A Short Story: Preventative Medicine

Wrote this over the course of a few days as a creative exercise.

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“¡Carajo Coño!”  he muttered under his breath as he ran.  His wife had just started to get into the mood when the call had come in.  It was on the mobile that he never turned off, not even during moments of planned intimacy.  He’d had no choice but to answer and, despite her threats of finding electromechanical means of satisfaction, he was forced to bolt out the door.  “¡Coño!” he wagered to utter a little louder, he had left so quickly he only had the small pistol that was always in his right pocket.  He hoped it wouldn’t matter.

His augmented vision system displayed adverts for each of the venues he passed.  It was distracting to now see a translucent pizza and now an ethereal hamburger, but he dared not switch it out of “strolling mode.”  Such things were reported to the servers.  Ostensibly they told the public it was in order to learn your daily patterns in order to better serve you.  In reality, it was monitored by the authorities as a sign that it was important for someone not to be distracted by the extra stimulus.  Such a character was probably up to no good.

At MLK JR BLVD he turned to the right and passed by an abandoned bookstore.  Apparently the proprietors had forgotten to turn off the ad servers as he now was reading an advertisement for an old book called “Snow Crash”.  The advert, however, was not an ordinary ad.  It performed a calculation on the hash of the vision system and identified the owner.

He ran a few more blocks and slowed to a walk.  He was nearly downtown and surveillance would be a lot higher.  Pushing a button on his belt activated the program which had been downloaded to his system.  A ghostly transparent man appeared in front of his vision.  A symbol indicated he should don his ear piece.  He put them in and activated the video and idly walked into a department store.    The video gave him directions to where the needles were stored as well as directions to the target.  It then launched another program to write over the bits 100 times with random data.

Luckily the needles were just another block down so, leisurely, he exited the store and started walking to the proper location.  He tried to keep his mind clear, but a though kept creeping back into it.  It was a question he had long ago exiled to the dark recesses of his grey matter.  Now it was back, but remaining at the periphery of his consciousness.  Thus he continually felt uneasy, but couldn’t put his finger on it just yet.

He entered the building containing the needles.  That’s all it was to him as he tired to focus on his mission without alerting the authorities.  To everyone else it was a clothing store.  He grabbed a pair of pants and made for the dressing room.  Once there, he removed his pants and his keys fell out of his pocket.  He bent over to grab them and palmed a small box.  Just like a magician, the item was hidden in plain sight; one of the most watched areas – a department store dressing room.  No one would ever suspect a group to be so brazen and, therefore, it was perfect.

He tried on the pants to keep up the pretense.  Then he slipped his own back on and went to re-rack the pants.  There, in the corner of the store, he opened the package.  Inside were two tiny needles and a tiny gun.  He loaded the needles into the gun and verified the safety was on.  The last thing he wanted was to shoot himself accidentally.  After all, the syringes were full of extremely dangerous nanorobots.  He pocketed the gun and started on his way towards his target.

The nanobots had been manufactured by the government as a biological weapon.  Only a few knew of its existence, even fewer knew how it worked.  An enraged scientists had given some of it to the group in the hopes they would expose it.  It is highly doubted the scientist though it would come to light in this manner.

The sight of a police woman made his heart jump.  Being caught with this stuff would certainly get him sent away to a prison on a tropical island from which he would never be seen again.  All he knew about the contents of the needles was that the bots would essentially puree you from the inside out.

He arrived at the theatre.  Purchasing a ticket, he entered and made his way to his box seat.  He was handed a playbill as he entered the auditorium.  The play was an updated revival of “Our American Cousin.”  Instead of an American and a British family, it was about an urban an a rural family.  He spotted his target in an adjacent box.  All he had to do now was wait until the play was in full force with everyone’s attention forward.  For now he busied himself looking at the playbill as he was sure his face would betray him.

After what seemed to be enough time to watch the entire history of the Earth at 1:1 speed, the play finally started.  It was hilarious and, in the midst of one of especially funny joke, the thoughts which had tip-toed at the edge of his mind now entered at full force.  All at once he was consumed with immense doubt.  Was it moral to kill this man in order to prevent a war which would kill hundreds of thousands on both sides?  He was not God to be deciding whether to end the lives of others.  Faltering, his resolve began to melt away.

Then, just as quickly, his nerves were steeled again as he thought of how millions had died from greedy and careless actions taken by his government.  He activated the sights on his augmented vision.  The next round of thunderous applause and laughter completely muted the sound of the pistol firing.  The needle made its mark and delivered its payload.  The it then fell to the ground and dissolved.

He got up and made his way calmly to the restrooms.  He had about five minutes until intermission so he figured he would have the restroom to himself.  His vision system informed him that the windows faced an alleyway and he would be able to escape detection via that route.  Within three minutes he had pried the window open and jumped out.  He made his way back to his apartment; walking at first to avoid suspicion.

About halfway there he found a public vaporizer.  They took in garbage and produced electricity.  He dumped in the pistol and remaining needle.  Then he walked the rest of the way back home.

She had fallen asleep watching an old animated film.  He knew she had been bluffing.  He threw his clothes in the laundry basket and got into bed.  She stirred and muttered something incomprehensible.

The following morning he woke to her calling him to watch the news.  He called out to her to turn up the volume as he’d be there in a minute.  “It is a sad, sad day as the President appears to have died of a heart attack.  However, I will be sworn in as president today,” the vice president said.  He figured that was a good thing as it was well-known that the Vice President was vehemently against war and had taken the unprecedented step of speaking out against the President while they were both still in office.  Surprisingly the VP had decided to rule the death as having been a heart attack.  He wondered whether the VP had been in on the job or simply was trying to protect the classified biological weapon.  Oh well, it was over.  The thousands were safe…for now.

Author: Eric Mesa

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