Mortality in Wasteland
My Life as Black Death’s Undertaker
A Novel by Jeff Vrolyks
Copyright 2017 Jeff Vrolyks
This recount of historical events during the bubonic plague in which I, Niccolai Petrarch, leave to posterity, I do so in hope that the facts herein, of which I have personally borne witness to, will not be molested by fiction, rumors, or embellishments over the due course of time. I have little doubt that in generations succeeding my own (this, the year 1361) there will be no small number of stories detailing the greatest affliction mankind has ever suffered, each varying greatly while their orators proclaim them to be the very pillar of truthdom.
The purpose of this personal history is to negate the rumors and half-truths prevailing in the minds of so many. With each new person born into this world comes a new set of ears to receive the lies and a mouth to propagate them. My greatest interests lie in Phantom Death, or Grim Reaper, as many people now term it, and the variations of the plague.
I begin with a brief background of my life. Long before I became a sculptor, woodworker, and undertaker, I was a scrubby little Italian boy, born in Florence roughly five years after my only sibling, Augustus. My mother died when I was a child, and though I cannot be certain why it is my father moved Augustus and I to England, I suspect it was at least in part due to the soil of our farmland going bad, for we went without food with increasing frequency—I could be wrong, but it is of minor importance.
We happened upon the village of Southampton and took residence there. I was eight years old, my brother thirteen. To say we were poor would be understated. As what tends to be the case when food is scarce and work conditions are suspect, my father wasn’t long for the world, and during the first winter in Southampton he suffered a malady that he was unable to recover from and joined my mother in heaven just short of our first anniversary as English residents, roughly ten years before the appearance of the Black Death, as it has been so termed.