Monday, 2 February 2015

The Algal Bloom

The two suited figures walked up the river bank, both wore particle masks over their faces, which muffled their conversation. Up on the road their cars waited, surrounded by security guards exuding menace, individuals in dark glasses their right hands under their jackets clasping the handles of their Glock 17’s.

“So Professor, you are quite certain about this?”

“Yes Minister, the virus is in this BlueGreen alga that is beginning to bloom around our coasts and now in the inner waterways.”

“And have you isolated this virus?”

“Yes, it is virus ATCV-1, and our tests seem to indicate that there was a 44% population exposure and airborne infection to it last summer.”

“A 44% infection? In one year?”

“Indeed Minister, and that was in one Spring bloom around the coasts.”

“It was airborne? How?”

“It has a terrific growth rate in the fertile shallows, at first it appears as a normal phytoplankton but soon it forms floating mats of algae. It is then washed ashore by high spring tides where it remains. As it rots in the summer sun the virus is released and carried in the wind. Last year it infected nearly half of the population, partly because no part of the country is more than 50 miles from the sea.”

“How did you find this virus?”

“It was picked up by random testing; toxic screenings, DNA swabs, normal blood tests and drug exposure tests for companies. The same virus was picked up in the DNA of the test subjects. We quantified the results nationwide and came to this 44% figure.”

“And yet Professor, we haven’t had an epidemic of illnesses last year. The hospitals haven’t been full of infected individuals. What are the physical effects of this virus?”

“It has no physical effect, as such, Minister, the virus infects the mental capabilities of the subject.”

The Minister raised his eyebrows. “The mental capabilities?”

“Yes Minister, in particular the cognitive abilities of the subjects. We found them to have a very low attention span, limited memory retention and to be very lacking in creative abilities.”

“But it wouldn’t effect the ability of the subjects to work though would it? Are we looking at a surge of welfare claimants?”

The Professor looked questioning at the Minister before he answered. “We’re not looking at that, no Minister. Just don’t expect there to be any new entrepreneurs or great artists amongst those infected. Likewise expect there to be little or no political interest, bar voting for Britain’s Got Talent or some such thing.”

“That is alright then, as long as the health system is not overrun.” the Minister said, removing his particle mask.

The Professor looked shocked. “Minister, put your mask back on, we are at risk here. The algae has now evolved to infest the fresh water ways as well; that is why I brought you here. This year we may be looking at a 100% infection unless we take action.”

The Minister grinned, but it wasn’t a friendly smile. “Professor, we have been aware of this virus and its interesting side effects for sometime now. We have developed a vaccine against it. So thank you for your concern but I am quite safe.”

“You have a vaccine?” the Professor said in shock. “Then we must instigate a full scale vaccination programme…”

“And why would we do that?” the Minister interrupted, “This virus is a gift. All around the world we have unrest as resources grow scarcer, and the supply of food, water and energy becomes increasingly difficult to source. The rule of law breaks down as people get organised, gleaning their information from the internet and social media rather than the traditional forms of media. People ask uncomfortable questions over Government news feeds and policies; they question their social programming and we just cant have that. Control of the masses worldwide becomes far easier if the people are fundamentally too stupid to ask such questions.”

“You cant possibly get away with this.” the professor said incredulously.

“Oh we already have, Professor.” the Minister said signalling to his security guards. “What one resource unites all mankind, around which all settlements can be found?”

“Water…” the Professor answered, aware that the security guards were drawing in close, attaching silencers to their now visible Glocks.

“Exactly, for years these algal blooms have been growing, to the extent that they are an annual event. People now longer question them, putting them down to pollution, leaching of fertilisers into the sea and climate change. It was a simple act using genetic manipulation to introduce this virus into their genome. As you said this year we will have infection rates of 100%.”

“But why did you hire me to investigate this?” the Professor said swallowing hard as he heard a magazine being slammed into a Glock behind him.

“So we could observe your investigation and those connected to you and your work. We now know who knows what. Even as we speak the Kelly Protocol has been instigated. The papers and hard drives at your university and home, and those of your contacts, will be seized, as is standard procedure, when a Government operative commits suicide and their spouse lists them as missing.”

“But my wife knew I was coming to meet you and…”

“You failed to meet me here, instead you went into the woods close to your house, where your body was discovered by a dog walker. You were ashamed of the huge debts that you had incurred that threatened to ruin you. Not to mention that hard core porn site you constantly visited; such shocking images. ”

“What? But I haven’t got huge debts, I never visited…”

“All is possible with just the click of a mouse professor. When it all comes out your wife will question whether she ever really knew you at all. But don’t worry your pension is intact, she will be financially comfortable. Soon of course she wont question anything anyway. Its been good working with you, her Majesty’s Government thanks you for your efforts, goodbye.” With that the Minister turned away.

The Professor felt the cold metal of the silencer against his temple, he watched as the Minister climbed into his back of his vehicle without looking back. He shut his eyes…

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