Author : Matthew Forish

I stood there fighting back tears, her hand held in mine, separated only by the rubber surgical gloves I was wearing. They were a perfect match for the rubber smock that covered the rest of my body, and the rubber cover over my hair. That was all for my protection, the rubber acting as a buffer to prevent static contamination. The plastic mask I wore ostensibly for her protection. Even the weakest bacteria or virus could be deadly to her with all of her defenses shutting themselves down. Now though, it just seemed superfluous.

She smiled weakly up at me, her tired eyes looking up into mine. She was trying to be reassuring. It didn’t work. I knew she didn’t have much time left, that victims of this particular strain didn’t last more than a few days, depending on their mental fortitude.

I remember back a few months ago, when the news first broke – a whole new kind of virus. It had started out small, just little bugs here and there, easily treatable, minor symptoms, nothing to worry about. People would find themselves forgetting important things, or sharing just a little too much information, or subtly altering their behaviors. It was all much worse now, how quickly the viruses had progressed.

There was really nobody specific to blame. We all should have known better, should have seen this coming.

We didn’t though. I mean, who would have thought? Certainly not the scientists who developed the technology that was the underlying cause of all this. They were just pushing the boundaries of knowledge, trying to make the world a better place. Who could have guessed it would have ended up like this?

In the beginning, only important scientists and military researchers had access to it. Soon it started trickling down to the bigger corporations. All that power at your fingertips, a dream come true for many. Revolutionary new technology was the result – things that we never dared dream of before were now a reality. Our world was heading toward a utopia.

By the time they became commercially available, any ethical controversy had already been laid to rest. Society had accepted the idea, and was ready to lay down their money for this new advancement. The things were quickly integrated into all kinds of products, making all our little tools and toys better, faster, easier to use.

We should have known. Some unscrupulous people are always going to exploit new technology. That’s what happened of course. We built computers whose functions almost perfectly mimicked the human brain, and the hackers started writing viruses that would attack them.

Did they know the bloody things would cross over to us? Did they know their maliciously coded creations would infect people through any simple static shock, that it could be transferred over the phone, through the internet, and from electronics to people and back? Did they realize that code designed to shut down computer systems would cause the human body to shut itself down as well? Did they even care?

The monitor signaled a flatline, and I sank to my knees in despair. My head bowed low and I closed my eyes, feeling the tears streaming down my face. She was gone.


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