Technosis: The Kensington Virus (3 page)

BOOK: Technosis: The Kensington Virus
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“Get down!” one of the men bellowed.

Jamie dropped to the floor. He heard the eruption of gunfire tear through the air above his head. He rolled over to see what had happened. One of the people in uniform stepped forward and struck him in the face with the butt of their rifle. Jamie lost consciousness.



arkness gave way to gray swirls, red pain and then vague white light. Jamie realized his eyes were open and he was staring at a flat white surface with a bay of lights. His brain was rolling and he could not say if he was lying down, standing up or looking at the floor. A masked figure in a white suit and gloves hovered over him. A light was flashed in his eyes.

“What is your name?”

“Jamie Baxter,” he said. His mouth was dry and his lips were gummy and slow to respond.

“Where do you work?”

“Hersteadtech Health Care Campus.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a doctor.”

“What department?”

“Normally, general care. I was sent to cover third floor. Dr. Wickham was out.”

“Do you have any problems in your work place with your colleagues?”


“Do you have, or have you had, any incidents with your coworkers?”


“Did you call in a health emergency for a data tech?”



“The data tech stopped performing intakes and locked themselves in the break room.”

“And that was a health emergency?”

“I could not identify the cause of the event.”

“Have you sent any messages in the last twenty-four hours?”


There was a pause. “Did you send text, emails, flashes or other digital communications outside of your normal work duties?”


“Did you receive any?”


“From whom?”

“My ex-wife and sister.”

There was a silence. Jamie heard a popping noise, like the seal being broken on a sterile packed syringe. Then he felt a warm sensation in the veins of his arm and neck. Then there was again darkness.

Blue, gray and white came into slow focus. The blue and gray were shapes that resolved to letters and numbers and Jamie climbed out of the darkness. ‘Quarantine Bay 54’ was spelled out in four meter high blue letters against a gray background on the white walls. Jamie looked around in silence. He was alone in the bay, restrained with an IV in his right wrist and, by the vague feeling he had from the waist down, a catheter had been inserted in his penis. Sudden movement or protest were not only ill advised, but potentially intensely painful and, given his circumstances, something he would be made to regret.

Jamie remained quiet for nearly twenty minutes before anyone came to check on him. The person who came in was in a dark uniform, like the one he’d seen at the clinic. The person was clearly military and had an erect posture.

“Dr. Baxter.”

“Call me Jamie.”

“Jamie, I’m Commander Halle Preston. I was the one who brought you here.”

“You were the one that hit me with the gun?”

“Yes. Nothing personal.”

Jamie thought about that. He remembered looking up and seeing the soldier in all black with the mask and helmet. Had there been anything in the eyes to suggest anger, disgust, or rage? He couldn’t remember.


“You’ve been exposed. Initially we thought you were exposed when you were transferred to the third floor. But, after retrieving your messages we found you were exposed over a year ago.”

“Exposed to what?”

“The Kensington virus. It’s a data to human transmission.”

“Can that happen?” He asked.

“You’ve heard of zoonosis?”

“Of course. I’m a doctor. Zoonosis is animal to human transmission of diseases. The general view is it is a back and forth transfer that occurs through a common vector or proximity. Mosquitoes or respiratory droplet projections. There is a recombination of the virus that encodes it in a way that the host and later the recipient has no or limited immunity to.”

“Yes, well we are categorizing the Kensington virus as a technosis. Data to human.”

“Data encoding a virus and protein covering?” Jamie asked dubiously.

“No. It’s a different sort of virus. Assuming you survive we will talk more.”

“Assuming I survive?”

“You had ongoing exposure. But you were in the presence of a lethal level of the Kensington virus when our containment team arrived at floor three.”

“What happened to the other doctors?”

“Dr. Wickham was found at home, dead. Dr. Locum was dead and the entire data tech team for the floor was dead.”


“We will talk more when your Quarantine is completed,” she said, and pressed a small valve on the side of his IV. Jamie’s veins burned and his world once again went dark.

