As the warm months pass, Frank Brooks gradually overcomes his mental issues. He is transfered to the lwer levels where he has more freedom.
Dr. Sorenson muses,“Its good to know there is the option for recovery from severe exposre to these horrors,” as he contemplates his friends eventual release.
On the other hand Robert Mill refuses to go to therapy. He grows distant and begins a half-hearted search for a new job, at a company whose moral center he trusts.
Shaw meanwhile spends more time poring over Frank’s files and learning more about what horrors lurk in the area.
Ilyes does more research as well but ends the summer with a nice vacation.
Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Tuesday September 7th, 10 AM
Lillian Shaw gets a phone call. A gravely voice says, “Shaw this is Agent Gray.”
“Hi, I haven’t heard from you in a while,” she replies to the Man in Black.
“I’ve been…many places. But you asked me to let you know if we were active in the area.”
“I appreciated it. Is there anything I should be aware of?”
He hesitates. “We should talk about it. You might be able to help us.”
“Alright,” she says curious. “Where would you like to meet?”
“We are set up in Harborview Medical Center,” he informs her.
“I take it this is a medical case?”
“Yeah. I don’t want to talk about it on the phone.”
“Okay.” She explains, “I just wonder if I should bring along one of my medical consultants.”
“If you trust them,” he says gravely.
“Alright. I should be able to clear my calender for the afternoon.”
“Oh and can you bring Vito along as well,” he says with more enthusiasm.
Shaw immediately calls Dr. Ilyes. He apparently is having a busy day at the fertility clinic but should be able to meet her at Harborview Medical Center. She then tells Vito, “You are coming for a ride along. Your old friends are back in the area.”
The large hospital still seems understaffed and poorly maintained. In an unused hallway on the 4th floor, a check point has been set up, manned by a man in black.
Shaw and Vittorio ‘Vito’ Vitacelli arrive first. Agent Gray greets them as they are talking to the guard. He takes into the first room of the hall. A half covered map of the city covers one wall. Pushpins of various colors have been pressed into the cork board.
Agent Gray begins to explain the situation. “There is a bit of a medical issue in the city. One that concerns people like ourselves. It seems there is some sort of parasite that is infecting people. We’ve had a dozen cases reported so far.”
“I presume this isn’t just some strange exotic bug,” Shaw says dryly.
“No, this is definitely something unnatural. We don’t know too much about it yet but it is some sort of arachnid.” As Shaw looks blankly at him, he says, “spiders.”
“What does the parasite do?” Vito asks. “How does it manifest?”
“It seems to lay eggs or burrow into people’s brains.”
“This sounds like a case for spider man,” Shaw says.
“Spider man?” the man in black ask.
Shaw elaborates. “One of my consultants got himself a bit of a reputation looking into brain spiders a few years ago. I don’t know if it is connected to the recent outbreak.”
Agent Gray considers the possibility. “I don’t know. These have mostly been in the last few months.”
“How does it normally transmit itself?” the detective asks.
“We don’t know yet,” Gray admits. He outlines the known cases, pointing them out on the map. The cases have been crudely color coded with red, blue and green pushpins. The red and blue pins are clustered around Capital Hill and Central District. The green pushpins are scattered across the city. Shaw asks what the colors denote.
“We are trying to get an idea of the specifics of the disease,” Gray explains. “Blue are male victims, red female. Green are older cases that might be related.”
Dr. Ilyes joins the group and Shaw quietly hopes Gray won’t mention the ‘spider man’ comment. As he looks over the map, he recognize some of his own cases among the green pushpins.
“So I’m told you know something about arachnid brain infestations,” Agent Gray says.
“I’ve encountered and done autopsies on bodies that have had arachnid infestations before,” the doctor says guardedly. He starts pointing out those pushpins which he was involved in.
Gray fills Ilyes in on the current upsurge in cases. As of today there have been 14 deaths, starting roughly a month ago. Four of those cases have occurred in the last week.
“This is turning into an epidemic.” Ilyes speculates, “there must be some sort of species jump. I bet you there’s been some sort of mutation in the spiders.”
“That’s what our doctors think as well.” The old man points to the board. “What’s very worrisome is these two cases. These two were missing much more of their brain than the others. They were also lacked any spiders. But we did find webbing in the brain cavity. It also appears they were clinically dead for some time.”
“You mean they were observed walking around after they should be dead?” Shaw asks.
Shaw seems unfazed by this information but both she and Ilyes notice the man in black is holding something back.
As Gray continues to detail the cases, Ilyes asks, “What were they trying to do?”
“We don’t know.”
“Were they near one of your facilities?” he asks hoping to get at what he was hiding.
“No,” Gray says truthfully. “We don’t believe this is a direct attack on national security.”
Ilyes presses him on possible vectors and Gray hestiatnly says, “I’m not sure this is the same phenomena. But I’ve seen something like it before. Where a person had a spider in their head and was walking around after death. Those spiders didn’t spread this way. But perhaps like you said this is some sort of mutation or hybrid or something. In which case there may larger, more physical threats than just the infection.”
“Well yes, if the spiders start leaving their brains,” Shaw says.
“It would be following the pattern of incubation,” Ilyes explains. “Where the brain spiders are merely the larval stage. Goliath tarantula’s can reach 3 feet across and are capable of eating birds, cats and small dogs.”
“I’ve seen much bigger tarantulas,” Gray says. “If we see more of those we will want to invest in shotguns.”
“Where was that?” Shaw asks.
“That was in New York.” He starts to explain the incident. “They seemed to have taken two forms or perhaps they were allied monsters. There were the spiders which got to the size of a large rat. Then there were the spider human hybrids.”
“Part human part spider,” he says.
