The exciting conclusion to “Shasterikit Happens” –
Ben didn’t make it to work that day to inform his staff to avoid using the pre-treated “Germicide” wipes on the east wing of the third floor. Ben was called into Dr. Hoenikker’s office the day before and told by the lab supervisor that they were working on a chemical called “item #9” for the Army and they’ve stabilized it, but exposure to noxious chemicals would cause it to become very volatile.
Unaware of this change, the evening custodian, Aaron Ellis, used copious amounts of the wipes to clean up what appeared to be spilled milk.
Damn scientists, he thought to himself. He put on a labcoat that was wrapped around the back of a chair and started mocking the scientists. He looked through a nearby microscope, gasped and jumped back in mock amazement, shouted “I’VE DISCOVERED THE SECRET INGREDIENT IN THE COLONEL’S SECRET RECIPE!” He clasped his hands together and shook them from side to side around his head. He picked up a nearby Petri dish and held it up like it was the Nobel prize. Acting choked up with emotion, said “I would like to thank my parents for being rich and powdering my ass until I went to college; where I learned how to make drugs that help cure cancer, but never learned how to clean my own messes.” As he spoke the last few words, he reached into a large container of “Germicide” wipes and slapped them onto the counter and lazily wiped the milk stained area, leaving a sopping puddle of “Germicide” on the countertop.
In his haste to get to the break room to eat the cheese enchiladas he snuck out of the new Mexican buffet the night before he overlooked an errant wipe on the counter.
The next morning, Dr. Frettoloso, an intern from Italy, arrived very early to show his zeal and commitment to Cheney labs. He went to the vault with all the chemical samples, grabbed a few vials of Item #9 and walked back to his work area. He took the lid off of one and reached over for a Petri dish, but it wasn’t where he had left it the day before, his tired hand tipped and let a small drop of item #9 hit the counter.
Dr. Frettoloso really didn’t have time to observe safety precautions. He looked over and a saw a moist towel. He grabbed it and very hastily wiped up the chemical, leaving a slight residue on the counter.
The day passed on without incident until lunch. Sitting at the same counter with the item #9/Germicide mixture, he ate his lunch, the usual – a pepperoni pizza Hot Pocket with a small bottle of milk.
He tore into the Hot Pocket, anxious to finish and continue working. He had skipped breakfast that morning to save time, making him all the more ravenous.
After one particularly hearty bite, the pouch split open and spilled out a single pepperoni. It landed in the residue. Instinctively, he snatched it up and threw it in his mouth.
He felt fine for the rest of the day, even took his wife to that new Mexican buffet for dinner. He wasn’t sure about the cheese enchiladas. He made sure no one was looking and used the serving spoon too cut off a bite from a nearby enchilada, lifted the spoon to his infected mouth, leaving behind an ample amount of his tainted saliva. He decided that the cheese enchiladas were sub-par and moved on to the chicken enchiladas to sample them.
Later that evening, Dr. Frettoloso started having stomach pains – he attributed them to the buffet. Like the other diners at “El Comedero Mexican Buffet” that night, his symptoms started as what seemed like food poisoning, but quickly evolved into bloody feces and vomit, ataxia, hallucinations and paralysis before an agonizing death by stroke or heart attack.
The virus, having been spread to so many at the buffet, slowly spread across the whole town by means of bodily fluid exchange and unwashed hands. FEMA seemed to have it all contained, but it was engineered to go airborne to propagate itself. After that, it quickly spread across the nation and, with the help of some disgruntled customs officials at an airport in China, across the world.
Back at Rob’s apartment complex, patio ornament lady took her dog, Shiva, for a walk. She noticed the headline she walked past the newspaper vending machine by the apartment mailboxes, “PANDEMIC! Deadly Virus Spreads to Asia.” She contemplated this as Shiva pooped in nearly the same spot where Rob’s foot found that mound of poo weeks before.
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