Slowly Dying of a Mysterious Illness

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Jacob works as a freight sorter for New Zealand Couriers. He has been losing weight and his health is deteriorating in a parallel world where there are no doctors, no hospitals, no medicine. He is slowly dying of a mysterious illness.

Jacob Mathewson worked as a freight sorter for New Zealand Couriers which was located in Penrose, Auckland City on the North Island, New Zealand, in a parallel world. He was part of the South Island Bay, sorting the frieght to send to South Island. Jacob had been skinny his entire life. But, recently, he had been loosing weight over the past few weeks.

It was at the end of his shift, approaching 8pm in the evening. The sun was setting. Jacob helped his work mates to stack the 2 day parcels into the TCPs and the overnight freight into the AAY containers to take into the airplane to Christchurch, South Island.

No one in this world knew what causes the various diseases known to mankind. No one knows how to cure these diseases. No one ever bothered to study the human body nor worked out what causes these diseases. There is no one that specialises in diseases. So no one knew why Jacob was loosing weight so fast.

Once all the parcels had been packed into the TCPs, Jacob helped his work mates to put the doors and lids on the containers, locking them up to be sent to various parts of South Island by truck. He picked up all the damaged freight, placed them into the bouncer and pushed it all the way to Freight Office.

Ever since Jacob had started loosing weight, he had been drinking heaps of water and coke zero, urinating a lot and eating heaps. But no matter how much he ate, he still felt hungry and he kept loosing weight. It was frustrating. Why can’t he keep his weight up. It wasn’t like he was starving himself. He ate heaps and he liked food. Jacob left the bouncer full of damaged freight at the freight office and looked at the time. It had reached 8 pm so he walked across the warehouse to the men’s toilets like he does at the end of every shift. He was tired all the time, he felt weak now. He wasn’t as energetic as he used to be.

He went into the toilets, urinated into the urinal and washed his hands with green grease soap that had exfoliating beads in it. He loved the feel of the soap on his hands.

“Going home?” asked Niko.

“Yeah” replied Jacob.

Jacob looked at himself in the mirror. It was terrible how his eyes were sinking into his skull. He looked like a skeleton.

“Have a good night” said Niko.

“You too”.

Jacob walked out of the bathroom, walked over to the locker and took out his red New Zealand Couriers bag. He put his gloves in the side pocket, took off his safety vest, put on his sweater, then put his safety vest again. He placed his lunch box and water bottle into his bag, then shut his locker and walked to the other side of the warehouse where he clocked out by pressing his index on the scanner. Once he had clocked out, Jacob went towards the roller doors, his workmates saying “Bye” or “See you tomorrow”. Jacob usually replied “See ya”.

He walked through the presort area and past the trucks, being careful to avoid being hit by forkhoists as they placed the TCPs into the trucks. New Zealand Couriers was on the same site as Post Haste and Castle Parcels and the new building being built. Once he left the place, he switched on his cellphone and crossed the road.

Jacob crossed Mt Smart Road and walked along the footpath to Penrose Station. He txted I’ve finished work to his flatmate, Sarah Jenkins, who he shared a unit with. On his way to the train station Jacob remembered how his real father started loosing weight when Jacob was only 4 years old. He remembered how terrible he looked. His dad was in forties then, the same age as Jacob is now. Yet his older siblings never got the disease. Whatever that was.

After reaching the train station, he tagged on with his hop card. Once he hopped on the train he started reading the news on his cellphone. Winston Peters of the New Zealand First Party decided to form a coalition government with the Labour Party and the Green Party, making Jscinda Adern Prime Minister of New Zealand. Jacob was glad because he never liked National anyway.

Once Jacob had arrived at Britomart Station at downtown Auckland, Jacob got off the train and took the City Link bus to Pitt Street, then walked down K road to Galatos Lodge at the end of Galatos Street. He punched in the six digit number on the key pad, entered the lodge, walked down the corridor to the first door on the right and entered the unit.

“Hello, Mathewson” said Sarah as Jacob plopped his bag on the floor, took off his work boots and safety vest.