“Like spider man?” Shaw says jokingly.
“No more like the Fly.” When no one gets it he explains, “the movie.”
Ilyes speculates this could be the result of a transgenic mutation. “In arachnology, it is not entirely unprecedented, though this represents a radical extreme.”
“Are there any changes in the bodies of the local victims?” Shaw asks.
“Maybe they’re not the same then.”
“I hope so.”
“We’ll have to pick up some insecticide,” Vito says, not entirely joking.
Shaw turns to the task at hand. “I assume you’ve been looking for connections between the victims. What was it you were hoping that One of a Kind Investigations could help with?”
“Actually that was part of it,” he explains. “We know where the victims have been living and where they died but we don’t know what connects them.”
“We can look into that for you.”
Agent Gray passes them a folder with the victim information.
Shaw turns to the doctor. “Ilyes would you mind sharing your expertise with them? You might be able to find some signs of the transmutations.”
He nods. “Or more importantly figure out a chemical or biological screen. Something non-invasive.”
Agent Gray tells him, “sure I’ll introduce you to Dr. Grant and his team.”
In additonal to the elderly Dr. Grant, the CDC team includes the grim faced Dr. Hall and the eager Dr. Carriker. Together they look over the bodies of the latest victims. They show the results of the blood test which thus far has failed to reveal any obvious way of screening victims.
“Theoretically there should be byproducts from the spiders,” Ilyes tells them.
They explain they have been thus far hampered by a lack of living patients. They also lack a theories of the vector. There are no bite marks and the only exterior signs are some bleeding of the nasal cavities.
Agent Gray takes Vito aside. He tries to convince him to join his organization as a part time agent in Seattle.
“What about conflict with what I am currently doing?” the sniper asks.
“I don’t see what conflict there would be.”
“Last time there were definitely some conflicts that arose,” he comments.
Gray shrugs. “I’m just looking for some men I can trust. We’re spread pretty thin.”
“You can keep me on your short list. What do you need me to do?”
“At the moment just what we talked about,” Gray tells him. “I’m just thinking ahead.”
They trade contact information and split for the evening.
Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, 4 PM
“How’s it going?” the detective says.
“Things have been fairly quiet,” the monster hunter says.
“That must be nice.”
“Yeah, definitely. In a way. Better for normal people.” V.I. gets to the substance of this call. “We think is cover up going on.”
“Cover up?” Mill asks.
“Yeah. there is a group of men in black in town.”
“Oh them,” he says sourly.
“Yeah,” V.I. says with the same tone.
“This would that same group of guys?”
“We think so.”
“I don’t trust them at all,” Mill says. “What do you got?”
“Well they seem to be checking out all the local morgues.”
Mill thinks back to the Community case. “Again?”
“Again, yeah. But we’ve done some digging around.” V.I. seems almost eager. “They have a CDC crew with them. Must be some sort of infection.”
“So why don’t they let people know about this?” Mill asks.
“That’s the question isn’t it?” the monster hunter says. “Well we think they have some sort of parasite going around. There have been a lot of requisitions for MRI records. I got a couple friends who have some theories.”
“How can I help?” he asks.
V.I. explains. “We are looking for evidence. We want to know what’s going on and get evidence of whatever they are covering up. That way when the time comes we can tell the world.”
“Okay. I have a few contacts at the morgues. Do you have any more solid leads or are we just going to go fishing?”
“My friends have some theories of what might behind this. But yeah at the moment it is a matter of checking morgues and keeping our eyes open until we know more.”
“Alright, I’m happy to take a look. I’ve been trying to keep clear of this stuff a little bit but you’ve been good to us in the past so I’m happy to help you out.”
Before he can hang up, V.I. says, “Oh let me give you my contact information.”
The monster hunter’s telephone number in hand, Mill calls the county morgue and sets up a meeting with Stephen Chang.
“Hey there Trevor, how’s it going?”
Sorenson is doodling on his notepad. “A little bit slow. Not a lot of crazy people around today.”
“That’s probably a good thing. It been a long time since last we talked so I can imagine you know what this calls about most likely.”
The psychiatrist can think of a few things it might be. “Trouble?”
Putting aside his hopes Mill might return to therapy, Sorenson says, “on a positive note, Frank is doing very very well and he’s been moved into the more open wing of the hospital.”
“I heard he was doing well,” Mill says guiltily. “I haven’t come to see him in three months, I guess. Its been a while. Anyway, you know those cases we had at the morgue?”
“The body parts going missing?” Sorenson asks.
“Yeah, there may be something similar but it isn’t clear at this point. I was wondering if you wanted to get back in the game and do some more investigating? Off the books right now, so there’s no money involved. I’ll let you know that up front.”
“They pay me well enough here to allow me to pursue extracurricular hobbies,” the doctor quips.
Mill continues his story, “they think some sort of disease going around. Despite my profound medical knowledge, I figured I might need someone who knows more than me. So I thought of you.”
“I appreciate that.”
“You have the medical know-how and the ability to tolerate the essential strangeness of these cases.”
Mill quickly fills him in on the involvement of the men in black. “I figure if we can turn the screws on those jerks, its a bonus.”
“I guess,” Sorenson says with less enthusiasm. “Well I only have one patient left this afternoon.”
They arrange to meet at the county morgue. “We are kind of on a fishing expedition at the moment.”
Sorenson smiles. “This kind of sounds like fun.”
Harborview Medical Center, Yesler Terrace, Evening
Dr. Ilyes spends his evening consulting with the CDC scientists. They go over the evidence searching for biological and chemical anomalies. The best they manage is a build up of webbing in the subarachnoid zone of the brain. This substance shares some chemical characteristics with ordinary spider web.
