Emergence (Ongoing....)

Discussion in 'Fiction & Non-Fiction Stories' started by DM1791, Aug 26, 2019.

  1. DM1791

    DM1791 Member

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    Prologue

    March 19, 2014 0300hrs

    Un-named Village West of Eirunepe, Brazil


    The rainy season was nearly over in the western Amazon, but evening storms were still common and strong. The one that had sprung up that afternoon in the hottest part of the day had raged for hours, long past sunset. The tall grass that surrounded a handful of wood and thatch-roofed long houses was beaten flat by that rain. The houses stood in a rough semi-circle facing the Jurua River, one of the many tributaries of the Amazon River that eventually drained into the sea far to the east.

    People in the village enjoyed a lifestyle their ancestors had perfected thousands of years before. They lived largely off the river and the lush green forest that rose in staggered emerald green hills to a high plateau in the distance to the west.There were a few small plots cultivated around the clearing, but the villagers gathered most of what they needed from the forest rather than growing it.They had contact with the outside world, but not much beyond the few vessels that moved and traded on the river this far west, and the villagers rarely made it to any of the larger communities.

    In one of the thatched long houses was a man, Ivo Duarte, who didn't notice the pounding rain or the rolling, rumbling thunder that made his wife jump and his younger children tremble. In his mid thirties, he was well-established as a dependable worker in the village and, though he didn't follow the traditional path of fishing the rivers and hunting the forests, he provided well for his wife and his children. He often took jobs as a porter, carrying equipment for biologists, ecologists, and other groups conducting studies in the jungles that were his ancestors' ancient home. Most of the villagers fished and sold their catch in the villages and towns along the river, but Ivo's ambitions had always been larger, and he liked to talk about sending their children to a university one day, which always made his wife smile.

    But he had been ill the past few days, ever since his return home from the latest trip, and his wife wasn't smiling—it was getting worse. When Ivo slept all day, even missing two meals and sleeping through the thunderstorm, his wife began to worry. Her husband had always been a strong man and a source of strength for the rest of their family. To see him weakened to the point he couldn't climb out of bed made her gut twist with fear.

    For a long time she sat up and watched him sleep an uneasy and fitful sleep before she could finally close her own eyes and rest as evening deepened into night.

    *

    Ivo suddenly awoke in his blankets, his head pounding bad enough to make his ears ring. It was night outside and he could hear the soft sound of his wife's rasping snore behind him on their pallet. Their two young daughters were asleep at the other end of their longhouse, curled up in hammocks that were tied to the roof support beams. Being as quiet as he could, Ivo stumbled outside and down to the banks of the Jurua where he splashed water on his face and neck. Even with a nearly full moon overhead his eyes burned and were so blurry he could barely see the dirt path cutting through the grass and the shimmering moonlight reflected on the water. The handful of longhouses that formed his village were all dark and silent; no one was awake at this hour–no one but Ivo.

    He sat down heavily in the wet sand near the river and rubbed his arms and legs. His joints were aching, his chest and throat burned, and his head felt like it was being crushed. He hoped that being outside in the fresh air would keep his family from catching whatever he had, and maybe it would help him feel better. He thought he'd picked up a new flu virus on a recent job that had taken him deep into the jungles around Eirunepe. Ivo had worked as a porter helping to carry supplies and photography equipment for part of an expedition by a nature photographer and his local guide.

    It was difficult, physically demanding work and it meant days or even weeks away from his family, but there was more money to be made on one such trip than on an entire year of selling salted and smoked fish in the markets. If there was a high demand Ivo could sometimes make three or four trips in a single season. But there was a very real risk of being injured or falling ill while on these trips. Several years earlier he'd broken his wrist in a fall while on a biologist's expedition, and the year before he'd had a serious case of malaria as a result of a trip during the wet season for an ecologist ironically studying mosquito breeding trends.

