Jordan Scott was a year into her residency as a pathologist at one of those hospitals in downtown L.A. that looks like any other hospital in downtown L.A. when the plague arrived. The CDC called it a flu, but this was unlike any flu Jordan had ever encountered. The Flu doesn’t make your flesh slowly rot away. It doesn’t make you violent. It doesn’t make you unintelligible. This was no flu. She had been studying it for three months now, since the first patient arrived at the hospital with it. The patient was incoherent and delirious. The usual test turned up nothing, no drugs, no alcohol. The patient’s bloodwork all seemed normal under the standard battery of tests, but it didn’t take a doctor to see that the patient was clearly physically and mentally ill. Soon more started coming in with the same symptoms, all were clearly sick, but nothing indicated as such. The disease apparently wasn’t contagious in any of the normal modes of transmission, so a quarantine ward was setup where those afflicted were treated while Jordan and the rest of the pathology department set to work to figure out what exactly was going on. Unfortunately, even the more advanced blood tests still came up with nothing. By all rights, the patients in the quarantine ward should have been perfectly healthy humans. Even their white-blood cell counts were normal. The CDC was informed, and it wasn’t too long until the hospital was crawling with bureaucrats. They brought in their “best and brightest” but they had no more luck in figuring out what was going on then Jordan and her compatriots did. But each day, those already sick got worse, their bodies wasting away more and more. Each day, more of the sick came in, until the quarantine ward had to be expanded. It was feared that the hospital would run out of beds, of course, that fear was misplaced, though no one knew it at the time.
The weaker of those afflicted started dying about two months after they first showed up. However, the heartier ones seemed to derive an almost superhuman stamina and strength from their condition. One attacked a CDC agent, who luckily escaped without much more than a few scratches. It took a handful of doctors and a large amount of morphine, enough to kill a normal human, to finally subdue the attacker. However, one of the doctors got bit on the arm by the assailant. Within a few hours, he came down with the same affliction as the others. It was a breakthrough for the pathologists, but it came at a cost. The CDC started collecting saliva samples from the afflicted while Jordan and her compatriots started testing them. The CDC also called in some national guard as extra protection. Soon the hospital seemed more like a warzone then a place of healing.
But Jordan knew she had an important task and steeled herself to avoid the distractions of the bureaucrats, soldiers, and the increasing violence among the quarantined, much of which was put down by the sound of pistol fire. It was then that she had a breakthrough, though it was pretty much by accident. In a moment of clumsiness, she had knocked over a tray of test tubes that held blood and saliva samples from both afflicted and clean. As the tubes broke and their contents mingled, she noticed that a slight chemical reaction took place, a slight bubbling and release of steam, then nothing. After the spill was cleaned up with a biohazard kit, the experiment was repeated, this time under controlled conditions. Sure enough, the same result occurred. While everything indicated the two sets of samples were identical, when infected saliva mixed with infected blood, nothing happened. When normal saliva mixed with normal blood, nothing happened either. But when the infected saliva mixed with normal blood, a reaction occurred.
However, Jordan never got the chance to explore further, since it wasn’t too long that all Hell broke lose in the quarantine ward. Whereas before there were only isolated violent cases, now it seemed everyone was. The military could barely contain them and called for backup. The employees thought they were merely going to station more soldiers, but instead they evacuated the place, commandeering the hospital. Jordan tried to get answers, but the most she was able to figure out was that similar things were happening all over the city, and she should count herself lucky that she was at least surrounded by well trained and armed personnel. Of course, it’s all a matter of perspective. Being dragged from one’s life at practically gun point to face a world apparently rampant with who knows what plague afflicting it isn’t exactly what many would consider fortuitous.
But at least she was able to lift some medical supplies. Never know when one might need them.