, doctors are hurt, patients are hurt, and The Devil laughs his ass off.

The Devil laughs because he knows that the doctors don't have a cure for M.E, behavioural or otherwise.  And he laughs because he knows that the patients have no hope of a cure while they are viciously attacking the very people who are trying to help them.

He sees it all on a widescreen like a football match.  Activists intercepting the ball, passing it to each other and making a shot for goal - but it's wide of the mark.  It's always wide of the mark!!  Then the doctors regroup, make a surprising come back and from nothing an attack develops... the midfield is scattered, the activists' defence is all over the place - an open goal - but, OVER THE BAR.  It's always over the bar.  It's like the ball and goal repel like similar ends of a magnet.

And there are those on the touch line:  They are wise enough not to play the game, or foolish enough to try to referee it ("People with M.E shouldn't be abusive to doctors or to patients").  And there is a crowd, shouting and baying and getting all worked up ...at nothing,  ...for all are kettled here, doctors, patients and audience.

The Devil laughs his ass off! This is the entertainment of kings and lords and caesars!  This is true victory.  This is the ultimate XP grinder farm.


And there is YOU reader, for you are here too.  Hello.

And from the touchline you slowly look from left to right.  You see the impossibility and the futility of scoring any points, for they are points scored against yourself.  Doctors and patients are one, they should be united against the disease, not pitted against each other.

You start to see their goals as gaols.

You see the white flag of surrender in your hand and it disgusts you.  You cast it down and you enter the field.  But you pay no heed to the game, the melee, the writhing, heaving, trash heap of confused and suffering souls and you march straight across the pitch at right angles to the game.

The Devil sits bold upright. You have his attention.

You pick up speed.  You are not a liar.  You are not a fool.  You can see across the park a new goal: It shimmers strangely, almost hidden from sight.  There's a ball at your feet.  And you are unchallenged.

And the beetroot red drains from The Devil's face, his mouth opens and his cigar falls into his lap.