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I read a story in middle school about a man who had been kept cryogenically for years until his ailment could be cured. When awoken, he sneezed and the doctors with the cure for his disease asked him what he had done. He said he sneezed and must just have a cold. They ended up killing him because all diseases had been eradicated.

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    Partial match: Story where all sickness and disease has been eliminated; only partial because as far I can see, the guy doesn't sneeze, and there's no cryogenics and killing ill people, just sending them to the Moon. Still worth a mention though
    – Jenayah
    Apr 21, 2020 at 0:56
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    When was middle school for you? two years ago? twenty?
    – Möoz
    Apr 21, 2020 at 1:00
  • 9
    Future? Sounds a bit like now. Apr 21, 2020 at 1:08
  • I remember this story! I must have read it in 1987 or 1988. If I remember correctly, I believe it was in a Read booklet that was handed to us in class. Read was a small regularly published booklet that had short stories in it.
    – Kaycee
    Apr 18, 2023 at 15:13

2 Answers 2

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Good Morning! This Is the Future (1962) by Henry Slesar.

Extracts:

He awoke to massage, warm fluid, and wordless sounds of comfort. Then he was being lifted from the robo-bath by mechanical hands that were gentle as a woman’s. He was like an infant reborn, and just as naked. His weight at birth was two hundred and six pounds, most of it paunch. [...]

“Your age upon entering stasis?”
“Fifty-one.”
“Correct.” [...]

“Then you know,” he said nervously, licking his lips. “Can you help me? Have you found the cure?”
“Be at peace, my friend. Your affliction is a thing of the past. Generations ago, we totally eradicated all disease.”

“Then I was right,” Lamb whispered. “I knew I was doing the right thing. I would have died in my own time . . .”
“You will be fine now. We are presently in the process of formulating a dose of the antidote for your specific ailment; it will take a few hours, since there had been no need of it for many years. Just be comfortable and wait.”
He was left alone, shivering. [...]

“Thank God,” he said, sniffling, his eyes running. Then he sneezed.
“What was that?” the hairless man said, springing backwards.
“Nothing, just a sneeze. I got a little chilled last night; I guess I caught a cold.”
“A cold? A cold?” the man said, in horror.
He dashed from the room, and returned with two others. Their smooth faces were agitated.
“What’s the matter?” Lamb said, and sneezed again. “I told you, it’s only a cold.”

“Better call the Prevention Corps,” one of them muttered.
The uniformed officers entered half an hour later. They wore visored hoods over their heads, and approached him warily. They pinned his arms, and gave him a swift, painless injection that ended his life, and the threat of infection, in five minutes.


Found by browsing this site for [story-identification] common cold which brought up, among others, Cryonics Short Story in three parts?, one of the stories being "Another person is awakened, sneezes in the chill of the room, and is immediately killed by injection for fear of spreading his diseases.". The short story was identified by Organic Marble, albeit without quotes; all quotes in this answer are taken from this English to Korean(?) translation.

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  • Sadly the other answer never got accepted. Apr 21, 2020 at 13:14
  • How would he have caught the cold? From whom?
    – tbrookside
    Apr 21, 2020 at 13:50
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    @tbrookside Presumably he had it in his own time, before his suspension.
    – Milo P
    Apr 21, 2020 at 15:06
  • And did they whack the guy he sneezed on?
    – EvilSnack
    Apr 21, 2020 at 15:07
  • @EvilSnack no they don't, the story ends with the killing. There may be more in the other short stories mentioned in the post linked at the end of the answer.
    – Jenayah
    Apr 21, 2020 at 15:23
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It's also very similar to the plot of Futurama s6 ep24 - "Cold Warriors'.

Fry catches the common cold during an ice fishing trip, though the rest of the Planet Express crew are unaware of what the disease is as it was eradicated 500 years ago. Professor Farnsworth explains that the common cold virus had survived within Fry while he was frozen for 1000 years and has thus been reintroduced to mankind, which has lost all resistance to the virus.

It wouldn't surprise me if the writers used the story mentioned by @Jenayah as the inspiration.

Wiki Link to Episode

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