Gene Wong was in the hardware store when he received the text. Standing in line with a five gallon bucket of paint and his whining seven year old, he was thiiiiiss close to spanking. He welcomed the vibration on his thigh, it more action than he’d seen since the twins were born and Gene was almost sad to pull the trusty Samsung from his pocket.
“Sender: Number blocked
Pathogen identified. Come in to headquarters.”
Gene stared. What? Frankly he hadn’t expected it to be so soon. The “real’ scientists had told him it would be some time before they had tracked down the source and identified the new superflu. Sighing, Gene bought his paint, picked up some take out for the family, and braced for his wife Ewa’s nagging. She was mercifully understanding, if not worried.
“How bad is it? I heard on CNN that –” she asked, her thick Polish accent wrapping around the words like a python.
Wong held his hands up. “It doesn’t have a high mortality rate, more troubling however, is the …” he searched for a term that didn’t sound like it was straight out of a sci-fi movie, but came up empty. “Mind control, I guess, it exhibits over it’s victims.”
Her eyes widened. “Mind control? Are you sure it’s not man made? Bioterrorism?”
“We’re not. I’m not. It might be.” He shook his phone at her. “I think it’s likely a parasite, but I’ve got to go.”
Ewa kissed him goodbye and Gene drove off to the headquarters, stuffed chicken nuggets in his mouth.
He picked up his keycard at the desk and was escorted to conference room.
“Gene! We’ve been waiting for you!” said the CFO, Jonathan Martin. A man of many degrees and who was perpetually in the office. Wong was certain the man was married to a blow up doll, and not the gorgeous woman he’d seen in frames on Dr. Martin’s desk.
Jonathan turned to the rest of the room. “This is Gene Wong, our consultant epidemiologist.”
The lab coat clad peanut gallery grunted at Gene.
He turned to the pathologist who had sat up. “Gene,” Dr. Goldstein said. “I think you ought to look at this.”
She slid a thick manila folder to him.
“So you’ve figured it out?” Gene asked, thumbing through the lab reports. He stopped. “Are you serious? This can’t be possible.”
“It’s not possible,” he said, louder. “And I won’t do it.”
Martin nodded to Gene’s escort, who moved to block the door.
“Did we say you had choice?”