Thursday, 23 January 2014

Righteous Fever - Infection

The day Austin stood before Julie making his wedding vows was the happiest of his life. He promised "to take her, forsaking all others, in richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death they do part." This vow was something he was never going to break, not even in the face of the Fever.

It all began in the sweltering slums of San Paulo, Brazil. The first victim was a hunter, he had recently come back from a trip through the rain forest. He broke out in a high fever a few days after he got back, it was so bad he went to see a doctor. The man had a raging thirst which seemed never to abate. The doctor was puzzled, there were so many conditions that could result in these symptoms but none would fit exactly what he was seeing. In the end the doctor could do little more than take blood and send the man home. The doctor sent the samples for testing but the hunter arrived back far quicker than the results. The very next day the hunter was carried into his tiny office tied to a makeshift stretcher, convulsing. His fever was sky high, his eyelids and lips were crusted with oozing blisters. The puss was incredibly sticky but continued to weep without clotting. The man was burning up, the doctor transferred him to hospital on the spot. As soon as the medical team in the hospital realised they were dealing with a new and possibly deadly infection they placed the man into quarantine and sent the authorities to round up his family. More blood samples were taken, cultures formed, but the virus that was captured was unknown.

By the hour the hunter's condition worsened, blisters spread into the mouth - covering the gums, the tongue,and the roof of the mouth. The doctors were excited and frightened simultaneously,they were dealing with the unknown. The medical team tried to control his temperature and swab the puss that was coming from the blisters.  The infection was incredibly aggressive, the blisters descended into the man's trachea and new urgency was added. If they could not keep his lungs free of puss the man would not be able to breath. As the hours passed his breaths became gurgles. The doctors suctioned his airways constantly but the thick yellow mucus was winning.It took hours but the inevitable happened. The man went into coronary arrest after practically drowning in his hospital bed.

An autopsy revealed the man's lungs had developed hundreds of the blisters all of which were oozing. They had covered the wall's of the lung with sticky yellow mucus, blocking the Alveoli from extracting oxygen or transferring carbon dioxide waste into the air. The doctor's quarantine procedures seemed to work as a full week went by and none of the contained persons developed the new Brazil Fever Virus. After the hunter's family and the doctor had been quarantined for a full week, all seemed to be in perfect health. The containment procedures had done their job. They tested the family, all were found to be carrying a harmless form of the virus, a variant of the one the hunter died from. After two weeks they were all still unaffected, so they were released. The dead man was thought to have succumbed to a mutated form of this new virus. Work continued to label this new discovery.

Two weeks after that, the hunter's wife presented with a fever at the very same doctors office. All the family were rounded up again but it was too late, they were now all showing signs of the fever. Over the next few days every person who had come into contact with the hunter was either dying or dead. The Virus, now officially know as "BFV",  was being transmitted via the sweat glands, it could dwell on warm human skin for up to 72 hours and was transferred by first or secondary contact.

First contact was skin to skin, secondary contact was skin to object to skin. It was found that even off the host body the virus could live up to 24 hours. Once the virus passed to a new host it entered into the blood-stream through contact with the area around the eye or mouth. After initial infection, the virus multiplied, it spread through the host but remained unrecognised as a threat by the immune system. The virus was using a chemical cloak which fooled the bodies defences. Each virus seemed to be wired with a countdown clock because 28 days after the initial infection date all virus shed this cloak and mutated into their active form. By now their sheer numbers of virus within the host system overpowered the immune system. The fatality rate was close to 80% and the infection rate was even higher. Due to the long dormant state and ease of transference "BFV" posed a real threat to the future of the human race.


