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The Plague, Part 7 - Unrevised
Number of infected worldwide: 4,387
Number of infected in the U.S.: 810
'Have you found already anything, doctor?' Sandra asked her colleague Arthur in the CDC mobile lab. Her question sounded as serious as that of an interrogation officer.
She called Arthur 'doctor' and if she called her friends in this way, it didn't mean any good for anyone. They were pressed for time, feeling being late since the number of people wearing plaster casts didn't stop increasing, and Sandra and her team still wasn't able to find the reason why.
'Tom's already analysed the air, water and soil samples collected in the town and all around. There's nothing unusual,' Arthur said calmly since he was used to tolerate Sandra's incredible speed. She always wanted to get results fast. Not for today but for yesterday. He looked into the list containing the result of their examination. 'Fertilizers, usual trace elements, some radioactivity...'
'Radioactivity?' she asked amazedly.
'Oh, yes. However, it isn’t new at all. It’s the fallout from the atmospheric nuclear test explosions over the Pacific from the 1950s. Nothing really unexpected,' Arthur explained, shrugging his shoulder.
'Where are Tom and Karen now?' Sandra asked, looking at their empty workstations.
'They’ve gone for shopping... I mean, they’re collecting food and drink samples,' he corrected his sentences so as not to be misunderstood.
'How many interviews have we done?' Sandra asked, recalling the hundreds of patient files given to her by Dr Roth's secretary. If this Plaster Cast Plague would be a kind of infection, they would have to find the Patient Zero as fast as possible.
'In a half day? Only twenty. We're only four,' Arthur resented.
'It isn’t enough. We've got more than three hundred patients. The New York team must be faster,' Sandra supposed.
She felt her team would have to be more motivated or else she would lose again. A couple of years ago a b*tch called Dr Pamela Moore got a senior FEMA position for which she applied. Right now, she was in a terrible need of restarting her career. She wanted to manage a successful project, and solving this mysterious Plaster Cast Plague seemed to be a damn good one. Maybe, as a reward, she would get a more significant mission than examining broken bones in this dusty town.
'This isn’t a rat race, Sandra,' Arthur added, not knowing her secret drive. 'Have you told Dr Roth we’ve got two outbreak sites?'
'Do I look stupid? I don’t want to create a panic here. We wouldn't be able to handle fifty thousands hysterical people. How are the interviews going? Have you found any patterns?' Sandra asked, noticeably being in a hurry.
'Nothing really interesting. Most people eat hamburgers or hot dogs, drink soft drinks, and so on. No one was abroad. Only three of them were even in the state capital last month,' Arthur summarized, looking quickly into his file.
Their conversation interrupted by a quiet beeping, signalling a video call from their boss in the CDC headquarters, Atlanta. Noticing the CDC seal on the screen, Sandra finished interrogating her teammate, and she sat down before the monitor, trying to show an unworried face. So did Arthur.
'Hello, Sandra,' said Albert Wells, being the head of the Response Team Department. 'How are you doing? Have you found anything, yet?'
'Hello, Albert. We’ve been here for four days only and this is a very large district. We need to have more staff and more time. Our available resources aren't enough to...,' she said and she felt her sentences sounded like a premature excuse. A terrible and unacceptable apology for her menacing failure.
'Okay, Sandra. I understand. Don't worry, we’ve got some news for you. We’ve found the Patient Zero,' Dr Wells announced, almost solemnly.
'Impossible, Dick and his bumbling team in New York couldn't have been that fast,' she thought.
'Give my congratulations to Richard’s team,' she said neutrally, instead of saying her thoughts. She felt to be defeated. Again. For her, this mission, too, was a career backstep.
'It wasn’t exactly on their merit. We've received the WHO Weekly Report on some unusually high number of bone fractures in a jungle district in Central Africa. Furthermore, they reported some cases from the country capital as well. You’re right, Sandra, it’s some kind of infection.'
'Have they identified it?' Sandra inquired, almost regaining her force.
Although the careerist part of her personality was defeated, the curiosity of a scientist was still alive. And, of course, it was such a good feeling to be right.
'The WHO hasn’t got the suitable equipment to do it there. We’re gearing up to send a mobile lab to help them,' Dr Wells said.
'Okay, Albert, when should I leave?' Sandra asked, being ready for a new mission. Going to Central Africa sounded so exciting.
'Sorry, Sandra, they haven’t chosen you. You should stay there to help us. Please take as many blood samples as you can and try to find our new guest... this new infection,' Dr Well ordered, as being her boss.
Sandra was almost exploded with anger. The NY Team had found the Patient Zero faster than her team, and then, right now, they took away the Central African mission from her. Today, Life vs. Dr Sandra Watkins: 2-0. Her professional progress was in ruins.
'All right, Albert, I'll do... But if Richard didn't still find the Patient Zero, how did you identify him or her?' she asked.
'It was very easy, Sandra. Having read the WHO report we knew where the Patient Zero had to come from. We compared the passenger lists of the airlines coming from Central Africa to the list of patients who got broken bones in the last three weeks in New York and Bay City. We found only one person on both lists: David Grey from New York.'
