Part One

Dr. Ben Everett never dreamed he’d get the call. Yes he’d trained for the scenario in a controlled setting and practiced procedure for such an event. Yet, to actually be told to activate protocol for an outbreak of unknown origin made his blood run cold.
He forced a breath out through his teeth and glanced around the laboratory at the men and woman he’d worked with for close to a decade now, all unaware of what they were about to face. Over the years, the team had dealt with Swine and Bird flu epidemics, cases of H1N1. But this was a virus that mimicked Ebola in its high mortality and infectious rate. Yet, biologically the strain wasn’t the same. Ben’s team would be thrust into the middle of it, trying to figure out what it was.
He swallowed a lump of emotion. “Can I have everyone’s attention. I just received a call from Barnes-Jewish Hospital in Missouri. They have a highly contagious, unconfirmed deadly virus. I was told to gather everything we can and get to St. Louis.” He stepped around the desk and stuffed his hands into his white lab coat, studying the people he considered his friends. “I have to be honest with you all. This has potential of turning into something bigger than we’ve ever trained for. So, I’m asking for volunteers only. I know a lot of you have young children to think about. I completely understand if you decide to stay here in Atlanta.”
“How many cases are there?” Ted Allery asked, the expression on his weathered face grim.
“At least a dozen that are confirmed. More than half have died.”
“Oh my God, Ben.” Susan Florentine’s eyes widened. “You know when you have that many confirmed cases, it’s simply a tip of an iceberg.”
His assistant didn’t have to tell him that. He knew more than anyone how quickly a virus could spread. People who came in contact with every confirmed case had a potential of becoming infected. They’d need to be quarantined before they became a threat themselves.
“We’re wasting time. I need a show of hands on who will be going to St. Louis. Like I said, don’t feel obligated to say yes.”
Ben about lost his composer when everyone in the room raised their hand. The clog in his throat returned. “I’m touched that everyone is this dedicated, but Katy, I can’t in good conscience let you go. You have an infant at home and she needs you. I will however expect you to come into the office everyday while we’re gone and man the phones.”
“But, I…” The petite blonde’s shoulders hunched forward.
Ben gave her a weak smile. “You’re staying, and that’s that. Now, let’s get everything we’ll need together so we can get on the road. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can get whatever this is contained.

Copyright © 2014 Jerri Drennen