Ilyes begins working on a hypothetical treatment based on the idea that these creatures are biologically similar to spiders.
Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Evening
Vito Vitacelli picks up some wasp spray at the hardware store.
“Wasp spray? Why?” Shaw asks.
“It is pretty effective on arachnids and has a 15 foot stand off range,” he tells her.
“Sorry Trevor,” Mill tells him. “Its Shaw I’ve got to take this. Hello!”
“Hey,” Shaw says, “I wanted to let you know there seems to be something going on in the area. It seems like spider man was on to something.”
“We have some information on 14 recent cases in the area. Vito and I are back at the office to try to find some connections between them. I know you are off but if we’ll probably be here for a few more hours.”
Mill feigns ignorance. “Well I just met up with a friend here so I’ll see if I can meet up with you later.”
Vito starts to set up a map, replicating the one at the hospital. He also begins to break down the information on the victims: age, sex, ethnicity, and so forth. The victims range in age from their late teens to late 30s, with most of them in their 20s. They are also mostly single with a slight leaning toward females.
Shaw starts Erin on the credit checks while she focuses on the five most recent deaths. As evening wears on, Shaw and Vito discuss Mill and why he hasn’t involved himself yet. They worry that he hasn’t been the same since that case in May.
County Morgue, Downtown, 5 PM
Robert fills Trevor in on his call with Shaw. “I think we’ll look into this ourselves first and fill them in later. I don’t fully trust her at this point to make the right decisions. If you don’t feel comfortable with that I understand but after that debacle with Grant I want to play things closer to the vest.”
“Okay,” the doctor says.
“Of course we might not get anywhere,” Mill admits.
At their meeting Mill tells Stephen Chang about the mysterious infection and government cover up. Luckily Sorenson is able to smooth things over with the skeptical morgue worker. “Like he said, if you have any cases that have anything odd about them.”
Chang seems reluctant at first but then admits, “you are the second person to come by asking about that.”
“Oh really? Who was the first person who came by?”
“He didn’t tell me his name. He was well dressed and wore dark sunglasses.”
Realizing the Men in Black have already been here, Trevor says, “I don’t know if that sounds very legitimate. He sounds like he was hiding something.”
Chang fills them in about some odd cases recently. It seems there has been a rash of young people coming in with aneurysms. “We got one just last night.”
Chang says it came from someplace in southern Capitol Hill.
“And the victim?” Trevor asks.
“A woman, age 38,” Chang says calmly.
“Do you know what circumstances were?”
“She was found collapsed in an alleyway. No signs of a struggle. She wasn’t robbed. Only some blood coming out her nose. We haven’t done an autopsy yet.”
“I’d be very interested to know the results,” the psychiatrist says eagerly. “Has the family been notified?”
“Yes, they’ve been by already.”
Robert interjects and warns Chang about the danger of the possible infestation.
“You think its a disease?” Chang says incredulously.
“More of a parasite possibly,” Trevor says.
“Parasite? You haven’t been listening to that crazy spider guy?”
Chang explains. “There was this guy who worked at the local hospital a few years back. He was talking about spiders in people’s brains.”
“What crazy guy was that?” Trevor asks, feeling like he knows the answer.
“His name was Il-something.”
“Some crackpot,” Mill adds.
They convince Stephen to let them know if he finds something. They also learn the victim’s name is Vera Floyd. They thank him and leave.
Camping out in a Starbucks they do a quick background check on Vera. She apparently is a clerk at a Dollar Tree and is a heavy set black woman with long curly hair. Her Facebook pictures reveal an active partier and club goer. They realize the clubs are close to where she was found.
“Maybe we can track down what club she was at that night?” Trevor suggests.
They take down the addresses of the ones she liked on Facebook.
Club Vermillion, Capitol Hill, 8 PM
As the club goers pass by them, Dr. Sorenson and Robert Mill talk to a bouncer named Dave. They ask about Vera. “Yeah she was here. She came here a bunch of times. Last time she was with a guy named … Jeff.”
“Boyfriend?” Sorenson asks.
The big guy shrugs. “I guess. I didn’t really ask.”
“Is he a regular too?”
“Yeah,” Dave replies scratch his beard.
“We’d be interested in getting touch with him.” Trevor whispers to Mill, “How much should I tell him?”
“Let him know,” Mill says firmly.
“Well its sad to say she was found dead the other day,” Trevor tells Dave. “We are investigating the circumstances of her death.”
“Oh,” he says shocked.
“Just trying to determine if there was any foul play involved.”
Mill adds, “she was found relatively nearby.”
Dave points points Jeff out at bar. “The red headed guy over there.”
“We really appreciate it,” Trevor tells him.
“Thanks Dave,” Mill adds.
Sorenson shouts over the pounding music, “Hey! Is your name Jeff?”
They convince the man to accompany them to a quieter place in the club. They explain what happened to Vera. He seems shocked. “She’s dead!?”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” the doctor consoles him.
Jeff tries to shrug it off. “We hung out a couple times. It wasn’t that big a deal.”
They ask him about the last time he saw her.
“She was really pissed at me last time I saw her,” he tells him.
“Any particular reason?” Sorenson asks.
“She was upset with me for some reason.”
“Was this her normal behavior?”
“When was this?” Mill asks.
“This was, I guess, a week ago or so. I don’t know. I was really feeling out of it. I had this weird headache.”
Trevor glances at Robert. “Was that here?”
“No we had just left the Rock Box.”
They question him further but he is unable to give them much more in the way of useful information.
He mentions, “a few weeks ago she got in a fight with someone. I don’t know who.”
“A little bit of belligerent drunk?” Sorenson inquires.
“I wouldn’t say that.”
