Endings and Beginnings
Authors note: This is the darkest story I have ever written. I am not sure where it came from. I knew that I had to get it on paper and out of my head. I never would advocate what was done here. Life is too precious. This story indiscriminately ends life. That is why there is an Adult only rating. Even then I would ask that you not judge the author but the story. I do not like what was written as in the end it really solved little. At least this chapter ... the future is the future and what comes next I cannot see.
Have you ever felt the weight of the world from your personal decisions on your shoulders? The guilt for the destruction of a whole race is on mine. You see ... I was the one who genetically engineered the viral components to wipeout a specific segment of one race on planet Earth.
Let's go back a little to give some perspective and maybe you will not judge me as harshly. I was a young child on September 11, 2001. My mom and dad daily went to a skyscraper complex called the World Trade Center in New York. One of my parents went to tower one and the other to tower two. After this long I really do not remember who went where, or for what; and does it matter now? Both had left early that morning driving to work looking forward to their day. They both loved their jobs and had told me many times. They both had jobs that required a lot of overtime; so I had a nanny. My nanny was watching the news and I was finishing up some school work my kindergarten teacher had assigned the previous evening. I was too busy to complete it as we all went out to eat and have a good time. Ironically, it was located at the "Top of the World" Restaurant at the World trade center. The meal as I look back on it now was a dreamy kaleidoscope of food that passed in review in front of me. The food proceeded onto my plate to be diligently eaten before the next offering arrived. All three of us were stuffed and had a perfect time together. This had happened as my birthday was the next day September 11th. Since both of my parents had to be gone for the majority of the day it was decided to have my party one day early. The laughing and the good time is all I remember now. This is tempered with rage that even now overwhelms me when I think what my parents had to endure later on that morning of my birth.
A call came in just as my nanny and I were going to leave for my school about 9:00 AM as I recall1. I have a late start at 10a.m. to my school day and it was only one-half day to top it off! The call was highly unusual. Normally, all calls were routed directly through to my mom and dad at this time. The only reason for this call I had immediately ascertained was my parents calling to wish me a Happy Birthday as they had left too early for me to be awake. I was shocked to hear my mothers' voice crying from the phone. The nanny was a steady and reliable person. Ms. Goodson. Ms. Goodson's hands began to shake and see peered over her shoulder at me and asked my mom in near tears what she wanted her to do. A conversation was quickly relayed with a lot of "yes's", then, I was handed the phone. This was another first. I rarely handled this piece of equipment. I had only spoken to distant relatives once or twice in all of my 6 years. My mother's voice was quavering and I was told that she loved me and that she would not be seeing me again. She related in a now firm voice that something had hit the building where she worked. The fire she said was so hot that the stairwells were like blow torches. She was going to try to climb up to the top of the building and hope that a helicopter would be able to pick her up.
Ms. Goodson in the interim had turned on the TV. We were seeing the World Trade Center being hit by an Airplane! It slid into the building as if were a knife into butter; then came the horrible roar and the falling debris. Bodies and building parts among the things fell in a cascading stream down into the street below. It looked like a show and seemed surreal if it were happening to another person or was cartoonish that might have been exciting, but I knew that those figures were real. That building was where I had gone countless times to see my mother at her work. Now all I could think about was my mom trapped somewhere. She was trying to climb up to the roof in an effort to escape the flames and smoke.
My father called on the heels of my mother's hanging up. He told me he was going to try to go over and help my mom in whatever way he could. He was just getting on the elevator that would take him to the lobby and then he had a two minute run time to tower one. My dad could make it in one minute. He had been held though by security and a locked elevator. My father cannot use stairs as he is wheelchair bound.
As it turns out he never got the opportunity to leave the elevator car. As it passed the middle of the building the second plane came out of nowhere and stuck his building. The time was 9:56 I remember looking at the clock just as the second plane sliced into it. It did even more damage than the first. The pieces that flew out tore a hole so large that it was visible from our apartment. The second building struck, where my father was fell first. I knew my father had never exited the building. We had once timed the elevator from his floor to the ground. It took approximately 1 minute. It was less than 30 seconds from when the aircraft had slammed into the doomed edifice. I could see people on the other building running away from the side of the first tower to shield themselves from the debris and fuel. Then the blue sky became so clouded that nothing could be seen. I felt in my heart a tearing. I knew that my father had left me. The announcer on the TV was howling in despair. The smoke and flames were still pouring out of my mother's tower. The firemen were trying to fight the flames and the fuel that was flowing down the building. I later learned that all those who were in that tower died trying to save people in that tower. Those firefighters and police have always been heroes of mine since then.
