9. Immune System

Pred assumed that remission was not an option—that they would have to live with the condition all their life (however long that would turn out to be).

As had Pred's parents... With a history of the condition running through both their linages, the chances were high that their children would be born with the condition.

They made preparations before Pred's birth. Doctor's at the nearby city hospital saw this preempting as a chance to trial new techniques and learn from this occasion. The hospital made sure the couple were lavished with facilities in preparation for Pred's arrival.

When the time came, Pred's mother gave birth within a near hermetically sealed inflatable bubble. Doctors and nurses (of which there were double the amount of then was usual) assisted via rubber gloves melded to the bubble's interior. It took around a minute to transfer Pred into a smaller bubble so Pred's mother could be taken to a bed and the larger bubble deflated.

Pred was then monitored as they settled into what would be their 2 by 3 metre living space for the next however-many-years.

Assumptions made by medical staff and Pred's parents had initially turned out to be untrue...

Pred slept peacefully most nights despite the ever present hum of the machinery that kept the bubble from deflating.

Although food options were limited to what could be easily and safely sterilised—which turned out to be mostly canned goods—Pred digested the simplistic menu happily and without major repercussions.

The bubble eventually filled up with cushions, blankets and toys that were sterilised before going through a soft, curtained 'air lock'.

Exercise was an issue in such a small space although Pred somehow kept active enough to avoid putting on too much weight. If anything, they were on the slim side... verging on scrawny.

A constant flow of visitors helped keep their mind alert and torrent of staff from from the city hospital took measurements and inquired about Pred's comfort on a very regular basis.

For Pred's 11th birthday they received a visit from team members of the nearby space exploration facility. They bought with them a suit that was a prototype designed for astronauts working in deep space. The suit was made from a type of welded rubber with valves that allowed filtered air in whilst keeping microbes out.

Soon Pred was taking regular walks outside and meeting other children. Again, they were monitored closely and play could never be too vigorous in case the suit was damaged. Overall, the suit was considered a great success, leading to more prototypes and more adventures outside of Pred's bubble.

By the time Pred turned 15, the bubble was really only for sleeping in. Pred spent their days studying in their room or meeting others in their backyard for socialising and check-ins with various staff from the hospital, occasional press and space suit engineers.

Pred's 16th year turned out to be particularly busy. After a decade and a half of tests and experiments, Pred's blood had yielded the possibility of a drug that could negate some of their sensitivities. A pharmaceutical trial was proposed. Pred jumped at the chance to be free of the plasticised environments that had shrouded their existence to date.

The trial extended over a two year period during which Pred spent less and less time in the suit and the bubble. By Pred's 18th birthday, with medication, they were able to sleep outside of the bubble without experiencing symptoms of their condition. The downside being that the core medication had to be administered in large doses, causing many side effects... which then had to be counter balanced with more medication.

It would take another four years of experimenting with various combinations of medication for Pred to reach a level where the doses seemed right and a type of 'normality' felt like it had been achieved.

It would take another 3 years for the medication to miraculously start to reverse Pred's condition much to the surprise of Pred's physicians.

After another 4 years, Pred was declared free of symptoms of this condition that was once considered incurable. The only medication required by their 25th birthday, would be some comparatively innocuous vitamin supplements.

The doctors at the hospital in charge of Pred's case (which had made them just as well known within their own profession as Pred) gave Pred the all-clear a month before their 26th birthday. Pred would finally be able to move out of home (albeit a few blocks away in order to remain close to both their parents and the hospital) and live independently. Pred imagined socialising in town, having friends over for dinner, hanging out at the cinema, getting a counter job, travelling, getting to meet and hang out with all the people!

Later that same day Pred would watch a news item on YouTube. Something about a virus forcing a small market town, over the other side of the globe, to go into enforced quarantine.


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