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EDIT: Please read the updated manuscripts below, I'm leaving the rest of this post intact to give context to the actual discussion here. But for people simply looking for something to read I'll post the manuscript links
And now with the regular thread:
The following is the backstory and the first chapter of a short-story/novellette that I'm writing that is currently titled "Disease Control"
I strongly encourage readers to view the Manuscript PDF rather than the forum post.
- Large cities in North America have expanded into giant city-states.
- Disease control was fought with over-medication. Anti-biotics do not work and vaccines exist for few viral strains. People who are sick are instantly quarantined until their inevitable death. Outbreaks are countered with riot police. Police forces excerise lethal force in cases of quarantine violations.
As the North American population exploded in the middle of the 21st century disease control became an issue. A major pandemic of Influenza spread through North America with more rapdity than previous pandemics.
Once vast quarantines could be established a continent-wide vaccination program was put in place by the World Health Organization and the Canadian/US governments. The vaccine was provided by a major pharmaceudical corporations.
In the decades following the pandemic a reactionary culture of hypochondria started to evolve. Perpetuated by constant fear-mongering of the media people unwittingly demanded improved disease control and prevention. People began demanding anti-biotics for relatively benign diseases and infections fearing that the next great "Super Bug" was on the horizon. The issue became an election point in both the US and Canada.
The US and Canadian governments collaborated and enacted equalivalent Immunization acts; Known across North America as the North American Immunization Agreement.
Funded by tax dollars the US and Canada contracted various pharmaceudical corporations and began massive wide-spread immunization programs. The programs were met with immediate success in major population centers. Decades followed and the populations grew massive in the major population centers; However, certain viral and bacterial strains evolved as a process of genetic mutations in bacteria and co-evolution in some viruses rendering anti-biotics and vaccination mostly useless. Certain strains of diseases that were once thought almost entirely suppressed mutated outside the protection of what were now sprawling city-states. It was only a matter of time before those diseases found their ways into the city-states of North America.
Outbreaks ran rampant. The US and Canadian governments struggled under the pressure of what was then called the North American Outbreak. Even larger quarantines were put in place; The diseases were aggressive inside the quarantine. Bacterial diseases mutated further while emergency anti-biotic ration distribution was poorly organized.
Quarantine and treatment centers were erected in all major city-states; Those living between or outside city-states either died or were transported to a quarantine area closest to those who could afford it.
Quarantine and Treatment Centers were largely unsuccessful and no lasting treatments were ever produced. Some accused the Administration of such centers of performing cruel and painful experiments on dying patients. Survival rates were all but non-existant.
Years later the establishment of Quarantine and Treatment Centers (QTCs) simply became death camps where the sick were brought to die. A combination of insufficient resources, staffing and funding had led to this. People who refused to willingly submit transfers to QTCs simply disappeared. QTCs were not the only areas of administration to suffer the same fate. Soon, the US and Canadian government's power became diluted by the increasing social isolation from the city-states; The US and Canadian governments had little choice but to give more power to their respective city-states.
The greatest city-states constructed giant shield walls and networks of permaglass over their buildings. Giant air-filtration systems were eventually constructed and before long each city-state had a department of homeostasis ensuring that no bacterial or viral agents "infected" the contained environment of the city-state.
Every living area was built with devices that tested an occupant's breath, skin and blood for infections: the occupant is not allowed to leave until they are confirmed as "Healthy"
People who fall ill are detected and quarantined to their homes. QTCs have all been dismantled or re-purposed. City-states are operated by governments operating under a police-state system. Entire economies are contained inside the city-states and commerce between city-states is harshly regulated and smuggling goods between cities is a major offense, often resulting in life imprisonment.
Each city-state is struggling with growing underground resistance groups.
City-states have incorporated a conscription based research system where people with degrees in medical and biological sciences are "drafted" into completely isolated research centers. These research centers are defended and lethal force is used to prevent unauthorized access.
Erik Lloyd and a young woman were in the climax of an impromptu sexual encounter in the supply room of the office building where they were worked together.
Laura was her name. They had been having a secret affair for a time of three weeks. They kept their relationship private due to the office policy regarding relationships between co-workers. Erik was a clerk for the sales company that owned the office. Laura was a secretary for the office's floor manager.
