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Author Topic: Immunology YA Fantasy/SciFi *Updated*  (Read 874 times)
horrorchix89
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« on: November 10, 2017, 04:08:24 AM »

“If it can be created, it can be destroyed,” I mutter, staring at the large digital screen above my crowded desk. I’m sure the gods said the same thing about us.

Over one hundred and twenty people died this year, and it’s only June. Last summer, we lost ninety-eight people. The year before that, a total of six hundred and forty-five.

The analyzer beeps, flashing little sparks of light over the small screen. A cutesy melody plays to get our attention. Some of the other researchers think it’s a nice way to brighten the outcome. To me, it’s playing the tune of our defeat. A list of results prints out of the front of the machine riddled with red marks. Anette glides over to the glass-top table using her desk chair. One of the plastic wheels clicks as it rotates. A low groan exits her mouth. She looks over her shoulder at me and shakes her head.

Another failed test.

“Do we have anymore Konadai samples?” Anette pushes away from the analyzer toward the miniature, sterilized refrigerator. She leans down and swings open the door. A poof of cold fog swirls out, dissipating into the air.

“No, that was the last batch we had.” I jot down a few notes. “We should have some of the first and second stage samples left over.”

Anette closes the refrigerator door, tapping her fingers on the side. She removes the blue latex gloves from her hands and scratches at the hairnet covering her short dark hair. “No, Hiromi, I need full blown infection samples. We’ll work on the first stage next week.”

She says my name like I’m the one that burned through all the samples.

“Right, sorry.” I bite my lip to keep from saying anything more. We should work on the first stage now, but what do I know? Pay attention to the calendar, she’ll say if I utter a word against her schedule. I’m the professional here, you’re my teen intern. I roll my eyes at the thought of it. She kindly reminds me of whom I am so much that I can recite her little speech word for word. I’d rather gouge my eyes out with forceps.

She's been my mentor for several months and I've worked side by side with her ever since day one. Despite this, she still treats me as if I'm some insubordinate volunteer. Do this, do that. It never ends.

One thing I’ve learned from Anette is to stay in my place. According to her, that place is following her around with a notebook and a smile. If she’d listen to me then maybe we could’ve found something useful by now. I’m well proficient in the common viruses such as the flu, far beyond the other teens in training that are only now learning the cure for the common cold. I’ve studied since I was a child playing with microscopes.

A knock comes to the door. Without looking up, Anette motions for me to answer it. I move away from the desk and walk to the door. Another researcher stands in the sterile hallway. Dark circles linger under her eyes making her look much older. Her frizzy hair is pulled up into a messy ponytail. The cup of coffee in her shaking hand almost spills.

The woman clears her throat before she speaks. “Three more were brought in a little while ago. Two men and a child.”

I stand in silence. My fingers dig into the doorframe. The Konadai Virus claimed three more victims and we are years away from finding a cure.

Anette joins me at the door. “How’s the child doing?”

The woman takes a sip of coffee while rubbing the back of her neck. “Not good. Her skin is so cold…they’ll probably put her out of her misery soon.”

My heart drops to my knees. I clench my jaw until it hurts. A little girl. I dare not ask her age, it doesn’t matter. She’ll be dead soon if she isn’t already. Were the two men related to her? Maybe one was her father or her uncle. Maybe they weren’t related at all. Perhaps they lived in the same neighborhood. I shake the thoughts from my head. Thinking about who they were won’t help them or anyone else for that matter.

“How did they contract the virus?” Anette asks. She moves out into the hallway, eyes wide.

“No one knows yet. They were brought in from the farmlands.”

People think living away from the city will save them from contracting the virus, but the farmlands and hills are equally as vulnerable.

I walk to my desk while Anette continues to chat with the frazzled woman. We won’t solve anything by having a conversation about everyone that gets sick. The rack of glass test tubes and beakers rattle as I slump into my chair. I tighten the band around my dark ponytail and scan today’s notes to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I don’t understand how each and every test comes back negative. We need to try something else. What, I don’t know, but time’s running out.

If I can find some sort of breakthrough maybe I can finally get a chance to work on the lead researcher team. And I mean work with them, not for them—I don’t want to be subordinate for the rest of my life. I still have a year before I complete my studies to become a full-time immunologist, but if I discover the missing link, I’m sure the head guy, Dr. Richard Rue, will promote me.

Anette comes back into the small lab. Chill bumps cover her brown skin. She sits in her swivel chair in silence. I wonder what the two women were talking about, other than the new virus victims. She moves a stack of color-coordinated papers to the left side of her desk, leaving a folder in the center. Her red painted nails tap on the folder at rhythmic speed. From here it looks like a file for a past patient. Most of the new files are all on digital tablets, but some of the older ones haven’t been transferred over yet.

Anette takes a large gulp of her bottled water, wipes her forehead with her arm, and drops her head into her hands. She takes a deep breath and releases it in a soft whistle. She then leans back in the chair and glares up at the light gray cabinets with glass doors. A few curly strands pop out from under her hairnet.

“Dr. Rue should have some more samples we can use.” Her gaze stays locked at the cabinets as she speaks. “Although, he hasn’t been all that helpful.”

I could’ve told her that. Dr. Rue has been strict about how the independent labs handle the small sample supply we have. The city’s military and police unit, called the Eradication Squad, usually burns the Konadai bodies after they kill them.