    Shortly after returning home from his most recent trip a few days earlier, Ivo had started feeling sick. He felt like he had a low fever and a few aches and pains, but nothing he hadn't been through before. The symptoms weren't terrible at first and Ivo had assumed it was a case of the flu, which he'd caught from fellow workers on past expeditions.

    He was starting to wonder if he had something more serious since he couldn't remember having a case of flu this bad in his entire life. His head was hurting worse than he could ever remember, his eyes felt like they were about to pop out of his head, and there was a strange, persistent burning in his throat and stomach. Whenever he felt his head with his own hand it felt alarmingly hot, but he shivered and trembled rather than sweating.

    The pain behind Ivo's eyes became too much, and he laid his head back on the wet sandy bank, his eyes closed. He could feel hot tears running down his cheeks from his eyes as they watered from the pain. He tried to focus on figuring out a way to lessen the pounding in his head, but his thoughts didn't seem to want to form together very well. Slowly the gurgling sound of the river lulled him to sleep.

    Ivo's wife found him laying in the sand the next morning, his skin was hot and he was delirious for a while after waking. His eyes were horribly bloodshot, and there was slow bleeding around his teeth. Ivo took every tonic and concoction the village medicine man gave him. Some of them had to be poured into his mouth with a funnel as he became too weak to swallow throughout that day, but none of it seemed to help.

    Without a thermometer in the village it was difficult to tell if his fever was going up but it didn't seem to be breaking. Ivo and his family didn't have the fuel for a trip upriver to the doctors in Eirunepe. They watched and hoped for a vessel to pass by the village heading downriver and that they'd give passage to a sick stranger. The rest of the village only had simple dugout canoes that had to be paddled, and Ivo's wife didn't think he would live through a trip downriver like that.

    Over the next few days Ivo's condition continued to get worse. Blinding pains began shooting through his body, especially in his gut and lower abdomen. He began vomiting up anything he ate or drank, and was barely able to keep even water in his system. His hands and feet began to shake and his skin developed large dark bruised patches. Blood began to leak from his nose, ears, and the corners of his eyes. When he finally lost consciousness and slipped into a shallow coma, there was no doubt that whatever he had it was not a simple case of the flu. Ivo's family was terrified as they watched him slowly and painfully dying before their eyes.

    A little less than a week after Ivo began showing symptoms, his youngest daughter developed a fever and bloodshot eyes, the same first symptoms Ivo had shown. She began coughing the next day, a ragged and wet sounding cough that left bloody foam on her lips sometimes. Ivo died the night his daughter started her bloody cough, and the next morning his wife woke up with a headache and bloodshot eyes. By that night their oldest daughter was sick as well, vomitting and shaking with a fever.

    Their neighbor in the longhouse to the right of theirs had three children, all boys. The middle child developed a fever and bloodshot eyes shortly after Ivo died. The entire extended family fled, disappearing overnight with all of their children and as much food and water as they could carry. Ivo's wife and both children were already coughing up blood, their youngest daughter didn't even have enough strength to stand or lift her head to watch the neighbors pile into their dugout canoe and disappear into the darkness. By the end of the third week since Ivo's sickness began, his entire family was dead and the rest of the village was abandoned.

    Three of the four families living around Ivo sought healing with relatives who live deeper in the jungle. One family fled east, downriver towards the ever larger villages, towns, and cities with their two sick children, one nephew, and a grandmother. The father stumbled into the small town of Fogoso a few miles west of Eirunepe four days later with the body of his infant son cradled in his arms. He was the last surviving member of the village.

    A local healer tended to the father as best he could, and they sent for doctors from the municipal hospital in Rio Branco. Before any doctors could arrive, though, the man died of his illness. In his last moments he called out for his wife and children, reaching blindly for them until one of the healer's teenage nieces who was studying to be his apprentice took the sick man's hand and held it. She whispered to him to calm him down and after a few minutes the man laid back on his bed, drew one long, rattling breath, and died.

