Brian O’Grady: An excerpt from HYBRID

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Hybrid coverHere’s Chapter 1 from Hybrid:

Sent: March 5, 2015,2117 MST
Subject: Viral outbreak

Nathan A. Martin, M.D., Director of Special Pathogens, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia:

Dr. Martin, we met seven years ago at the Tellis Medical facility. I’m sure you remember, although I can’t discount the possibility that in your tenure at the CDC you may have detained so many people that my name is only a distant memory. Let me refresh it; you and your medical team held me for three months under the pretext that I was a public health risk after I had been exposed to a virus in the jungles of Honduras. Ultimately the United States Army intervened and I was released over your objections.

You visited me on three separate occasions. During our first two conversations you openly lied to me about several things, the most important of which was your true intent. Our final meeting was cut short when you nearly asphyxiated yourself. Perhaps now you remember that it was me who saved your life.

I am contacting you not because I trust you, but only because I have no other options, and I hope that the health and welfare of the American people mean more to you than your pursuit of me. A situation has arisen that requires your immediate attention and intervention. The virus that you named EDH1 has resurfaced in the city of Colorado Springs.

I realize that taken at face value this is a fantastic statement and that your first inclination maybe to ignore it but, as the only survivor of this virus, I am in a unique position to make it.

While I was being held in Tellis, one of my many frustrations was the fact that none of your staff would actually listen to what I had to say. Your investigations were misdirected from the start; the answers you sought could not be found in any of the preprogrammed forms and questionnaires that I was forced to endure. To fully understand what happened in that Honduran jungle, you needed to be there or, failing that, listen to someone who was there.

So, for the health and welfare of the American people, for your understanding, and for my own piece of mind, I am going to set the record straight.

I was a part of a Red Cross disaster response team sent to Tela, Honduras, after hurricane Michael. Tela is a coastal city, but due to the heavy storm damage it could only be reached by helicopter. With a platoon of seventeen Honduran soldiers, our team of fourteen was ferried in by helicopter. Shortly after we arrived, a local woman, covered in blisters and suffering from a gunshot wound, brought EDH1 to our camp. Later, we found a second group of soldiers, all infected, staggering down the highway, and they told us that everyone from Tela was either dead or dying from a highly communicable form of hemorrhagic fever. Within twelve hours, we started losing people. By ten days, thirty of our original thirty-one were dead. I believe that this part of the story is well known, and unfortunately it became the sole focus of everyone’s attention and concern.

What was lost in the chaos was the truth of how most of our people died. The virus itself only killed seven of our thirty; the rest died violently. I’m guessing that shortly after exposure the infection spreads to the brain, causing hallucinations, paranoia and, in many, uncontrolled rage. After I became infected, I experienced each of these symptoms, and I can’t overstate their intensity. It is quite possible that, given the appropriate treatment, some of our people might have been saved, which brings us back to the situation in Colorado Springs.

As of last Thursday, there have been no cases of hemorrhagic fever reported in Colorado, and the only reasonable explanation is that no one is looking for it. The Colorado Health Department is reporting an unusually high number of deaths from a particularly virulent form of the flu, and I believe that many of those cases are, in fact, related to the Honduran Virus.

There has also been an unprecedented spike in the rate of violent crime in Colorado Springs. In the past six weeks, there have been forty-two murders and suicides—that’s twenty-five times their average. This is not a simple statistical anomaly.

If you check, you will find that the Colorado Health Department and Colorado Bureau of Investigation have already started investigations and, not surprisingly, neither one has found anything. You need to help them make the connection; you need to tell them what happened seven years ago!

I can imagine how an unsolicited e-mail asking for an investigation into an obscure virus will be received, but as I see it, you are in my debt. I also want you to consider the source; no one else knows what really happened in Honduras. I’m not asking a lot. Do your job, and let the Colorado Health Department do theirs. I’m certain that the results will confirm what I’m telling you.

I’ve reviewed your biography on the Internet and, despite what you’ve done to me, I believe you can be motivated into doing the right thing. Otherwise, I’ll be forced to deal with this in my own way.

