GONE VIRAL - A Sneak Peek

PREFACE

Year – Somewhere between 2020 and 2050



BODY AND MIND DETACH during journeys across time.
            Einstein was the first to theorize that mass, or people, couldn’t travel at light speeds.  Mass would become energy. It took nearly 100 years after Einstein’s death for someone to discover a process for transforming mass into a form capable time travel.   Time machines where designed to convert mass into protons for passage across time and then convert them back to mass upon arrival. 
Protons can’t think, yet Miles firmly believed he had thoughts, or maybe dreams, during his trips from one decade to the next.  Even as he was being propelled across time, his vision of Terri was vivid.  She greeted him, arms extended, smile bright.  She stood tall and moved with elegant, athletic lines.  
Time travel took picoseconds but seemed like hours, even days. Without his body to limit what his mind imagined, everything seemed possible. Miles wondered what it would be like to be suspended indefinitely passing through time.  He decided that existing only as thoughts was euphoric, but thinking wasn’t as satisfying as doing.
Hope sustained Miles during his last time travel mission: hope of Terri making it safely back to Langley and hope of them reuniting.  If she was safe, then their feelings for each other would also be safe, or so he thought.
Miles heard the doors of the time capsule snap open and felt the rush of fresh air filling the cabin.  He squinted as his eyes adjusted to the florescent light of the reentry room.
He could see Dr. Jones, standing stone faced outside the capsule door.  He scanned the space before him, but there was no sign of Terri.
Miles had successfully completed two missions since leaving Langley.  To Dr. Jones and others at CIA headquarters, Miles had only been gone only a few months.  To Miles, it had been nearly a year since he’d seen his former partner. 
Where is she?   

    

INTRODUCTION

Year 2050



HAVING HIS BODY shot through space at light speeds had taken a toll on Miles.  The physical stress of time travel was cumulative, and he’d experienced more missions than any CIA agent in the Department of Historic Intervention (DHI). The uncontrolled twitching of his muscles and burning sensation on his skin had subdued two days after returning, but the medical recovery team refused to release him, erring on the side of caution.
The reentry facility in Langley, Virginia was designed for prolonged recuperations, and Miles’ recovery room looked more like an extended stay hotel than a medical facility.  On one side of the bright, open space was a holographic 3-D video system. TV programs and movies could be projected into the room in three dimensions, giving the appearance of onstage performances. 
A massive picture window was positioned on the opposite side of the room.  From the outside, passersby saw a ten-foot-high reflective glass.  From the inside, Miles could select live panoramic views of anything from Niagara Falls to waves crashing on shore at Waikiki Beach.  A sunny, snow-topped Colorado mountain was currently displayed.   
Confined to the facility the past five days, Miles was beyond restless and on his way to agitated.  Even with all the hi-tech distractions, he’d had enough and was pacing the room like a captured leopard.
After reentry to Langley, Miles was given a note. He’d read it dozens of times during his recuperation, committing it to memory.  He took the worn paper from his pocket, unfolded it, and read it again.
Miles,
If you’re reading this, you’re safely home and I’m relieved. Waiting for you to return was driving me crazy.  I’ve never loved a man enough to worry this much, and I don’t know if I can do it now.
I’ve asked to be assigned to the next DHI mission. I need the diversion and time to think. I do love you, but I can’t live my life in constant despair.  Stay safe.
Love, Terri.
He hadn’t been told anything about Terri King’s recent assignment.  The thought of his former partner being sent decades into the past on another dangerous mission was eating at him. His daily demands to be informed of her whereabouts had been ignored, further building his frustrations.
The hopeless look on Terri’s face as she was forced into the time capsule at gunpoint had never left Miles’ mind.  He was unable to do anything to save her and could only hope that Terri made it back to 2050 and to Langley safely. 
Miles stuffed the rumpled paper back into his pocket and turned toward the holographic TV.
“Get Dr. Jones, now!” he shouted.
A Now Dialing icon spun across the room as Miles waited for a response.
Seconds later the door opened, and Jones stepped inside wearing his customary attire:  red tie, white shirt and blue blazer with the gold DHI logo sewn over the breast pocket.
“Getting a little anxious?” he asked.
 “I can’t believe you’re letting me just sit here,” Miles replied.
“You’ve been on two missions over a short period of time. It’s all precautionary.” 
“I feel fine!”
“Actually, I just looked at your medical report, and the doctors agree.”
“It’s about time.  Now tell me where Terri is, and get me the hell out of here.”
Jones paused, studying Miles.
“I’m not sure this mission is a fit for you.”
“We’ve been through this,” Miles snapped. “I don’t care what the mission’s about or where it is. You can’t tell me the odds of success wouldn’t be better with me as her partner.”
“She already has a partner.”  
Miles glare intensified.
“Dr. James Brock was hand-selected from thirty highly-qualified candidates.  He prepared alongside Dr. King for two months for this assignment.  They work well together and have complimentary skills.”
“What makes this Brock guy so perfect?”
“For one thing, he’s a top researcher in viral microbiology, knowledge vital to this mission.”
Miles resumed pacing before turning back to Jones. “So what are you saying, only doctors are to be sent on this assignment?”
“The DHI is working another case.  We’ll be selecting agents for the mission in a couple months.  You’re much better suited for that assignment.”
Miles clenched his jaw and stepped toward Jones before stopping short.  He wanted to grab him by his lapels and lift him off the floor.
“It’s not an option. You know that I have to go.”
“And you know that personal needs don’t play a role in who’s assigned to missions.”
“Our relationship wasn’t an issue on our first assignment, and it won’t be on this one. Either you agree to send me, or my role here is over.”
Jones slowly shook his head as he looked at Miles.  He’d known Miles long enough to tell he wasn’t bluffing. The ultimatum left him without an option.
“They’ve been sent to 2032,” Jones said. “To head off the Sydney attack.”
“Not the Death Games?” Miles asked, the venue startling even him.
Jones nodded.
The 34th Summer Olympiad was known as the Death Games.  It never was determined how a rapidly spreading strain of the smallpox virus was introduced, but it resulted in more than 10,000 fatalities, including scores of athletes and spectators. Sydney, and eventually the entire continent of Australia, was quarantined for more than a year before the epidemic could be brought under control.
“Dr. King has assumed a position in the World Health Organization,” Jones continued. “Dr. Brock has been assigned to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.”
“Couldn’t you just transport them back with a vaccine?” Miles asked.
“The smallpox virus in Sydney was intentionally released, and it had been genetically altered, possibly combined with other viral contaminants.  That strain of the virus no longer exists, nor does a vaccine that would control it.”
Miles frowned, not understanding all he just herard.
“If this Brock is such a hotshot scientist, why can’t he just whip up another vaccine after he arrives?”
“That’s possible, but it would take time to get his hands on a sample of the virus to develop the serum.    Thousands would die before given the vaccine.  The objective of their mission is to find the source of the virus before it’s released in Sydney.”
“So, where do I fit in?”
“We’ll create an opening on the International Security Organization assigned to the games.  You’ll fill in for a senior CIA officer who will be called away.”
“Fine. When can I start?”
“I’ll get you a briefing package this afternoon.  In the meantime, you might as well stay here and rest up.”
Miles picked up a remote controller and clicked off the mountain view from the massive screen.
“If it’s all the same to you, I’d like to get some real sunlight.”      

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