Excerpt From:

 

The Gaia Syndrome

By

Chris Wills

 

Copyright 2000 by Author. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

You must have written permission from the author and/or publisher to use or reprint any of this text. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

 

CHAPTER 1

The Fever

 

Ted (Little Bear) Jensen never could get used to the damned self-contained suit. After three hours in it he was about to tear it off and risk infection. Looking around, he changed his mind.

The village lay quiet except for a few dogs tearing flesh from the corpses lying around and others like he sent into burn everything in the village that would burn and bury the rest, ashes and all. He caught a quick look at what could be Linda but in the suits could have been anyone. He caught a glimpse through the clear plastic faceplate. It was.

"How you doing?" he yelled through the suit.

She tried to crack a smile but her effort failed. Her forehead beaded in sweat. Her breath momentarily fogged the faceplate.

"We need more help!" she hollered.

"Don't have anybody available. There's too many sites that have to be cleared!" he screamed back.

Linda shot a look of anger then went back to the business of picking up small children, placing them in the bed of the dump truck. The two suited figures in the bed reached down to relieve her of the dead weight.

Even suited the stench of death filled their nostrils. It clung to the suits and their memories. It had become regular now arriving in cities, towns, and villages to burn down and bury the remains. One man warned of its coming for years but nobody listened.

Ted signaled it was time to take a break. The seven others gradually caught the signal and headed for the crew van. It like the others would also be burned and buried before they left for good. Ted jumped into the driver seat after the last crew member climbed aboard. He cranked the engine and headed for Decon 1 staging area. There they would be hosed down with strong chemicals while still suited. Others would shed them of the contaminated suits and whisk them off to another decon area where finally they could dress in street clothes and go back to camp.

The hour it took at decon cut into their rest period. Four hours on, and eight hours off. That was the system. Too long lugging bodies and not enough time to swill down enough alcohol to fog your memory before your mind would allow sleep.

The horror was over though. It disappeared long ago for Ted. Linda seemed immune to it as well. He noticed when they arrived at camp she could still smile after just one or two drinks. He edged over to her.

"So. Want to go dancing tonight?"

She looked at him, cracked a smile, and swatted his shoulder.

"Smart ass."

He laughed at her surprising response.

The camp was made up of ten large military tents. One for showering and latrines, one a meal tent, one command center, another supply (which included a good portion of alcohol) and the rest crew quarters. They were not broken up by gender. That was given up long ago.

"Not a bad idea though. I haven't heard music in quite awhile. Kind of miss it," she replied.

"I'll suggest it to command at the next meeting," Ted answered, noting it in memory.

Ted was team leader. Chosen mostly because he had been to a lot more of the retched clean-ups than the others. Linda was just a few behind him. She was a few inches shorter than he, her white skin contrasting his dark features; that of American Indian. She had short blonde hair that even after four hours confined in a suit had a scent that attracted him. He noticed her plastic cup was nearly empty.

"Want another?"

"Sure," she said, handing him the cup.

Ted waded through the others to get to the small bar. It was self-serve. After pouring healthy portions he went back over to where Linda stood.

"Let's get out of this tent and find a shady spot," she suggested.

They broke through the tent flap and headed toward the only three trees around. Sitting on the dry dead grass, Linda looked up to Ted, still standing.

"Think this will ever end?"

Ted looked down at her. How many times before had he heard that question? He only knew that he had no answer to the question.

"People say it will. I don't know. I haven't heard anybody in science section ever say so."

Ted sat next to her. He could feel the dry grass break under his weight.

"It's really gotten out of hand," she said, sighing.

"It had to come. My father told me of ancient warnings from my ancestors that something like this would happen if man didn't heed the natural course of nature."

"What do you mean?"

"It's like the stories my father told, or his father. Each living thing is a powerful force in nature. They all work together for one cause, to keep mother Earth alive. When one force tries to sway from that cause all others join to remove it from the scene."

"And?" She asked, looking confused.

"Man swayed from that course and all other life is attacking, considering mankind as an infection that must be cleansed from the wound."

"That's nonsense," she replied, laughing.

"Is it?"

The meal bell clanged and the two stood to head toward the mess tent. A crowd had already gathered, rushing to eat so they would have more time to drink, then rest. Each man or woman that volunteered, whether they drank before, soon picked up the habit just to remain sane from the ugly job they now performed.

