TNW – Day 43

Originally published on February 23rd, 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Christian Bergman, All rights reserved.

All people, places, and events are fictional … except when they aren’t.

The Nudist War – Day 43

A novel influenza virus has been discovered in several bats from Guatemala. This virus is highly divergent in sequence from other known influenza A viruses, and has thereby designated as a new influenza subtype of H17N10. Nothing is known about the capability of H17N10 to cause human infections or its putative pandemic potential.

~ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, February 2012

• • •

The room slowly came into focus. Jessica rolled over on the cot and hit the intercom button. “How long have I been asleep?” Silence. Once again, louder and with more authority. “Yo! … Edward! … How long have I been asleep?”

“Hold your horses! I’m starting another run,” replied a voice through the speaker, “… and how many times do I have to tell you? … It’s EDMUND, not Edward!” Pause. “You’ve been asleep just over twenty-four hours.”

“Thanks, Eddy.” Jess rolled onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. She knew well and true that his name was Edmund, but she loved pushing his buttons. Calling him Edward was a sure way to do it. This had been going on ever since Edmund joined her team two months ago, not long before the first reported case of HZV. Back then she had a team of over two dozen scientists and technicians working under her. Now it was just the two of them rattling around in the empty complex.

• • •

Dr. Edmund Hillary was not related in any way to the famous mountaineer, but this never stopped him from using this similarity as a pickup line. Most of the girls he met were too young to have ever heard of Sir Edmund Hillary, but that did not stop him from regaling them with tales of his famous “ancestor’s” historic first ascent of Mount Everest. As pickup lines go, this worked surprising well most of the time.

Eddy, as he preferred to be called, was the youngest member of Jess’s team, almost two full decades younger than Jess and most of the other team members. He had been hired directly after receiving his Doctorate from the University of Texas, where he had been researching the DNA sequence of the H17N10 bat influenza virus. At the time, Jess’s team was studying the epidemiology of bat viruses, funded by a growing concern that bats could become a vector for cross-species flu transmission. Eddy’s research on H17N10 made him a shoe-in for Jessica’s team.

• • •

Eddy had now been without sleep for over four days. The supply run took longer than he had expected. There had been … complications. Life seemed to be overly full of complications these days. He had told Jess to get some sleep while he baby-sat the lab equipment. He just hadn’t expected her to sleep for twenty-four hours. “Jesus,” he muttered. His eyes felt as if someone had been sanding them with an emery board. His mind was on autopilot. The fact that he was used to running samples day after day, night after night, the same steps over and over and over again, was the only thing that kept him going. “Day 43. Had it really been only forty-three days since this nightmare began?” he wondered.

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