Cold Effect E6

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By Kevin RR Williams

Serum Time


Thinking he is making progress, Ray Dent accepts the so-called inoculation that actually infects him with the rhinovirus. He is not a danger to any of the employees who have immunity against it.

On day two of the second week, Ray calls in sick.

“Sick? You are still on probation. Do you have the rhinovirus?” Ambyent asks.

“It would seem so,” replies Ray.

“What part of your research can we use to help you?” asks Ambyent.

There is a long silence as Ray figures out what is going on. “The inoculation. Did you infect me?” asks Ray.

“Genyologen is a company that heals not hurts,” Ambyent replies. “If you have some research that can help you, we are happy to assist.”

“I am too weak to concentrate right now. Let me get back with you,” Ray says before hanging up.

He calls Mega Hertz to apprise her of his suspicion. “I am devastated to hear that you have the rhinovirus. No one at this company gets it.”

“Maybe I am just having a bad reaction to the Genyologen inoculation,” Ray tells her.

“Inoculation. That doesn’t sound right,” Mega says before hanging up.

Mega now suspects that Genyologen gave Ray the virus. She maintains security for the serum formula. If she does nothing, she is an accomplice. If she shares anything with Ray, she risks two types of termination.

Ray calls his handler. “My cover is blown. They are trying to kill me. They infected me with the rhinovirus.”

“Obviously, you can’t go back to Genyologen. Is there anything Jamsyn Genetics can do for you?” agent Jones asks.

“No, we are nowhere near a viable serum,” Ray replies. “My only hope is in someone I befriended there called Mega Hertz. She seemed concerned and admitted that no one a the company gets the rhinovirus.”

“I will apprise President Thyme of this development,” says agent Jones.

In the Oval Office, agent Maggie Jones wants to update the President. He then loops in Illumy Nathan, employer of the spy Ray Dent who is working undercover at Genyologen, via augmented reality so the three of them can talk.

“It looks like your suspicions were correct, Illumy,” says the President. “Can anything be done to help Ray?”

“Unfortunately, Genyologen has the serum,” says Illumy.

“Ray seems to think the situation is troubling the conscience of an employee there by the name of Mega Hertz. Do you know her?” asks agent Jones.

“No, what’s her position within Genyologen?” Illumy asks.

“Ray tells me that she works in IT,” says Jones. “We can extract her and bring her in for interrogation.”

“If she confesses anything, will she have remote access to the serum?” asks the President.

“It is unlikely if she is a programmer. At the most, she might have an encrypted formula,” says Illumy.

“So we’re screwed. A new hire, who is actually a spy, dies of the rampant rhinovirus without any implication of wrongdoing by the new employer,” summarizes the President. “Is there any chance we can turn Mega into an asset to get the serum or the formula out of the building?”

“On your order, I will bring her in for questioning. She has not had long enough contact with Ray for him to be her sole motivation for risking her career. But if she sees herself being part of a company that kills innocent employees, I may be able to appeal to her conscience,” says agent Jones.

“Thanks for the update, Maggie. Bring her in,” President Thyme says as he leads her out of his office. He then addresses Illumy, “I am sorry you are losing a good man.”

“He is a great scientist, but he accepted the risks of this assignment,” says Illumy. “From here the only option is to keep pushing forward with our plan without a serum for the hybrids.”

“I am just flushing out ideas,” says the President. “You mentioned that the hybrids would need to be isolated. Is is possible for them to… have the same outcome as Ray?”

“That is a path I don’t feel comfortable traversing,” replies Illumy. “How would you explain a sudden peek in cases immediately following vaccination? You would be driving large trucks around that shovel up bodies.”

“Yes, I see that. But with all the temporary protection we can offer, they will not last long on Venus. There, we just have a space station and a few pods,” the President reasons. “News of their being sent to an uninhabitable planet will be just as devastating to my reelection as them dying in the street.”

Illumy Nathan restrains his reply.

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