Mill is concerned about his own illness. “You feel better now?”
“Yeah, I figure I had the flu or something. I just had a headache and a weird itchiness.”
As he scratches at his head, Trevor speculates he might have this mysterious infection. “You didn’t have a doctor look at it?”
“Not to worry you,” Mill says, “but she had symptoms similar to that before her death. We just want to make sure everything is okay.”
Jeff seems worried. “I feel fine. But, you mean it might have been me?”
“If you feel any reoccurence of these conditions please let us know,” Mill says. “It might be nothing.”
Trevor asks, “I don’t suppose you would be willing to come in for a blood test.”
He refuses but Mill gives him his card.
Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Wednesday September 8th, 9 AM
Vito and Shaw pore over the credit checks on the victims. They find a lot of charges to night clubs, all the victims frequented clubs around south Capitol Hill. Vito starts mapping the purchases to see if there is any matching up between the victims. Shaw has Erin run the next set of names.
“Same old, same old,” the doctor says yawning. “Bunch of crazy people.”
“You think we ought to bring in other people now?” Mill asks.
“My intuition is that Jeff knows more than he shared to us,” Trevor shares. “He might be able to tell us more of what happened. He may even be involved in what’s going on. We may need more eyes on this. We’ve already tipped him on to this.”
“I kind of thought he was trustworthy but I don’t always have the best judgement of those kinds of things. I’ll bring everyone in on this.”
Mill gets to the office at 9:30. He spots the board Vito is working on. “Hey Vito how’s it going?”
“Working on the case we went up to the hospital about,” Vito tells him, putting another pushpin on the map.
“What’s up about that?”
“Another strange one,” he says.
Shaw joins the conversation. “You know Vito’s old friends?”
“Agent Gray and company?” Mill says sourly.
“They gave us a call notifying us they were in town,” She tells him.
“They are covering up some sort of medical mystery that they are trying to suppress as the government is wont to do,” Mill suggests.
“Suppress? They called me.”
“They are keeping it from the public at large though,” he says bitterly. “All these many strange deaths that may be an epidemic.”
Shaw tries to reason with him. “Well the deaths are on public record. They are not publicizing the brain spider theory. They are still working out how they are spreading. Ilyes is looking into it.”
They share information with Shaw explaining the victims’ main commonality are that they attend nightclubs and Mill filling them in on Trevor and his research into Vera Floyd.
“So they still have the body?” Shaw asks.
Mill says, “yes. We told them to be very careful but we didn’t know what the situation was.”
“I’ll notify Ilyes.”
She also tells him about the cases of walkers, people seemingly controlled by the spiders after their deaths. “Perhaps the spiders were actually controlling the bodies. From what the scientists said this is different from previous cases.”
Mill also tells her about Jeff and his illness. “I don’t know if its meaningful information or a coincidence.”
Shaw peculates, “when we found Frank he said they tried to put spiders into his brain. Its possible that is unconnected. But its possible however they if infect a person it can fought it off.”
Vito spends the day breaking down the cases by when they visited the clubs and their times of death. Its very rough but it looks like they all visited one of three clubs (Vermillion, Rock Box, and Havana) one or two weeks before they died. Each of the clubs are within a few blocks of each other.
Mill looks into the club’s background but finds nothing suspicious about the vendors and owners.
“What sort incubation time for these things?” he asks the doctor.
Ilyes thinks for a moment. “Well generally figuring, as we don’t know all of the factors involved, on the high end it may take a three to four months. On the low end it may go to a terminal case in little more than a week.”
Shaw’s voice can be heard on the line. “Oh hey are you talking to Ilyes? Can you put him on speaker phone.”
“Sure,” Vito says.
“Hey where are you?” Shaw asks.
“I’ve been working with the team that you introduced me to,” Ilyes explains. “I’ve been looking at the brain chemistry of the bodies of the victims. I’ve been studying, trying to come up with some diagnostic tests for this whole thing.”
“Well we think we’ve found another case.”
“Still alive?” he asks, hopeful.
Shaw burst his bubble. “Recently dead, two days.”
“This came from your old friend Stephen Chang,” she adds.
“Well I can take a look.”
Mill’s voice can be heard. “Quick caveat, Stephen Chang did not have the highest regard for your medical credentials. He called you the crazy spider guy.”
Ilyes turns to Dr. Hall. “We may have another patient. It may be better for one of you to diagnose the body.”
“What’s the name of the victim?” the old man asks.
“Oh, she’s just been brought in,” he tells him.
Ilyes hears Shaw asks Mill about someone called Jeff Willis. Mill says, “he wasn’t keen on guys in Genesis T-shirts asking for his blood. I’ve already warned him that there is some disease going around so he’s a bit freaked out.”
“Dr. Ilyes are you still there?” Shaw asks.
“There’s another guy who was friends with the victim, Vera, named Jeff Willis. He said he wasn’t feeling too well a few days ago. I don’t know if it is worth it but if he is infected-”
Ilyes asks for his contact info. Then he turns to the doctors. “This may be a false positive but we may have an individual who was exposed and is alive.”
Agent Gray goes to bring Jeff back while the doctors ready the isolation room.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” the older man says with some surety.
“Good. I’m glad. Well I am doing a little bit of work with the agency again and we have stumbled across another case that is related to something you were involved with in the past. It seems that there are some government workers who are involved with this as well. They are investigating a possible brain spider outbreak.”
Frank searches his memory. “This would be the Task Force wouldn’t it?”
“I guess that is what you would call them. They are not a local presence. But they have been sent here to look into this. They think there is some potential for a larger scale infestation of these creatures.”
“You said they were brain spiders?” Frank asks.