    A few weeks later someone stopped at the semicircle of longhouses and set them all on fire. The longhouse containing the bodies of Ivo Duarte, his wife, and their two young children burned to the ground leaving their bones buried together in a tomb of burnt timbers and ash as the Jurua River rolled by bearing silent witness.
     
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  2. DM1791

    DM1791 Member

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    This is an ongoing story that will be posted in parts. For those who remember, I'm the author of Officer of the Watch and the Blackout Series. Hello again, and hope you enjoy. This is a project I've been working on for a long LONG time.... currently seeking representation for it, but thought I'd give you guys a first look.

    Hope you like it... And there's more to come...

    D.W. McAliley
     
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  3. BlueZ

    BlueZ Well-Known Member

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    thanks for posting it!!!!!!:)
     
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  4. DM1791

    DM1791 Member

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    Chapter 1 (pt 1)

    May 8, 2014 0900hrs

    Orlando, Florida



    Maxwell Deavers zipped his small leather overnight bag and looked around his rented condominium one more time. The last thing of his was his phone, plugged into the living room wall and charging. Once Max had gone through each of the rooms and checked all of the drawers, cabinets, and closets, he was finally satisfied. He unplugged his phone, stuck the charging cable in the small zipper pocket on the front of his backpack, and locked the door on his way out.

    As planned, Max put the brass key in a small envelope and slipped it into the unit’s locked mailbox; then he walked down the wide cobblestone stairs into a stiff breeze blowing in from the east. The sun was up already, and it was beginning to get warm, but the breeze would help keep the morning cool for a while. He checked his watch, a Citizen eco-drive, and saw that he had just over four hours before his flight back to Atlanta.

    Max always loved the end of an assignment, but he hated ending his work on a Monday. It meant he had to fly all the way back to Atlanta’s CDC headquarters and face a full week of paperwork and possibly lab report analysis. And that was if he was lucky. If Lady Luck wasn't on his side, he might be assigned to a new project before the weekend. His division of the CDC Epidemic Investigative Service (EIS) was in charge of food-borne pathogens, and the period from early April through mid-June was busy in the southeast as people began firing up their barbecues.

    The project Max just finished was a small cluster of Escherichia coli cases that he had tracked as part of a multi-state epidemic. In his cluster, the bacteria traced back to a particular brand of pre-packaged shredded lettuce that had been used for uncooked coleslaw at several cookouts in Rosemont, a suburb of Orlando. Luckily the product had been identified early in the investigation and the unopened packages were removed from the grocery store shelves. When Max sent those back to Atlanta for testing, they matched a DNA profile for the E. coli strain that had resulted in hospitalizations in all nine affected states.

    One employee who did not use proper hand-washing protocol before repairing a piece of equipment that touched the final product in the packaging phase was responsible for the outbreak. One lapse in hygiene at the production level had inadvertently harmed nearly a hundred people in nine states, though, thankfully, there were no fatalities in this instance. The season was early, and three different outbreaks of various food-borne illnesses had already caused unnecessary deaths, so Max knew it was only a matter of time before he found himself on an investigation with a body count.

    These thoughts rolled through Max's mind as he drove his beige four-door rental back to Orlando International. Even though he had already logged his case notes and submitted his end-of-action reports on the closed epidemic, he still rehashed the cases as he rolled to a stop in the lingering morning traffic on the interstates. The large square Garmin suction-cupped to the windshield had directed him on the most fuel-efficient route to the airport, but that apparently meant sitting with half of Orlando waiting for the roads to open.

    In his mental review, Max couldn't find anything he'd left out or missed. Once the origin of the pathogen was realized, it was a simple thing to track the distribution of the lot numbered on the package. That had confirmed the correlation with the rest of the cases and the pieces had fallen into place. The processing plant had operations temporarily suspended, pending a full investigation, an evaluation of safety and sanitary protocol, and a recertification process.

    The CDC had learned not to take these kinds of incidents lightly, or they tended to repeat themselves.

