Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Stub 6.6: Little Susie Derkins

Hugh MacDiarmid went to work every day. He smoked pot in the tank farms that fed the calandering machines and screw mixers. He played video games in the mezzanine where the offices and documentation was stored.

He also loaded one “hockey puck” a week into a bulk container of petroleum jelly destined to be used in the triple antibiotic ointment that was a cash-cow for Azrael Industries. He also loaded up his rolling trashcan with quality control documentation. He left the cover sheets but ripped off the majority of the data sheets, substituting copies of the first legitimate sheet. That is, twenty-three copies of page one were stapled to the report.

His contact on the dark web assured him that his is how revolutions were won. Solid foundations.

Hugh’s dad was delighted to find jobs for Alice Chalmers and Missy Ferguson. At first he was reluctant to recommend Alice and Missy for jobs as drug reps because of Alice’s bright pumpkin toned hair and Missy’s deep crimson red. But he figured that many of the doctors and their staff were young and might appreciate a more youthful “look”.

Alice and Missy did well. In addition to the official Azrael products, they also handed out complimentary biopsy needles. These were the same needles that had been doped with the C. botulinum spores in Mexico. The dermatology clinics were more than happy to accept the free needles and used them to take samples from all manner of irregular skin growths on patient’s faces. Each biopsy deposited hundreds of thousands of dormant C. botulinum spores beneath the skin of patients, many of whom had received Botox type treatment from the same clinics.

In time, the CDC noticed an uptick in polio-like symptoms. Little Susie Derkins of Chagrin Falls, Ohio was typical. Susie lived in an idyllic suburb in Ohio. She had been chasing her pesky neighbor around the yard trying to bean him with an over-ripe pear when she ran too close to the swing-set her dad had made. The point of a protruding nail gashed her outer thigh.

Her dad did the first aid. He washed it and patted it dry. Then he goobered triple antibiotic ointment over the wound unaware of the instructions that contraindicated deep and puncture wounds.

The ointment extruded down into the gash and mixed intimately with the blood still oozing from the ripped capillaries. At first, nothing happened. Then the spores were awakened by the protein and sodium. The first few to awaken were unable to reproduce, inhibited by the one antibiotic they were not fully resistant to. But since that antibiotic was highly soluble, the levels of that compound quickly diminished. Clostridium botulinum is a mobile bacteria. It swims with the aid of tiny hairs that look for all the world like the oars on a Viking longboat.

The bacteria fully colonized the clotted blood and then shut down.

Human bodies are programmed to be economical. Susie’s body started to autolyze the clots and reabsorb the protein weeks after the cut healed. The toxins were released and they slowly, hand-over-hand worked their way up her nervous system shutting off body functions as they went.

Susie was one of the lucky ones. The Cleveland clinic had a modern “iron lung” and Susie was one of the first patients so she was able to get a place.

The tens, then hundreds, then thousands and hundreds of thousands who followed were not so lucky. They died. Slowly.

Next Installment


  1. Love the Calvin & Hobbes reference!

    This is my first read of the morning, thanks for continuing to publish.

    1. Thanks for reading.

      I hope Watterson does not feel ill-used.