The truth was, they still hadn't found the real Patient Zero since Jane Walker had already got her shoulder spica cast in Africa, and she wasn’t on the US hospital patient list. And as a strange twist of life, she lived just in the neighbouring street to their mobile lab.
to be continuedThe Plague, Part 8 - Unrevised
Number of infected worldwide: 6,481
Number of infected in the U.S.: 1,113
'I think they’re wrong,' Arthur said suddenly while carefully putting a blood sample under the microscope glass.
'What'd you say, Artie?' Sandra asked, without turning to him, her eyes glued to her microscope as well, sitting at her workstation in the CDC mobile lab.
They had been going on for a while on the task that Albert had given them: to identify the source of the infection. Instead of doing this unchallenging task in a town of no significance and working on a mystery which seemed to be solved, Sandra wanted to be somewhere else. No matter how hard she was working at this moment, the reward would be given to the New York Team. So being in somewhere else... in some, more challenging place. For example, in Africa, managing a WHO expedition. Seeing her hopeful career coming to a dead end, she decided to quit the CDC when this Plaster Cast Plague would be over. She's young enough to restart her line of work. Maybe, at a pharmaceutical research company.
'You can find the Patient Zero even now. David Grey is a bad result,' he told her.
'Why?' she asked, still not catching what he meant.
'It's very simple. The infection is spreading faster here than in New York. We've got more patients here than in New York. If New York were the first source, it would be in the other way around. When a Bay City citizen comes home from Africa he or she might go through New York. Furthermore...,' Arthur listed convincingly.
'Okay, okay. I get what you mean. However, it seems this mystery is solved and we aren't supposed to investigate. We can’t use the CDC databases to find him or her. Dr Wells would be alerted,' Sandra said, standing up. Having worked for more than twelve hours, she felt terribly exhausted.
'I could use the local police computer system. Could say it's a CDC job,' Arthur suggested.
'Good idea. Thanks, Artie,' she expressed her gratitude kindly, however she was too worn-out even to smile.
'You look so tired, Sandra,' he said. In real, she seemed to be the shadow of her old self.
'I woke up too early. And my right leg is going numb,' she told him, rubbing the named body part.
'Stand up, go out and take a fresh breath,' he recommended.
'I can’t do it, Artie. We must catch this little bastard,' Sandra said, being ready to continue her work. She didn't wish to disappoint her boss Dr Wells. Again.
'Where is the emphasis, Sandra? On "we" or on "must"?' he asked, jokingly.
'Okay, I'll take a five minute break.'
Sandra gave up her resistance. Having stood up, she opened the door of the lab. Sandra squinted, as her eyes unused to the natural sunlight since she got used to the artificial lighting of the mobile lab. Enjoying the scenery, she slowly looked around. This place was a peaceful town. Or it used to be. Peaceful, but worrying. She could see quite a few people wearing casts. There was a couple in love in the park, walking slowly since the girl was hobbling because of her short leg cast. Not far away she could see a cyclist, wearing a short arm cast. And she could keep going on and on... Maybe who had much larger cast, probably stayed at home, that’s why she could see only small casts, she thought. She walked around the park, but her right leg kept aching.
Suddenly a broadcast van, with the Global News Network logo painted in the sides, turned into their street, looking for a parking lot. Sandra thought the significance of the event might have reached the media threshold, and now they were turning their eyes to the source of the news. From now on, a single misinterpreted word could cause major panic.
She was about to return to the mobile lab, when Albert pushed out the door, yelling:
'Sandra, I've fou...'
The opening door hit her right leg above the knee. Arthur and Sandra only could hear a 'crack', and she collapsed instantly. At first, her rational doctor-mind defied her hysterical patient-mind which wanted to cry out loudly. A damned door shouldn't be able to break a strong and healthy femur, her calm doctor-mind noted, analysing the unexpected situation.
That had to mean only one thing. She was infected by the virus.
'Oh, Jesus, Arthur! Stop looking at me and call the ambulance! Now!' she cried out, lying on the cold asphalt of the parking lot, when her patient-mind struck back and won.
Instead of helping her, the TV crew started filming the CDC mobile lab and Sandra being in pain due to her broken leg, still sitting on the ground. Suffering, and seeing the recklessness of the reporter and the cameraman, Sandra lost her mind, she raised her right arm up high and she showed them her middle finger.
to be continued
Next (Part 9)-->
This content is intended for mature audiences.
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It is time to reconstruct an old story again. Cast Plague The major changes are the followings:
- the title is changed from “The Plague” into “Cast Plague” to be more specific
- deep revision and rewriting everywhere (plus grammar, spelling and style check), especially in the first four chapters, which were short and poorly written
- I united the chapters, which clearly belong to each other (they were written about the same characters in the same settings), 5+6, 7+8, 10+11, 13+14, 16+17, 19+20, 22.C+22.D
- Chapter 2 is removed, since it didn’t give any plus to the story
- renumbering the chapters because of the above-mentioned structural change
- I changed Jane’s family name from Walker into Lawson, because the old one was too similar to the name of the other protagonist (Watkins)
- Sandra’s CDC team members were reduced from 4 to 3
- some changes in the characters: Arthur became Audrey, Mbutu was moved up to be an unemployed teacher, David became a geologist
- some types of casts were changed
- one character will end up in a full body cast.
Shall I keep the original text for some days so that you can see the differences?