For once I had more grant money than I knew what to do with however, that would soon end. One thing you could count on was all your money turning into a liquid asset and freely flowing out of your hands. This started the old "explain why we should give you more money" question. Then the begging and the gnashing of teeth, I hated it... well, not really true, I loved it when the results were proven in my favor.
We pulled all the sheets, all the aliases (there were never real names used if you used human beings). It was remarkable all the studies were done by the U.S. Government, all were classified and unless you had clearing like the Commander in Chief, you couldn't get to the information. All of the titles started "Regional Studies, section 21" and that is where it ended. The rest was under wraps. But, I did have my sources, my own contacts and secret people that owed me a few favors.
When I received the first report, I think the word astonishment is good to use... There were twenty sets of five, they were isolated on some Government land. It was surrounded by mountains and the houses seemed to sit down in a bowl. All I can say is it reminded me of that movie... "The hills have eyes" There were pictures of the people, but they had all been shaded over, so it appeared as if they were just shadows. I read the scant report, some kind of sickness, I ran across words like virulent, super contagion, cancerous. I grabbed my magnifier and went over each photo slowly. I couldn't figure out if the shading made them look this way or, if they were truly as malformed as the photo showed.
The change came when I realized it wasn't a "one in five here"... all had died, all twenty five sets of five.. all , on the same day, WHAT!