In an attempt to bond with his coworkers, Jeffrey Myers, 32, agreed to have drinks with them after work and soon found himself trapped in a subway car loaded with other passengers, many of whom were coughing, sniffling, and clearing their throats.

Myers began to fidget and perspire as his work friends chatted among themselves, blithely ignoring the fact that they were all in grave danger. When a passenger across the aisle sneezed, he instinctively cupped both hands tightly around his nose and mouth, refusing to remove them even after his coworkers began to glance around awkwardly and pretend they didn’t know him.

Soon Myers hyperventilated and passed out, waking up in the car half an hour later on the other side of the city, his friends long gone. Eventually he managed to stagger home, where he scrubbed his hands raw, swallowed two Vitamin C capsules, then collapsed on the couch and watched some TV.

- - -

Lydia Klein, 35, was driving home from the health food store when it began to rain. With no umbrella handy, she parked in her driveway and stayed in the car, determined to wait out the storm—a chill downpour that would wreak havoc on her immune system. But the weather wouldn’t relent, and pretty soon she had to go to the bathroom. The sight of all that water didn’t help.

With only moments to go before her bladder would burst, leading to septic shock and inevitable death, Klein leaped desperately from the car and dashed for the front door. Unfortunately, her foot splashed down in a puddle, wetting her socks, instantly setting off a chain of invisible biological processes certain to result in her developing pneumonia. She fumbled with the keys and lunged indoors to safety, but not before several drops trickled down the back of her collar.

She did not in fact come down with pneumonia after this incident, nor in the three months that have since transpired, yet some invisible biological processes take longer than others.

- - -

On the way up to his second-floor bedroom, Franklin Cahill, 53, experienced a fleeting but definitely-not-imaginary pain in his temple. Unable to go farther, he sat down in the middle of the stairway, waiting for this first dire symptom to manifest itself as a fatal brain aneurism or, if he was lucky, merely a tumor.

He remained there for many moments, subsisting on a half-melted caramel candy he discovered in his pocket. Eventually it became apparent that Cahill’s wife, who had gone to bed shortly before him, would not be coming to his rescue anytime soon. Indeed, his cries for help were met only by her typical snorts of derision and lack of sympathy.

With no other option, Cahill forced himself to crawl up the remaining steps, then across the uncarpeted second-floor landing and bedroom floor—a trek that in his weakened state took over four minutes. Hauling himself into bed, he managed to get a good night’s rest despite his ordeal and the fact that his wife wouldn’t turn off her reading lamp until well after midnight.

- - -

While riding the elevator to her weekly group-therapy session for hypochondriacs, Amber Minowski, 26, and three fellow patients heard the cable make a strange noise. Immediately, all occupants began to experience palpitations, nervous tics, nausea and a suffocating sense of imminent and unavoidable doom. But when the elevator door opened seconds later, Minowski was perfectly fine, the victim of nothing more than a silly overreaction. She suddenly found she had a whole new perspective on life and did not end up attending therapy again. Neither did the remaining three occupants, all of whom had died from massive coronaries.