“That’s what they are calling them. They could be a parasite. They could be more like an infection. Of course there are hints these are not your usual infectious agents.”
“Right,” he says grimly, “they wouldn’t be involved otherwise.”
Sorenson speculates. “They might be some experiment gone wrong or worse. Do you recall anything like this from your cases? We don’t have many leads.”
“I don’t recall any cases that dealt with what you are saying. I remember someone to trying to put spiders in my head.”
“Yes, I remember from when you were initially admitted you said that. Do you recall any more? A time frame? A place?”
“I can’t remember,” Frank says trying to look back. “It was a building somewhere. I can’t remember. Windows? They were really high.”
“Was this a place you were investigating?” the doctor asks.
He shrugs. “Maybe or maybe that is where they took me.”
“Could you sketch it?”
“I can try.” Frank takes the paper and tries drawing the location.
“It could be very helpful to your recovery to put your memories to paper. Don’t worry about being an artist, you should see my stick figures.”
After a while he shows him the result. It is a large empty building, probably a warehouse or disused industrial building. Dusty covers the floor.
“That actually helps a lot Frank,” Sorenson says.
“There was a woman,” Frank mentions.
“Was she another victim?”
He shakes his head. “I don’t think she was a woman.”
“Okay,” the psychiatrist says uncertainly.
“There was something very weird about her,” Frank explains. “I remember now. The spiders. They came out of her. Out of her mouth.”
“So she was the carrier or the host,” Sorenson surmises.
Frank draws a picture of her as well. A young woman with long dark hair. Frank explains she looks like she was 18 or so.
“This is really helpful Frank. I very proud of you and how you are communicating the memories you are reacquiring.”
South Capitol Hill, 8 PM
Dr. Ilyes apparently is familiar with the Rock Box, having played there with his band once. He joins Vito and Shaw as they canvas the clubs.
Mill on the other hand decides to have fun. With Trevor as his wingman, he heads to the Rock Box to look for a good time. Before they leave the others, Trevor fills them in on Frank’s recollection of the mysterious woman.
Shaw talks to the bartender at the Vermillion about one of the victims, Michelle Cooper. He tells her that she got in a fight with a woman named Helen Collins a few weeks ago.
“Does that happen a lot?” the detective asks.
“Not usually.” He backpeddles. “At least not every night. I didn’t see her after that.”
“Do you know why they were fighting?”
“I don’t really know. You might ask Helen, I think she is here tonight.”
He points her out to Shaw and goes back to the other patrons. Shaw snaps a picture of her with her phone. After making sure she isn’t blurry, Shaw walks over.
She manages to get Helen to open up about the event. “Michelle? Oh yeah, that crazy bitch. She bit me!”
“No way!” Shaw says.
“Yeah!” She tries to show her the mark but there is nothing there. “Well I mean it was a couple weeks ago.”
“Why did she come at you?” the detective asks.
“I don’t know,” she shrugs. “We were just sitting at the bar. I didn’t even know her name and then she reached over, grabbed my hand and bit me.”
“She must have been on drugs. Then she had the gall to say she didn’t remember anything.”
“I guess its good she didn’t have rabies or anything, right?” Shaw says.
Helen seems to think about it for a moment. “Its kind of weird actually.”
“I don’t know but its just something weird happened recently. My boyfriend got all upset at me a week ago.” She clarifies. “Ex-boyfriend. We broke up.”
“He got upset? Why?”
“He said I bit him,” she tells Shaw.
“That’s weird.” Shaw asks, “but you didn’t really bite him?”
“No!” She continues more quietly, “at least I don’t remember biting him.”
“Did he have a bite on him?” Shaw asks. “Maybe he was trying to cover and some other chick bit him.”
Helen seizes on the idea. “Yeah that’s it. He was cheating.”
“What’s this scum bag’s name?” Shaw asks.
“Slim have a last name?”
Shaw talks with her a bit longer. It seems she too was ill recently with a nasty headache and itchiness.
“Maybe she did have rabies,” Shaw suggests. “Did you have yourself checked out?”
“Yeah and doc gave me a prescription for some pain meds.”
The others strike out as far as new information. Ilyes calls the hospital and learns they have picked up Jeff Willis. “Hey guys I’m going to head back to look at Jeff. I’ll let them know about Helen Collins and Slim Mendes.”
Rock Box, South Capitol Hill, 10 PM
Robert meets an attractive woman with long blond hair. He chats her up. Amelia seems interested in him and drags him onto the dance floor. Trevor meanwhile watches from the bar.
Amelia and Robert migrate to a secluded corner and make out. Trevor moves to keep an eye on them.
Suddenly Robert feels a horrible burning sensation on his lips and mouth. Amelia pulls back and shakes her head. Her expression is a mix of fear and guilt. Robert realizes she knows what just happened. Then she bolts.
A creepy tingling sensation covers Robert’s lips as he and Trevor chase her to the door.
Trevor catches up with her. He grabs her wrist and wrenches her arm behind her. He pushes her to the door.
A bouncer interposes himself. “What are you doing?”
“She’s under arrest,” Trevor bluffs.
“He’s not a cop, he’s just a creep,” Amelia shouts.
Before the bouncer can do anything, Robert pepper sprays him. He stumbles to his knees as they push past him and out of the club.
“I’m sorry I’m going to have to take you into the station,” Trevor says to the woman.
Then they realize everyone outside is looking at them. A pair of bouncers come out of the club. Trevor wrestles Amelia towards the car with some difficulty.
Robert gets the door open and Trevor shouts, “Pop the trunk! pop the truck!”
Just then the bouncers catch up with them. Several onlookers are also recording incident or calling the police.
Robert brandishes a gun. “Step away or die!”