Jamie woke up to an itching sensation across his face and neck. He saw a bag slung low at the far corner of the bed to which he was strapped. There was a line running from his left arm to the bag. Blood was filling the bag.

“Good morning,” a person in a white sterile suit said.

“Is it?” Jamie asked. He felt his throat burn when he talked.

“It’s always good to be alive.” The person replied and turned a valve that stopped the flow of blood to the bag.

“Is …it morning?” he managed to ask.

“Yes. It is morning,” they answered. Then they disconnected the tube from his left arm, heat sealed the bag and placed it in a container that they took with them.

Jamie looked down the length of his body and saw that his limbs had atrophied. He saw multiple marks on his left arm. He assumed they were stab sites where the data techs had done draws on him and missed the vein.

“Congratulations,” a soldier in a black uniform said, walking into the room.

Jamie just looked at Halle Preston and said nothing.

“You’re alive, and surprisingly enough, it seems you’re immune to the Kensington virus,” she said.


“It makes you one of five people to have survived it. And the only one to have survived it this long.”


“No, not just yet. We are going to need your help first. But you can go home soon enough. It’s time for you to get out of that bed and start helping people again.” She then picked up a communicator and said, “Baxter’s room. He is to be spit and polished in thirty minutes.”

“Yes ma’am,” was heard from the other end of the call.

“You are very important, Dr. Baxter. But, be advised, you are agency property for the time being. Continue on in the way you have and we will get along just fine. Give us any trouble and it will be a very unpleasant experience for you.”

Jamie did not speak, but gave a slight nod.

“Very good,” Halle Preston said and left the room.

Five black uniformed soldiers in full gear and masks came into Jamie’s room and unstrapped him from his bed. They removed his IV and his catheter. Jamie said nothing, as the pain was a reminder that he was still alive. They lifted him from the bed and carried him out of the room. As Jamie’s body became aware of the world’s actual orientation a unique pain filled him from head to toe. He did not speak, but instead tried to hold his own weight as he was stripped, shaved, showered, cleaned and dressed by the soldiers who had carried him into a locker room area.

Twenty-eight minutes later Jamie, accompanied by two of the soldiers, was seated outside the commander’s office. He’d not recognized himself in the mirror. The man, thin, pale, with dark bags beneath both eyes and a beard that ran from his cheeks to his mid neck, with a stranger. Even cleaned, shave and dressed in a simple blue uniform he could only see a hint of himself in the face that stared back at him. Now, sitting, waiting for the commander, he looked at his hands, which were thin and spider like compared to the thick, well-fed fingers he had known most of his life. Even his knees appeared more prominent, as his legs, normally slightly stronger than average, had atrophied.

“The commander will see you now,” a soldier said.

The soldiers on either side of Jamie rose and Jamie followed suit. They marched into the office and a single chair was situated in front of the desk. Jamie sat in it.

“Dr. Baxter, you have proven to be an exceptional individual. You’ve survived and, as it happens, you are useful to us,” Commander Halle Preston said.

Jamie said nothing.

“Dismissed,” Commander Preston said.

The two soldiers disappeared from the room leaving Jamie alone with Commander Preston.

“I’ve reviewed your file. You are uniquely situated to help us in the current crisis.”

“How?” Jamie asked.

“I’m going to show you classified data. I want your undivided attention.”

There was a long silence. Jamie finally said, “Yes ma’am.”

“On October 17th in Kensington, England, the virus was first identified,” she said.

The lights in the room dimmed and a screen on the far wall lit up. The scene was a street where a group of people were arguing. The scene rapidly descended into a violent confrontation with people beating one another.

“Do you know what this is?”

“A fight involving rival football fans?”

The video now showed clearly destroyed bodies, with limbs missing, torsos ripped open, parts of faces shattered, still moving and trying to send messages on tech. Two badly injured people stood screaming hysterically as police and emergency responders were froze by the unspeakable spectacle.