The large cement building had no windows. Its fenced in area was guarded by armed troops in self-contained suits. Inside held the only hope left for civilization. The hundreds of scientists, doctors, chemists, biologists, bacteriologists and whatever else could be gathered were now housed inside. A black male figure, white robed, short graying hair, glasses, began pecking the board with a piece of chalk in hand. His name was Dr. Larry Jacobs. Jacobs was angry.

"It's got to be the right answer!"

The older white man seated nearby, Dr. Winters, shook his head. His mat of white hair caught the light above him.

"What makes you think so?"

"It's Lovelock's theory. It's fallen into play. Can't you see that?"

Winters sighed.

"That damned Gaia theory again. It's too controversial. Nobody will buy it," he argued.

"It's the only answer damn it! Look at it. He argued that all living things are not passive victims in their environment, but can alter it. The world is one system and all life transforms one another."

Winters sat back in the uncomfortable metal chair.

"So?"

Jacobs paced the barren floor. He tried to ease his anger.

"Look at the past my friend. Tuberculosis, Hantavirus, Strep, Ebola, E-Coli, Legionnaires disease for Christ's sake. And many, many more killing us off. We have no weapon to defend ourselves any longer. There are no drugs of any kind in our defense. They're mutating too rapidly."

Winters ran his hand through his hair. He leaned forward.

"That's why all of us are here at the governments expense. We're to find new drugs. We can't find them wasting our time with off the wall theories."

The others in the room stayed silent, absorbing the conversation between the two older men.

"You're right. Every scientist the government could scrape up, kidnap, or bribe is in this complex. Not one of them, including the two of us, has come near a solution."

Winters sighed and again fell back into his chair.

"It takes time Jacobs. You know that. Every one of us are doing our best."

Jacobs quit pacing. He scanned the room. He then set his gaze back on Dr. Winters.

"And while we research the wrong areas millions more die. All I'm asking for is a small team to probe into the Gaia theory. I believe the answer lies there, somewhere."

Winters stood and looked at the group sitting behind him.

"Which of you wish to be pulled from what you're doing to assist Dr. Jacobs?"

The group sat silent. Nobody moved or offered a sign of hope.

"Then let me ask for outside assistance?" Jacobs pled.

Winters turned to Jacobs. He saw the desperation in his eyes. He didn't have the heart to say no. And the government did insist on searching all avenues.

"Do as you like but please stay out of our way."

General Sam Chandler, his 6'4" frame bent over the conference table, hands formed into fists, leaned against the table. He hated these meetings and hated the bastard that sat opposite him.

"I don't know what the hell we're going to do, but we've got to keep politics out of it for Christ's sake."

Senator Teller was a career politician, with white hair, over weight and too flamboyant for Chandlers liking. "It's not politics General. It's just the proper course. We have to look after our own at this point."

Chandler glared at the vile man. He knew them all, and this was one of the worst.

"You had plenty of years to do that. But no, you had to sway to the liberals to get their votes. How come you didn't think of isolating the carriers then? Now you want the military to seal the borders and shoot the bastards on sight? It's too late for that."

"It's never too late, General, and if I were you I'd watch the way you talk to me and describe my colleagues. You do want that third star don't you?"

"All humankind is falling around us and you think I'm worried about my next star? Guess again, Senator. What I want is irrelevant at this point. I know you have the president's support on this. You're making a mistake. A big mistake."

"Your job is to initiate our orders not to bring judgment. If you want my advice you should quit all this b.s. and get out there and do what you've been ordered to do."

"I'll do just that, Senator. And you sit back and watch all hell break loose."

Ted looked up at the night sky as he adjusted his jumpsuit near the small window in the tent.

"It's going to be a moonless night tonight. Watch out for the dogs. They're pretty aggressive."

Linda pulled her tee shirt over her bare back.

"Thanks for the warning. My Smith Forty should take care of the little bastards."

Linda patted the holster holding the Smith and Wesson forty caliber, semi-automatic on the bunk near her. She slid her jumpsuit up to her waist. Ted tightened the belt around his.

They were getting ready for their next shift. Others in the tent did the same. Some moaning, some groaning, feeling the pain of the next four hours or the hangovers.

"Have you noticed the wild animals are getting braver as well?"

"Yeah. Maybe your ancestors were right after all."

The two stepped out of the tent and headed toward the van. Ted crawled in behind the wheel and Linda sat in the front passenger seat. The self-contained suits would be waiting for them at the decon station.

"I could use some coffee before heading out," Linda said.

"So could I. Why don't you grab a couple of cups? I'll drive over to the mess tent when the others arrive."