The bouncers back off. “We don’t want any trouble. Just let the girl go.”
Then an onlooker makes a lung for Trevor and Amelia. The three of them go sprawling onto the street.
Trevor gets up and tries to explain, “this woman has an infection. She’s very contagious. We’re trying to lock down an outbreak you dumb ass!”
Amelia however crawls away in the confusion.
Realizing the level of trouble they are in, Robert shouts, “run for it!”
Trevor jumps in the car and they peel out.
As the two detective drive off, Trevor asks, “did she do what I thought she did?”
“Yup,” Robert replies. “I’m screwed.”
Trevor realizes he is still holding onto her bag. “Hopefully our agent friends will cover this up.”
Robert’s mood rapidly drops. “Obviously I’m going to be arrested and I’m infected with a parasite, so this is not a great night for me.”
“But,” Trevor struggles for some way to console him, “its very very early. In the infection I mean. If not months you have a week to live. Dr. Ilyes is already working on a cure.”I think we should regroup with Agent Gray and the others."
Trevor’s pep talk doesn’t help Robert at all. “I don’t know what to do. I’m so screwed.”
“Maybe I should drive,” Trevor says looking at his friends pale complexion. “I promise I won’t wreck the car.”
“Yeah you better,” he says. He stops the car and pukes out the window.
Trevor calls Shaw and puts her on speaker phone. Shaw seems chipper. “Did you get my text. A great breakthrough about the biting?”
Trevor looks at Robert. “Yeah…we actually had out own little breakthrough. My partner in crime-”
“What?” Shaw asks.
“My partner in crime got bit. He was smoozing with a lady and I think she bit him.”
“She bit him? Alright. I’m going to put you on speaker.”
Vito can be heard. “What did you guys do when she bit him?”
“Well she tried to run away like she knew she had done something wrong,” Trevor explains. “I intercepted her, there was a bit of scuffle and unfortunately she got away.”
“What do you mean a bit of a scuffle?”
“A bit of a scuffle,” he tells Vito. “I was trying to bring her into the CDC site.”
“And what was happening while you were doing this?” the military man asks.
“Unfortunately we were witnessed by other club patrons.”
Vito has a sinking feeling. “How many other club patrons?”
“Are we talking police reports here?” Vito asks.
Robert interjects. “Yeah. I’m going to be arrested soon and I’m going to die apparently. Anything we could do to stop that would be outstanding.”
Shaw takes control of the conversation. “You should surrender yourselves to the Men in Black and they can process you. That way it will go better for your arrest.”
“Trevor is probably fine,” Robert comments. “I don’t think they identified him. Obviously it was my car.”
Trevor continues to describe the situation at the bar but Shaw cuts him off. “Obviously this is a big deal to you but Mill doesn’t sound good. How is he looking?”
“He’s freaked out and he is in shock,” Trevor explains. “He doesn’t appear to be in pain or wounded. He’s just a bit freaked out by the situation.”
“I suggest you go over to the hospital and talk to Agent Gray about this.”
“That’s where we are heading right now. I have her purse. I haven’t had a chance to look through it right now.”
Shaw lets him ramble for a bit longer and then hangs up.
“Shaw,” Vito says, “lets go over to the other club to hear what is going on.”
“I’ll drop you by there,” Shaw tells him.
Rock Box, South Capitol Hill, 10:30 PM
After a while he steers the conversation at the bar to who the woman was. Unfortunately no one really knows her though they know she’s turned up a few times in the past month. He swings by the Havana but no one knows who she is there either.
Dr. Ilyes watches as Jeff Willis is brought in. The red haired man struggles with the agents, “get your hands off me you bastard!”
The doctors sedate him and hand cuff him to a hospital bed.
Ilyes takes part in the examination. His brain seems healthy. The only signs of damage are some hemorrhaging along his nasal cavities. Even that seems to be healing. They do his blood work but there are no signs of infection or stress to his system.
After a few hours Ilyes tries to interview the man. “Hello Mr. Willis?”
“Whu-,” he says sleepily.
“We understand you’ve been suffering from an unusual flu recently.”
“Yeah,” he says groggily. “Where am I?”
“You are at Harborview.”
He pulls at the his handcuffed arm. Innocently he asks, “why am I handcuffed to the bed?”
Ilyes decides to be honest. “You need to understand you are being detained for diagnostic purposes. In there is an emergent disease in the Seattle area. Until we know you are not contagious you need to be kept here.”
Despite his approach Jeff resists his questions and his drugged out state makes it difficult for him to learn anything new about the infection.
That evening they bring in Helen Collins and Agent Gray informs him they are on the look out for her ex-boyfriend Slim.
Agent Gray meets them. “What is this about?”
Sorenson states to explain, “My partner here, um-”
Mill jumps in. “I’ve come to turn myself in for a crime I just committed.”
Gray looks confused. “We don’t really handle that stuff.”
Undeterred, Mill continues his rambling confession. “Plus I think I’m infected with a brain spider.”
“He was bit by a mysterious woman at a night club that we were investigating,” Sorenson explains.
“I see,” the agent says as he understands.
“He freaked out a little bit. I’m certain anything he did was due to that.”
Mill seems less convinced. “Either I was infected by a brain spider or I went crazy for really no good reason.”
“He’s in shock right now,” the doctor covers for him.
Agent Gray turns to another Man in Black. “Jacobs talk to the local PD.”
Sorenson fills Gray in on details of the incident.
“You got that Jacobs?” Gray asks. “Tell them we’ve apprehended the suspect. This is a federal matter now. Tell them also to let us know the woman reports in.”
As Agent Jacobs leaves, the older man turns to Mill. “Let’s take you to see the doctors.”
