02 September 2008

Fatal Cure - Chapter 22

I rely on hearsay, rumours and bar room discussions to tell some of my story. I skim over the generally known stuff to see if Kristine is on the same page as me.
We all know and hate the creators of the Bug, GenTech, and their brilliant Sweden-based gene-splicing researchers. And we’d all read the headlines when disgruntled employees of that company, not soon enough in line for treatment, blew the whistle on the ultra-secret inoculation program. Sweden’s recent popularity as a holiday destination for the world's presidents, prime ministers and other notables is explained. They rush to GenTech as their turn comes around to receive a life expanding injection.
In exchange for large sums of money of course.
Details of the actual custom-designed Bug are sketchy. The public accepts that it eats blood and secretes a regenerative fluid. A cancer curing, age slowing, limb growing, priceless fluid. But the information often comes second or third hand, intertwined with guesses. It’s a confusing, exciting time nonetheless.
We foolishly think more Bugs will be bred and the secretion distributed to all people.
GenTech has other plans. They weren't about to let a multi-billion dollar industry slip through their hands that fast. An inflammatory press statement indicates how they would roll out the inoculations using their single, gender-neutral Bug exclusively. To guarantee purity.
We read between the lines. Rich, famous and influential first. The upper and middle classes next, if they could scrape up the exorbitant fee. The poor? Never.
There were strong protests at this inequity. Huge riots in capital cities destabilise entire countries. Millions march, demanding equal rights. Markets crash. The world is in chaos. GenTech probably doomed us with their greed even before the Bug mutated.
Ironic isn’t it? Finally the common cold can be cured and the world comes to an end. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
But I get ahead of myself.
The public never sees a credible photo of the Bug in papers or on TV. The most common description I heard was, ‘...a bulbous hairy grey/black body with many long appendages...’ Fantastic artist’s depictions of science fiction-inspired creations abounded for a while. Those visions were frightening enough, although I scoffed at those fanciful drawings.
I scoff no more. I know exactly what they look like. In close up. I’ll be seeing their true shape in nightmares for the rest of my life.
My own opinion at the time is that GenTech had become so used to manipulating genetic material they discounted Mother Nature’s abhorrence for the proposed arrangement. Taking without giving back is against Her laws.
A few scientists I heard about later support a theory that the Bug’s stitched together genes were in a state of flux. These rogue genes could have used their reptilian heritage to make hermaphrodite connections. Whatever the case may be, it finds a way to reproduce.
At the time of this supposed mutation the lesser ministers, movie stars and pop singers have reached the head of the queue and are getting their fix. Unbeknown to them, their injections are filled with microscopic eggs.
They become disposable incubators housing monstrous masters for the rest of us.
Several months pass. People are clearly defined into two camps. The inoculated and those likely to be, and the rest of us. The new world order is not looking good for the ‘have nots’.
The first mind bogglingly unexpected wave of ‘births’ wipe the self-satisfied smirks off a few faces. Leaders who received the first clean injections watch in horror as their underlings burst open on live TV. There is panic and disorder.
Maybe later victims could have been saved but many of the 'incubators' chose to go into hiding, waiting for public anger to cool off. Besides, they are in excellent health and think they’re immune from the painful deaths happening to their friends and neighbours.
The final stages are agonising by all accounts. Stomachs bursting, spilling hundreds of Parasite young. Each one immediately seeking a warm new body.
Some of the Parasites don't reproduce. They possess the body and set about learning to control it. They learn fast. The Bug's primary interest is to feed. Its arachnid nature craves meat. The result is a slow moving, slightly dopey, homicidal, cannibalistic maniac.
Society, already in turmoil, crumbles in one short, chaotic week. Movie stars, company CEOs and politicians disappear. Sometimes they resurface as mindless zombies, intent on attacking and eating anybody they come across.
Tabloid headlines are obscenely gleeful when high-profile B-grade stars get their comeuppance. They tone it down when the common man becomes the next target for the Parasite.
The news becomes less factual and more speculative as the ‘infection’ spreads.
Flimsy containment lines fail. Disorganised Army checkpoints are useless. The number of murders skyrocket. Innocent people, refugees, fleeing population centres are gunned down by residents of inundated towns.
There’s a lull as the next batch of Bugs breed and mutate. And learn how to drive our bodies.

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