They stood, gazing at the tiny figure in the crib, emaciated and twisted from terrible pain, and sighed. “How many is that?” the man asked.
“Today, this week, or since the beginning?” the woman replied. “I can give you figures for all three.”
“This week, here at St. Michael’s, for a start.” He told her.
“We have newborns to six months, thirty five; twenty extremely critical, on full life support and prognosis very poor.” She looked at her notes. “Ten critical, but prognosis is better, five serious but they will probably live. All together from newborns and up to age ten, there are one hundred and thirty five. At last count so far this week, nine hundred and forty five. We’ll likely get more in before Saturday. There is some indication though that there will be some kind of damage, physical or developmental in those who do live. We don’t have a large enough sample of recovered patients to be sure. And that is only at St. Michael’s. There are six more hospitals here, and their figures are at least as bad.”
He pounded his fist on the side of the crib and cursed. “How the hell did this happen? Where did this virus or whatever it is come from? It’s already covered almost half the world. When will it end? How can we stop it, cure them?” He was red faced and shaking, angry and frustrated at seeing so many children, the future of the world, ill, in pain, dying, or becoming handicapped. “It isn’t only Toronto that has been hit. It seems to be all over the world. How many more are going to die before we find an answer?”
“I’ve been wondering that, and I took a look at where it started. I think it was that meteor that fell two weeks ago. I followed the path of the spread of the illness, and compared it to the path the meteor took, and they match perfectly. I am certain that this is something that came from outer space. Could it be that that wasn’t a meteor, but something from a ship we haven’t seen? Could Earth be under alien attack?”
“I seriously doubt that, though from the latest news my wife told me, it could be. First, it wasn’t a meteor; it was a comet that broke up like the Schoemaker-Levy comet that hit Jupiter in July of 1994. It broke up into twenty two fragments that followed a straight line right to impact. So the pieces hit in a line across Jupiter, and that is what they think happened here. Astronomers and meteorologists are tracking the line backwards to find the first impact, and whatever land might have been affected by fallout as the pieces fell lower into the atmosphere.
“They are thinking now that it may have contained a virus that is not known on Earth, or was wiped out with the dinosaurs. After all, they do say that life here probably started with impacts of comets and meteors. If they can prove that the virus followed the same path in its spread as the comet pieces did, at least they’ll know that. They’re already out trying to find all the bits and pieces they can to take back and examine. If they can isolate the virus from the comet debris, it will give them more to work on to find a cure.”
“I hadn’t heard that. I’ve been too busy trying to keep babies and toddlers alive, and ease their pain, as well as following the statistics. I do hope they can find something soon, or the earth will end up with no children under ten. Then what if it starts attacking the older ones? They do get it now, but in a fairly mild form.” The nurse sighed again. “It is all too much, too heartbreaking. How can a so-called loving God allow something like this to happen?” She turned away, and nodded to the two men in hazmat suites who arrived with a clear box. They lifted the tiny body and placed it in the box, sealed the box and left.