“I’m sure everything will be fine,” Trevor tells him. “Ilyes probably has a cure three quarters of the way figured out by now.”
Robert remains in poor spirits. “I assaulted a guy, I brandished a firearm, I attempted to kidnap a lady, and I stole from her.”
“It will be okay.”
Even Agent Gray tries to encourage him. “Don’t worry about it.”
Agent Gray brings the two investigators to Dr. Ilyes. “We believe your colleague here has been infected.”
Trevor is prattling away in a poor attempt to improve Mill’s mood. “She was very attractive I can see why you might have fallen for her.”
“Sorenson shut up,” Ilyes says irritably. “Mill, first of all it may just be craziness. Secondly the vector indicate it may be a sinus infection. Did anything go into your nose or your ear?”
“My mouth,” he explains.
“Okay let have a look.”
Before starting his investigation, Ilyes pushes Sorenson out of the room. Once in the hall he asks, “What did they teach you about bedside manner?!”
“I have a different approach.”
Fuming, Ilyes returns to Mill. “I’d like to remind you there has been at least one survivor of this disease. Also there is less than a 50% chance based on most known virulent diseases of infection. This is not a death sentence.”
Ilyes examines him, taking swabs of his mouth and closely examining his lips and inner mouth. There are no bite marks but on close examination there are signs of perforations of his inner mouth, like something burrowed into him. Ilyes sends the blood and swabs to be analyzed.
Harborview Medical Center, Night
Ilyes talks to Robert. “Mill, here is a bit of good news. According to the CDC and the Seattle PD you are already in custody. Therefore there are no local police who are looking for you. Secondly here’s a little thing if there is no one to press charges, usually prosecutors won’t enforce.”
“There is the bouncer,” Mill reminds him.
“Yeah that is just assault,” the doctor replies lamely.
Shaw arrives around midnight. She looks at the bag Dr. Sorenson recovered from Amelia. “Has any one dusted these for prints?”
The Men in Black tell her yes but they have had no matches. Shaw gets a copy of the prints anyway. In addition to the usual odds and ends there are three vials in bag, each hand labeled. One, a redish liquid, is labeled Static. The second, a light blue, is labeled Telapathine-12. The last is labeled BSNX-9 and resembles the stock of BSNX-7 from Keystone Pharmaceuticals.
Shaw talks to Mill. by this point, the detective has developed a headache and a strange tingling sensation around his nose and head.
“Need me to bring anything?” she asks.
“Maybe I do need therapy after all,” Mill says. “I was starting to feel a bit under the weather. I’ll try and sleep. I apologize for doing this.”
“Its nothing you did to me.”
Vito jogs down a bit after midnight. He jokes with the Men in Black. “Agent Gray, it was a case of keystone PIs. If there was one thing that they didn’t do wrong I can’t figure it out.”
“Well they didn’t shoot anybody,” Gray points out.
“They waved a gun around.”
Vito fills him in all the details.
Gray admits, “that could have been done better.”
Harborview Medical Center, Thursday September 9th, 9 AM
Dr. Ilyes is wating when they bring in Helen’s boyfriend Slim. The man seems strangely out of it though. His eyes are unfocused. Suspicious he snaps a picture to check he really is a human being. Convinced he begins his examination.
An hour later it is clear the man is suffering severe brain damage and bleeding both within the brain and the nasal cavities. Mill’s results also come back. The swabs show signs of dead microscopic spiders and eggs. His blood has elevated levels of white blood count and IgE.
Ilyes sedates Slim and get back to work on his therapy. He tests them on the eggs and signs are promising. He decides Slim may be the first recipient.
He approaches the man. “The MRIs and the test indicate you are suffering from a considerable amount of internal damage.”
“Ahhh, What?” he slurs.
“You are ill, Mr. Mendes.”
“Okay.” he says without feeling.
“You are suffering from a serious illness right now. Do you have an attorney or family member that we can contact?” Ilyes asks.
“There’s my mom,” He says. Unfortunately he is unable remember her number.
Realizing the extent of the damage, Ilyes asks. “Do you consent to our medical treatment?”
“I guess yeah.”
After getting him to sign off on it, Ilyes turns to the other doctors. “Dr. Grant, Dr. Hall, I think we may need to work on Mr. Mendes. He might not have much time if we do not do something to treat him rapidly. I think he is the worse case. We have the patient consent. I want your opinions on my cocktail.”
Dr. Hall is pessimistic both of Slim’s chances and the drugs. Dr. Grant feels more optimistic. Dr. Carriker tells him, “We should give it a try.”
Ilyes administers the drug cocktail on Mendes at a low level and monitors his status. Throughout the day there no change in his vitals.
Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, 10 AM
“Hello,” Lisa Peterson says cheerily.
“I’m calling because one of our cases intersects with a possible field study of yours.”
“I don’t think so,” she says firmly.
“Its sort of quick to dismiss,” Shaw replies. “What I have uncovered are some vials that seem to come from your factories. BSNX-9.”
“I’m,” she says hesitantly, “not familiar with that variety.”
“And Telepathine-12?” Shaw asks.
“Where did you get this?” the executive demands.
“There was a woman in one of the local clubs.”
“Describe her,” Lisa says.
“Why? Is this ringing some bells for you?”
“We, um, lost a researcher about a couple months ago,” Lisa explains.
“Lost?” Shaw says. “You know I’m good at finding missing people.”
“Yes,” she admits. “We had hoped to handle this internally.”
“What was her name?” the detective asks.
“Yeah this person did identify herself as Amelia,” Shaw tells her.
“Hmm, so she still is in the city,” the executive muses.
Shaw decides to fish for more. “You guys done any research into brain spiders?”