"It's a deal. Want something to eat?"

"Not on a bet. I'd lose it when we get to the village. I don't want to spend the next four hours sealed in that suit filled with puke."

Ted watched Linda walk toward the mess tent. He was very fond of her but didn't know how she felt about him. He wished he could build up enough nerve to ask.

Ted and the others exited the van, relieving the other workers just leaving. No words were spoken as they passed. The team split up to begin doing what they had done eight hours previously. There were still many more bodies to be loaded onto the trucks. The white paint marks on the entrances to the many houses showed they had been searched already. Linda and Ted passed them up; going for the many that weren't yet marked.

Linda used caution when pushing the door open. Hand on her weapon she flashed her light into the still room. The light hit two adult bodies lying motionless on the floor. She stepped past, going from room to room. She just began to pull back from the last room when her light caught movement under a blanket in the corner. Her other hand pulled on the holstered weapon. A wail of a small child under the blanket shrieked out. Linda grabbed for her radio.

"We have a live one in here!"

Ted rushed into the room.

"Where?" he asked, gasping.

Linda pointed the flashlight to the corner. She stepped over and pulled the blanket aside. The small infant quit shrieking as Linda picked it up from the floor. She held it firmly against her.

Jacobs approached Dr. Winters in the hallway. He paused.

"Have you seen the latest tally sheet?"

"Yes. The totals doubled in the last few days," Dr. Winters replied.

"We're running out of time."

Winters passed, then turned back.

"I got the okay twenty minutes ago for your request for additional help. They're searching the data banks now on who might be available."

Jacobs smiled and headed back to his office. He scanned through his address book for people he knew that might be willing to help in his area of thought. There was a sharp rap at the door. Winters barged in, excited.

"One of the sites found a survivor!"

"Are they sending it here?" Jacobs asked.

"It's on its way now. Should arrive in three hours," Dr. Winters replied.

"Which site?" Jacobs asked.

"New Mexico. Site Four-C."

The two ran to the lab to prepare for the survivor's arrival. Alarms sounded throughout the complex as Dr. Winters summoned all staff to the conference room. The alarm alerted the rest to prepare for contamination. That meant all must be suited when welcoming the guest. Jacobs rushed down the hall with Winters.

"Just when I was about to think that Warren in the lab had the only solution, this happens."

They didn't slow their pace.

"What's that?" Winters asked.

"He had this hair brained plan to create an atmosphere on Mars and move what's left of humanity there."

Winters paused. "We might have to do that yet dear friend. Although it sounds like a crazy suggestion if you ask me."

"Just as crazy as my idea?" Jacobs asked, smiling.

"About the same, I would imagine. But then crazy ideas have often been found to be sane in the past. At this point I'm game for about anything."

Jacobs sighed. "I just hope this survivor has the answers we need."

"So do I, so do I."

Ted's team pulled into camp. All jumped out whooping at Linda's earlier discovery. The infant had been whisked away hours earlier and it was time for celebration.

"Clear the bar," Ted yelled. "We're coming through!"

"Boy am I thirsty," Linda said.

Ted pulled Linda by the hand. The crowd opened a path to the bar. All cheered at Linda's discovery. It was the first and hopefully not the last. All had hopes that the attack was ebbing and a cure could now be found.

"To you," Ted toasted as he handed Linda a drink. "Let's hope your find leads to the cure."

Everybody cheered again and tipped their glasses. It was a good morning indeed. Ted pulled Linda toward him and gave her a hug.

The news was the best General Chandler had heard in a long time. His team plotted new outbreaks of deadly virus and bacteria on the huge boards. Other cities and countries began to light up as he sat in the security of his office. He smiled. Maybe a break was nearing. Chandler pushed the button on the phone. It rang once.

"White House," the voice greeted.

"This is General Chandler. I want to speak to the president."

"He's in a meeting at the moment."

"Get him damn it!"

Silence. A moment later...

"What is it, General?" the president's voice answered.

"We have a survivor, Mr. President."

"What are you going to do with it?"

"It will be arriving at the complex in Arizona in minutes. There's a team waiting for it now."

"Good, very good. Keep me informed."

The suited team rushed the infant into the sterile room then sealed the door. Doctors and nurses rushed about, poking and prodding the infant. Blood samples were taken, skin samples taken. Every kind of sample that could be taken was rushed to the lab.

Jacobs looked at Winters.

"The baby is in our hands now. God forgive us."

