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 such travel was possible, but it took more than 100 years after his death to put his theory into practice.   Elaborate technologies were developed to convert mass into protons for the time-altering voyage, and then upon arrival, convert them back to their original form.
Protons can’t think, yet Miles Stevens firmly believed he had thoughts, or maybe dreams, during his trips from one decade to the next.  Returning from his most recent mission, his vision of Terri King was vivid.  He anticipated her greeting, arms extended, smile bright.  
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 concluded the thoughts were euphoric, but thinking wasn’t as satisfying as doing.
Hope sustained Miles during his last mission: hope that Terri was safe and hope that they’d be reunited.  The desperate look on Terri’s face as she was forced into the time capsule had never left Miles’ mind.  Left alone two decades in the past, he could do nothing to save her.  But Miles’ wait was nearly over.  He was about to learn if Terri had made it home to 2050.

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.  Miles scanned the open space before him, but there was no sign of Terri.
It had been more than a year since Miles had seen his former partner. 
Where is she?   

    


INTRODUCTION

Year 2050



THE PHYSICAL STRESS of time travel was cumulative, and Miles had 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 days ago, but the medical recovery team refused to release him, erring on the side of caution.
The reentry facility at Langley was designed for prolonged recuperations, and Miles’ recovery room looked more like a 5-star resort than a medical facility.  On one side of the bright, open space was a holographic 3-D video system. Movies and TV programs 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.  Outside, passersby saw a ten-foot-high reflective glass.  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. Even with all the hi-tech distractions, he’d had enough and was pacing the room like a captured leopard.
After his return 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 mission. I need the diversion and time to think.
I do love you, but I can’t live my life in constant despair.   
Love, Terri
He was thankful Terri had made it home, but he hadn’t been told anything about her new 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.
Miles stuffed the rumpled note back into his pocket and turned toward the holographic TV.
“Get Dr. Jones, now!” he shouted.
A suspended 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:  crimson tie, white shirt and blue blazer with the gold DHI logo over the breast pocket.
“Getting a little anxious?” he asked.
“I can’t believe you’re letting me just sit here,” Miles complained.
“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 Dr. King’s 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.”
“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 qualified for this assignment?”
“The DHI is working another case.  We’ll be selecting agents in a couple months.  You’re much better suited for that assignment.”
Miles clenched his jaw and approached Jones before stopping short.  His athletic frame hovered over the slight-built DHI director.
“It’s not an option. You know that I have to go,” Miles demanded.
“And you know that personal needs can’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 thinned his lips as he stared at Miles.  As the first DHI agent accepted into the program, Miles had developed a reputation for stubbornness. Still, Jones couldn’t afford to lose his top agent.
“They’ve been sent to 2032,” Jones said, “to head off the Sydney attack.”
“Not the Death Games?” Miles asked, surprised.
Jones nodded.
The 34th Summer Olympiad was known as the Death Games.  It never was determined how a rapidly spreading strain of the smallpox was introduced, but it resulted in more than 20,000 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 heard.
“If Brock is such a hotshot scientist, why can’t he 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, and even more time to develop the serum.    Thousands would die before receiving the vaccine.  The objective of their mission is to find the source of the virus before it’s released.”
“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’ll 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 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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