This is the twenty-seventh part of a fiction serial, in 725 words.
“Doctor James Walker. Oh, I love the sound of that, Jimmy. I’m married to a doctor. Maybe not a medical doctor, but a doctor all the same”. Lesley’s delight and enthusiasm was infectious, and Jimmy had to admit he was suitably proud. His thesis was not exactly the sort of work that could be publicised though, so his honour was received in private, with a low-key ceremony at Porton Down that Lesley was unable to attend.
‘The Use Of Malaria As A Biological Weapon’ was the kind of headline the tabloids would have loved to use. But that title of Jimmy’s thesis came as the result of years of specialist work based on an idea that he had taken to his immediate superior. Malaria killed around half a million people every year, mostly in Africa. If the disease could be weaponised, then that could expand British power and control of certain African countries that would be completely unaware of how it had been spread.
Although his bosses had been excited by the idea, the practicalities proved to be another matter. It needed the victim to be bitten by the female mosquito to spread the infection, and synthesising that outcome was incredibly difficult, given the technology of the day. However, Jimmy’s theories excited those in power, and more funding went to the Porton Down facility as a result. This made him something of a golden boy at work, giving him more or less carte blanche to work on anything he chose.
Jimmy’s work of choice was on fevers and diseases that were effective people-killers, and could be spread widely, due to their ease of transmission. Ebola, Viral Haemorrhagic Fever, Marburg’s Disease, and Lassa Fever. All of those had great potential, especially for use against countries that had poor medical infrastructure, and little money to combat outbreaks without international help.
His work soon got the attention of some people in government. They were not people anyone knew about of course. Best known as ‘The Dark State’, they worked tirelessly to further the interests of British companies and the British government in areas usually described as ‘The Third World’.
One day, he was called into the office known as ‘The Boardroom’ to speak to two very quiet men. They asked few questions, and listened to his answers without interrupting him. After just over an hour, the tall thin man stood up, and shook Jimmy’s hand. He only said one thing. “Thank you, Doctor Walker. The money you need is immediately available. Please go ahead with your research”.
Lesley never asked Jimmy about his work. She was just happy that he was doing so well, and had even stopped mentioning the fact that he might want to learn to drive. He had applied for a passport though, the first one he had ever owned. That had been at the suggestion of his boss, who had hinted that he might soon be travelling on behalf of the British Government. Jimmy had never been in an aircraft, but didn’t tell anyone the thought of that made him rather nervous.
His friendly boss had told him it would be in an RAF aircraft. “No formalities, James. No baggage restrictions, or Customs and Immigration checks. It will all be very hush-hush”.
Approaching his fortieth birthday, Jimmy almost forgot that Lesley would soon be fifty. The Citroen car had long gone, replaced by a sturdy Volvo Estate, and Lesley had developed an interest in gardening, albeit in pots and containers, which now filled their small courtyard area. The sex had stopped a few years back, but Lesley never complained. How many women like her could boast of such an attractive and intelligent husband? She told him she would miss him when he went abroad, but he wondered if she secretly relished more time to watch nonsense on television.
The trip to Africa was dressed up as a ‘fact-finding’ tour. They were supposedly looking at certain countries to see where disease control could be improved, and the British government could help with that. But Jimmy knew better. The whole point of the three-person tour group was to identify the possibilities of completely destroying the economy of the countries concerned by introducing diseases that affected their infrastructure by reducing their available workforce.
Most of this would involve killing the children. The next generation of workers.