We later found that my mother had passed out from the flames. It was recorded by a passing helicopter. I could see her dress and suit. She was slumped against the side facing the tower my father was in. Her hand reaching out in an effort to go to him I guess. Then the unthinkable happened. The second tower collapsed at 10:28.
Fast forward to the scene; the days became weeks, and weeks became months. My future was set. My parents had set it up that if anything ever happened to them I would be educated and taken care of until I reached the age of 25. Then I would inherit the family fortune. I did not even know that we had money. Let alone as much as I was now the beneficiary of. Over 3 million dollars were held in trust for me. Life insurance policies of over 6 million were on both of them. We had always lived fairly simply. We had an apartment and I had some of the new stuff but not everything. My father drove a clunker car that he seemed to lavish with care. That was the only way that we traveled other than the public transport system. In all of this I would have traded it for my parents; every dollar of it and all of the later education. That was not to be though. My nanny took care of me in same manner as she always had. Only now she lived with me full-time. I now had appointments with doctors to see about how I 'felt'. I eventually told them after my act was completed. I missed my mom and dad. I hated those who were responsible for taking them from me so early. I had fixated upon taking the fight to them. I made an agreement with myself to get them back to have them suffer as they made me suffer. The doctors though never knew this. I understood that they would have held me back and tried to change me to temper my anger. I wanted to keep that anger and stoke it to a fire so hot it would melt those who had done this cowardly act as surely as the building had burned.
Fast forward to 2034; I am now 39 years of age. I am an award winning scientist who has won the Nobel Prize in science, and gathered many fellowship and directorships under my belt. I spurned them one and all. I only took those that would advance me to my goal. My goal was the destruction of those who had killed my parents; in a word, those who believed in Islam and its teachings. I knew that I could not get them all, but would target what I did to its center. The third world nations of Iran and Iraq, Egypt and Syria, and the upper part of Africa would be getting what they deserved.
As the director of a top secret lab on an Island in the Atlantic I was isolated from all outside influences and distractions. I had to arrange time to work on my project. I was actually here to work on military grade vaccines that would inoculate our troops in the event of chemical attacks from our many enemies. We had access to the most powerful biological agents known. From gas to liquid, to explosive were housed on our tiny island. There was one section only the highest of clearances allowed access to. That was the viral/infective/disease lab. We had Ebola, H5N1 or Bird Flu, we had mosquito carried virus such as the Dengue virus which is transferred to humans through the bites of infective female Aedes mosquitoes; Yellow Fever. In this lab was super strains of Rabies, Hantavirus, measles, Hepatitis B, C; influenza, Rotavirus, and multiple forms of HIV.
I was using the lab as my personal station to eliminate Muslims and Islamic peoples. I have been asked if I felt that this was killing many for the sake of the few. I do not. I reasoned that with them out of the way the crises of the past would ease and gas and oil would flow, war would slow and the arms races would end. I have since thought how naïve this was. Then though it was all a part of my plan and nothing was to stand in its path.
I had given the staff an early day off. It was a three day holiday to boot so I had the island all to myself. Only the automatic sentries were active. They were of course set to the highest levels. Anytime the base security was gone they were active and I had to be careful to stay within the bounds of my labs. No issue there. I only wanted to do my work. I was genetically altering DNA to match that of Middle Eastern peoples. I wanted extra insurance that it would go farther so I created a back gene. This was an antidote. It had only one purpose-to infect those not targeted by my virus and add to their DNA/RNA structure.
We have twin spiral of genetic material that make us who we are. This spiral has been unwinding for some time as evidenced by the examination of corpses taken from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. We were getting too diverse. More diseases were cropping up. They were nasty and medical science was no longer able to fight them with antibiotics. My role was to save those who were fighting on the front lines in situations where they would come in direct contact with person who were less fastidious in their personal habits due to the poorer conditions. That is what the team was working on. I had my goal too.
I took the common DNA/RNA pairing and added through gene splicer's and manipulators using multiplexed super computers a second set of DNA within the original making a new strand that was now a four-plex strand. The strand was stable. It was so stable that the illnesses were ineffective against it; even at the most rudimentary levels. I thought that even death might now be 'cured'. This was not in my goal though. I was saving those who I deemed needed to stay safe. The end outcome though as it unfolded was both beautiful and horrifying.
There could be no tests done as long as the base crew was on site. That is why I sent them away. I did this in a way that they did not know the others had left. There was always supposed to be a group of scientists on site as well as military guardians. I had cunningly removed them by switching orders and dates to have it appear that others were covering for them and they had the free time accrued to leave this little paradise.