"Let's just hope it can give us the answer we're looking for. I've given orders to make the child as comfortable as possible."

"Do we have a name for it?" Jacobs asked.

"I don't think so. Maybe we ought to pass it around and see if something suitable can be suggested. It might help morale."

"I'll see to it," Jacobs replied.

Linda pulled a corpse out of the house by its feet, leaving it in the street to be picked up by the slow moving truck. She went to the next house as Ted pulled another body out. She heard the vicious growl of a dog stepping out of the open door of the next house, blood dripping from its bared teeth.

Ted dropped the ankles of the corpse when hearing the first shot. Reaching for his weapon he saw Linda drop one dog just to have another lunge at her. He ran over swinging viciously with his large flashlight. The dog fell to the street without a sound.

Linda pushed the still animal off her then rose. Ted checked her suit.

"Get the hell out of here. Your suit is torn!"

Linda ran to the van. Ted close behind her. They both jumped in, racing for Decon.

"Did the dog break your skin anywhere?"

"I don't think so. I don't feel anything," Linda replied.

"I'll get you to decon as fast as I can. If you haven't been bitten maybe we acted fast enough."

Linda started feeling around. She couldn't find any wounds. "I think I'm okay. Slow down before you kill us both. I think everything's okay."

"We'll have to let the Decon people decide that. The sooner we get there the better chance you have."

Ted still suited waited as the Decon team sprayed Linda down and rushed her into the tent. He then got washed down also. As he exited the last tent Linda stood outside in tears. Ted tried to approach her but the Decon team stopped him.

"They're taking me to isolation for Christ sakes."

"It's okay, you could use the rest," Ted answered as the Decon team walked her toward a vehicle, then watched it drive away. He turned to one of the Decon team members.

"What do you think?"

"I don't know. There's no way of knowing. We didn't find any wounds but she was exposed. I'd give it a fifty-fifty chance."

"Can I get a ride back to camp?"

"Sure. We have a jeep going back in a few minutes to file the report with headquarters. You can hitch a ride in it."

"Thanks," Ted responded. "Of all the rotten luck. She was the one that found the survivor."

"That's too bad. Maybe things will work out."

Jacobs and Winters flipped through the morning lab reports.

"No contamination at all. There's a heavy increase in the white count though. No sign of virus or bacterial infection."

"How did it escape? Every other human in that village died."

Winters looked up from the report.

"The village got hit with Virus 17. That one hits fast. It probably killed the rest of them in a matter of days."

"Do we have a count on how many people lived in the village?"

Winters rustled through the thick report on his desk.

"Thirty-seven hundred."

Jacobs whistled. He sat down in the chair opposite Winters.

"It could have been worse. What if it were New Delhi or Beijing?"

"If most other countries hadn't sealed their borders as soon as they did we would be alone now," Winters replied.

"Trouble is there isn't a safe country in the world right now. Everyone's being attacked by one sort of virus or another."

"I just can't see how they're mutating so fast," Jacobs replied.

"I thought you planned to find that answer in your Gaia theory?"

"I just might do that," Jacobs responded. "I just might at that."

Ted walked the mile from camp to the isolation sector. The huge clear plastic module held up to thirty people in individually sealed quarters. Linda sat on her bunk reading as he tapped on the speaker.

"Hey Ted. Thanks for coming," Linda greeted.

Ted noticed her face brighten. "How you doing?"

"It could be worse. So far I'm still negative. They say I would have died by now if I was contaminated."

"Then why don't they let you out?"

"They have to hold me five full days. Three more to go. Have a drink ready for me when I get out. They won't let me have anything in here."

"You bet I will. I miss not having you around."

"Is that all you miss about me?" She asked, grinning.

Ted thought about her question for a few seconds.

"Can't miss what you've never had."

"We'll take care of that as soon as I get the hell out of here."

Ted sat in the small plastic chair on the other side of the thick door.

"I'm shipping out next week."

"Where to?" Linda asked, her grin now gone.

"To that complex in Arizona. Seems they want to look at this problem from a different angle."

"Need an assistant?"

"That's one of the reasons I came. Would you consider going with me?"

"You bet I would. So what is your specialty again?"

"Geophysicist."

"What field?"

"I'll tell you all about it on the plane to the research complex. I've got to get back to camp to push the papers through to get you approved. You were a biologist before all this weren't you?"

"Yes but at the time they needed me out here more than in a lab."

"Well. I'll pack your things when I get back to camp. It shouldn't take long to get the approval. We'll be leaving as soon as you get out of this thing."