“Hi, Sarah” replied Jacob as he took his water bottle out off his bag and placed it in the fridge “ How was your day?”

“Good. And yours?”

“Good. I got placed into South Island. Have you eaten?”


“I’ll make myself something to eat”.

Jacob cooked himself lamb spare ribs, beer batter shoestring fries, cabbage and pumpkin. Once Jacob had dinner, he washed the dishes, poured Sarah and himself a glass of coke zero, drank it, grabbed his black pajama top and gray pajama pants with the black moustaches on it. He went into the bathroom after turning the fan on.

Jacob took off his clothes and looked at his body in the mirror. Jacob was shocked when he his ribs sticking out, his pelvis was visible. His skin was tight against his skull. Oh no. How could his body get so bad.

“Sarah,” he screamed “I can see my ribs sticking out”.


Jacob’s mum and step dad, Jessica and Toby Harris, waited at the Intercity busstop in Hastings City, Hawkes Bay, for their son to arrive from Auckland for the Christmas holidays. He was due to arrive at two in the afternoon. Jessica had met Toby at an equestrian event when he was married to his previous wife. Toby wasn’t happy with his marriage because his wife mistreated him. So he divorced her and married mum.

They sat at the bus shelter next to the toilets.

“How long until the bus is here?” asked Toby. He was in his late 60s with gray hair and a bald patch.

“Won’t be long,” replied mum.

Just then, the Intercity bus arrived. It was a white and green bus with the word Intercity on the side.

“That should be his bus now” said mum.

Mum and Toby got up as the door of the bus opened up. They waited as the passengers got off the bus. Jacob had told mum that he had been losing weight and he had been thirsty all the time. When Jacob got off the bus, mum went into tears when she saw how sick Jacob had gotten. Jacob had lost a lot of weight since she last saw him. He looked like a skeleton, his skin stretched against his skull, his eyes had sunk into his head and his cheeks were hollow. Jacob looked pale.

“Oh, Jacob, what happened?” cried mum as Jacob collected his bsg from the bus driver. Tears streamed down her cheeks.

“I don’t know,” replied Jacob “Ive been losing weight. I’ve been thirsty all the time, always starving and peeing a lot lately. No matter how much I eat, I can’t seem to keep my weight up”.

Mum and Jacob hugged each other. She said “Oh, no. That’s bad”. She pulled back and said “Jacob. I’m afraid you’re suffering the same disease that killed your dad”.

“I have diabetes?” replied Jacob.

“I’m afraid so. And there’s no cure”.

They walked over to the Navy blue 2015 Holden. Mum unlocked the car with her remote. Jacob placed his New Zealand Couriers bag in the boot of the car and climbed into the back seat. Step dad climbed into the front passenger seat. Mum climbed into the drivers srsy, started the engine and pulled out onto the road.

On the way to his patents' place mum explained “i remember when your dad fell sick with the diabetes. He was like a skeleton. He looked pale. Do you remember, Jacob?”

“Yes, I do,” said Jacob “ He looked awful. I remember him lying in bed, dying. He looked weak”.

“Not a pleasant sight at all. His grandfather died of the same disease. When your dad was dying in bed, they wouldn’t let me manage the station because I was a woman. So he ran the farm from his death bed”.

Once his dad had died, mum and Jacob moved to Bushmere Road in Gisborne. Then they moved to Snowsill Road when she married Toby. Mum was a sheep farmer, Toby was a dairy farmer. Now they were retired. His older brothers and sister never contracted the disease.

They turned left down the gravel driveway into his patents’ small farm close to Otane village. Once mum parked the car in the garage, they went into the house. Mum let Jacob sleep on the bed in the spare room where his step dad usually slept, while Toby set up a stretcher in his mum’s office. Jacob got unpacked and settled in.


The next morning, after they had breakfast, his parents took him for a walk around Otane. Mum asked him “ You sure you all right to walk? In your condition?”

“I’ll be fine,” said Jacob “I insist”.

“Ok. Let’s go”.