The last boat was gone and the base was secured and on lockdown on my authority. I raised the threat level internally to a 1. This meant that there was a possible loose viral agent on the island and no one was to leave or come back to the island until the all clear was sounded. The trouble I had was inserting an order to stand down by the NEST team. They would have come in and neutralized the whole island to eliminate the threat. To them it was signaled as a scheduled test. The satellites flying overhead were busy trying to see what was happening on the island, but there was nothing. No people, no animals. Everything appeared normal. The labs were shielded and bomb proofed. I was now on my own. The years of hard work were coming to fruition. I had my strain of four strained DNA and the lethal virus that would spread throughout the hated Islamic world. My time had come. I only had to launch the probe into the target area and it would be done. I loaded the rocket and sent the modified high orbit drone on its way. Now was no time to relax though. I had sent out many of these drones to gather information on different aspects of the world. This operation now cloaked this important launch. Even the Defense nets of the Middle East did not so much as burp as the drone flew over. They too had learned that this fly-over was only gathering air samples or other data. In its wide flying path before it finally ran out of fuel west of Mindelo Island. It was put out that the engine had failed and the data lost. I had actually programmed a self-destruct into the flight controller when the probe had reached the Atlantic Ocean. The parts of the probe were self-immolating so no country who happened to find a malfunctioning probe would get information that we did not want them to have. This aided now in the destruction of the modifications that I had made to this probe. It might have been hard to explain the need for liquid aerosol spraying apparatus on a gathering type probe.
I now reduced the threat level on the base to a normal 6. The sensors and those studying them saw this as an internal test and let it go. No one wanted to go all the way out to this stinking little island to visit a bunch of kooky people. The world would soon know that something else was going on.
Three days later.
People were getting sick. This seemed to be a pandemic. Everywhere the hospitals and doctors were being overrun with cases that seemed like influenza and yet only lasted several hours and with no apparent after effects. The exception was for those of Middle Eastern derivation. They were dying. The kingdom of Jordan lost its Royals; then the Imams and preachers in the cities were noticing that the Christian's were not getting as sick and started to blame them of bring a plague down on the people of Islam somehow. Then they looked closer and realized that if they were of Middle Eastern stock they were dying. Children who were only ¼ were not immune. Less of the Middle Eastern gene than a quarter and they would escape only with serious illness. Sometimes with the doctors assistance more died. The illness was right down our alley. The team had returned to work and scoured the island for the reason for the weird alert. Everywhere they looked and any lead they dug up it dead ended. I planned it that way. I had thoroughly sanitized all equipment that I had used and removed any traces from the computers of the experiment that I had run. I want you to understand this was not cowardice on my part but I knew that the government would force me to end the viral outbreak if they knew what I had done.
In the Middle Eastern countries the illness began to mutate and no stored viral killer known would stop it. There was no way to slow it. Ebola was a simplified toy beside it. The doctors on the outside began to notice the weird changes that were happening to the populace that was just sick and now recovering. When the tests came back it was noted that they whole structure of the body had been drastically altered. If an individual were to come in contact with a Middle Eastern person who was infected without any protection; it was noted and accidently occurred in several cases, that the exposed person had no reaction. Even more important the person seemed to get even more healthy and vibrant. During a rally for handicapped people in Wheelchairs where they wheeled themselves over a 2K course. Several athletes had fallen out of their chairs only to quickly stumble to their feet! These were men and women who had been in those chairs for most if not of their adult lives due to illnesses. Those who had surgical items were in sudden pain. The reason was immediately clear when a man was taken into the Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx and without any intervention he rolled over on his side and the doctors took spinal replacement parts from his skin. His body was rejecting them in a spectacular fashion. He had them in sine he was 21 and he was now a 45 year old man. This baffled the medical community. Listed as one of the worst hospitals Jacobi now became the place where you wanted to go if you had a life threatening issue. The only ones that could not be helped in any fashion were those of Middle Eastern descent. It was hashed out that something had happened during the time of illness. It was later discovered that no one had died from that bout of Influenza. The doctors were going crazy in an effort to find out what happened. The CDC was on 24 hour full time mandatory for all labs. The results coming back were stranger than any fictional stories. DNA strands that had been single paired helix pairs were now double helix pairs. This consisted of the atoms of the sugars, phosphates and nitrogenous bases fit together to make the "spiral staircase" or "twisted ladder" shape only now there were not two sides to the ladder shapes, but four. All of the sequences never touched and seemed to fit within the DNA molecule perfectly. The overall issue of how this happened did not come up for some time. What it meant was the question on everyone's mind. Would they grow another finger or toe? Would they have two heads? It seems for the time being that there were not outside overt changes that had been made. The inside though was a radical departure of what normal was 24 hours ago.