Amanda Flynn


Sent: March 7, 2015, 0654 EST

Ms. Flynn, I’m not sure how you got my personal e-mail address, but it has long been suspected that you were more than what you appeared. As far as remembering you, rest assured there are many who remember you well, myself included.

I’m not in any way apologizing for what we did for you, and please note, I didn’t say “to” you. When you were flown out of the jungle, you were in severe shock from blood loss and exposure. Neither the U.S. government nor I had anything to do with your quarantine. When we learned of your plight, we evacuated you to the best facility in the world for such problems.

As far as what you think you witnessed before you were rescued, you must realize that your impressions were heavily influenced by the infection that very nearly killed you. There was no evidence that anyone died from anything other than the EDH1 virus.

As far as being indebted is concerned, I think I’ve shown that it is you who are indebted to us. So, I will rely upon your honor and ask that you allow us to re-examine you so that we can find out how you survived this universally fatal infection. I am sure you know that a number of people have been trying to find you for seven years.

Finally, I have contacted the Colorado Department of Health, and they have noted an unexplained rise in acts of violence. However, there is no evidence to suggest that an infectious agent is the cause. They assured me that they have specifically looked for one and have carefully reviewed all the autopsy results. I trust what they told me, and I don’t do that lightly. If it makes you feel any better, I will admit to having a deep institutional bias and a basic distrust of everyone outside of my little world, but in this situation, the CDH did their job. I’m sure there is an explanation for this worrisome cluster of violence, but it’s not EDH1.

I have hesitated to contact the FBI. By all rights I should, since they want to see you very badly. From my perspective, at best, you are key to answering some critical medical questions, and at worst, you could pose an overwhelming public health risk. Seven years ago we were unable to find any evidence of the EDH1 virus in your blood, yet you had all the clinical features. This makes you quite unique. We have made many technical advances in the last seven years, and there’s a very real probability that we can determine why you alone survived. I think you owe it to the thirty-one people who didn’t.

N. Martin


Sent: March 7, 2015, 0503 MST

I appreciate that you contacted the local health authorities, but it’s frankly not enough. They are not equipped to evaluate this threat. You are. Trust your institutional bias.

You were wrong about what happened down in Honduras. I was not sick when the Marines arrived. They made that assumption—an honest mistake, but one that was propagated down the line until it became viewed as fact. My memories were not affected in any way. If your records show that all the deaths occurred due to EDH1, then they are either incorrect or have been altered, for whatever reason. I am not some conspiracy nut. Things were incredibly chaotic, and for now I choose to believe that the soldiers saw what they were told to expect. Certainly, they recovered the remains of my team, didn’t they?

Amanda Flynn


Sent: March 7, 2015, 0712 EST

Apparently I’ve caught you awake. I’m not in the habit of exchanging e-mails back and forth like some adolescent, but for you I’ll make an exception.

Without something concrete, I’ve done all I can. I do not have the authority or inclination to demand that the Colorado Department of Health do any more. You have given me nothing but unsupported recollections and statistical anomalies. I can’t commit resources based on that.

Just so you know—the bodies of your Red Cross team were destroyed on site. We did not have the ability to bring them home. For that I am sorry.

I’ve read your file many times, and know that you’ve experienced more than your share of tragedy but, as you have pointed out, I have a responsibility to the health and welfare of the citizens of this country. If you are right, and EDH1 has found its way into the population, we need to see you now more than ever, not only to identify your unique resistance, but because YOU are the only natural reservoir for this virus. If there’s an outbreak, it is because you have chosen to remain at large. I regret that I have to take such a hard line, but if I can’t persuade you to come in voluntarily, I will contact the FBI before the end of today.

N. Martin


Sent: March 7, 2015, 0519 MST

Call them.

Amanda Flynn


Brian O'Grady


Brian O’Grady is April’s Story Plant Author of the Month, which means you can get the e-book versions of his novels Amanda’s Story and Hybrid for a great price all month. Read more about it here.

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