Reminding her of this will only increase the stress. I keep silent, focusing my attention on the chart hanging above my desk. Blue ink marks each antidote strand we’ve tested. The red indicates it failed to eradicate the virus. So far, we’ve tried thirty-two times. The good thing that comes from all of this is I now understand how patience works.

“Why is this virus so tricky?” I mumble. The answer is clear: it was created in a lab. Even knowing that it’s a science experiment gone wrong, it baffles me that in sixty years no one has come up with an answer. It’s too bad our mahou is only limited to four types. If fire or energy worked, the researchers before my time would’ve used it to cure the virus. Then again, mixing science with mahou is what got us into this mess in the first place.

Muffled screams come through the closed lab door. Anette looks at me then the door as if something will burst through at any moment. She moves a shaking hand toward the handheld radio on her desk. I’m out of the lab before she has a chance to ask anyone what’s happening.

The screams get louder as I approach the overhang that looks down six floors to the lobby. Six Eradication Squad members dressed in their standard black uniforms with body armor covering their chests run through the lobby toward the elevators. I lean over the railing to try to see where they’re going. Ear-splitting screeching blares out through the corridors. My heart pounds against my ribs. No, it can’t be.

The intercom crackles with a high-pitched ring. Then a panicked voice comes through.

“This is a red alert. I repeat. Red alert. Do not leave your rooms. Close all doors until further notice.”

I squeeze my eyes shut. The cold of the metal railing feels as if it's penetrating my skin. My whole body freezes. No, not here. Konadai in the hospital? This is a safe zone.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2017, 05:08:49 PM by horrorchix89 » Logged
drose
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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2017, 08:01:48 AM »

I love virus stories and you have the beginning of a terrific one.

One point jumped out at me while reading your pages: let the reader "watch" what the virus does. If it's not the men or little girl who arrived at the lab, your MC can watch a video or something of a person mutating. This is a big deal in your story, it seems and will demonstrate the stakes.

I would like to get more of a sense of your MC. I know she's younger than Annette, but it might help to add more details. Does she bite her nails (or try to and deterred due to gloves) or have some other nervous habit? Does she hum and annoy Annette? What does she see/smell? Not a lot of info, but something to bring her to life a bit more.

Also, the number dead doesn't seem too high, kind of small potatoes. I read your query and I believe this is a small island? Still, I think the casualty number should be more daunting.

Have you read Stephen King's The Stand? I know it's an old book, but he begins with a character escaping the lab, fetching his wife and daughter which begins the worldwide flu epidemic. He blends mundane details with horror like no one else. Worth a reread.
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horrorchix89
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2017, 03:03:26 PM »

I love virus stories and you have the beginning of a terrific one.

One point jumped out at me while reading your pages: let the reader "watch" what the virus does. If it's not the men or little girl who arrived at the lab, your MC can watch a video or something of a person mutating. This is a big deal in your story, it seems and will demonstrate the stakes.

I would like to get more of a sense of your MC. I know she's younger than Annette, but it might help to add more details. Does she bite her nails (or try to and deterred due to gloves) or have some other nervous habit? Does she hum and annoy Annette? What does she see/smell? Not a lot of info, but something to bring her to life a bit more.

Also, the number dead doesn't seem too high, kind of small potatoes. I read your query and I believe this is a small island? Still, I think the casualty number should be more daunting.

Have you read Stephen King's The Stand? I know it's an old book, but he begins with a character escaping the lab, fetching his wife and daughter which begins the worldwide flu epidemic. He blends mundane details with horror like no one else. Worth a reread.

Thanks for the advice. I'll see what I can do about the virus. My world doesn't use video cameras. Even the "media" is just a bunch of scrolling articles on a holographic screen that people can reach out and touch to enlarge. I'll have to figure out a way to "show it".

And you're right about the death toll. I started with fifty then bumped it to seventy-five. I want it to be high but not make it seem like everyone is dying because I still need people to live somewhat normally.

To be honest, I haven't read any of Stephen King's books. I avoid him (unpopular opinion, I know). I'll probably skim a few pages if I can find it at Barnes and Nobel next time I go
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lazyprotagonist
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2017, 08:04:21 AM »

Wow! You pulled me in and kept me the whole time. I love your story and can't wait to see where it goes next. If I had any suggestion it would be what Drose mentioned about seeing the virus. I get not having video in this world makes it difficult, and I think you're first five are strong enough without it, but sometime in the early chapters, we need to see it.

Thank you for letting us read this. And please make sure to tell us when it gets picked up. This is a book I definitely want in my collection.
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horrorchix89
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2017, 05:05:39 PM »

Wow! You pulled me in and kept me the whole time. I love your story and can't wait to see where it goes next. If I had any suggestion it would be what Drose mentioned about seeing the virus. I get not having video in this world makes it difficult, and I think you're first five are strong enough without it, but sometime in the early chapters, we need to see it.

Thank you for letting us read this. And please make sure to tell us when it gets picked up. This is a book I definitely want in my collection.

Thank you Smiley

I'm still working on trying to "show" the virus but my MC isn't in any position to see it. In fact, I don't show the creatures until chapter six when she teams up with the second POV character (her childhood friend who's in the military) to go out and collect infection samples. I didn't do this on purpose but it sort of happened that way.

I'll be sure to let everyone know when I get this published. You won't be able to keep me quiet about it :D
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