|Art @Markus Manowski|
The “leaning” disease is a very rare, communicable condition that affects the inner ear. Those who catch the disease go through several stages from first exposure, to symptoms, to eventual death. There is no known cure for the disease, but if both a patient's ear drums are severed with a red hot needle, the symptoms of the disease will not progress further. Patients will always be deaf and will require a walking cane due to the loss of their center of gravity, but this is a small price to pay to avoid the worst of the effects this disease has.
When a patient first catches the disease, they develop minor tinnitus and unusual sleeping habits- often rolling over to odd or bent angles while asleep, or rolling out of bed accidentally onto the floor. They will then begin to develop these symptoms in waking hours, leading to a loss of coordination.
Strangely, this disease causes patients to exhibit unnatural feats of agility and balance. Patients will start sleeping standing up, or “planking” at odd angles, somehow able to hold and keep these poses even while asleep. Patients seem to turn with an imaginary source of gravity, standing with a “lean” or pressing up against a wall or furniture to anchor themselves. Eventually, patients will sway and lean in impossible feats- balancing on only their tip toes or top of their head as their body slants unnaturally.
At about this part in the progression, the disease becomes communicable to others. The leaner will start to give off a creaking noise somewhere inside them, believed to be located in the inner ear. This sound itself seems to be the vector for contamination, as proper earplugs can help act as protection, but within a week the low “thumping” sounds coming from heavily progressed patients can infect others simply by feeling it. The exact amount of time or number of exposures needed to infect others is unknown, though certain genes seem to make some people far more susceptible or resistant then others. Those who are known to have no fear of heights since childhood seem to be almost immune to the “virus”. These are recommended for patients nearing the end of their life span.
Once a subject has begun to “emit”, they should be placed in quarantine until their body has found the appropriate “angle”. When they no longer need any support from the ground and ignore gravity entierly; they are three minutes from death. All organ and brain function ceases. Their body should be disposed of in a reinforced coffin, preferably circular or spheroid. Cylindrical or traditional rectangular coffins tend to bend from the aftershocks of the body, which can cause distress to the grieving.