Amy tossed and turned. Water was all she could think about but she couldn’t muster the strength to ask. She opened her bleary eyes and looked about the room. She found the cup; and noticed her parents asleep on chairs outside. She reached as far as she could to no avail. Defeated, she closed her eyes. In her mind, viewed the cup coming to her still outstretched arm and felt a splash. Her eyes bolted open; startled to be holding the cup she couldn’t even reach a mere moment ago, warm water dripped down her hand and wrist. Shock and panic began to overwhelm her, she tried to fake calmness as she sipped her water and gently placed the cup down on the bed rail.
A nurse must have come in and given it to me while I had my eyes closed and is probably just around the corner Amy hoped as she peered over the edge to see around the room. No one was there, the door was still shut, there was no sound besides the constant beep of the monitors and her heart beating in ears.
Amy laid back and closed her eyes. She thought of her cold toes and imagined the blankets moving over her feet. When her eyes opened, nothing had changed. She sat up and frustratedly put the scratchy blanket back over her toes and pushed the service button.
“Thanks, Sasha” Agent Ryan said as the screen went back into place and the other feeds came back into view. He leaned back in his chair with his pad, spun once and moved towards his desk.
“Amy, honey” Her mom whispered softly lowering herself into a chair by the bed, her father put his hand on her mother’s shoulder and looked down teary-eyed. “I’m so…sorry” Amy managed to murmur. Her parents cried and held her hand as the world faded into black again.
Black suit, soft steps, swipe of a card, whir of a door – the room is completely dark but responds to the touch of his finger. “Sasha” he says in a clear voice and a line of blue light makes its way around the circular room. “Agent Ryan Parker” she greeted as warmly as possible for an AI. Lights slowly came on, and images of hospital rooms appeared on a wall to the left. “Your patients are all stable, the doctors reports are on the console” he moved toward the center of the room as his work station lit up – the tablet on the desk awakened with the latest updates. He flipped through the reports scanning for anything abnormal.
An alert started going off – one of the screens to the left lit up. “Sasha, focus on that one” Ryan swiveled his chair to grab a notebook and watched intensely at the feed.
Apologies for the length of time between this installation and the last one. Life and vacation happened and I ran out of words. I finally managed to put a few together this morning because I just needed to write. Hopefully I’ll break down this block and write more frequently again, thanks for your patience.
“It seems,” said the doctor quietly as he secured the door “that your daughter has become infected with a rare strain of smallpox”. Silence and worried looks passed throughout the small quarantined room – it was then that Amy noticed her parents and the doctor were all wearing masks. “Smallpox was in the case” she realized, horrified.
As the doctor continued to explain the situation as best he could, dread filled the atmosphere. “Unfortunately, because of this weaponized strain, there is as of yet, no antidote. We’re not sure what will happen, but we have the best people working on this. I suggest that this information stays within this room, and as far as friends and other family are concerned, we tell them it’s just a very bad case of the chicken pox until we know more.”
He hung his head apologetically and left the room, giving the family some space and time to process everything that they had just learned.
Catching up? Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Squeaky wheels, bright lights, everything was blurring – voices, rolling, walls, beeping. Slowly unfamiliar faces came into focus. “w-wh-where, where am I?” Amy mumbled, stuttering as she was carted through a set of doors.
Doctors were shouting and saying something about “CC’s” and “pox”, they shot something into her arm and everything grew dim again.
When she awoke, her parents were standing outside the door of what she assumed was her hospital room. Suddenly remembering what had happened when she left the campus, Amy bolted up only to be jerked back by an IV and tubes embedded into her rashy skin. Her parents and the doctor turned towards her from the doorway and started in.
The room slowly quieted. “It seems, that there was a mishap with the cases during transport. We don’t know what happened, we’re launching an investigation to look into it. A few of our operatives in charge of transporting are also missing.”
He breathed slowly, keeping his composure that was hanging by a thread. “At this time we are unsure how many – if any – people have been exposed to the weaponized virus. Right now, we’re assuming that there has been exposure. I suggest we alert hospitals and local CDC offices in the areas that the virus may have been transported through. We’re working on finding out the exact routes so we can get the list to you.”
The room nodded in unison. “How many antidotes do we have available?” asked one man in a lab coat on the far side of the room.
Gulping, the agent answered “This strain was newly developed by our scientists – there is no readily available antidote, although one is being worked on as we speak. The only course of action I have to offer is to alert the medical staff and CDC at the locations the agency will be sending to you and to treat it carefully. We don’t want people to know there has been a smallpox outbreak, or that it’s a new strain. I suggest treating it like a case of normal smallpox…or chicken pox.”
With that, he stood up and quietly exited the room – leaving a crowd of speechless and panicked doctors and scientists in his wake.
“It appears that the case containing a weaponized smallpox virus is missing” stated the man, as calmly as possible to the room of colorless faces. Fear-struck questions filled the air before he’d finished speaking. Sighing, he sunk into a chair and waited for the crowd to calm down before continuing.
The Chem lab on campus was closed for vacation, but Amy had her own setup in the basement of her parents house. She went to her car, carefully placing the case so as not to disturb the contents and started driving towards her home on the other side of town. She passed familiar landmarks and parks full of school children, like she did every day as a commuter. Her neck slowly began to itch before she was halfway home. Shrugging it off as mosquito, she stayed calm – as the itching slowly spread across her shoulders and to her arms she began to worry. So close to home, Amy continued until she parked in her driveway. Only then did she look down and notice she was covered in pox. Realizing that this was more than just a bad reaction to a mosquito, she grabbed the box and ran to the basement – whatever she contracted had to have been from inside the box; if she could figure out what it was, she probably had the right antibiotics to combat it.
Covering the case with her jacket- she barely made it into the kitchen before collapsing.