Editor's ChoiceMystery and Thriller

Killer Virus

The new serum had been flown in from the laboratory in Arizona. I had gone with three members of the security team to transfer it to the classified zone. I should be familiar with the procedures, but it didn’t stop me from feeling suffocated under the white protective rubber garment and the mask that was supposed to protect me from flying pathogens. They were supposed to be protective, but I’d give anything to be able to go around without covering every part of my body under synthetic and polythene.

The serum was locked in air-tight containers and placed in the refrigerator. They could only survive in extremely cold conditions. I never felt the need for them to put them in the fridge. The laboratory was cold enough already, so cold that I shivered even under the heat pads installed in the clothes.

“They’re using live hosts this time.” Dr. Phil entered the lab, his IPad sat on his palm naturally as they always did.

“What?” We turned to him in surprise. Previously, all the serums were tested on plants. They boosted growth, especially during the winter season.

“The organization had found a pig farm down in East Asia. They tested positive during the test. And the farm is located in one of the coldest parts of China, the best condition for the growth serum to work,” he continued. He walked around the lab checking the settings of the different machines.

“Did they get the approval of the Chinese government for the use of the serums?” Joey asked.

Dr. Phil shook his head. “We don’t need to. We just need the farmers to agree to it. It’s just a growth serum. We will monitor their growth and see how efficient it is. If it works, we can use it to enter the Chinese market. After that, we can introduce the rest of our serums into other parts of East Asia.”

“But the results from the previous experiment haven’t come in? The rats?”

“They completed the paperwork in Arizona, and the orders from the headquarters is that we can now begin mass production.”

“What? Mass production?”

Dr. Phil nodded, putting his hand into his pocket. “Joey, you’ll be going with the itinerary to Asia. Vinc, you’ll go with Anne to oversee the production.”

“Okay.” A sudden silence descended on us, even Dr. Phil understood that the step we were about to take would have a large impact both on the organization and the whole world. But we were all certain that if it worked, the organization would gain by billions.

The growth serum was a hit in Asia. And slowly, the organization had introduced her other serums into the market, and not only in Asia, farms around the world were using the serums to increase plant and animal productivity.

It was two months before it started. It was all over the news. One of the cows that had been injected with the growth serum died suddenly, and its carcass had been found decayed as though it had died months earlier. The cow had been the first of many other cases—the poultry farm in Uganda, the goat farm in Germany. And soon it was no longer farm animals.

The first human case was in China, one of the places where the growth serum was first used. It was obvious that the growth serum was a fail. We didn’t allow the experiment to continue as long as it should.

The organization was closed down, and we had been laid off with big sums of money. All the growth serums had been destroyed and the places where they had been produced had been burnt to the ground, documents relating to it were also eradicated. The top executives of the organization had disappeared, and I did the closest form of hiding I could get, I and my family moved back to our family home in the Caribbean. We had created a killer-virus, one that had spent weeks incubating in the bodies of farm animals and then struck when humans were at their weakest, forking piece after piece of red juicy meat into their mouth. Like poison, it ate away at the organs in the body at a rate faster than Usain Bolt on the tracks. And then it left its victims writhing and groaning, wishing for a quicker, less painful end. And its victims only seemed to increase each day by the thousands.

For once, I envied the families who lived each day without meat. They didn’t know how privileged they were, free from the vile hands of the killer-virus. I was guilty for a crime against humankind. As I watched the news, the medical unit of different countries around the world came together to find a cure for the virus.

While it was pleasing to see the countries of the world join hands together against a common enemy, letting go of their prejudices of each other and the economic interests they cuddled in their foreign policies, it was obvious that they were up against a vicious enemy, one that took down hundreds with a single strike.

As caution against eating farm animals and crops spread through the internet and media, a new question struck fear against the minds of people, was the world ready to begin seeking for a new source of feeding? Aside plants and animals, were there other sources of food on this planet? The future of the planet suddenly seemed bleak.

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