Lisa tells her, “we should meet and talk about this.”
“Alright.” They arrange to meet at Shaw’s office in an hour.
Mavis Brooks shows Lisa into Shaw’s office.
After she sits down, Lisa explains about Amelia Greenberg. “She was doing some research on the infection we had found in the Seattle area. It involved microscopic spiders in the brain.”
“Microscopic? Do they do much damage?” Shaw asks, feigning ignorance.
Lisa leans back. “Our research was pretty limited but it suggested in certain circumstances it could wreak significant havoc on a persons brain.”
Shaw levels with her a little. “There have been several deaths recently. They started a little over month ago.”
The possible correlation is not lost on Lisa.
“Is there a chance I could look at her files?” Shaw asks.
“I have the relevant sections here,” she says passing them across the desk.
Shaw tells her about the involvement of the Men in Black and the CDC.
“Oh them,” she says sourly.
“Although I’m working with them I haven’t signed any non disclosure agreement,” Shaw points out. “However I really want to solve this before anyone else gets hurt. If you want to go through me that’s fine but I don’t want people hiding information. I don’t want to be involved in a territorial dispute.”
“We would be very much interested in reacquiring Amelia,” Lisa explains. “She possesses very vital research information.”
“Did she take any drug samples with her?”
“No she must have synthesize them herself.”
They discuss where Amelia could do that but are unable to pin down any likely locations.
“I know this is propitiatory information but you think you could get me a list of laboratory equipment she would need to create Telepathine-12 and the others?” Shaw asks.
“Well I tell you what she would need to synthesize Telepathine-2. We haven’t developed past that yet.”
“I see. Well any details would be help.”
“I’ll have a list sent to you,” the executive tells her.
“Is there a finder’s fee?” Shaw inquires.
“If you can return her.” She adds, “or her research.”
“What is the Telepathine strain?” the detective asks.
Lisa hesitates but tells her, “it is still in the early stage but it is suppose to enhance ones psychic abilities.”
“This is Ambrose Grant territory?”
Lisa makes no comment on that. “We are still exploring the possibilities. It is not ready for human consumption. At least version 2.”
“What’s the connection to the spiders?”
“I have no idea.”
The conversation turns to Amelia’s background.
“Is she a Seattle native?” Shaw asks.
“Yes. She has a sister in the area. We talked to her but she claimed to know nothing about where she might be.”
Shaw looks over the folder. Amelia worked for the company for 9 years. She got her PhD in biochemistry from Berkley and specialized in making drugs from exotic “animals”. She went missing two month ago shortly after starting an investigation of brain spiders. Ketherine, her sister, works as neurologist at Harborview Medical Center. Both of them have houses in Windermere.
Shaw thanks Lisa and gets to work. One of a Kind Investigations runs credit checks on Katherine and Amelia.
Shaw calls Dr. Ilyes. “Hey I have identified the mystery woman from yesterday.” She fills him in on Amelia and Katherine but nothing unusual is found. “You might want to make everyone over there aware of that. If she is in league with her sister she could be a security issue. I would not suggest approaching her yet.”
“I will speak with Agent Gray,” the doctor tells her.
Vito meanwhile decides to check the night clubs for Amelia’s whereabouts.
Harborview Medical Center, 11 PM
As the day passes more and more people come in both infected and prior victims. Ilyes makes sure his day job knows that he is working with the CDC.
Mill meanwhile catches some sleep.
As he dreams, he finds himself walking through some woods where computer parts are sticking out of the trees. A gun shot rings out and he runs towards it. He finds an old man in a hospital bed, bleeding to death. Mill approaches him. He can hear the beeping of machines slowing down as the man dies. Mill leans over and looks the old man in the eyes. “Ambrose?”
The old man’s eyes close and he is alone in the cold woods with a corpse. Then he hears the voice of a little girl crying for help. He walks over and finds a fair haired little girl trapped under a branch.
“Help me!” she cries.
Mill rescues her and she grabs onto him. “Thank you! I was trapped and all alone.”
“You’ll be okay now,” he says. “Its all going to be alright. Its going to be fine. Come with me.”
Mill leads her through the woods searching for a trail. The trees part and they stumble onto a city street.
“Can you hear them whispering?” she asks.
Mill hears nothing. “No. What are they whispering?”
“They are coming,” she explains.
“Can we stop them?”
“No,” she tells him. “You can’t.”
“Don’t worry I’ll protect you,” he says trying to comfort her.
“I can help you,” she tells him.
“What do you mean?”
“I can help you. With them.”
Suddenly Mill feels hundreds of spidery feet all over his head. He curls into ball. “I do need help.”
Mill wakes up as a new patient is wheeled quickly past his room. The man is quivering and suffering convulsions.
Dr. Trevor Sorenson wakes as the patient enters the isolation room. A vague dream of dark haired woman woman melts from his mind.
The CDC team converges on the victim. Ilyes shouts. “I want to try it!”
“Is this another one of those victims?” Trevor asks. “Have you made any progress?”
Ilyes injects the patient. The man calms down and his convulsions subside. Then his vitals flatlines.
“Let’s try to revive him,” Ilyes says. As they try to stimulate his heart, Ilyes and Trevor look on in horror as a large spider crawls out of his ear.
Ilyes swings the defibrillator paddle at it but it lands on the floor. Trevor stomps on it, killing it before it can get under a table.
They collect it. The strange creature has ten legs and the front legs seem to have fingers. On closer examination of the patient it is clear he was dead before he was brought in.
Deciding this wasn’t the fault of his drugs, he asks Mill, “do you consent to an experimental treatment that might at least halt the advancement of symptoms.”
“Whatever you guys you think is best,” he says without much hope.