Elixr Plague Excerpt

From Episode 1



 

Desmond Martin raised his arms and sixty-thousand people screamed in adoration. Despite the gruesome events at Yang’s house just a few short hours earlier, this was by far the best, most glorious moment of his life. They had come for Elixr; they had come for hope…they came for him.

He basked in the glow of their reaching hands, their smiling faces. These people were the First Wave—at least on the West Coast—simultaneously first in line to receive the benefits of Elixr, and also the first people who, as willing carriers, in turn would spread Desmond’s creation among almost everyone with whom they came into contact in the next few days. And those people would then spread it to anyone they encountered in the few days after that...and so on. 

Genetic engineering being the wild west of the biological sciences, not everyone would develop the CRISPR virus in 2-3 days. Lab testing on monkeys, and even a small sample of the unreported human trials indicated that some people would be fully infected and shedding Elixr viral spores in a matter of hours, while others took almost four days to “catch” Elixr. 

Yang had been adamant that he develop the virus to self destruct in a week or less. After that, people wouldn’t be able to infect anyone else, and in reality, the trials had proven that everyone, regardless of how fast they caught Elixr, stopped spreading it between four and seven days after the initial infection. 

What that meant was, in certain locales, after the release of the viral strain among the public through the First Wave in that area, towns and regions would be free of Elixr—at least active strains—within a week or two at the most, accounting for travel from other areas. The Luddites who refused the treatment on religious grounds or sheer stubbornness to resist change simply had to stay inside for a few days to a week to avoid any consequences. Those that wanted to be absolutely sure they never got exposed to Elixr had to wait about half a month, and then everything would be fine—statistically.

Desmond put all the details from his mind and danced around the stage, shouting at random, whooping it up and fueling their frenzy as the clock ticked down to zero and the rotating strobe lights all went solid, lighting up the half dozen inoculation stations.

As the first people to get the Elixr injections cheered, raising their bandaged arms in triumph, foil confetti rained down in a dazzling display over the whole arena and bass heavy music reverberated around the cavernous space, enhancing the party atmosphere.

Then his head of security stepped up next to him and grabbed an arm. Hard. "Sir, you need to come with me."

"What—why?" Desmond asked, the smile refusing to fall from his face. This was his moment. He’d be damned if he was going to let Teddy get him down now.

"There’s been…problems…with the other distribution events. Sir, please—"

"What problems?" Desmond demanded, all joviality gone. He tried to shake his arm free, a move that took considerable effort considering Teddy’s strength. "Did France back out of the deal?" The French President had been openly opposed to Desmond’s plan from the get go, and had committed to a hard fought battle in the EU to ban the distribution events altogether, but in the end saner heads had prevailed—along with a few truckloads of Euros.

Teddy looked around, his eyes sharp and restless. Lights and confetti flittered and glittered all around them, making it hard to see more than thirty feet away. His grip tightened on Desmond’s arm. "Sir, I need you off this stage—"

"I’m not—"

"Now!" Teddy ordered, the cords in his neck taut.

"Okay, okay—let’s go," Desmond acquiesced. He’d never seen Theodore Watkins, an ex-Green Beret the size of a small mountain, so anxious. The man had fought his way across half the Middle East—single handedly, if one believed the stories—and had been unflappable, until tonight. Desmond shrugged out of Teddy’s grip and adjusted his suit. 

"Lead the way, MacDuff."  He flashed another wave at the crowd, now fixated on the shower of confetti and safety pamphlets—mostly instructions for the First Wave to not panic about flu-like symptoms, plan to take it easy for a few days, and enjoy a new, healthier, longer life—floating down from above. Several people in the front row had their arms spread wide and eyes closed, as if receiving divine blessings. He hoped someone got a picture of that—it was PR gold.

Once the stage access door closed behind him and the noise of the event muffled, Desmond rounded on Teddy. "Alright, you’ve ruined the best night of my life—what the hell is going on?"

The bigger man kept a hand to the earbud in his ear. "Sir, we’re receiving reports of attacks at the other events. London is offline—we can’t find out anything. It’s totally dark."

"Attacks? Who would want to attack us?" Desmond asked reflexively as Teddy led him into the bowels of the Staples Arena, following maintenance access tunnels to work their way to the VIP garage. All along the way they picked up more of the security team and others on Desmond’s company executive list. Everyone looked surprised and more than a little irritated at being pulled from the celebration they’d been planning for so long.

"What about us?" Desmond asked. "I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary here…are the other domestic sites okay—was this just a European thing?"

"Unknown, sir," Teddy said, holding a door open. "Everything seems to be running smooth, but I can’t contact the distribution team, so we’re getting you out of here. I have to assume the worst."