Event Zero

SFWG Contest WinnerThis is a story that won a speculative fiction contest for the Short Fiction Writer’s Guild.  I am primarily a writer of novel-length fiction, but I threw this together for another contest, and it turns out it was a better fit for the SFWG.

You can also download a PDF version of the story if you prefer.

Document 0-1191a
Declassified, January 1, 2029
This document was found on Jan 15 2022. Although its veracity has has yet to be definitively proven, it is considered authentic. It it the only known document of its kind. The dates line up with the beginning of Event Zero.
Some text was reconstructed from context or further investigation. Some text could not be deciphered.


According to the calendar, the date is June 22. I suppose I should specify, 2016, in case someone actually finds this notepad.

My name is Michael Van Dorn. I am a research scientist at USAMRIID.

And I think I may be patient zero.

At first I couldn’t believe anyone here could be working on something so insane. Despite what the conspiracy theorists might suggest, we’re the good guys. Sure, we have bacteria and viruses here that would give your unborn grandchildren nightmares― Ebola Zaire, Smallpox, Bas-Congo, Uri’s Plague, but they were here for research. We don’t weaponize anything.
That’s why I think it must be an accident. The closest thing I can think of that might cause something like this would be [REDACTED]. The combination of [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] could, in theory, account for the symptoms I’m observing. Observing, I might add, from the apparent safety of the isolation chamber.

Dr. [REDACTED] would be the only one who would be capable of this kind of thing. If I can find him, I’ll try to get some answers.

Two weeks ago I fell ill. My body failed me. I collapsed. They thought I was comatose. I wasn’t. I was “locked in.” I was aware of everything around me, yet unable to move.

They put me in here as a precaution, but I’m sure they knew that whatever had caused my condition was already out, already in the wild.

For a week, while on an IV and massive doses of anti-biotics and anti-virals, nothing happened. But they worried. I could see it through the reflections of their level 3 hazmat visors when they came to check my levels. No― not worried― terrified. They knew something, or had learned something in the interim, that scared the everloving shit out of them.
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