"I'm more than ready to get away from this hell hole. I don't want to see another dead body as long as I live."

"I couldn't agree more. I'll have a drink waiting for you when you get out."

"Thanks. I suppose I can't talk you into smuggling one or two in tonight?"

"And end up in detention myself? No thanks."

 

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CHAPTER 2

The Complex

 

Jacobs couldn't sleep. He ran his finger down the list of people that he had contacted. George Cotter was a chemist. He was one of the best in his field. Ted Jensen was a geophysicist. His theory never went over. He recalled it being very close to the Gaia hypothesis. A fax from Jensen included a name of a woman he never heard of. Linda Walker was a biologist. Jensen requested her name be added to the team. He figured it couldn't hurt. He approved the request.

The baby was sleeping. Its little arms and legs darting about, as if trying to fight off the many needles that invaded its tiny body. Winters stood on the other side of the glass watching the infant fight in vain to dislodge the needles. Jacobs walked in.

"You can't sleep either?" Winters asked as the man approached.

"No. I had some last minute additions to make on these transfer requests. They're all in order now."

Jacobs handed the papers to Winters. Winters looked at the front page.

"You a physician joining with a chemist, biologist and a geophysicist to solve our problem? Good luck."

"Are you going to approve the list?" Jacobs asked.

"At this point I'll approve anything that might help. I'll see that transportation is available. When do you want them?"

"Yesterday."

"You better go get some rest. When was the last time you slept?" Winters asked.

"It's been so long I can't recall."

"Take a break. You aren't doing anyone any good in your condition."

"I think I will."

Jacobs went to his quarters to lay down. His mind began to wander. He hoped that the infant could aid in making a vaccine to aid in the fight against the deadly virus. He hoped the new team would get to the complex soon. He knew he needed more help and time was running out for humanity. He fell asleep.

Jacobs woke feeling fully refreshed. He hopped into the shower. He wanted to hunt Winters down to see if the request had been sent as soon as he could. He wanted to get started on the new project. He figured he would get a jump on things, jotting down a few ideas of his own. He quickly dressed and looked for Winters.

"You look better."

"Thanks. I feel better now that I've had a little rest. Did you send the request in?" Jacobs asked.

Winters handed him a folded piece of paper from his pocket.

"They approved it this morning. They are on their way."

"I'll need one of the conference rooms and lab time."

"I'll schedule it," Winters replied.

Jacobs waited for the seal to break on the door before stepping forward. Having been de-contaminated, the three stepped into the larger hallway.

"Glad to see that you three could make it," Jacobs greeted.

He reached out his hand, shaking each one vigorously.

"Quite a bunker you have here doc," Ted replied.

"You'll get used to it. Follow me."

Jacobs led the other three down the hallway to the elevator. His office was on the subterranean level four. As the others stepped into his small office, Jacobs pushed chairs toward them, anxious to get started.

"What do you know of the work we're doing here?" he asked the three.

"It's my understanding you're trying to find a cure for the viruses and bacteria," Ted replied.

"Correct but so far we've failed. I have been given permission to research another area to find an answer. With help from the three of you maybe we can come up with a solution."

"What can we do that already hasn't been tried?" Cotter asked.

"We're going to look more into the cause rather than the cure," Jacobs answered.

"It seems to me the cause is obvious," Cotter replied.

"What's that?" Jacobs asked.

"Irresponsible and excessive use of antibiotics in the past. Also improper habits as far as cleanliness. Irresponsible immigrant policies and health code violations to name a few," Cotter suggested.

"That's how they've spread I agree but why now? Why all of a sudden every known virus and deadly bacteria began to mutate so fast? Why the sudden onslaught?" Jacobs asked.

"Ted has a theory on that," Linda volunteered.

"Enlighten us," Jacobs ordered, looking at Ted.

"My people believe it's a natural course of action. A defense initiated by the living mother Earth caused by what humans are doing to the planet."

"The Gaia Syndrome," Jacobs replied. "Or very similar."

"Don't be ridiculous," Cotter shot back.

"Can you explain otherwise?" Jacobs asked him.

The other three looked at Cotter. He sat silent.

"The way I see it humans must alter their actions. They must quit polluting the atmosphere and raping the planet," Ted suggested.

"I don't see how that will help now," Cotter insisted.

"One thing is for sure. Something's got to be done. Half the world population has been stricken already," Linda said.

