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H1N1 - A Pig of a Virus

by BobCurby 

Posted: 23 April 2010
Word Count: 2844
Summary: Swine Flu killed a few people in 2009 and scared a lot more. While I was lying in bed with a dose of it, I wrote this light hearted story.

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H1N1, A Pig of a Virus
By Richard Kersey
Bucks Terratorial Army Gazette

Porten Down, Wiltshire, January 16th 1991. Professor Geoffrey Draycott sighed as he placed the small vial labelled H0M3 into the freezer cabinet. Angela Scot-Fitzgerald, his assistant stood beside him and held up some handwritten notes. They had been working all night and they were exhausted and it seemed an appropriate time to break off. The professor sighed again and shook his head.
"Angela, I think it's time for a break, when did you last sleep?"
"About 18 hours ago, I think, Professor Draycott."
"Well, that settles it, I want you to write up the notes and then go, and don't come back until tomorrow morning."
"The tests on the last few batches are here Professor. I will go then, and get some rest, but do please call me if you need me before tomorrow."
"Thank you Angela, we have a new brief now. From today on we are no longer researching the mutation of influenza. From now on, we are looking for a powerful influenza-type virus that can bring down an army."
"Really? What are we looking for?"
"Angela, the MoD has specified that we need a virus that incubates in under 72 hours, remains active outside a host for at least 2 hours, and can sustain its growth for up to fourteen days."
"My goodness! What are they going to use it for?"
"That's not for us to ask, we are paid to develop it, not ask how it's used."

2 years later, March 1993.
Angela Scot-Fitzgerald shook her head as she made a few notes against the last batch of super-virus, H0M100. "Professor, it is not going to be possible to develop the super virus that the MoD wants, all these tests show that we have fallen vastly short."
"Angela, get me the notes on H0M26, H0M33, H0M67 and H0M82 please."
"Here they are Professor."
"Thank you - now see here, each of these fulfilled at least one of the MoD requirements. Have we tried merging them at all?"
"Not yet, do you think it's worth a try?"
"Anything is worth a try. Put a sample of each onto the same gel base."
"We've reached the bottom line in the book." She turned the page to sheet H1N.
"OK Professor, this one will be H1N1."

6 months later, September 1993, Owens Pig Farm, Ceredigion, Wales.
David Williams stood looking down at 100 pigs in distress. He turned and went into the house. Picking up the phone he dialled a long distance number. After a few seconds he spoke into the mouthpiece.
"Hello, is Professor Draycott there?" there was a pause while the professor was brought to the phone, then he spoke again. "Professor, the pigs you tested with that new vaccine, they are all very ill, yes, I mean very ill, staggering about, eyes and noses streaming, making an awful noise, yes, yes, that's right. Yes, I will, OK."
Williams returned to the yard, 90 of the pigs had already died, 8 were barely alive and the remaining 2 were very distressed. He lifted down his rifle and put the 10 pigs out of their misery. As he turned away he failed to notice the small pig that was outside the fence and had just pressed its nose against one of dead pig's noses. Placing the gun back into the rack he called out to the farm hands.
"Get some protective clothing and gloves on and get all those pigs to the yard and burn them, do it now."

February 1994. Professor Draycott unwound the string in the brown transit jacket and slipped out the piece of paper it contained. It was notice signed by the Defence Minister.
"MoD Notice 54796-Z:
Porten Down laboratory, attention Professor Draycott.
Stand down. Destroy H1N1. Destroy notes and tests.
Confirm this notice by calling your central command contact and giving clearance code A330WF21."

Global agreements by world super-powers had banned the use of chemical weapons or biological warfare in any act of war. H1N1, developed as a super-influenza virus was designed to live up to two hours out of a host, designed to be sprayed into the morning mist as the east wind blew it towards the opposing army. It would incubate rapidly, in under 72 hours and incapacitate, maybe even kill, hundreds of soldiers, remaining at full strength for up to 14 days. No wonder the governments had put a stop to its use. No-one knew about that little pig that had slipped away from Williams' piggeries in 1993. No one knew it was dying of a powerful strain of H1N1 when it had been poached and taken to a Chinese take away in Soho.

January 18th 2008, a small boy, the son of a hill dwelling pig keeper in Szechuan province, China, landed at Heathrow airport to visit his uncle in Soho. A few days later he was rushed to Gt Ormond street in a very poor state. He was suffering from H1N1. The rest is history - and now, the beast is inside me. How it got there I am unsure. There certainly weren't any pigs about that's for sure. On Friday December 11th 2009, I went to work as usual. My bosses are extremely aware of how damaging to its business the Swine Flu could be and has numerous measures in force to keep it out. Someone there must have it also, coming to work having dosed themselves up with Max Strength Flu Drink. Possibly he was the one holding the toilet door open for me after just wiping his nose, depositing lethal virus laden mucus on the edge of the door, which I then took out of his hand and thanked him. Then maybe a speck of dust blew up into my eye and I rubbed it with the finger that had just left the contaminated door. Seconds later a small blue spiral shaped microscopic creature slipped down the tear duct, multiplying as it went, so that by the time it met the small capillary supplying blood to the eye, it had multiplied to a huge 7,000 creatures.

