Originally posted on Steemit: https://steemit.com/fiction/@mobbs/waterfoul-part-2-how-disease-spreads
The clarity of mind she felt when seeing the ducks on the news was unlike anything she had felt before. At least, that’s what her suicide note claimed. It was only local news. Just regional, nothing spectacular. But she understood. All her predictions were laid out on her tea-stained notebook, albeit with little useful help in guidance towards, say, a cure or preventative measures. She probably didn’t have a clue.
Her work log described foreboding results with what she considered was an abject failure; chimps ripping out each other’s intestines, mice de-worming each other… to put it mildly. But she claims in her writing that the genes involved with tuberculosis resistance in humans was the crux of her study, and insists humans would be safe from the effects.
Those studying her work corroborated the idea in principle, saying even chimps, a mere 2% difference genetically, lack our resistance to this particular bacterial disease, though chimps have greater malarial resistance to compensate.
‘If true, if all of it is true, we may be looking at little more than a pond infection. I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen pond jellyfish clog up machinery, seaweed drowning hundreds of individuals. Let’s not jump to alarming conclusions’ Dr Jack Zhang said, seemingly to nobody.
The rest of the forensics team were idly watching the news looking for more up-to-date info:
The duck the old, gay men first observed disappeared, as if running away from a crime. Shortly after, the bird that should have drowned worked its way feebly towards the men’s general direction. When it managed to get up on land, within inches of the bench they sat, it simply shook its feathers and waddled away like it couldn’t even see them.
The men, however, were quickly distracted by the reeds beyond the far side of the pond. A swan, neck all contorted, emerged with an aggressive stance, feathers all ruffled. It made room for a water runway and set off into the air, one leg dropping from the sky, bouncing off a child’s pram.
The news continued. The family of the child didn’t even notice the decapitated leg nearby until the baby was firmly strapped in, crying. Presumably because it saw the leg.
The parents saw a duck with half its face missing approach them, and they quickly decided to leave. The husband was ready to release a hefty football kick of course, but considered it could have an infectious disease, and left with his family, a good distance between him and the bird.
‘All we need, is to find a one-legged swan. They typically go to the same brooding grounds, so we simply call the animal control officer, get a team assembled and stamp this fire out before it spreads.’ Dr Zhang, louder this time, head blocking the TV.
Confidence oozed from him. This is easily containable. If it even needs containing in the first place. Just a precaution. Then again, it ain’t tuberculosis, whatever it is.
The two men left their interviews, furious that the journalist started questioning their sexuality ON LIVE TV, as if that had anything whatsoever to do with a… zombie duck crisis. What is WRONG with people?? they both thought, more or less in verbatim.
It was time anyway, they had a flight to catch. In all their years together, they had never actually taken a proper holiday. Sure, they did a fantastic road trip from Arizona to Maine, and England was good too but it felt more business than anything. India, however. India was a whole new world. India would be a place to die happy.
‘You should really change her nappy before we leave, we don’t want a repeat of last time’ Lisa demanded
‘Me? I did it last time, I thought we agreed to alternate all disgusting chor… besides, she won’t let me do anything without going all mental at me ever since she saw that…leg’
‘Ok Lewis, ok fine. But if we aren’t willing to give things up and just do each other a favour sometimes, instead sticking to these bureaucratic counselling bullcrap rules, Japan is going to be another regret in our memories. Ok let’s just chill. It IS my turn.
But you better drive fast, ok?’
‘Works for me’
Dr Zhang was discussing the most likely locations based on the swan’s tag with the control officer when one of his hired goons came up the hill, swan’s wing in hand.
‘Yes! He can’t be far, unless he can fly with his beak.’
The hunt was on. Within minutes, they found a hobbling swan, twisted neck over a trash can, gobbling away at some sausage meat. The officer and his team made quick work catching it – but made sure to keep it alive, as per Doctor’s orders, and they headed back to base.
Night was waking. The crescent moon nowhere to be seen. Stars had their chance to finally impress. A shadowed figure approached the park bridge. She, or he, looked busy. Looking for something. Their nose was active, like a rabbit. Dressed in home-made rags, the barefooted individual directed their gait to a meaty smell towards a trash can.
The homeless soul took whatever scraps they could and stuffed them in pockets, took a few bites of this and that, and hobbled off more jovially than before, into the night.
Hope you enjoyed this first of hopefully an ongoing story!