Dr. Mack was growing concerned. Lately, the hospital had been packed with patients complaining of flu-like symptoms, strange rashes, and chronic pains.
“Doctor, is this an epidemic?” his patients were asking. “Should we be concerned? Is there a way to vaccinate our families so that they don’t get sick?”
Dr. Mack wished he had real answers. After he had admitted the fifth serious case to the hospital, a very ill six year-old boy whose organs had begun to fail, he contacted the CDC to report a possible outbreak.
If only he could figure out a way to treat his patients! But this illness did not appear to respond to antiviral drugs or even the strongest antibiotics. Ever since the deaths of the Chowdhurys, he had not relented in his search to diagnose the illness. He pored over journal after journal, considering rare viruses, fungal infections, and unusual autoimmune diseases. Occasionally, he found an illness that seemed to match, but was only disappointed when his patients did not respond to the treatments.
Ash overheard his aunt and uncle discussing the outbreak one evening. “They say it is the same mysterious disease that killed Mohana aand Shariq,” said his aunt. “And that there is no cure.”
Ash was alarmed. If the doctors had still not figured out what had killed his parents, then more people might die. “I’m going out,” he told his aunt and uncle, then hopped on his bike and rode all the way to the hospital.
“I appreciate your eagerness, but I’m really not sure what you can do,” Dr. Mack told Ash with a tired smile.
“I am great with scientific research,” said Ash. “Just give me a chance. Maybe I can help you to diagnose this illness.” Dr. Mack at last relented and gave Ash access to his research lab. Whenever Ash was in town during school holidays, he spent nearly every hour of his time absorbed in medical research.
“Shouldn’t you be out having fun like other kids your age?” Dr. Mack asked him one day, after Ash had spent six straight hours in the lab. “Have you had time to swing by and visit Cami and the baby?”
“Baby? What baby?” Ash’s mouth dropped open. Cami and Wyatt had a baby? But the wedding had only been three months ago!
A guilty expression crossed Dr. Mack’s face. “I’m sorry. I thought you knew…” But Ash was already racing out the door and over to Cami and Wyatt’s house. His heart pounding, he crept up to the living room window and peered inside. He did not see Wyatt, but there was Cami, as lovely as ever, gently bouncing a tiny infant against her shoulder. She did not see Ash as he stared through the window, stunned. Cami and Wyatt had a baby! Cami was a mother. No wonder she had married Wyatt. Of course. It all made sense now. He only wished she had trusted him enough to tell him the truth.
Ash turned away from the window and went home.