I was unaware of these intruders apart from a prickly sensation in my left eye which I put down to the speck of dust. By the time I got home on Friday, the supreme commander of the H1N1 forces, let's name him Galtus, had despatched clusters of his elite commandos to the main arteries to wait for his command. I went to dinner with my friends. After dinner I asked my wife for paracetamol as I had a bit of a headache. As I sipped my after dinner coffee, General Galtus was addressing his troops, deciding where my weaknesses were and what would provide the best nutrition supply. They had all donned their thickest armour and slipped in and out of the walls of the blood circulatory system, avoiding patrolling white corpuscles. Galtus worked out the two areas where the greatest concentration of food outside the stomach would be, my liver and my kidneys. Two crack commando units were despatched along with 1000 food gatherers. It was then that I collapsed. My skin was yellowish and it was painful to urinate. Still I had no idea what was going on. I took to my bed on Saturday and stayed there until Monday morning. All this time General Galtus had continued to build his army, over a million soldiers and half a million workers were under his command. He set up his Central Command in the labyrinths of my nasal passages and sinuses. I made my way into work. My driving was erratic. Two near misses later, I parked in my usual spot and poured myself a cup of coffee. As I sipped it I told myself it was just a head cold. I took two paracetamols, popped an antiseptic lozenge into my mouth and went inside. At 9:30 I was back in bed, writhing in agony.

Tuesday 15th December, I called the National Pandemic Control line and after playing '20 questions' I was told I had contracted the virus H1N1 and was to remain confined to the house until further notice and despatch someone to a collection centre to get Tamiflu, a new drug developed to combat H1N1. Tamiflu was developed along with H1N1 by Porten Down, in case the wind blew the wrong way, to make sure the home troops didn't get pole-axed by the very virus by which they were hoping to bring down the enemy. Tamiflu is sophisticated nanotechnology chemotherapy. I looked at the 10 small capsules each costing over 200 pounds and wondered how it was that the government had decided to give it free to those it most risk. Was it guilt, shame, at developing the virus in the first place? As I lay there in my bed with the first capsule down in the acid of my stomach, bobbing about in my cornflakes and milk, I wondered just how it was going to save me from the agony I was in. By then General Galtus had put elite commandos in every possible cell group within my body, he was extracting nutritional value and oxygen from all my cells at an alarming rate. I was slowly dying, just like those pigs. I had reached a state where my mouth was full of ulcers, my throat was one big ulcer, and my lungs had begun to shut down as they were unable to transmit gases through the inflamed areoles. My eyes were streaming and my nose was like a tap.

Once I had contacted my employers and given them the bad news, I fell back on the pillows and didn't care a jot about anything. If the house fell down, I would not have cared. If someone rushed in and told me I had won a million, I would not have cared. Man 'flu'? I wished it was just ordinary 'flu', but I didn't care diddly squat about anything. I didn't think I was dying, I only found out after it was all over that I was in a very bad way for a few days. All I knew was, I didn't feel at all well. I hoped the Tamiflu would work some kind of magic, and pretty soon. As I lay back onto the bed, I was convinced it would go on forever.

