Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Purple (11/05/09)
TITLE: The Heliotrope Plague
By Chely Roach
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It would first present as tiny, raised lavender bumps on the small of the back. Within twenty four hours, angry, oozing purple blisters covered every inch of the body; at thirty six hours blood seeped from the eyes, and the fever would bring on coma. No one made it to the forty eighth hour.
It was coined as the Heliotrope Plague, named for the color of its wicked, telltale rash.
Within two weeks, a third of the world’s population was dead.
Five years ago, when we crossed the carbon barrier, there were many of us that knew that we were careening down a terminally slippery slope. Nanotechnology had become a part of everyday life; cell phones had evolved into pinhead sized sensor boards embedded into one’s earlobe; televisions were paper-thin, and the daily newspaper was actually a blank, wireless fiber-optic paper that uploaded its content via satellite, with a refresh rate of five minutes. Technology had become ridiculously tiny, and was completely immersed in our world.
But when the world was offered a chance to go back in time, and seemingly reverse the Fall, they sunk their teeth into the fruit from that forbidden tree once again. For the rest of us, whether our hesitations came from our deep devotion to our faith, or a fierce libertarianism, it did not matter much. Our voices were a whisper in hurricane.
To most, it seemed like a step forward for the common good. All the decades of research and funding had finally paid off, and this generation was lucky enough—no, blessed, they told us—to witness and prosper from it. By creating infinitesimally tiny hybrid nanobiotics—molecular devices composed of both synthetic and biological components—and introducing them into human bodies to eradicate everything from terminal brain cancer to gingivitis, they opened Pandora’s Box. Virtual immortality, and all one had to do was inject a couple million synthetic, yet living robots into one’s body, and the tiny soldiers would fight, block, or kill whatever ails you. The nanobots were the savior of the world, and we could be gods.
Pharmaceutical companies and hospitals closed from lack of business. No one was sick. Well, almost no one. Those of us that refused the nanobiotics quickly exhausted the back-supplies of conventional medicines; soon after, the Regime made nanobiotics injections mandatory. We gathered our children and went underground. We hid in our homes when we were sick; we buried our dead at night in unmarked graves.
But when the Heliotrope plague began, we were unscathed. The Regime called it a pandemic, but it was a contagious virus of another sort. The nanobiotics appeared to be staging an insurgency of their own, and two and a half billion people were either dead, or covered in hideous purple blisters waiting to die.
A solution was achieved, and millions of clinics were set up worldwide in only a few days; so quickly that those of us that had the objectivity of not being in danger could see that it was a premeditated move. There is no greater motivator than fear, and it was obvious that the Regime had planned this. Billions of frightened people stood in line to have their savior nanobots reprogrammed before they could betray them, too. Because the nanobiotics were going to need continual satellite linked antivirus updates to prevent another outbreak, a wireless port needed to be implanted into the skin of every subject.
The Heliotrope vaccination port was the size and shape of an average skin mole. In a script too small for the human eye to read, the port bore the insignia of the Unitarian Regime. The surface also reflected an iridescent lavender hue, to remind the people of the plague that they were avoiding. There were very few complaints.
After all, they were able to choose the placement of their vaccination port. For vanity purposes, most chose the back of their right hands instead of their foreheads.
And for us Insurgents—we wait. We hide. We pray. It can’t be too much longer now…
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