February 8, 2010. A doctor with a bad reputation, and a secret research team, reach conclusions on a discovery that would set forth a public fear and a race to conquer an attack that could not have been foreseen. The released biological agent, believed to have been designed to alter the climate, was much much worse. The bizarre precipitation change had not been a goal, but a method for dispersal. They were facing forced genetic modification, and the discovery was discarded by mainstream science as ridiculous.
Andrew Chase entered the computer lab. Their low-budget DNA research project had hit an unexpected glitch. Their research was funded by The World Collaboration of Scientists. Since it only required a nurses who could draw blood, mostly from animals, a lab technician capable of handling the blood sample analysis, and a team of computer techies to keep the massive computer running, they were unprepared for what there tests were indicating.
“Have you found the computer error?”
Hunter Grace shook her head. “Its not a computer error, Andy. I ran every test I could think of and even replaces some parts. Our DNA profiles are changing.”
“I’m not sure. It looks like someone dropped a virus, the computer type, into us.” She motioned frustrated at her computer screen and the computer analysis. “The portions changing are aspects of human DNA we share with apes, monkeys and human ancestors. The changes do not have an obvious purpose that I can come up with; they aren‘t even consistent. Its not in the instructions we were given.” She grabbed a stack of papers. “The brain scans, from the equipment we got from the closed clinic, indicate some variations in creative thinking and frontal lobe differences. And that’s if we even used the equipment correctly.“ She moved over to an imaging scan. “Our brains are showing cell growth.” Hunter shrugged. “This is beyond me.”
“What do we need to figure this out?”
“An actual doctor, preferably a few, some scientists whose fields are not computer programming, and a priest.”
“Divine intervention maybe the only chance we have.”
Perplexed by Hunter’s discoveries, Andrew left the computer lab and went in search of the only doctor they had. His confidence in Dr. Jacob Cameron’s knowledge and abilities were overshadowed by a few disturbing things. The doctor’s three wives all died under questionable circumstances. Although he was registered in the country to practice medicine, he lost his license to practice in the United States in an assisted suicide scandal involving the death of a wealthy heiress whose suicide might have been someone else‘s idea. It gave one reason to not want the good doctor’s medical treatment.
It took fifteen minutes, but Andrew found Dr. Cameron at a picnic table outside what served as the dining room.
Cameron looked up as the door opened. “Has the computer error been resolved?”
Andrew moved to take a seat across from the doctor. “Hunter says its not a computer error. Hunter would know.”
Cameron set down his newspaper. “The test results were impossible.”
“The DNA analysis results are not the only impossibilities. The brain scans show unusual changes, including brain growth.”
“That’s what I understand. She says the changes look like we were infected with a computer virus.”
“Has the lab tech found any indication of a cause? The only thing I can think of is a retrovirus of some sort. A simple, airborne virus modified to alter DNA. Its far fetched.”
“He is too sick to run tests.”
“What kind of symptoms?”
“A variety of aches and pains. He told me he had looked up symptoms for Malaria. I figured he probably has a stomach bug.”
“He tends to exaggerate possible causes to common symptoms. He has a headache, a low fever, upset stomach…”
“Would he object to an exam?”
“I doubt it. He may try to convince you he has some rare, impossible disorder.”
The doctor smiled. “I have treated med students.”
They found Noah Benjamin in his room. Knocking on the door had not gotten a response. Concerned, Andrew used his master key.
Although the body did not smell yet, the room felt dead. Noah Benjamin lay on his back with his eyes clouded in death. He clutched a crucifix in one hand and rosary beads in the other.
Andrew stood and stared from the door way as Dr. Cameron crossed the small room to the body. He performed a cursory examination. “We need to lock ourselves in, and assume quarantine conditions until we determine what is happening to us.”
“How did he die?”
“My initial impression is a fear induced heart attack. That is a guess, Andrew.” The doctor paused. “Do you have a medical history for him?”
“We filled out questionnaires prior to being sent here.”
“Do you know anything about his religious beliefs?”
“His file indicates a non practicing Catholic. It never came up.”
“His Bible on the nightstand is open to Psalms. One showing is 23.”
“I am not all that familiar with Psalms, doctor.”
“One line is ‘…as I walk through the valley of death I shall fear no evil…’”
After the autopsy, Cameron found the remaining group waiting in the lounge.
They all looked up as he entered.
“He died from a heart attack. I will try to handle the tests myself, since Noah was our lab technician.” Cameron paused. “He had no obvious cause for the heart attack. Although I found unusual brain cell growth, and something that may have been the start of cancer on his right frontal lobe. Without the equipment, I can only guess. Maybe he was hallucinating.”
“Where does this leave us, doctor?” Andrew asked.
“In quarantine. Given the severity of the potential problem we have, and the unlikelihood anything could be done, calling in a medical team not affected by it would be unethical.”
“Its not just us.” Hunter stated. “All of the monkeys we have, including those brought in after the first erroneous DNA tests, are affected. Whatever it is, its loose in the area.”
Cameron nodded to Hunter and looked at Andrew. “If we report this, we may get bombed for everyone’s safety. If don’t report this, we may jeopardize a lot of lives.”
“I will contact the home office and ask for procedure.”
“Please inform them that the local doctor considers it a quarantine situation. I cannot confirm the DNA tests, but Benjamin died under questionable circumstances and showed unknown brain abnormalities during the autopsy.”
Hunter entered Andrew’s office a couple hours after he entered it to call the home office. “What’s going on?”
“Medical Hazmat. Full unit, with armed guards. Might have been less stressful to bomb us. We have been ordered to shut down our outside communication. We have been threatened with our nondisclosures should we release any of this.” Andrew sighed. “I was told our research was flawed. Noah’s death is supposedly the reason for the medical team.” Andrew paused. “I was lied to.”