I had not taken into account the elite 'green berets' under Field Marshall Wellard, my own personal 'cockle shell heroes'. As I lay back there on my bed the first capsule of 100 'cockle shells' was opening up and dropping them a few at a time into the bubbling cauldron in my stomach. Each one made its way into the walls lining the stomach, there they popped open and the nanotechs emerged and aligned themselves with my DNA. Matching a component of my body, they entered the lymphatic tracts and the blood circulatory system, where they were ignored by the leukocytes, the white blood corpuscles. The briefing the field marshall had given the men before they were packed into their little cockle shell boats was simple, "seek out anything that is alien to the DNA and eradicate it". The first wave of 'green berets' briefly looked at the map. Commander Zapper pointed at the centre of the map. "Kidneys - and kill anything on the way".
The virus intruders had by now settled into carousing and getting fed and drunk on the nutrition from my cells, they had no idea what was coming. A group of them had bulged out some cells into a large sac, causing one my many ulcers, the nanotechs came upon them and they turned the nozzles of their back-packs towards the fat carousing viruses. A burst of Oseltamivir-X drenched them and they fell all together into the red stream below. Before a second had passed they were engulfed and dissolved by patrolling white corpuscles. Thus they continued on, blasting groups of viruses whenever they came upon them, until they reached the kidneys. Commander Zapper pointed to three groups of General Galtus' elite troops.
"Get them first", then he pointed to the food gatherers.
"Get the oxygen gatherers now" and finally he pointed at the huge hopper at the edge of the kidney blood supply.
"See that, it is a mutated virus, built to carry vitamins and sugar " destroy it!"
Seven seconds later the white corpuscles were mopping up. I felt the pain subside in my back, the dull ache was gone, and my kidneys were functioning again. Commander Zapper pointed at strategic spots, "Dig in there, and there, and there, we'll hold this area now - anything coming through the walls or the stream, use up the last of the poison, and thanks men." At regular intervals over 12 hours the capsule released a group of commandos. Each group in turn set off with the same objective as that of Commander Zapper, seek and destroy. Commander Hittout had gone to the lungs and helped me breathe again. Commanders Washout and Blastit took their troops to the huge liver. Up in Central Command General Galtus had received word that he was losing troops to an unseen, un-detectable group of organisms. It worried him, he send 100,000 troops into the mainstream. There was a bloody battle and he lost 50,000 troops, but they succeeded in squashing, literally, the 'green berets' of Commanders Willywin, Nockemout and Krusher, a blow to the 'cockle shell' army. Galtus ordered a new multiplication, building a bigger force. A worker reported that there was no food or oxygen.
"Get down there and re-start the collection!"
He lost another 20,000 trying that. It was then that I took the second capsule. The second wave of elite virus killers were soon in my bloodstream. Commander Protector took his troops to my heart, killing 30,000 of Galtus' troops on the way. They had no weapon beyond squashing attackers under their sheer weight, or sucking out their life fluids. Protector's men were in the new anti-crush armour and it was too hard for the proboscis of the H1N1 virus who were helpless against the Oseltamivir-X, one splash of that killed them instantly. Thus each day I took two capsules, 12 hours apart and on Friday 18th, came the showdown. The last stand by General Galtus would be in the labyrinths of my nasal passages and sinuses.
"Dig in men, I want all of you with hard shells at the front, pull in your cillae and drop your heads inside your casing, you will take the brunt of this evil substance that is sprayed by the intruders. We will not leave our homes!" 250,000 viruses dug in to the passages and honeycombs. My nose felt like it was a big as a house and I couldn't get a squeak of air through it. Whilst the rest of me was responding well and I was eating heartily, I had reached the point of despair over my blocked nose.
"Men, I think we can win this!" Galtus had called out in triumph after the third wave of 'green berets' had failed to do more than kill a dozen of his troops.
"Hang in there; they'll have to give up soon."
He was wrong. Field Marshall Wellard was not going to let the H1N1 virus get away that easily. He took the final onslaught himself.
"Men, they are using their own troops as shields, Galtus is a coward, they all are, even if the front ones die, they stay locked in place as shields for the others. No we have to think of a better way, Sergeant, bring me the map of the nasal area."
He examined the map. "I have it, we go up, up into the frontal forehead sinuses - look we can get in via the eye tear ducts - they will not expect that."
200 elite 'green berets' filed into the ducts, 100 in each eye, sliding cautiously down to the lymph canal below. A few viruses went to call out a warning but were instantly silenced. They could hear Galtus below, strutting about, telling his men they were going to win. The soldiers slipped into the upper sinuses. 500 viruses were huddled together, they screamed as Oseltamivir-X poured over them. Galtus hesitated, he listened, then he shook his head and continued strutting. One of the 'green berets' found the canal from the upper sinuses to the nasal cavity, he gestured to the others and together they emptied their canisters into the canal. I reeled about, the sensation was un-believable, it felt like someone had just punched me in the forehead. Then it was over. I sneezed and Galtus along with a few surviving virus workers was propelled into the tissue I was holding up to my nose and seconds later he was learning to swim in the gushing water from my toilet. H1N1 was defeated, Tamiflu had won the day.

For both we have Professor Draycott of Porten Down to thank.

FA(C)T Steve Goodings {Richard Kersey} 2008

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Comments by other Members

jim60 at 07:21 on 24 April 2010  Report this post
Hi Bob, what an excellent story!
I was hooked from the start and the scenarios with the battles between the two armies was superb.
Everything was so well set up and had me cheering the 'good guys' on.

I didn't realise that H1N1 was like that, although I understand here, there was a bit of a panic but it kind of blew away rather quickly.

A brilliant read, so thanks. Much appreciated.


BobCurby at 18:07 on 28 April 2010  Report this post
Yes Swine Flu did cause a panic - affected people in different ways. I believe 'The Black Death' and 'Fungal Leprosy' must be the same sort of thing - or at least people would have me believe that. Even now, when I'm in a room, if I say I had swine flu BEFORE CHRISTMAS, women pick up their children and hurry them out with hands over their mouths (the children's) and men find out suddenly that they should be somewhere else....

Aren't people funny!

BobCurby at 18:08 on 28 April 2010  Report this post
Hmm funny hieroglyphics in my text again - was OK last time I looked - what's happened?
Never mind - it looks like the apostrophes are not popular with the serever for some reason - I'll edit now....

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