The united nations enacted operation PANDORA. Every nation across the globe declared martial law. Containment rings were mounted around areas of contamination. Ring inside ring inside ring with 'halt or kill' protocol in place. International travel was stopped. Planes had to return to their place of origin without touching down. Many ran out of fuel and crashed. Ships were also turned around or made islands without a home. The focus of the world was turned on a tiny hospital in the poorest part of the world. Inside the infection zone, the population was on their own. Riots, looting and civil unrest went unchecked within the contamination zone. No troop would be sent in, no one was coming out either. Air drops of food water and medication was the only contact they had with the rest of the world.When the healthy population realised they were confined with the fever victims, panic really set in. Huge crowds gathered at the barriers holding the containment section closed. There was no communication even considered, anyone that set foot over the deadline was shot dead without even a warning shot.

The family of the hunter all died, the doctor that first treated him died, the stretcher carriers died, then the families of the dead began to get sick. The ripples of infection became waves, the death toll rapidly spiked. Despite precautions in the hospital the fever began to spread among staff and patients. Bodies were being incinerated, soon the numbers grew to large. Huge pits were dug and mass burnings were conducted. Bodies were being transported by dumper truck not hearse. Three weeks had passed before the first contamination ring was breached. One man had passed through the road block five minutes before it was closed forever. That five minutes would cost lives, thousands of lives.

By week eight of infection the death toll stood at 9,756 with a further 25,000 believed to be infected. The population within the containment area was close to 40,000. The world leaders secretly believed that if every one of these 40,000 died, but the containment worked, it was a price worth paying. Every road leading away from the Infection zone was blocked by ring after ring of containment fencing and troops. They wanted people to stay home and not move but people were not willing to die quietly. There were breakouts and shootings constantly at the edges of containment zones. People who did not even know they were in a containment area found there movements stifled. The world paused, commerce faltered and every human held their breaths as the days ticked by. Week nine brought what everyone feared most. The fever jumped two containment zones. A dozen cases the following day, a day after that a case appeared in Florida and one in Italy.The beginning of the end was in sight.

Governments publicly cried for people to react with common sense but in dark places, deep in the bowels of power, they spoke of eradication not containment. People just vanished, whole families, whole communities but 'BFV' was not going to be deterred from its destiny. By week 32 of infection every country on the face of the earth was battling the fever. Authorities had not given up but they were on the ropes. The public had lost faith and were taking matters into their own hands. The fabric of modern society lay in tatters as 6 billion people took matters unto themselves. It was on week 33 that a group of twelve men women and children walked from the blackened, charred wasteland of San Paulo's original infection site. They were immune and word spread. They had been living in a church since the containment ring was thrown up. They claimed to have been saved by the power of prayer. Evangelists across the world declared this a miracle calling 'BFV' a plague, on the world of greed and corruption. "A righteous man will walk through this plage without fear as long as his soul was pure and repentant" said an American network preacher right before offering toll lines for instant confession at a mere $12.99 per minute. What no one mentioned was that over 400 people went into that church to pray, only 12 walked out.

In Dublin Austin and Julie had tried to continue life as best they could but even traveling across the city was banned. They holed up in their apartment and watched the disaster unfold live on the internet. Stockpiling food had been banned but people were still doing it. Austin had been buying up tinned food and collecting bottled water for weeks. The spare room looked like a supermarket. Austin had originally come from county kerry and had wanted to move back home once the outbreak became public. Now he wished he had acted earlier. In reality he had not believed contamination would be allowed to develop. He had believed in the authorities and trusted them to protect them. In recent weeks he had seen what passed for protection in the US and Italy. Austin was taking steps to move and soon. He knew if they were going to survive this thing it was down to him. He was waiting for the time when the odds of staying were worse than those of running. He hoped, and hope springs eternal.

That hope was crushed when a case of 'BFV' was recorded in Belfast. Every radio station and TV constantly broadcast announcements telling people to Stay at home. Not to touch or contact anyone. If you came down with the fever there was a hotline number to call. Lock yourself in your home and wait for help to arrive. On the night that 'BFV' crossed the ocean into Ireland, Austin did lock his door, and bolted it. Austin and his darling Julie huddled in the dark with a shotgun pointed at the barricaded door while Dublin rioted and burned.

Next Part

Post a Comment