Fear. The driving force of life. We may fear what we do not understand, but that doesn’t mean that the things we understand we do not fear. Some things we fear most are things we understand most. This statement holds true for almost all of my race: the beings who understand this disease are the people who fear it most. Unfortunately, I am one of them.
It started five years ago, when I was asked to engineer a deadly disease for Germany to use against Iraq, a power-hungry country attempting to take over Germany to control everything. I looked at the DNA that made up the nervous system cells in the brain. Months of research paid off, and I found a way to change the DNA of the cells so they would no longer function properly. Failing, succeeding, tampering, I worked to engineer the disease. It took me two years, but finally, I had engineered a deadly disease that altered the neurological pathways so they don't connect, causing almost instant death in the victim. I presented it to our President and he gave the go-ahead. He invited the leaders of Iraq to a dinner, and I snuck the bacteria/animal cells onto their plates. I watched as my years of research and engineering paid off. Their leaders took a few bites and fell dead seconds later. It had worked. Whispering a quiet warning, he said, “Work on a cure. Don’t tell anyone else what you did.” I took his words to the heart.
Months later, I began work as an epidemiologist and geneticist in the USA. They had found out about my amazing scientific and genetic achievements, among them curing the flu for good and helping ensure that everyone would be born with fully functional organs and limbs. I worked to eradicate the disease I created, although I knew it was useless. I understand everything about my disease, known as the Messier Strain, Messier for short. I knew that it was unstoppable and will not rest until it has claimed the lives of every human out there, including mine. I fear it for this very reason. However, I didn't voice my knowledge and concerns, for that would lead to trouble, and so I kept silent.
In the labs, we study how the bacteria grows and how it affects the brains of other species out there, such as mice and other vermin. Our results have shown that the Messier Strain only affects humans. I could have told them that, but I didn’t want to. It would go against my president’s words, and I wished to honor those last words he spoke to me. About a month after I left Germany, Messier killed nearly everyone in it, including my sister. It was sad, but I had to move on. I came to America to work alongside people like Jon Arce, the famous epidemiologist whose work led to the eradication of Malaria, and Sofia Aitken, the geneticist who brought back the Dodo birds.
Dr. Arce has been tracking the spread of the disease while Dr. Aitken has been checking the DNA analysis. She recently found an anomaly in the DNA that I added to throw researchers off. I was glad she did, for her shrieks of excitement brought me out of my state of grief.
“What is is?” I asked, pretending I didn’t know. She pointed at a set of bases that was glowing bright red on the screen of the DNA-sequencing machine. I saw my forceful pairing of Adenine and Cytosine. In nature, these two never occur together. But I had found a way to do it. I pretended to look surprised.
“Exactly. This means that someone engineered this disease and it was not a natural occurrence, therefore it was intended to be a weapon,” Dr. Aitken said.
“This means…” Dr. Arce started.
“That only the person who made Messier could tell us what the base was so we could come up with a cure and eradicate it,” all three of us said together.
“So now it is a matter of finding out who engineered Messier,” Dr. Aitken said.
“Based off my research, it started in Germany where it has caused the entire country to fall ill. Then, it slowly spread to countries around it. Recent forms are different than the original. First, it was foodborne and now it’s waterborne too. Because nearly all water sources in Europe have tested positive for Messier, it has been spreading extremely rapidly as of late,” Dr. Arce spoke.
“We must find a way to combat this,” I said, “but we cannot do that without a sample of the pathogen.” Dr. Arce smirked.
“Incidentally, I have one right here. Messier is a bacterial strain, although research from another epidemiologist shows that it is not truly bacteria and has a fully fledged nucleus, suggesting combination with an animal cell. He calls it an ‘Alien Cell’, for it is not quite bacterial and not quite animal or plant,” Dr. Arce replied. I see they are on the verge of discovery. I will bring my variant into play very soon.
“Good. Hopefully we can find a cure before it wipes our whole species off the face of the earth,” Dr. Aitken smiled. Her brilliant smile, bright and hopeful, made me hesitate for a moment
“Indeed,” I said. There is no cure. The damage is irreversible. It is better that they do not know until it is too late. These secrets I keep will die along with me.
A year later...
“Every cure we have tried hasn’t worked. It has only caused more harm,” Dr. Aitken said.
“As well as that bad news, our research facility is the only left in the world. We are the last concentrated group of people in the world. Messier has killed almost everyone else,” Dr. Arce added. I smiled. My goal is nearly complete. I only have to finish off our building. Then, the spread of Messier will be complete without anyone for it to infect.
“Through our two years researching this, I think we all understand the disease, but one aspect sticks with me and haunts me,” I said.
“You mean that it is unstoppable?” Dr. Aitkens asked. I nodded my head gravely.
“Then it is time to report our findings to the world, or rather the only 252 people left in it,” Dr. Arce said. We all nodded in agreement. I called everyone to a gathering in the conference room over the intercom system. As my research team left the room, I lingered behind to grab the mutated Messier I had been working on as well as a needle filled with a clear liquid. I turned off the lights, for I knew they would be useless after this meeting was over. The door closed with an ominous thump as we walked away in complete silence. This is it. The zenith of my work. After all these years, it will have come full circle.
Jon Arce held open the door and Sofia Aitken and I walked in. The last remaining member of the media announced out arrival.
“Today, Jon Arce, Sofia Aitken, and Corina Hofmeister will present their findings about Messier to the world,” The man announced. He quickly scurried back to his seat and sat down.
“Hello. With the help of other scientists, we know Messier is carried on Alien Cells. It was genetically engineered and we know this due to a forceful pairing of bases. We know it was based of a bacterial strain, however we are unsure of exactly which. Not that it matters, for Messier is as different from any disease seen before as black is from white. Thank you,” Dr. Aitken spoke. Dr. Arce stood up.
“Messier started in Germany and spread rapidly through contaminated food and water. It traveled overseas through intercontinental shipments in which contaminated food or water was being carried. Messier can change the DNA of brain cells and cause them to die off in large quantities at a single time. Thank you,” Dr. Arce finished. I waited for him to sit down. This is it. This is the time when I reveal my secret. I stood up and walked to the podium. The waiting crowd held its breath as I gathered myself.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have come to the point of understanding Messier so well that we know its fate and fear it. We are all going to die of Messier, for it is unstoppable,” I announced.
“How do you know, Corinna?” Dr. Aitken asked. The I put my hand on the lid of the container that carried an airborne variant of Messier that would affect everyone but me. I twisted the lid saying, “because I made it,” as I opened the container. The disease filled the room and I grabbed a syringe filled with poison. I set it by my arm, shut my eyes, placed the needle, and pressed the plunger. Everything hurt, but that pain gave way to eternal darkness.