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Out, Damned Virus

Henry Herz edited the fantasy anthology, Beyond the Pale, featuring stories by Peter S. Beagle, Heather Brewer, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, and Jane Yolen. He authored 18 traditionally published short stories, including five for SFWA-qualifying markets. Henry authored 11 traditionally published books for children. He moderates author panels at WonderCon and San Diego Comic-Con. His website is henryherz.com. Author Note: In reading Macbeth Act 5 Scene 1, I was struck by how Lady Macbeth's guilt-induced hand washing reminded me of the COVID-19-induced focus on frequently sanitizing our hands. So, I set about adapting Shakespeare's words to the present pandemic with as light a touch as possible.
Gentlewoman: "She has sanitizer by her continually. 'Tis her command."
Doctor: "Look, how she rubs her hands."
Gentlewoman: "It is an accustomed action with her to seem thus washing her hands. I have known her to continue in this for thirty seconds."
Lady Macbeth: "Yet here's a virus. Out, damned virus! Out, I say! One, two. Fie, my lord. A doctor, and afeard? Have we not a surfeit of masks and toilet paper? The thane of Fife has gloves. Where are they now? What, will these hands ne'er be clean? All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand."
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, September 17th, 2020


In reading Macbeth Act 5 Scene 1, I was struck by how Lady Macbeth's guilt-induced hand washing reminded me of the COVID-19-induced focus on frequently sanitizing our hands. So, I set about adapting Shakespeare's words to the present pandemic with as light a touch as possible.

- Henry Herz
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