WorldEmber2018

Smartassery

When snarkiness becomes pathological

Credits for inspiration go to Koray Birenheide

- "Hey, Wempass, how are you?"
- "Oh, I'm fine, absolutely splendid! How could I be any different on such a fine day?!"
- "Woah, what happened?"
- "What happened? Oh, you know, just the usual. The mother of the world got kidnapped and held hostage by the ugly overlord of pisspots, and he threatened to do unspeakable things to her. But thankfully, our explosive-crazed brethren managed to blow him up right out in the bay. To bad its a giant pisspot now. In other words, nothing out of the ordinary."
- "...what the? Nothing out of the ordinary you call tha- Wait a minute. I was just coming up from the harbour, and the bay looked perfectly fine to me!"
- "Oh, by the seven blastbolts..."
A nurse comes hurrying from behind and interrupts: "Mr Crankwheel! Here you are! Please, you were supposed to stay in the hospital for your own safety!"
She turns around: "I'm sorry, sir. Please don't be offended, he's in the final stages of Smartassery and can't help himself!"
  Smartassery is a rare disease that has been slowly spreading in and around Utopia. It's still quite rare, but it seems to be slowly picking up.   At first, the reaction of the general public towards it was typical Utopian - fascination and excitement. By now, though, realization has started to creep in that this might actually become more common and shouldn't really be treated as a mere academic curiosity anymore. It makes a lot of people feel quite uneasy, especially with the many different and so far fruitless ideas of what the whole disease is about and where it comes from.

Transmission & Vectors


Ideas and explanations abound, but no one really has anything to go off on. Despite being a science-driven city, a lot of the theories sound a lot like the superstitions of olden times, for example that the infected develops the Evil Eye and is able to transfer it that way. This is supported by the fact that a lot of afflicted get frustrated and agitated.  

"Oh please, what are we. Bloody ghostwhisperers? There's no scientific... anything to the Evil Eye!"
  Sometimes the patients also seem to mean what they say, as their biting sarcasm seems to fit the stupid question they have been asked. Others theorize that the afflicted must have always had the seed within them and, as a concequence, they are very suspicious towards naturally sarcastic people.  
"D'you hear about Wempass? Tragic, that... Wasn't such a dull tool in the shed after all... But I tell you, he has always been a bit like that. Kinda had it coming, if you ask me. Shoulda just been nicer, maybe then he woulda been safe!"
  Some took the occurence as an opportunity to question if the newly infected person possibly had intimate contact with another patient, but the majority of Utopian society rightfully frowns upon that theory.  
"For the bloody screwdrivers sake, he had a wife! And a fine one at that! Why, by the seven blastbolts, would he have wanted to shag such a wrinkly, hairy husk as Wempass was?!"
  Another group of scientists have theorized that diseases could be contracted through drinking water. Most proponents behind this idea don't consider it likely in this case, since before Mr Vertiglobuli came back from his ill-fated expedition no one had ever heard about anything like this. Some, however, are convinced that since Mr. Vertiglobuli died from drowning, somehow this disease entered the water. They fail to account for the fact that the actual number of infections is very low, however.
  Spoiler
Smartassery is actually transmitted by bacteria that, when they enter the bloodstream, permanently alter the brain. Originally it was not adapted to humans, but to a small rodent living in the badlands that gets additional nourishment form eating larger animals' feces. Once infected, it made these rodents gradually loose all care and actively seek out dangerous situations, so that eventually the rodent gets caught by a predator, who in turn excretes the bacteria again. The bacteria is not able (and not trying to) penetrate most of these predator's intestinal walls, but apparently with some humans it is possible. It is probably a matter of genetic disposition. Transmission within Utopia happens through mosquitoes. None of this is known to Utopians, though, since so far no one has invented a microscope or had the idea there might be small things living inside people's blood.

Symptoms


The patient, no matter how gentle her disposition, will slowly develop the urge to react more and more snarky when interacting with other people, until in the final stage it is impossible for her to reply to anything in a normal, socially accepted way. Instead, every question or comment gets a quite aggressive, sarcastic reaction.   It does not seem to be deadly in itself, but often upsets people around the victim enough to inflict some serious bodily damage to the afflicted, often leading to death or being crippled. Sometimes it evens seems as if the patient is actively trying to provoke people and seeking out especially volatile characters or strangers to interact with.

