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Nakangiakok Vapors
by Mike Denny

After a winter celebration at the Nakangiakok, Alaska community center, every one of the two hundred thirty-three adults who ate Mrs. Chiklaikanikoff’s whalebone marrow stew came down with a hazardous flatulent illness that had been unresponsive to medical treatment. Mr.  Kolokink, a respected old man, remembered a story told to him by his father in which the village had been afflicted by a similar illness. During an odiferous council meeting, Mr. Kolokink recalled the cure and humbly offered it to the suffering community. As the nearest flatologist was far away in Anchorage and the village was snowed in until May, the local Community Health Aide, Ms. Nikolikoffsky, devised a clinical trial to test the ancient treatment.
Because this was a therapeutic trial involving a curative intervention, an unfortunate pack of sled dogs was given the stew and, two days later, the remedy was administered to test its safety and efficacy in mammals. After a three-day observation period, the trial began. 
A randomly selected group of afflicted volunteers would be divided into intervention and control groups. The desired outcome or goal of the trial: elimination of the illness, would be evaluated in each group. Even though the antidote was as foul smelling as the flatus itself, most of the afflicted villagers had no hesitation in volunteering for the trial. 
Twenty-four volunteers were chosen. A blind study was set up in which half of the test subjects would be given the remedy and the other half would be given the inert placebo. Ms. Nikolikoffsky then randomly assigned her study candidates into intervention and control groups by a simple flip of the coin. Informed consent was eagerly given by all participants and the doses were administered. 
Each participant was medically monitored for toxicity and effect and no flatulators dropped out of the study. While the entire village held its breath, three times daily doses of the remedy were given until the intervention group demonstrated marked decrease in flatulence (based upon subjective individual report and objective community observation). Within nine days, the flatulent condition was eliminated in the intervention group.
Relieved, the community demanded immediate suspension of the trial and called for all afflicted to receive the cure. Ms. Nikolikoffsky would very much have preferred to continue clinical trials exploring alternative doses and regimens of the remedy but, fearing a public stink, decided to administer it to all sufferers immediately. Within three weeks, the condition was eliminated in the village. All but four of the afflicted were cured, but they were said to be notorious habitual flatulators anyway. 
It could be violations of multiple codes of ethics to offer the subjects payment for their participation in human research. However, a council hearing determined the election of Mr. Kolokink’s grandson as whaling captain for the next hunt was not an ethical abuse. In addition, the hapless sled dogs were given extra seal fat every week through the next spring. It should also be noted that Ms. Nikolikoffsky was honored at a summer celebration, where no one ate Mrs. Chiklaikanikoff’s whalebone marrow stew.

This story was first given to the writer's 90-year-old father, John Denny, for his own self-published book, “Forest with City Lights” (2020), a collection of essays and short stories, illustrated with his spectacular watercolor and ink paintings, He said Mike could use it again.