    Max pulled into a parking spot outside his rental drop-off point and checked his watch again. The drive that had been forty minutes on paper had taken more than an hour and a half. He now had just over two hours until his departure time, which wasn’t a lot of time on a Monday morning at Orlando International. Max dropped the keys for his rental at the return desk and signed the receipt before heading through the ticket area. The line of passengers waiting to check their baggage was impressive as it zigzagged through the maze of canvas ribbon and out into the aisles.

    Years of travelling had taught Max the benefits of packing light, so he skipped the baggage-check lines and headed straight for the automatic ticket kiosks. Even those had lines of impatient people, so it took fifteen minutes for Max to get an open machine to print his boarding pass. After another forty-five minutes of inching through the security line, Max was finally inside the terminal and on his way to the gate.

    Since he had some extra time, Max decided to pick up a snack and something to read. He stepped into a news stand along the concourse and picked up a coke, a bag of chips, and a copy of a spy novel by an author whose name sounded like an ancient Norse god. The cover was intriguing, though, and he didn’t want to spend the next hour and a half slogging through more case notes and file directives.

    Max gathered his purchases, and the pretty young blonde behind the counter tallied his total. Before paying, though, Max pulled on a single latex finger cot, swiped his ATM card through the reader, and then proceeded to press the buttons for the sale with his latex-covered index finger. When he looked up, Max saw the saleswoman oddly staring at his hands.

    Max met her gaze and shrugged. “Sorry, nothing personal. It’s just I know how many people come through here daily, and who knows where their hands have been? Can't be too careful.”

    He smiled as he collected his purchases, but the young woman still looked at him like he had somehow grown two heads. On the way out of the store, Max pulled off the finger cot and dropped it in the wastebasket. He’d never been a paranoid person when it came to germs, and he still didn’t consider himself to be, but as a six-year veteran of the EIS, he’d come to respect pathogens and the way they quickly and unpredictably spread. Viruses and bacteria thrive in environments like airports where large numbers of people from widely dispersed locations funnel into a common area in close proximity to one another. In that kind of situation, pathogens can potentially mix and mingle in ways that they never would in the natural world. Such microbial melting pots can produce wildly virulent new strains of both viruses and bacteria as genetic material and traits transfer among pathogens that normally would have no chance to interact.

    Even though the chances of a new global pathogen or pandemic erupting from the keypad on a newsstand card reader were slim, it was still a chance Max preferred not to take.
     
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  5. DM1791

    DM1791 Member

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    Ch. 1 (pt 2)

    At the gate Max settled into an uncomfortably padded chair and began reading the novel he’d purchased. The book was good, but Max was distracted by the throng of people passing through the airport. He watched them almost as much as he read, but for some reason it was at moments like these, when he was surrounded by people on all sides, that Max felt most isolated and alone, as if he were standing outside a building with the rest of humanity on the other side of a clear glass window. He could see them, but he could never quite reach them.


    His EIS training had prepared him for that feeling of isolation to an extent. The instructors had described it as a side effect of the clinical nature of the job and the fact that as an EIS agent Max would be inspecting private and often intimate details of the lives of strangers, some of whom may have already succumbed to the epidemic he was investigating. In order to do such a job accurately and efficiently, agents had to develop a level of professional detachment that kept emotion from overwhelming reason. The problem, Max had found, was that once he reached that level of detachment, it was difficult to switch it off again and reconnect.


    An announcer came over the loud speaker, pulling Max out of his private reverie. “Boarding will now begin at Gate AA for Flight 1822 from Orlando to Atlanta. Passengers in group 1 may begin boarding now.”


    Max folded down the corner of the page he’d been reading, gathered his laptop backpack and overhead bag, and headed for the gate. The flight from Orlando to Atlanta was a short one, and he was ready to be home, but he was less than thrilled about spending an hour and a half hour in a closed metal tube with a hundred other people breathing the same recycled air. As an epidemiologist, that thought gave Max cold shivers and a queasy feeling, but he felt the same way every time he flew.