"I suggest plotting a course of action and getting started," Ted interrupted.

"Where do you suggest we begin?" Jacobs asked.

"The first thing we should do is get a world map and plot what diseases are hitting in each location. Maybe we'll come across something there?"

"The only thing I know about Gaia is a play I was in while in college," Linda said.

"What's that?" Jacobs asked.

"Gaia is the mythological Greek goddess of the Earth. She gave birth and married Uranus and was mother to the Cyclops and Titans."

"That's who the hypothesis was named after, this hypothesis was introduced by Doctor James Lovelock years ago. He theorized that Earth acts like a living organism and all things interact to maintain its stability," Jacobs advised.

"My people had the same beliefs a thousand or so years before him," Ted replied, laughing.

"Your people were right all along," Linda said.

"So basically we're an infection that the Earth is trying get rid of?" Cotter asked.

"You got it," Ted replied.

"I say we adjourn to the conference room. There's a large map in there, and a computer. It should have all the details we need to start tracking the diseases," Jacobs suggested.

The other three stood. Cotter looked more confused than ever.

"It's been a long and dry trip. I could use a cold beer right now," Linda complained.

"Oh I'm sorry," Jacobs replied. "I was just so anxious to get started I forgot my manners. I'll show you the way to the club and your quarters. I'm sure you'll want to freshen up a bit. Your luggage has already been delivered to your individual rooms. We can begin first thing in the morning on the project."

Jacobs was already in the conference room when the others straggled in. By the look of Ted and Linda, they must have tied one on in the club the night before.

"Our main threats are Ebola, E-Coli, A.I.D.S, Tuberculosis, Cholera and the flesh eating Strep. There are a few cases of Legionnaires disease and a couple of new flu strains as well but they are isolated incidents," Jacobs explained.

"Cholera and E-Coli can be controlled by sanitation and better cooking habits. A.I.D.S. is of course controllable by not having sex or fluid transfer. Ebola is in that category as well along with tuberculosis. Isolation of the infected would be my suggestion," Cotter replied.

"That's happening now and it's causing quite a disaster from what I've been hearing on the news," Ted said.

"I must admit there seems to be war in the streets from the news we get." Jacobs said.

"It's been so long since I've been anywhere I haven't noticed," Linda complained.

"Every major U.S. city is under siege," Cotter replied.

The others turned to him. He was the only one in the room that had recently come from a large city.

"If it's not the military or police it's the roving gangs of looters. Smaller towns are closing themselves in, not letting outsiders enter. A lot of people are scattering into the hills or forests."

"Let's get back to the problem at hand," Jacobs ordered.

The others turned their attention to him.

"What we want to answer is the who, what, why, how, where, and when."

"Who is pretty easy. It's what you mentioned earlier," Ted replied.

"Don't forget the animals back at the village," Linda suggested to Ted.

"What do you mean?" Jacobs asked.

"Ted and I noticed that the animals were getting more aggressive toward humans. I had two dogs attack me."

"So that helps solidify our theory," Jacobs responded.

"Or it was a coincidence," Cotter shot back. "They could have been naturally aggressive."

"I don't think so. I noticed wild animals were losing their fear of humans as well," Ted replied.

"Ahem. Gentlemen. Let's not argue. The next one, what? Is also easy. It's humans. Why? Is, or our opinion is that humans strayed off course, threatening Earth. How? Is as we've witnessed, Earth's creatures, whether it be as small as a virus or as big as a dog, attacking humans. Where? Planet Earth. When? When did we first begin feeling the onslaught?"

"We've had plagues and other sickness throughout history," Cotter argued.

"But not like this. Not all of them at once and mutating so fast," Jacobs insisted.

"I think last March was the beginning," Ted offered.

"Good. We'll use March as the starting date. Now, what recourse do we have?" Jacobs asked the other three.

"Will it stop if we amend our ways?" Linda asked

The room fell silent.

"They were smart enough to sense the threat and locate the source of the threat," Ted suggested.

Jacobs stepped over to the wall and pulled down a map of the world. On it displayed the affected areas in red. Red dots were everywhere.

"As you can see the heaviest hit are the most polluted areas of the planet," he advised, sweeping his hand over the map.

"I don't think we have time for that plan of action. It would take years just to make a dent in a clean up effort," Linda stated. "I also don't think we would get much cooperation from other governments."

"Then what else is there?" Ted asked.

The four fell silent again to ponder Ted's question. Jacobs tugged at the map allowing it to roll back up.

 

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