Treatment


There is no known treatment so far. The biggest difficulty is the inability of the patients to give any sensible answer to the questions of the doctors. Research is ongoing, though.

Prognosis


Unfortunately, currently the prognosis is dire. As awareness of the condition slowly is spreading, actual violent reactions from the social environment can more and more be succesfully avoided, but it doesn't necessarily improve the condition of the victim. Since meaningful social interaction is not possible anymore, some victims have already resorted to suicide.

Hosts & Carriers


Show spoiler

The nastiest of them all, the common mosquito, is the bearer of the disease and have a chance to transmit it when they bite people. Due to the huge anatomical difference between humans and mosquito they themselves are not afflicted by it.

History


While with most diseases you have no idea where they come from, this time we believe we have identified the first person to ever be infected - you could say he was "patient zero".  

"Years ago, that young lad, one of those fancy green kids of the merchant people from the Seat of the Council came to this here tavern, deadset on experiencing the "raw wilds around Utopia" as they called it, all the while hopelessly overestimating his abilities. You know the kind - learned on which side to grab the sword and do some fancy dancing steps while holding it and feels like he can take on the world. Told everyone and their mother about all his glooorious plans, and then he went on and told their unborn children as well, cause the more he talked about it the more invincible he became, at least in his stories..."
Frankec Fizzlebeast, patron at the Whirring Cogwheel
  Of course, Mr Fizzlebeast is referring to Cyamus Vertiglobuli, the youngest son of the venerable Aldaeus Vertiglobuli, one of the most esteemed personalities in the trade with the Council.   Mr Cyamus Vertiglobuli came to Utopia to explore and add to the knowledge of the world. He gathered an expedition force and they set out, but after a while, members of his expedition started trickling back home to Utopia. Associates of the Vertoglobuli family were worried when they heard about it and tried to get a hold of the returned travelers, but had little luck. Thankfully, Mr Vertiglobuli made his way back to the city himself, albeit in a bad condition. He had several cuts and bruises and seemed to not have had a decent meal for quite a while.   Soon his physical condition got better to the point where he could leave the hospital, but his personality seemed to have changed, and he kept being rude and snarky in every interaction. It was no surprise, then, to one day find him beaten unconsciously and thrown into the river just outside of Utopia.   Due to his status as a member of the House Vertiglobuli, an investigation was launched. There were not substantial findings other than that there had probably been no intention to kill, instead he had been dropped by the side of the river and seems to have slid in unnoticed.  
"I bet they just wanted him to get pricked all over by the mosquitoes, to make the bruises more annoying! He had been a right pest in the end, it would have been well-deserved, I can tell you that!"
Frankec Fizzlebeast

Cultural Reception

The first few cases did not really get perceived as something out of the ordinary. The behaviour of the victims raised a few eyebrows, but most of the time it was just discarded as "That guy has gone mad." After a while, though, people started realizing that the number of people going mad in the same way and completely out of the blue was on the rise, and the scientists started to suspect a disease.   In typical Utopian fashion, the boundless optimism and faith in science caused the next few cases to be greeted with enthusiasm, but this is slowly starting to change. It has been years, and no one seems to be any closer to a cure than they were at the very beginning, and the numbers are not getting less. Fear has started to creep into the hearts of Utopians, and superstitions start to flare up again.   Some people start to avoid anyone who is afflicted, others are banding together, trying to kill them, argueing it is both precaution for the public and mercy for the patient. With the current state of knowledge, at least the latter seems to definitely be true, since victims seem to be eager to get themselves hurt or killed, and some actually did commit suicide.

Type
Neurological
Origin
Natural
Cycle
Chronic, Acquired
Rarity
Rare

Notable Victims


 
Cyamus Vertiglobuli
Character | Dec 4, 2018

Smartassery's Patient Zero


 
Wempass Crankwheel
Character | Dec 10, 2018


Cover image: by Vertixico

Comments

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5 Dec, 2018 22:24

Genious!!!! I laughed so much at the quote! The details in the dropdown spoilers where great! Such a good read :D

5 Dec, 2018 22:31

This is brilliant and the quotes are great :D

6 Dec, 2018 10:53

Haha, amazing!

6 Dec, 2018 10:54

But your font colors and your background aren't the best friends at times!

6 Dec, 2018 12:47

I'll look into anyhting desing-related in january x) I'll get back to you then :)

6 Dec, 2018 13:17

Hey, hey, hey! You're a man with a plan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc0sJvtKrRM