Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.
SF Trope: Global Pandemic (aka The Plague)
Current Event: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
Tasi Tennu leaned back from the electron microscope screen, rubbing the back of her neck, groaning.
Veye Bassong said, “You could try watching a screen like everyone else.” Shaking her head, she moved across the lab to the multiple screens on the bench.
Tasi sniffed, “You do medicine how you want to, let me do…” she stopped. Shook her head and started again, “Sorry. I should take a break. I just feel like I can figure this out if I look at them directly.”
“Apology accepted, and I think I can see what you mean.” Veye stretched, “It’s just that my eighty-year-old bones can’t stand to hunch as much as your thirty-year-old bones can.” She sat, studying the screens. “It just feels hopeless! If the Americans, English, and Koreans can’t figure it out…”
Tasi held up a finger and got the “lecture face” Veye had come to expect when she said something the young pathologist vehemently disagreed with. Tasi said, “Don’t. Even. Go. There. You know as well as I do that our lab is just as good as any British, American, or Korean lab.” She paused, “Though I would give my right arm to work at the School of Advanced Virology at Korea’s National Institute of Health. They jumped so far ahead of the world during the COVID-19 days a decade ago, they haven’t looked back since.” She sighed.
“Well, it’s luck for you that this hasn’t killed anyone in our neighborhood yet.”
Tasi shook her head, “It could be dormant or latent. We don’t know…”
“We know enough to be able to image the sucker,” Veye said. She tapped the screen. “Coxsackie C…”
“You named it?”
Veye shrugged. “No one else has run a complete gene scan yet. I have, so I get to name it. A Cameroonian identifying a new virus first identified in America.” She smiled faintly. “Hard to believe.”
“Sort of a pyrhic victory, don’t you think?”
“Why? What are the current numbers?”
Tasi tapped her screen, projecting the ‘World-o-meter’ image to one of the large lab screens. Most of the rest of the researchers stopped to look as she said softly, “So far infection rate is near ninety-five percent over most of North America and in Europe and Russia. Africa is below tent percent infection rate with a sixty-two percent survival rate.”
“What’s the survival rate in North Amercia?”
“Higher than eighty percent?”
“A bit.” Tasi caught a glimpse of a smile on Veye’s face and scowling, said, “What’s so funny?”
Veye looked directly at her and said, “Why would you think I wouldn’t notice your fine engineering work – or ignore the fact that your PhD from Johns Hopkins was in retroviral engineering? And that the epicenter of Coxsakie C was in the US was in Baltimore?”
Names: ♀ Cameroon