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Story listed as: Fiction For Adults | Theme: Science Fiction | Subject: Science Fiction | Published here : 11/21/2015
The Martian Pathogen 
By sumit
Born 1976, M, from delhi, India
January 26, 2065, a mission to Mars was launched to bring samples of rocks and dust from Mars. It took 150 days to land on Mars, where it performed many experiments and tests. It took samples of rocks and dust from Mars and returned to the Earth. Later, when the samples were analysed, it was found that it contained microbes. It was an amazing discovery; the greatest of all discoveries. But for some unknown reasons, the discovery was kept as a secret.

Robert was about to finish his work in lab. He was analysing the samples of soils from Mars. All of a sudden a test tube slipped from his hand and fell down on the floor and broke into pieces. ‘Oh! No’ he cried. He looked around to find out if somebody was watching him. Being sure nobody noticed his guilt he collected the pieces of glass from the floor and put them into his handy bag. Then he collected soil from the floor and put it on the proper place. Some soil glued with his shoes in this process. He wiped the sweat from face with his hands and soil came in contact of the skin of his face.

After finishing his work, he left the lab. He went straight to his home. Next day, his face became swollen and within a few hours, his entire body began to swell and he had to admit in the hospital. By the end of the night, his condition grew more serious. Blisters filled with white liquid emerged on his entire body and soon the liquid began to seep out from the blisters. Doctors in the hospital were handling such type of a case for the very first time; they were unable to cure the patient.

Next day, doctors declared Robert dead. Robert was the first victim of the pathogen from outer space.

Soon, doctors and nurses who attended and treated Robert got infected by the pathogen. And soon they succumbed to the pathogen. Being alarmed by their death, the higher administration decided to investigate the matter. Scientists and Doctors took the samples of tissues, viscera and blood and performed various tests in laboratories and found out that the deaths were caused by a pathogen. It was a new type; never found in the history of medical science. Some enthusiastic biologists started further study and tests on these pathogens. David Peterson was one of them.

Meantime this species increased in numbers and spread rapidly and hundreds of people fall prey to it. Hospitals were packed with patients. Despite all the best treatments available, doctors were unable to save the lives. Soon there was acute shortage of medicines. People began fleeing to safer places.

David Peterson was returning from the laboratory to his home by a taxi. Sitting in the taxi he was reading on his laptop the new findings on the pathogen emailed by one of his friends. Suddenly the taxi stopped with a jerk and it pushed him forward. He asked loudly to driver ‘What happened?’ Driver replied ‘traffic jam.’

He looked out through the window and got surprised by the crowed on the way. There were long rows of cars, taxies and buses and pick-ups on both the sides. Several pedestrians were rushing on the road and some were standing in groups on corners and in the streets shouting and talking to each other loudly. Everybody was in haste to leave the town by available means. Traffic on road was crawling slowly due to jam. There was a great noise of horns, people’s shouting, talking etc. Almost all the shops of the streets were shut. He advised taxi driver to take alternative route to home. So they turned the cab to a street which opened in alternative route. The street was empty. Only a few pedestrians along with their luggage were going somewhere. Doors of the homes in the streets were locked; residents of the street were already gone out of the town. On all the way to home he found people going out of the city to other places.

Returning home, he immediately made a phone call to his family. His family was anxious about him. His wife advised him to leave the city. He spent evening watching reports on rapidly spreading disease and panic caused by this disease. At night, after dinner he got connected with his colleagues via internet and discussed the disease and the pathogen with them. Sam, one of his colleagues, informed that the pathogen was not found in the Earth. It comes from the Mars. Later he described how the Pathogen came to The Earth and infected a technician named Robert. Hearing this description David Peterson became tense. He plunged in the thoughts. He was worried about his family. What would happen to his family if he fell victim to the Pathogen.

Next morning, he decided meeting Sam to discuss about the Pathogen. He took a cab to Sam’s home. On the way he noticed that roads and streets were almost empty and a few markets and shops were open. The Town was evacuating rapidly. Sam greeted him; he was alone in the home. When David inquired him he answered that he had sent his family to his native town. He offered David tea. Over a cup of tea they began their meeting.
David told Sam ‘It is very hard to believe the Pathogen came from another planet the Mars.’

Sam ‘yes, we have brought it from the mars along with the samples of dust and rocks. By accident it came out from the laboratory and brought us a great calamity.’

David ‘how can we get rid of it?’

Sam looked at him with despair and answered ‘It is similar to the Bacteria found on the Earth but are more powerful than Bacteria. We don’t have any such medicine on the earth so far now that can cure the blisters and wounds caused by the Pathogens. And have no such chemical which can kill Pathogens. And I think these Pathogens are increasing in numbers at such a rate that they would soon spread all over the country and then around all the nations of the world.’

Sam paused for a while and said ‘then all the human race would be on the verge of extinction.’

David ‘how many people have died of this pathogen so far?’

Sam answered ‘several hundreds of people. Several are about to die.’

David ‘The pathogen have adapted itself to the atmosphere of the Earth. They have very hard and selectively permeable cell wall. Antibiotics do not have any effect on the pathogen. The pathogen has very strong resistance power against antibiotics. In addition, it has a different approach for protein synthesis.’

David stopped and looked at Sam’s face. Sam lifted his head and stared at the ceiling of the room. Starring the ceiling, he said ‘And they have the capacity of forming very hard structures that protect them in adverse atmospheric conditions such as heat, cold, chemicals and lack of food and so on.’

David ‘Can we compare these structures formed by pathogen with the Endospores formed by bacteria?’

Sam answered ‘why not. They are even stronger than endospores.’

