Book Showcase: VIRUS a science fiction thriller by Norton S. Beckerman
“VIRUS a science fiction thriller” is a story about two different things that become inextricably entangled. The first is a finding that modern science says can’t exist. Bur it does exist and it’s deadly. The second is the evolving relationship between two very focused people as they try to resolve their horrible nightmare.
“VIRUS …” is fiction and it involves science. That’s why it’s science-fiction. But it’s an easy, involving read with some unexpected twists along the way. The characters are contemporary and could be real but they’re not. As a reader myself, I knew the story I was telling had to have a bombshell ending. And it does!
Chapter Two, The Call –
Rachel Cumming hung up without another word. Barry did the same. When Barry looked at Harbrec’s office and saw that his door was closed he realized that Harbrec had already left. He had to have walked right by him on the way out, but Barry didn’t notice him leaving or hear a sound. He was more focused then he realized.
Barry was alone in the doctors, plush reception area. The three offices that it served were empty, and the double, glass entry doors were closed. He couldn’t put it off any longer. Barry didn’t want to make the call. He didn’t want to know, but he had to get hold of Braumbech.
Barry pulled out his cell phone, flipped through it until he found Braumbech’s number and called. This time the phone was answered.
“Richard, this is Barry Protoc. I’m sorry to bother you this late but there’s some urgent information I need.”
“Sounds bad. Like the rest of my day. Does this have anything to do with the bad soil area and those particles?”
“I’m afraid it does.”
“Let it wait until tomorrow. I’ve been with a grieving widow and mom at a funeral service and cremation all day. I’m really not in the mood.”
“I’m sorry, but you may have just answered my question. Whose funeral was it?”
“Jimmy Forester, my groundskeeper, and his son, Phillip. Jimmy was a very good friend and his boy was like a son to me. I was much older than Jimmy, but we went way back, to the old neighborhood.
Once Braumbech started talking the edge came off his voice. He seemed to relax and was eager to talk, although he sounded like he wanted to cry.
“I’ve known his wife for years. I was best man at his wedding. I went to his son’s christening … Some bad stuff happened. He went to prison for a while. I was taking care of them. They were living here, in the house on the other side of the property. When he got out he joined them here. I gave him the job of groundskeeper. He loved that boy, so did I … I don’t know how something like this could have happened.”
Barry wondered what other work Jimmy might have been doing for Braumbech that got him sent to prison, but he didn’t ask.
“I’m sorry Richard, but it’s Jimmy that I’m calling about.”
“All right, other than they’re both dead what do you need to know?”
“First, what did they die from?”
“The whole thing was so odd that the doctors asked Marcy, his wife, if they could perform an autopsy … It turned out that they both died of the same thing … They said it was a massive tumor on the large intestine. Cancer! It struck hard and fast. Impossible, but it happened.”
“What do you mean?”
“One day he was fine. Next day nausea, vomiting, the runs, pain. He couldn’t keep anything down. He started running a high fever. The doctor thought it might be some type of virus. He prescribed stuff to keep him comfortable, keep the fever down. He said, let it run its course. He was sick like that for a while, but he kept getting worse. Then he just died.”
“What about the boy?”
“Same thing. Marcy tried to keep him away from his father, but Phillip kept going in to see him. Then Phillip got sick. It came on suddenly. Phillip was gone within a few days. He died right before Jimmy. The doctors were puzzled. Said they’ve never seen anything like this. It’s not contagious. Children don’t normally contract anything like that, and if they do, they don’t normally die from it.”
“Were they hospitalized before they died?”
“No, Jimmy got sick first. The boy got sick later. Like I said, they just kept getting worse and died. Though he got sick later Phillip died first, about three days after he started showing symptoms. Jimmy died within hours after Phillip. It all happened in about three weeks. They died so close together Marcy decided to have a double funeral service and cremation. They were together … Jimmy was holding Phillip … Why is this so important to you?”
Barry had a dilemma that he had to deal with quickly. Braumbech didn’t associate the deaths with the particles in the bad soil area. Should he explain what was happening or just give Braumbech a lame excuse for his call. He did neither. He just hung up the phone, got up from the desk, walked through the glass doors, and out into the hospital corridor.