    Max made his way down the aisle, placed his bag in the overhead bin, and settled into his window seat on the left side of the aircraft. Just as he was getting comfortable, a large barrel-chested man in a white Stetson dropped heavily into the seat next to him. The man was older than Max by maybe twenty years and appeared to be in his mid-fifties. His face was round, and his cheeks and forehead were bright red and slick with sweat.


    “Boy damn! It’s hotter than Hell’s housecat out there!”the man bellowed in a deep baritone, thick with a Texas accent. He held out his right hand and introduced himself with a broad, toothy grin. “Jimmy Devin III, pleased to meet ya.”


    Max looked at the man’s hand but didn’t take it. “Maxwell Deavers,” he replied without closing his book.


    Jimmy waited a moment before dropping his hand with a small shrug. “Whatcha do for a livin', Max? My pop always said you could tell a lot about a man by what trade he plied.”


    “I’m an EIS agent with the Centers for Disease Control,” Max replied. “We go out and hunt down the source of viral and bacterial outbreaks and then try to stop them from spreading.”


    “I see,” Jimmy said, shifting his weight to lean as far away from Max as possible in the confines of the two-seat row. His face paled slightly, and he wiped the palm of his right hand on his pants leg despite the fact that Max hadn’t shook it.


    Max smiled. “Don’t worry, Mr. Devin. I work with food-borne pathogens, not communicable diseases. Unless you’re planning to share a salad or something with me, you should be safe.”


    Jimmy said something else, but Max wasn’t really listening, and Jimmy didn’t seem too interested in pursuing the conversation anymore. Max was used to that kind of reaction when he talked about his job. People typically heard CDC or virus hunter and decided they didn’t need to hear much more to know they didn’t want to sit too closely or talk too deeply with him.


    By the time the rest of the passengers had boarded, and they had taxied away from the terminal, Jimmy was snoring softly, his wide-brimmed hat pulled down to cover his eyes and the top of his face. Max pulled a small MP3 player from his pocket and shuffled through his playlist until he found an instrumental album of Irish folk music. He let the sound of fiddles, pipes, and guitars drown out the snores as he turned back to his novel, thankful the flight to Atlanta was only an hour and a half.


    The aircraft shook slightly as it took off, but Max knew that was normal as he watched the short-cropped grass along the runway race by outside the window. The wings gained lift, and the cabin tilted sharply as Max was pressed into the back of his seat. The pilot climbed in a steep arc that turned counter-clockwise before leveling off on a northward track across the neck of Florida.


    Between pages in his novel, Max looked out the window to watch the patchwork of fields and forests rolling far below. Every so often they'd pass over a town or a small city with a cluster of businesses at their center and the thin gray threads of highways creating an interconnecting maze around them. From the airplane window they looked like small cobwebs stretched out across the ground.


    After a few chapters, the intercom system dinged, and the flight attendant announced they were beginning their final approach to Atlanta. Max nudged Jimmy awake and told him they were landing. The red-faced Texan thanked him, adjusted his Stetson, and began getting things ready for touchdown. Max gathered his overnight bag from the overhead compartment and secured his laptop backpack.


    Once off the plane, Max avoided the passengers headed for baggage claim and instead made a bee-line for the shuttle to the long-term parking lots. He pulled a parking voucher from his laptop bag and chose the tram that would take him to the west lot. At the shuttle kiosk, Max swiped his company credit card and paid the two-week parking fees.


    As he settled into his Jeep Rubicon, Max breathed a deep sigh of relief. After weeks on the road, back to back assignments, and an uncomfortable, albeit brief, flight, he was finally home—almost. He still had a forty-five-minute drive across town, but at least he was in his own car, in his own city. The rest of the week loomed ahead with end-of-assignment protocols to finish and final situation reports to file, but those were problems for another day.


    For now, he was happy, finally, to be home¾ almost.


     
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  6. BlueZ

    BlueZ Well-Known Member

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    Keep it coming!!! I would totally pay for the full novel
     
  7. BlueZ

    BlueZ Well-Known Member

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    Cant wait for the next installment!