Author : Josie Gowler

The fever breaks at five in the morning, suddenly. It’s like the air right after a thunderstorm. I sit up. Much too quickly. The greyish room swims for a few moments and I clutch the sides of the bed. Feet on the floor. The cold creeping up through my soles helps. I have this sensation of deja vu. The sheets are soft under my hands. There’s a nice view of a garden from the window; the sun is just starting to rise on a decent-looking day. God only knows where I am, though.

A stocky bloke in a white coat, mask and goggles comes in. He’s got a round and kindly face but he’s holding a clipboard so it must be serious. “How are you feeling?” he asks.

I can’t decide exactly what I feel like, maybe a mixture of newborn kitten and blast furnace interior. I want to tell him that, but something else is bugging me. “Were you watching me?” I ask.

“Samantha,” he says, ignoring my question. “Louise. Angela.”

I shrug. None of the names mean a thing to me. Scratching at my arm, I glance down and notice an injection hole. “What did you…” I begin.

The world spins again and the next thing is my (or Samantha’s or whoever’s) head is down the toilet. I grimace at the sour taste in my mouth, but at least my brain’s starting to clear now.

I don’t have the energy to make it back to the bedroom.

# # # # #

Midday. Damn. I clamber to my feet. I’m freezing. Fancy dozing off on the bathroom floor. Like I’ve got bugger all else to do. I swig down a glass of water and return to the bedroom. I slide into the chair next to the desk. The front page of the notepad in front of me shows a date – three days ago according to my watch – and a formula.

‘Three days. Confusion/amnesia. Whiff of paranoia’, I write. I know I just need to get some initial thoughts down at this stage before the feeling fades. I’ll refine the text later and merge it with the doc’s views. Then will come toxicology reports, proposals for a wider sample group and lastly the pre-manufacture field testing. The generals want to know what their merchandise is like. I like to think it’s part of their shoot-to-wound policy, but I suspect they just want to skip the regulatory hassle of justifying testing it on someone other than its creator. Three days seems about right to overrun an enemy stronghold. I might have hit on my next first-rater in the maximum inconvenience bio-weapons field.

I’m ravenous. Time to get that coward of a doctor back in to do the blood arrays and run the quarantine tests so I can hit the canteen. I want to catch up with my fellow lab rats: I could do with a gossip. And see whether anyone’s had a disaster this time. Well, it’s not like we’re underpaid for this crap. I smile as I push the call button. There’s probably some poor sod out there on a pittance, being injected with the last virus I made so the enemy’s virologists can test cures. It’s my job to make sure they stay one step behind of my blockbuster drugs.

So that’s it, then. Until next time.


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