Author : Timothy T. Murphy

Hurley sat on the examination table, naked to the waist, and sneezed for the umpteenth time. He reached for yet another tissue, his eyes watering, as he watched Dr. Mills flipping through charts and scribbled notes and rather pointedly ignored him. Shivering in the cold of the exam room, he finally broke the long silence, “Can I put my shirt on?”

“No, you may not.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m going to want to listen to your lungs again in a few minutes and because I’m extremely angry with you.”

“Hey look, just because you didn’t think they were ready for testing…”

“Clearly, it doesn’t matter what I think, does it?”

“All the tests showed that they were ready.”

“The tests were flawed, as I tried to point out.”

He sneezed again, blowing his nose loudly. “Okay, so I have a cold after the injection, proving that they don’t work, so why don’t you just say ‘I told you so’ and get on with the prescription, okay?”

A smug smile crept across her face as she tossed her clipboard on the desk. “Well, you see, that’s my point. They’re working perfectly.”

“Excuse me?”

“Your beautifully engineered medical molecular robots are doing their job just fine.”

She just stood there smiling at him with that infuriatingly superior manner of hers and waited for the inevitable question.

“Then how did I get a cold after I was injected?”

“You had the cold when you were injected, you simply weren’t feeling it yet. Had you been subjected to a physical before the injection, I could have warned someone.”

“Okay, but that still doesn’t explain why I still have it.”

“They were programmed to imprint on the first D.N.A. code they encountered upon injection. They were injected into your bloodstream.”

Again, she stopped and smiled like that would explain it all. He thought about it for a moment and it hit him. “Oh, crap.”

“Oh crap, indeed.”

“Are you telling me…”

“You are infected with a computer-enhanced virus.”

“So, no NyQuil?”

“Well, NyQuil hasn’t been tested or approved for use against the cyber-cold, but that certainly won’t stop you, now will it?”

“Can it kill me?”


“Excuse me?”

“Well, mind you, I’ve never encountered Robocold before, so I can’t be sure, but there is a possibility of rapid production of mucus membranes and other fluids interfering with the functions of your lungs.”

“Look, could we have this conversation in English?”

“You could drown on your own snot.”

“Okay, ew. What do I do?”

She handed him a dosage cup with two pills. “You take this. It’ll help.”

He downed the pills quickly as she picked up her phone. “What are you doing?”

“Calling the C.D.C.. You need to be quarantined.”

“What? No chance. I have to get to work on fixing this.” He stood and pulled on his shirt.

“I can’t let you out into the public. If your brand-new supervirus gets out into the general populous, it could kill billions.”

He strode over to her, towering over her and staring her down, despite the dizzy, unfocused feeling in his head. “I can’t let you do that, doctor.”

She held his gaze steadily. “I know. That’s why I gave you the tranquilizers.”

He started to ask what she meant, but the room spun, his knees gave out, and the room went dark just as his head hit the floor.

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