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Eric L.Harry

Pandora: Outbreak

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    “That’s why we call him Dr. Doomsayer,” Hank explained to Isabel. A jumble of side discussions arose as if pent up nervous energy was being released.
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    Before Nielsen could respond, Street said, “Please elaborate.” Nielsen smiled and rested her chin atop interlaced fingers to listen
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    The blogger reported,” said the British-accented news reader, “that Russian troops had lost all control and had fired indiscriminately into crowds of people for no apparent reason. Casualties are reported to number in the hundreds, if not much higher. All contact with Khabarovsk has since been severed by Russian authorities.”
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    Yes. That would help you and Noah survive what’s coming.”

    Isabel looked from the rapt medical team, to the tall Marine ready to shoot Emma, to the camera recording everything. “What’s coming, Emma?”

    “The end of civilization,” Emma replied, taking a sip of water and urinating.
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    Emma took inventory. “Here.” She reached up to touch her head. The tall Marine’s hand reached for his pistol, but he didn’t draw it. “This,” Emma said.

    “Would you like something?” Isabel asked. “For the pain?”

    Her sister must be asking if the doctors should administer narcotics. “No.”
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    Tears welled in Isabel’s eyes. Emmy looked helpless as they slipped a blood pressure cuff on her arm, clipped a thermometer to her finger, and taped a tube to her face.
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    The nurses cut away Emma’s protective garb, soggy from disinfectant, using special care around her headgear. “Take a deep breath and hold it,” the doctor said. Emma complied with comically puffed cheeks.
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    Dr. Lange was summoned in French. His team was headed into the terminal. “Prepare for the worst, Dr. Miller. The very, very worst. I bid you adieu, et bon chance.”
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    You wouldn’t believe what just happened!” Isabel told her about the shooting. Emma didn’t react at all. Not verbally. Not in body language. Oh-my-God, Isabel thought. There’s something really wrong with her.

    US and Russian soldiers kept their distance, but held weapons . . . on Emma.
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    Isabel stared up at the French or German man. “What?” she replied. Turned? she thought. Is that what they call it? “Prepare for what?” she asked.
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    front of him. The medical staff tracked blood to the door. A pressure bandage slid off the executive’s still oozing chest wound.

    The pilot betrayed no emotion. When Isabel stood, he watched.
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    “He’s some VIP,” Groenewalt replied, looking down at his chart.

    “Pyotr Ignatyev?” Isabel asked. The pug-nosed Russian executive, with skin long ago ravaged by acne, returned her gaze. Rick posted riflemen at the feet of the men’s gurneys. Both patients stared warily at the weapons. Their dilated eyes made them seem oddly . . . not human.
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    The illness began in Anadyr.” He was answering the question, she realized, that she had asked before his boss was shot dead right
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    “I want to go see him,” Isabel said.

    The colonel, Rick, and the Russians all argued against it, but she insisted, dropping “the White House” and “the president” as needed to get her way.
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    “Get a jump on your research? Sounds like a plan. General Browner, could you make that happen? Dr. Miller, it’s vital we understand these survivors. How they tick?”
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    Isabel wondered the same thing. She tried to collect herself. Think. Think! Science. “The man who stomped on the patient,” she began before she even knew what she was going to say, “exhibited behavior consistent with adrenal rage.” Okay. “And both men clearly suffered from deficits in the emotional salience of their pain perceptions.”
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    Meaning,” Stoddard said, “in the society they’ll build after we’re gone? I think that can wait. But Dr. Miller, would you head up our research on their aberrant behavior?”

    “Sir?” Isabel said. “I don’t even, like, have a security card.” Someone laughed.
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    You’ve raised an interesting question, sir.” Browner’s aide swiped up a page on a tablet and handed it to him. “Dr. Miller!” Isabel flinched. “Can you help me with,” Browner spelled: “S-I-M-U-L-A-C-R-U-M?”
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    “Is that adrenal, as in adrenaline?” President Stoddard asked. She nodded.

    General Browner said, “And could that result in violence?”

    Emma, violent? “Adrenaline triggers the fight-or-flight response—a sequence of nerve-cell firing and chemical releases that prepares us to face life-or-death threats.
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    irst WHO surge team and found nearly identical brain damage in ten members of the drilling crew and one soldier. Their brains are on the way to Geneva for a full autopsy, but the WHO suggests that the damage may provide a physiological explanation for the aberrant behavior that’s been observed, like impulsive-reactive aggression.”
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