Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Five-Minute Read Sample - Whatsoever You Do

Here is a sample of the first novella, "Whatsoever You Do," in the Future Chron
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Here's the blurb:

A pandemic had long been predicted.

Now it was happening and a former graduate student, Jack Jackson, may have the key to its containment, synthetic biology. 

But because in the court of public opinion synthetic biology is feared, it has been forbidden in the money conscious halls of medical research. 

How many will have to die before they change their minds?

In this sample a CDC researcher has been sent to a hospital clinic in South Sudan. He finds there a viral infection that kills quickly but is not too contagious, yet. At the clinic he talks with the doctors and gathers a sample and does preliminary analysis but will do more complete analysis back at the CDC, if he can get back.

This is from Chapter 5 (Wesley is the researcher, Kamal is his guide). Written August 2016 and published in November:

After his day at the clinic, Wesley prepared to depart.

"Thank you and your staff Jacques. You've been most accommodating. I have to say I'm impressed with the work you are doing here for the Sudanese people."

"You are welcome Wesley. You will keep me informed of the findings of the CDC?"

"Absolutely, and thanks again."

His sample bag already secured to the motorbike by Kamal, Wesley climbed aboard and they were off to the hotel.

Juba was located close to tropical forests along the White Nile. But this section of Juba, with its dirt roads and few trees and small scrub bushes, reminded Wesley very much of the western part of America, only with a lot more red dirt which was everywhere, even in the air. As he looked at the bare concrete buildings they passed he noticed for the first time a military presence. Soldiers standing guard at each intersection. Soldiers gathered at the entrance to commercial buildings. He didn't remember seeing them on the way out that morning.

Kamal dropped Wesley off at the Panorama and confirmed that he would pick him up the next morning for the trip to the airport.

As a backup to his Annie, Wesley asked the desk clerk for a wake-up call at six the following morning and went to his room. He placed the samples in the small fridge and once secured he went to the dining room for dinner before emailing the CDC and turning in for the night.

Wesley awoke to what sounded like thunder. He asked his Annie for the time. It was a few minutes after five. He snapped awake when he heard the unmistakeable sharp crack of gunfire. A more distant thunder made him sit up, he jumped at the knock on the door.

Wesley went to the door and demanded, "Who's there?"

"It's me Kamal."

Kamal entered the room. "Hurry Dr. Williams. We must get you out of here and to the airport before the roads are blocked."

"Okay Kamal, while I get dressed tell me what's happening?"

"The Dinkas are attacking the Nuers. The government forces are trying to stay neutral."

"Why? Why doesn't the government maintain order?"

"The government is caught in the middle. It is a coalition with no side having a clear majority. So they cannot generate a consensus and they do nothing. It's tribal, I have seen it many times."

Wesley had his clothes on and, having packed before bed last night, was almost ready. All he had to do was get the samples from the room fridge. When finished he turned to Kamal and said, "I'm ready."

They climbed aboard the motorbike for the short trip up Airport Road. But Kamal immediately turned onto a side street. He yelled back at Wesley, "The main roads are probably already blocked we will take a less direct route."

"You know best," yelled Wesley over the roar of the motorbike.

Only gone a couple of blocks had passed when they almost crashed into a military convoy which blew through the crossroads. The last jeep in the convoy slid to a stop. Two soldiers jumped out with their guns trained on Kamal and Wesley.
"Halt!" they yelled in Dinka. "Who are you, where are you going?"

Kamal answered in Dinka, "I am Kamal Cham and this is Dr. Wesley Williams from America. I am taking the doctor to the airport to catch his plane."

The soldiers approached the pair. "Why then are you going this way? It is quicker and shorter by Airport Road."

"We were worried that the road might be blocked," said Kamal.

"Maybe," said one of the soldiers. "Get off the bike we need to search."

One of the soldiers was inspecting Wesley's passport and identification. The other had taken Wesley's bags back to the jeep to search. Just as he reached the jeep a shot rang out. The soldier dropped. The bags hit the ground. Then the concussion of an explosion launched the jeep into the air and made Wesley hit the ground and scramble for his papers which the remaining soldier had thrown down when he started running.

Kamal had mounted and started the motorbike and was yelling at Wesley to get on. Wesley struggled to his feet and climbed behind Kamal.

"My bags, Kamal my bags!" he yelled.

"Sorry doctor," yelled Kamal as he gunned the motorbike. "I'm afraid they have 
been destroyed, we must go."

Kamal slid the bike around the corner of the street as the remains of the jeep were blocking the intersection. He righted the cycle and opened the throttle. Wesley was too shocked at what had just happened to be afraid of the speeding, careening motorbike.

Wesley noticed all the lights on the streets and the buildings were out. In the distance, he could see the orange-red glow of fire. He still heard a loud boom occasionally, but thankfully in the distance. Kamal pitched the bike over as he made another turn without slowing. Wesley had no idea where he was or which way led to the airport.

It was just then that they turned onto Airport Road and Wesley saw the airport entrance. Kamal had succeeded.

Kamal had to stop at the makeshift checkpoint that had been set up. The guard challenged him. Kamal, speaking in Nuer answered back. The guard looked at Wesley and asked in English for his papers. Finally, they were allowed to pass.
Wesley was still stunned when Kamal pulled up to the entrance and stopped.

"Sorry Dr. Williams about your bags. I'm afraid there was nothing I could do."

"You did everything you could Kamal," said Wesley somewhat in shock. Artillery boomed nearby. 

"I want to thank you for getting me here safe, it's unfortunate about the bags but it's not your fault."

"Goodbye Doctor," said Kamal as he started his motorbike and roared away.

Wesley stared in disbelief at the back of the disappearing Kamal, riding away almost as if nothing had happened.

He walked up to the guard at the entrance to the airport lobby. He pulled his papers and identification from his coat pocket. The guard allowed him to pass.


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