Chapter 21: Tests and Cures

Down With the Sickness — Disturbed (Chapter 21 Soundtrack)

Ash was losing hope. One moment, he had felt happy, lying beside his new girlfriend, Renata. And the next moment, he was arguing with her, trying to convince her to go to the hospital. “You’re not well, Renata,” he said. “You have early symptoms of the illness.”

Mac (53)Test (4)

“I am not sick!” she insisted. But at last, she could deny it no longer and went to the hospital.

Test (2)

Ash felt sick, too, but in a different way. Too many people were suffering from an illness that he still could not stop. And now, even his girlfriend lay in a hospital bed, writhing with fever and stomach pains.

He began to work almost around the clock, visiting patients in the hospital as well as in their own homes. He ran tests on the ill and healthy alike. He read research books and lab reports until his eyes were sore and red.

Tests

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He and Dr. Mack tried a variety of medications and treatments. Some appeared to respond. But when they gave the same medications to other patients, they only grew sicker. Test (6) Test (1) Test (8) Test (9) Test (7)

One day, an idea so simple occurred to Ash, that he couldn’t believe no one had mentioned it. He studied the lab reports again. The CDC had conducted environmental tests in a number of locations – most of which were on the west side of Mors Canyon. The west side – but not on the east side, toward the military base. “This can’t be right,” Ash said, showing his findings to Dr. Mack. “At least half our patients live or work on the military base.”

Test

Dr. Mack frowned. “I don’t understand why the CDC didn’t conduct any tests there.”

Ash felt a spark of fire return within him. Without delay, he set off to conduct tests in his old neighborhood. He took soil samples and plant samples. He collected groundwater and creek water. Then he took them back to the lab for testing. He was on the verge of a breakthrough – he just knew it!

Test (13) Test (12) Test (11)

Content and exhausted, Ash finally went home. He had plans to shower and get a good night’s sleep before returning to the lab to check on the samples. But before he could turn in, his phone rang.

Test (10)

“Hello?” he said, yawning.

“Hello, Ash.” It was Cami.

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