The View From Below
The View From Below is a companion piece to the long-running "Instruction for..." series of articles.
These articles are, in chronological order:
This piece is written from the perspective of the "Mans From Below" mentioned repeatedly in those articles. It is very long and reveals the truth behind many of the mysteries in the original series. If you do not want these mysteries spoiled then DO NOT READ THIS.
Thanks to everyone who read and enjoyed the series. I hope I've brought it to a satisfying conclusion.
Ft. Meyers, Florida is as good a place as any to start the story. A tourist falls ill, the disease spreads to the doctors and nurses in close contact. Procedures are followed to contain the spread of the illness. The CDC swings into action with its trailers full of diagnostic equipment and nervous doctors in space suits.
They thought they had it right there. They thought they had sealed the outbreak up in the hospital and all they had to do was keep the doors locked. The experts would wring their hands later about how the disease escaped. They followed the book to the letter in Ft. Meyers. They complained about unfairness.
Most think it was Horsell's wife, found dead a day later, her body in the dirty shower of a Best Western off US 41, slowly dissolving into bulging lumps of spore cysts. The entire staff of the motel was infected, half the guests were already comatose or dead. The disease only killed 1 in 5, but it did something terrible to the survivors.
Pandemic. The word is ominous, but inadequate. A conflagration roared across the country, swallowing up towns and cities and isolated houses with a speed and ferocity that dwarfed every outbreak modeled by the epidemiologists. For many communities there wasn't even time to grapple with what was happening before people began to hear the buzz or drop to the ground and start twitching.
The reeling Federal government tried to bottle it up, tried to stop it at Atlanta and at the Mississippi, at the Rockies, and in Virginia, but each attempt was as fruitless as the last. Quarantine forces would drive headlong into a storm of contagion that had already passed every line of containment and every half-staffed cordon.