Right in front of me stood a large metal box, about the size of three outhouses. I held up a torn piece of the Gazette to make sure I was in the right place.

Feeling Ill? Persistent Cough? The cure is here! Come Wednesday to the Miasmatic Purifier due west of the Morgan Research Institute.

My lungs burned, fits of coughs came out, each harder than the last, but none strong enough to help. It’d been about a week since the gunk filled up my lungs. My chest ached and throat burned from the repeated sensation.

“Ah, you must be one of the applicants,” someone said from behind me.

A man with dark hair, round glasses and black gloves approached. He tugged a glove off to offer his hand. “William Specks. Glad you came. I suppose you’ll want to know a little bit about what we hope will be the cure for the lingering sickness ailing our fair town.”

Mr. Specks moved with a bounce in his step, the kind you’d see when Miss Lula caught a glimpse of a baby horse, as he pulled open the thick metal door. Inside, dozens of blades spun. I followed him in, holding onto my hat so it wouldn’t fly away.

“Dr. Pasteur called a meeting a few days ago to talk about this epidemic and how it’s our duty as scientists to find the cure. This room is the fruits of that meeting. Powered by our company’s new ghost rock find, it sucks out the bad air filled with dust, debris, and chemicals from cattle flatulence, and simultaneously generates pure, clean air through a series of intricate filtration devices. Spend a half an hour in here, breathing in the pure air, and the bad should cycle out through your lungs.”

I blinked. “Mr. Specks, thank you kindly for the explanation, but I’ve been sick for too long, and my head ain’t what it used to be. I have to say I have no idea what you just said.”

The scientist smiled, motioned toward a small chair in the center of the chamber. “Just have a seat. It’ll all be better soon.”

My boots clanked as I stepped onto the metal floor. Mr. Specks closed the door and the blades moved even faster. The room shook from all the motion, air washing all around, filling my lungs. Doggone it, I could breathe again!

After a while, the doors opened again.

“How do you feel?” Mr. Specks asked.

I stepped outside. My lungs were clear of gunk. My nose didn’t even itch! I’d been cured. Praise the Lord and the good Mr. Specks. I took in the air as deeply as I could …

… and started coughing all over again. I doubled over from the pain in my chest, and found myself unable to keep my balance.

Specks shook his head, carefully stepping over me and patting his machine as if it were a pet. “Ah well, back to the drawing board!”