Presently, their abrupt meeting ended. Laura and Erik quickly fumbled about their clothes; Laura's hair was tossed and her face flush. Erik recovered himself with ease while Laura had difficulty with the slip under her skirt. Erik gazed at the oval features of her face and how her dark brown hair appeared to flow through her fingers as if it required no conscious effort of her own. She had a small nose that separated her round blue eyes. Erik continued his gaze down across her chest and over her sloping curves and then her hips.
He quickly brushed wrinkles out of his shirt and took a quick glance around to spot any possible spies. "So, tonight then?"
"Yeah, call me around nine." Laura smiled warmly and left the supply room.
Erik watched her walk out of the supply room and out the door as she walked with an enticing and almost teasing step. Taking a box of pencils on a shelf to his left, he exited the supply room.
Erik knew that some of his co-workers were aware--or at least suspicious--of Laura and his' affair but he said nothing regardless. He was a quiet man who seldom engaged in the self-contained social life of an office work place. Best to keep work and life as separate as possible, after all. As possible, he thought.
He walked down the hallway to the right of the supply room back to his desk. His was in an open room where there were twelve desks in two columns, paired and facing each other. Two large windows were placed on the left wall offering a view of the Bel-Air prefecture in the city-state of California. His desk faced his co-worker's and was in the left column farthest from the hallway where he had entered. He slumped into his seat and tossed the box of pencils on the top of his desk while his co-worker, Osborn, was still seated and working on a payroll report.
Osborn raised his head and leaned back into his seat. He gave Erik a sly look and asked "You have a hard time finding them pencils?" Osborn, an older man with an abrasive voice and an annoying accent that agitated Erik--largely because the accent was fake. Osborn loved to hear his own voice and his accent became thicker in his amusement.
Erik tried not to cringe and answered, "Ahh, yeah. I think we're ahh.. short."
Osborn answered with a mocking sneer, "I just saw that Laura prance by-- wow! Is she ever a cutie!" His accent had grown thicker.
Erik suppressed a mocking smile of his own and started on his work. You can play this game with me all you want--you bored old geezer.
* * * * *
Erik stood outside a quiet Italian restaurant and tried to call Laura from his cell phone. He had been calling for fifteen minutes and hadn't received an answer. After a number of further attempts failed he gave up and hailed a taxi.
The taxi dropped him off in front of his apartment complex and he swiped his keycard to allow himself inside. The entrance led to an open lobby where two longer hallways met. Directly at the end of the lobby there was an elevator that Erik called. The doors opened revealing three Officers from the Department of Homeostasis; one officer appeared to be supervising while the others carried an opaque white capsule with red-crosses on either side.
The Officers were wearing protective gear: Shiny black plastic under the dull matte of their flak jackets; Their faces covered by sealed masks. The third Officer pushed Erik to the side of the elevator's entrance and asked him if he had known the capsule's occupant and if he had been in close and physical contact with the occupant. Erik answered honestly and the officers were on their way.
Riding the elevator to his apartment's floor, Erik tried to forget the shock of what he had witnessed. He knew that people who fallen ill were quarantined to their apartments while Homeostasis Officers (often called "Anti-Bodies") waited out the inevitable death of the quarantined person. However, illness was rare and he had never seen such an event before. He had always understood the policy as neccesary to the "greater good" of society: But now witnessing the procedure had left him uneasy. The elevator arrived at his floor.
Erik's apartment was a small area. Directly in front and to his left was his bed with a number of small drawers contained underneath. Beside the bed was a counter. On the left end of the counter an Infection Scanner was mounted; Then, continuing right was a sink and tap. Under the counter there were cupboards and a small dishwasher.
He left his personal effects on the counter and hung his coat on a hook in the wall opposite the counter. Sitting on his bed he removed his shoes and then laid back against the wall sidling his bed; He rifled through the unmade covers to find the remote that controlled the TV, mounted in the wall opposite the bed.
He flipped through crude sitcoms, over ambitious drama and the daily news reports: The new threat of underground terrorism, steps being taken to ensure the health and safety of the city state, the usual address by the Governor of California.
He decided against the mundaneness of television and tossed his remote to the floor. He turned and laid fully on the bed, reaching upward to a button to deactivate the apartment's lighting. Thoughts of his encounter with Laura that day filled his memory before he fell to sleep.
Do not feel trapped by the need to achieve anything, this way you achieve everything.