They walked down the driveway, out of the garden and turned left into the neighbour’s paddock which was officially a road for taking the cows from the main road to the village. They used to load the cattle onto the train. They spotted hares, next to the thorn bush, that ran underneath the bushes when they saw them coming.

There was the Otane sports field to the left and a small farm with horses to the right. His parents had given up riding horses because they were getting too old.

They turned right down the street and around the edge of the village, across the railway tracks to the other side of the village. They went down another street to the left. There was a big empty paddock which used to be a dairy farm. Mum explained “They are planning to build twenty five houses on that section”.

“That’s cool” said Jacob.

They turned left again and walked through the village centre. There was the bar and restaurant, fish and chip shop, dairy, Otane Town Hall, Cafe. They walked around the sports field which had tennis courts and a grand stand next to the rugby field.

“I need to go home,” said Jacob “I’m feeling tired. I feel dizzy”.

“Ok, son,” said mum “Lets go home”.

They climbed over the fence into the corridor and walked home.


On Christmas evening, Jacob's big sister, Felicity Harris, and her fiancé, Steven Bryce, came to their annual Christmas Dinner along with Toby's sister, Karen, and her husband, Ted. Felicity and Steven had already arrived and were sitting on the couch. Karen and Ted arrived at the house. Ted parked the car. They climbed out of the car. Toby and mum came out to meet them while Jacob stayed inside with Felicity and Steven.

“Hello, fancy seeing you here,” said Toby to Karen “Better come inside, sis”.

As they came into the house, Karen and Ted were shocked at how sick Jacob looked.

“He doesn’t look too good,” said Ted “He’s lost a lot of weight”. “Yeah,” replied Felicity “He has the same illness that killed our dad”.

“Diabetes?” said Karen. Karen used to be a school teacher before she retired.

“Yeah,” replied Felicity “It’s sad really”.

“Better come and have dinner” said mum.

They got up from the couch and sat down at the table on the other side of the living room. Jacob was pale and very shaky at the moment. He felt light headed and dehydrated. They dished themselves peas, beetroot set in jelly, beef, ham, chicken, potatoes, pumpkin, kumara. Once everyone had sat down, they got tucked into their dinner.

“So, Jacob,” said Karen popping some ham and peas into her mouth. “How’s Auckland treating you?”

“Terrible. I’ve been sick for months. Started loosing weight. No matter how much I eat I just can’t keep my weight up”. Jacob placed some chicken into his mouth. “I’ve been thirsty all the time, peeing a lot, I keep getting dizzy. It’s terrible. My boss put me on light duties against my will”.

“You’re in no shape to be lifting heavy parcels,” yelled Felicity “I remember when dad showed the same symptoms as Jacob has now. He looked terrible, aye mum”

“Yeah,” said mum “Robin got very weak”. Robin was their dad’s name. “He had to drink a lot of fluids and he was eating a lot to. But he couldn’t keep his weight up. He lost a lot of weight”.

“I remember how pale he looked,” said Jacob “His skin looked green. He looked terrible. Like a skeleton. I remember him collapsing before my eyes when he helped mum sort the wall”.

“You remembered that?” asked Felicity. Jacob nodded. “You were only five when that happened”.

“Anyway,” continued mum “He was bed ridden then. His urine became frothy and he pissed blood”.

“Oh no” said Karen.

“Yeah, I know. He got really sick. Robin went blind in the end. He was groaning in pain all the time. He eventually died during the night when Jacob was only five”.

“I remember mum yelling out ‘Robin, wake up. Talk to me'” said Jacob “It was terrible. I remembered the tangi”. A tangi is a Maori funeral.

Once they had finished eating their Christmas dinner they had trifle, jelly, Spanish cream, strawberries, cream, ice cream and fruit salad. Felicity and mum talked about the good times they had with their dad. On how he used to make them laugh and how he took Jacob around the farm with him and how he took him fishing.

“He was fun to be around,” said Jacob “When he got sick I jumped onto his bed and gave home cuddles. You know”. Jacob looked down at his plate, a despondent look on his face. “I miss dad”. He looked at Karen. “Not easy seeing someone you love die”. “Everybody dies,” said Karen “That’s part of life I suppose”. Karen stretched her arms.

