The line of boxy, human-like figures walked slowly, line abreast, silhouetted by the sunset. In a helicopter hovering above, three doctors watched as the figures moved, one or another, so two or three at once, stopped, bent, and picked something up with an odd wand and placed it in a box held in the other.
“It looks like they are finding a good supply of comet pieces for us to work on,” Dr. Ricardo Urbani said. “It’s surprising how many experienced people they were able to find for this search. Maybe now we will be able to identify the virus, or whatever it is and find a cure. Too many infants and toddlers have died already!” Dr. Jose Mazza and Dr. James Snow agreed, and asked the ‘copter pilot to take them back to base.
Back at base, they joined the other epidemiologist Dr. Maria Perriago who was in the lunch room discussing their work with, Dr. Anne Baker, Dr. Eric Jenner and Dr. Henry Winslow, all involved with the research. Oddly enough, every one of them was a direct descendant of a famous epidemiologist or a doctor who had worked on related areas, such as sanitation and hygiene.
“HI Rick! We have just heard some news. David Levy, of comet Shoemaker-Levy fame, got curious about this comet, what its orbit is. He is part of the Jarmac Comet Survey at Jarmac Observatory at Vail, Arizona. Anyway, he didn’t just stop with where it broke up and hit Earth he followed its track backwards. He just announced that it was a non-periodic comet and the last time it passed by was at least thirty million years ago, maybe longer.” Maria said.
“Ok, now we know that we can look for extinctions around that time and that might help locate the virus. But I’m putting my money on the debris. I’m sure we will find the virus in it, and we can test it out and give it a name. And find an antidote. Little ones are dying as we speak, we must find the answer soon!”
The others nodded, and rose from the table. “Back to the hazmat suits everyone,” Jose Mazza said. “The first lot of debris has been delivered. Let us have at it, and see what we can see.”
They all trooped back to the isolation lab, donned the uncomfortable, boxy hazmat suits and James Snow tapped in the code to open the lab door. They separated to their various stations, taking samples with them, and set to work. Hours later, Jose Mazza said “I think I may have something.” He tapped keys and a picture appeared on the big screen on the wall at the end of the room. It showed a small wavy shape, less than a molecule in size. “I’ll have to dig it out and test it, but first I’m going to see if I can find more. I don’t want to destroy the only sample.”
“I’ll see if I can find any in my samples, too” Eric Jenner said. “If we both find samples you can do the tests sooner. You can do that while I look for more.”
“Good going, guys.” Ricardo said. “The rest of us will continue to search for anything. If we come up with your little critter, we’ll pass the samples on. But we have to keep a wide search going in case that isn't our culprit.”
Silence settled on the lab as they all bent to their electronic microscopes and the samples of comet debris on hand. Before the day was over, many more cases of debris were delivered. Anne Baker sighed. It looked like it was going to be a long week – or month. With the number of searchers, the cases of debris could number in the thousands. And they had to find a cure!
She set her mind back on the microscope screen, looking for the wavy form Jose had found, or anything that could be a virus. Such a thing had wiped out the dinosaurs, would this one wipe out humanity?