More irony, I was called by the CDC to study this phenomenon and explain what it meant. You can imagine my reluctance to even be near the research going on. I was trying my best to maintain what I was doing on the Island and say that this work was more important than any fad that would most likely pass with the next common cold. Things were changing on the outside alright. The Middle East had become a charnel house. Bodies lay where they dropped because no one knew if they were next or if they tried to go outside if they would bring back disease into their homes. It did not matter as the virus was created to be a hunt and destroy type of virus. The virus would remain active and viable until all of its hardwired criterion programmed in were met and it would then it would go dormant. If someone with the DNA matched up its program it would reactivate and shutdown after elimination of the person or persons. It was relentless and nearly unstoppable. If you had a certain progression of DNA/RNA then it would find you.
What I had not foreseen and it was my fault was that there were flights in the air passing through the area and people on those flights were susceptible to the new virus. I gave it a name while I was forced onshore in Atlanta. Ha10. An easy designator that did not have anything to do with the virus, but the media loved. HALO was easy to remember and easy to say. I said that I would be more effective in my lab than in Atlanta and was allowed to go back to my island.
The assistants that I formerly had were evacuated and I asked anyone who knew anything to go to Atlanta for they had the most extensive gear. I was doing 'other' work that could not be ended. This was reluctantly accepted and I was alone. I had provisions for years on hand. Water and air filtration systems that was unrivaled anywhere. I had communication only by a separate shack that I promised to myself would go down shortly after my arrival and I would thereby isolate myself further. I had a whole island of animals that were allowed to wander in natural surroundings and everyone quickly forgot about me.
Do you want to know what happened to the flights while they were in the air? Silly people. They had the same reactions as everywhere else. The danger was if they flying manually, especially if the pilots were of Middle Eastern descent or had some type of medical issue. These flights were doomed unless there was someone on board able to take over. Otherwise the human race as a whole became stronger and health improved overnight.
I knew that they would eventually figure out where the viral agents came from. When landing craft, helicopters and aircraft broke over head one morning my sensors were screaming. I shut them all off and prepared for my guests.
Every one of the soldiers who landed were in TK65 model bio containment suits that were made for the military. These were the same as the ones in my highest level lab. I shut down the sensors and then opened the doors to allow them to pass into the safe zones of the labs.
I was at the time in lab 16. This lab was a place that tested the viral agents and see what would kill them. I was trying to find a way to kill HALO. I had yet to succeed. I was air independent and not attached to anything. My bio-suit was the best and I had even invented some newer type of filters. The visitor's gallery was soon packed to the brim with soldiers looking at me anxiously through 6 inches of containment glass. They could have shot it out but that would have released anything within the lab to the outside. I did not have direct contact with them. They had to have a young scared looking soldier partially strip and patch into the labs systems.
In a word, they wanted me outside now. I told them that I had to close some containers that were obviously open in the room. These were behind a wall of glass that contained and was manipulated by mechanical arms. I was between the gallery and the lab that contained HALO itself.
I complied and closed all containment and used safety protocol to end the session within the chamber. I backed into the four part safety lock and started to remove myself from my suit. This is normally a two person affair as you need someone to check to see if they can find any tears. I had invented an on board computer years ago to check this. I was out of the suit before they could get past the gallery door and into the suit room. There were so many weapons pointing at me all I could see was the muzzles like open mouths lined one atop the other.
I asked them if we could go outside into the meeting area that I had powered up from my suit before I exited. They were surprised at all of the automation. They were obviously operating on old information about my island.
A Colonel of the Marine detachment came forth and he said, "Doctor, we are going to take you into custody now."
"Colonel", I replied. "Do what you have to do, just do not turn off the power to the island at any time. As long as the power remains all of the pathogens will remain as they are. If you were turn off the power then some really nasty super-bugs would be loosed into the world."
I was surprised at the laughter around me at this statement.
The Colonel quickly silenced those inclined to humor with a scowl in their direction.
"Are we safe here? Is there any pathogen or 'bug' that needs to be tended to before you go?"
"No Colonel, the lab where I was and you found me ... in there is the last of the top secret materials and pathogens that you need to be concerned about. No one who was in that lab needs to be concerned either. Even that young lady who patched our communications in was in no danger. Only if you pass through the four part chamber into the work room and then into the test lab itself will you be in any danger. If you were to go in there without protection your lifespan could be measured in seconds. I also would ask that you do not use Thermite to try to eliminate those areas. It will only spread some of the viral components in that room. If you need them destroyed I will have to do it. It will require possibly the rest of my life."
"Doc, What is HALO?" came from my back I did not see the speaker whose voice sounded young and trembled. Imagine that a Marine who was scared. I understood then that they thought this was a suicide mission before my last statement.
"Well, that is a secret. I hope that you do not mind that I will keep that one for now. I wanted to let you know that you were all safe though here. Just heed my warning on that one lab." I replied as they quick stepped me off of my island for possibly the last time.