Jacob looked down at his plate. He replied “Yeah. You’re right. Now I have the same disease that killed him. I guess I better enjoy what ever life I still have. Better finish our desserts”.

Jacob looked up before continuing to eat his ice cream. Once they finished their desserts, they said goodbye to Karen and Ted who returned to Paraparaumu.

“Well,” said Felicity as she and Steven climbed up from the couch. Jacob climbed to his feet too. “I guess we better get going. Take care, Jacob”. Felicity gave Jacob a big hug. “Look after yourself”.

“I will” said Jacob.

“And get better. I don’t want to lose you the way we lost dad”.

“I know. But I’m not gonna get better. I’m dying, sis. I don’t have long to live”.

Felicity pulled back and said “Take care”.

They walked out of the house. Jacob followed them with his parents as Felicity and Steven climbed into the car and took off down the driveway as Jacob and his parents waved goodbye. They headed back into the house. Mum locked the door behind them.


It was late January 2018 on Auckland Anniversary weekend. Jacob had returned home from his parent’s place. He had been working in e-pacs splitting the little red envelopes into bouncers, being too weak to lift heavy freight.

Jacob and Sarah had arrived at Albany on the North Shore to get some Biltong’s as they didn’t sell it in the city. They got off the Northern Express bus, crossed the road and walked over to Albany Mall.

They walked down the walkway across the two ponds in front of the mall. It was an impressive sight too.

“Haven’t seen Paul in months. Which is good” said Sarah.

“Yeah” said Jacob. “Its a lovely day to go to the mall”.

They crossed the road and walked up the stairs to the mall. Jacob was feeling really dizzy. It felt as if the world was spinning around him. He felt light headed, like being in a dream where he followed Sarah into the mall. They went past the Event cinemas on the right and the food court on the left.

“Lots of people here, aye,” said Sarah “What do you think?”

Sarah looked over her right shoulder at him. Her smile faded when she saw how terrible Jacob looked.

“I don’t feel too well,” said Jacob “I feel fainty”.

Without warning Jacob collapsed on the floor with a thud.

“Jacob!,” screamed Sarah as she quickly knelt on the floor. “Jacob. Speak to me!” Everybody looked to see what she was screaming about. Sarah looked back at the crowd and yelled “Somebody help me. Please!”

Sarah burst into tears, her tears streaming down her cheeks as she sobbed, the two police officers rushing to assist Jacob. The police officer looked up to Sarah and asked “What's his name?”

“Jacob” cried Sarah.

The police officer turned to Jacob and said “Jacob, can you hear me?” Jacob opened his eyes and looked up at the policeman, feeling very weak.


The next day, Jacob's parents came and picked him up along with Felicity and Steven. They took him back to Hawk’s Bay so that his parents could spend time with him. Sarah came to Hawks Bay with them after mum said “You can come with us. So you can spend time with him. After all ... you’re not working”.

“Ok,” replied Sarah “Ill come. I like spending time with him”.

So Sarah said goodbye to her dad and step mum before going to Hawkes Bay with Jacobs family. They placed Jacob in the second lounge so he could watch TV and set up the wireless so he could use the internet on his laptop. They put Sarah on the couch next him though they shared the bed.

His mum found a job for Sarah working in the local dairy, stocking shelves and serving the customers. It was walking distance from his parents’ farm. While she was away at work, Jacob would write his stories on his laptop or he would sleep most of the day. She would come home from work in the evening. Jacob would be in the sitting room watching the one news. He liked knowing what was happening in the world.

They would have dinner together. Sarah talked about her day at work. Jacob talked about his stories, what happened in the world, about the movies and documentaries he watched. He was currently writing about a trans-dimensional explorer who found himself in a parallel world where there were no Governments and he got arrested by a corrupt police force. He wrote two stories a month.

After they had finished dinner and had ice cream and peaches for dessert, Sarah helped mum place the dishes in the dishwasher while Jacob made his way to his room. Sarah would watch movies with him or documentaries.