“No, they were all fans of the same club. They were attacking one another for not being serious enough fans after their club’s loss. Of forty-six people involved in the fight only two survived after the arrival of police and emergency care staff. It seems forty-four of them were dead before the fight even began.”

“This is Dr. Wickham,” Commander Preston said.

The next image was of Dr. Wickham. At first he appeared as Jamie remembered him, an older man with pink and red skin, white hair and wire rim glasses. Jamie gasped at the next image. Dr. Wickham was pale, eyes red rimmed , hair falling out. The final image of Dr. Wickham nauseated Jamie.

“That is how we found him when our team followed up on missing personnel from the department you were covering that day.”

It was a skull on which the skin was gray, waxy and tightly stretched; if there were eyes, they were peering out from dry leather slits and the hands and arms, that protruded rudely from a badly stained shirt, were still moving; they were typing.

“Our best estimate is that you’ve been receiving constant exposure to the Kensington virus for more than a year,” Commander Preston said, bringing up another image.

It was a picture of his ex-wife. Bright, vibrant, hair auburn and gray. The familiar sneer on her face. The next was of her gray, skin taut and her thin fingers typing.

“From two sources,” Commander Preston continued.

The image was of his sister on her panel, typing a text message. The next was her gray, mouth slack, typing messages. The final image was of her, skin taut over her skull, teeth bared as she typed on the phone.

“They were infected by the Kensington virus.”

“They’re sick?”

“They’re dead. They have been for quite some time. Our response team just disposed of what was left to stop their transmissions.”

Jamie was silent.

His ex-wife was dead. Relief. His sister was dead. Ambivalence. There was a virus that was responsible for this. Minor tremor.

“How?” he finally asked.

“We are trying to figure that out. Watch this part carefully.”

The image was of a woman in her early thirties on social media posting messages and reading posts. There was a message that appeared on the screen and then the image was of the woman’s brain.

“Watch this part,” Commander Preston said.

The brain was lit up. Slowly the brain went from a Christmas tree to a single light near the brain stem, then resurged until 25% of the brain was lit up.

“That was a glucose uptake study. It followed the subject through near brain death to partial resurgence.”

“Near brain death?”

“All but 10% of the brain ceases to function. Then, as you can see, about 20-25% of the brain comes back online. It does so after the victim is dead.” Commander Preston explained.


“Deceased, no longer among the living.”

“Then what?”

The camera returned to a view of the patient who was a light shade of pink, talking and texting on a cell phone.

“Who did the study?”

“Dr. Ray T. Thomas, MD, PhD.”

“I want to talk to him,” Jamie said.

“You can’t.”.

“Why not?’

“He is dead.”


“He saw the message and within two days he turned.”

“What do you mean, ‘Turned’?”

“He started texting and emailing his friends and family. He was sending the same angry messages over and over. He was sending the Kensington virus.”

“How was he sending it?”

“A message, text, email, flash message.”

“But how?”

“We don’t know,” Commander Halle said. The lights in the room brightened and Commander Halle retrieved a file from the drawer.

It was odd; it was manila and had papers in it. Paper and print had been illegal for at least ten years.

The commander followed Jamie’s gaze. “It’s been a necessary precaution. From what little we do understand about the virus it can only remain alive in data streams. It cannot be contracted when the messages are printed. It can’t be transmitted from just being in their presence. They can only transmit it by a message. We don’t know why. But for now we are using print copies to protect ourselves when we review the messages.”

Jamie picked up the file. It felt odd to touch paper. The last time he had touched it had been in high school on a field trip to the science museum. He read over the messages. Thumbing through one after another he found they were a list of complaints. They reminded him of the messages from his now dead ex-wife – he felt a definite sense of elation – and his dead sister; the ambivalence persisted as it was clear she had probably been dead most of the last three months, based on what he had seen. There were differences in the messages, there was the person that they were sent to, there were slightly different grievances. But all of them were things your average fifteen year old would ignore.

“Do you have any other profiles on this?” he asked the commander.

BOOK: Technosis: The Kensington Virus
13.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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