Sam paused and looked at David and said ‘do you know Ramesh?’
David ‘yes, he works in National school of molecular Biology.’
Sam ‘yes, he is working on the physiology of this pathogen. I think we must see him on this matter. I will meet him today evening. Would you like to accompany me?’

David ‘of course, I shall be with you.’

In evening they reached the home of Ramesh. He was busy in his study room which was packed with the books, journals and slides. There was a light microscope on the study table. He brought two chairs from other room and nodded them to sit on the chairs. He looked at them and said with smile ‘so what does bring both of you here?’

Sam answered ‘frankly speaking, the pathogen brought us here. We want to know how far you have reached in your study of Pathogen.’

Ramesh ‘I have observed the slides of pathogen sent to me by professor Rammurty of Central University.’
Ramesh fetched a few slides from the drawer of his study table and mounted one of them under the microscope and adjusted the focus. He then turned aside and said to Sam ‘have a look at it.’

Sam move forward with curiosity and observed the slide for a minute or two and said ‘these red and round shapes are spores of the pathogen.’

Ramesh ‘Correct, and in this form, the Pathogen came to the earth. When they found the suitable conditions they become active and brought us calamity.’ Ramesh selected another slide and mounted under the microscope and fix it and said ‘look at this stage of the Pathogen.’

David observed the slide. He observed the several oval shaped organisms in the slide. Some were having buds on their bodies. This was the vegetative form of reproduction.

Ramesh handed him another slide and said ‘And look it.’
David fixed the slide under microscope and observed the sexual form of reproduction.

David ‘they increase their population by these methods.’
Ramesh picked up a slide and gave it to David ‘and this slide is also interesting to you.’

David observed this slide under microscope.
This was the biofilm of pathogen.

Sam said ‘I can say certainly that these pathogens are similar to the microorganism found on the Earth. Even their methods of reproduction are similar to bacteria found in the earth. Their chemical structures may be different.’
David ‘the slightest difference in chemical structures can make big difference, when it comes to the antibiotics for these pathogens.’
Ramesh ‘It has something in its chemical structure which makes it resistant to antibiotics.’
Sam ‘And also made it adapted to the Earth’s atmosphere.’

Ramesh sat on the chair and asked ‘let’s change the topic. Tell me what is going on the town?’ he appeared reluctant to talk more on the topic.
Considering his unwillingness, David suggested going out. Within a few minutes, they were out in the city. Once crowded markets were empty and were almost closed. A few people were on the roads. Streets were total empty. Travelling agencies and bus stops were crowded. People along with their paraphernalia were on queues to buy tickets. They were surprised seeing these scenes of the town. People were ready to pay any coast to hire a taxi or bus or any available means.

Sam was driving the car. He turned the car towards the railway station. Road to railway station was packed with cars, buses and pedestrians. All were in hurry to reach station.
Davis said ‘soon the town would be evacuated.’
Ramesh ‘nearby cities also are evacuating.’
David ‘it appears as if these alien micro organisms are winning against us. How so much powerful are we, we can’t do anything against this pathogen.

At station, there was no more space in the platforms to accommodate the incoming public. Passengers were pushing and pulling one another to get on trains. Police force was unable to control the rush. Surprised by the rush, soon they decided to return home.

That night, David could not sleep well. He was amazed by the ongoing events. He thought all the night of the Mars, its climate, coming of the pathogen from the Mars to the Earth. It’s coming out of the laboratory and then spreading of panic and death.

Next morning his neighbour knocked at his door and called him to come out of the home. When he opened the door, he found that his neighbour was ready along with his family to go to another city by a car. His neighbour informed him that they were going to their native town and would come back to home when situation would be normal. His neighbour requested him to take care of his home and parted with him.

In the afternoon Sam informed him of closing of all the schools and colleges of the town. Later, he came to known by the television news that emergency had been declared in the town and its adjacent areas. Within a few days, the disease caused by the pathogen spread across the state. And then it covered the adjacent areas of neighbour states. Pharmaceutical companies began to try developing new medicine to cure the disease.

Meanwhile Ramesh, Sam and David were on their work to find out the solution. They managed to get the cultures of the Pathogen and other necessary equipments and set up a laboratory at Ramesh’s home. So far, they and many other biologists had found out that the Cell Wall of the Pathogen consists of a special Protein which was so strong that no antibiotic could penetrate or dissolve its cell wall. They neither had any chemical even to slow down its biological processes. To them the pathogen was like a fort surrounded by strong and impenetrable wall. What they needed was something which could either brake or penetrate the wall.

One day, after spending long hours in their lab, they were taking their dinner in the kitchen of their cottage. Suddenly David broke the silence and said ‘I think we should try some alternative on the Pathogen.’
‘We need a medicine that can shatter pathogen’s cell wall or can enter into its body and damage the cell organs.’
Sam told ‘We should attempt to find out such organism that can kill it.’
Ramesh ‘I think we should try Phage’
David ‘I think Phage can’t prove effective against these Pathogen which are not inhabitant of the earth. As we know that the pathogen is more powerful than the Bacteria.’
Ramesh ‘I think we should try it.’

Within a few days they collected several cultures of bacteriophages from various sources and began experimenting. They spent many days on their mission. They invest thousands of rupees on the project. One fine day, when they were observing the cultures of pathogen which was introduced by a type of phage, they found that the size of colonies of pathogens was decreased. Being hopeful, they repeated the tests again and again and always found same result. They contacted their other colleagues and told them about their achievement. Soon, the story of their achievement came to be known by biologists, doctors and drug companies. Soon their phage therapy was being used commercially to treat the illness caused by the pathogen.
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