That night they watched the movie Bruce Almighty starring Jim Carry as a disgruntled news man who took his life for granted, Jennifer Aniston as his wife, Steve Carrel and Morgan Freeman as God. Jim was using the powers God have him to part the bowl of tomato soup just like God parted the red sea and he made the monkey climb out of the guys butt. They both laughed at that.

Later on they watched the movie Possession about a girl who got possessed by a Jewish demon so her father got a Rabbi to exorcise the demon. Then they watched The Haunting documentaries on YouTube. They usually fell asleep next to each other.


On March the 26th Jessica Harris was fast asleep in his bed when all of a sudden she heard Sarah screaming “Jessica, Toby! He’s not waking up! Why isn’t he waking up?”

Jessica quickly got out of bed. She heard Toby yell “Jesus” as they rushed into Jacob’s room.

Mum yelled “Move out of the way”.

Sarah obeyed. Mum yelled “Jacob, son, wake up” as she shook Jacob by the shoulders. But he didn’t respond. “Jacob!” screamed mum “Wake up”. But he still didn’t respond.

Toby placed the back of his hand over Jacob’s mouth to see if he was breathing. He could not feel Jacob’s breath. Jacob’s chest wasn’t moving either. He wasn’t even breathing. Toby shook his head.

“He’s dead” said Toby.

Mum sobbed, tears streaming down her cheeks and Sarah wept. Toby cried too. He had a grim expression on his face.

They called the funeral director and all the relatives to give them the bad news. Sarah told her parents the bad news and shared the news Jacob’s boss.

A week later they had Jacob’s funeral in Hastings. They had the blown up photo of Jacob next to the coffin.

“We are here to say farewell to Jacob Mathewson as he ascends to heaven,” said the priest “It is with heavy sorrow when he dies. But that’s how life is. Death is a part of life. And, occasionally, God sows what he reaps. Now we must hear his eulogies”.

Mum stood on the podium, saying “He was a good son. He brought joy to my life. He was cheeky at times but a loyal son. He was helpful around the house. He enjoyed writing his stories and he was a good writer”. Mum burst into tears.

Felicity said “I remember when he was feeding his mum raisons as a little kid when he picked up a fly and put it in her mouth. Me and my brothers burst out laughing. He was a devious little kid”. Everybody laughed.

Sarah said “I remember when we were dating. He took me to Western Springs when he still had his little red hatchback Toyota. Before he stopped on the Auckland Harbour Bridge. It was the first time I’d been there. They had ducks and swans and the ponds were beautiful and it was romantic”.

His boss, Summer, who was a Samoan, said “He was a hard worker. Even though he got sick he still worked hard. He worked ‘til eight. Even though he lost his strength. I finally had to fire him on medical grounds. But he was a good person and I enjoyed having him around and all his workmates liked his company”.

“He was a good lad this Jacob,” said Toby “He was good to his mum. He adored his mum. I will always miss him you know”. Tears streamed down his eyes.

As the pallbearers Sandy, Toby, Sarah, Paul, Felicity and Saki who was his team leader, carried Jacob’s coffin out of the church, they played the song See You On The Other Side by Ozzy Osbourne. They placed his coffin in the Hearst. They followed the Hearst to Hastings Cemetery.

As they lowered his coffin into the grave the priest said “May we pray. That God accepts him into heaven. That he looks after him. Jacob will always look over us. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”.

One by one they threw a flower onto his coffin and threw a handful of dirt into the grave. Mum burst into tears as she cried into Toby’s shoulders. Sarah wept on her dad’s chest. Felicity cried. They had all lost Jacob to diabetes. They said their last farewell to Jacob. Sarah said “See you, Jacob. I’ll always miss you”.

She burst into tears as she cried on her dad’s shoulders. The grave stone reading:

Jacob Arthur Mathewson

Born 5th February 1975

Died 26th March 2018

Beloved son of Jessica and Toby Harris and Robin Mathewson

May he rest in peace.

Submitted: October 19, 2018

© Copyright 2020 simon arthur. All rights reserved.

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