This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 730 words.
The Ebola outbreak lasted for years. Estimates of those who died in all the countries concerned ranged from eleven thousand, to over twenty thousand. That number included some foreign medical staff who had visited the countries and tried to help. They had no idea that this was a new, highly-contagious strain.
Lesley watched it on the TV news, oblivious to her husband’s involvement. As far as she knew, Jimmy was working very hard trying to find a cure for the Common Cold.
A visit from the quiet men confirmed their success. But like God, they wanted more. Sylvia Leung had come up with a fantastic idea, fully supported by Jimmy. She obviously had an issue with China, based on what her parents had experienced before the official handover of Hong Kong, in 1997. She still had relatives in the former colony, and she was keen to get them out, and living in Britain.
Jimmy told her that could easily be arranged. He had the contacts.
One night, Lesley was watching The Great British Bake Off, and presenter Paul Hollywood told Jimmy in God’s voice that he was very satisfied with his work in Africa. For once, Jimmy replied. He told God that his protege, Sylvia, had a plan that would bring on armageddon. God chuckled at the thought of that, and told Jimmy it was long overdue.
At the end of 2018, Jimmy was sixty-six years old. The top men at Porton Down called him in. He was a year past retirement, but they had let him carry on, as his work was so valuable. In fact, he had been recommended for an elevation to the peerage, for ‘services to science’. Lesley was so excited. Her husband was going to be a Lord. That made her a Lady by default, a very big deal in British heirachy.
As he was allowed to choose his name, Jimmy chose ‘Lord Boscombe’, in honour of the village where they lived. Lesley would become ‘Lady Boscombe’, ensuring them a table at any restaurant they cared to book. Lesley’s only regret was that she had nobody left to boast about it to. But for Jimmy, the downside was that he had to leave his prestigious position at Porton Down to accept his place in the House of Lords.
With no hesitation, he recommended Sylvia Leung to take over his role. He had never met anyone more capable, or more suited for the job. The quiet men then managed to arrange for Sylvia to join an intenational inspection team going on a tour of one of China’s biggest biological research facilities. It would probably happen sometime the following year.
Prouder than ever, Lesley finally got to see her husband honoured, with his Ceremonial Introduction at the House of Lords in the autumn of 2019. She was next to him in the official photographs later, even though when they received them she was horrified that to see that she looked more like his mother, than his wife. Even at the age of sixty-seven, there was a sparkle in his eye, and he still had a full head of grey hair.
As far as the outside world was concerned, Doctor James Walker, now Lord Boscombe, was a retired academic. In truth, he was still in daily contact with Sylvia Leung, who felt she owed him everything. And he could visit Porton Down any time he felt like it, no questions asked. Lesley was seventy-seven years old, and slowing down considerably.
Jimmy engaged the services of a local gardening company to continue her hard work with the containers, and a local taxi firm took care of any driving required. Lesley was still baking, but her cakes and pastries were mostly either undercooked, or burnt. He ate them anyway. He owed her that much for a lifetime of devotion.
Just after Christmas of 2019, the TV news was obsessed with an outbreak of a deadly flu virus in Wuhan, China. Lesley was upset, wondering if it would reach Britain. Jimmy consoled her that it would only be in China, because they ate bats, and other strange food. That evening as she watched television, he went into the bedroom, to talk to God.
God told him that Sylvia Leung was now doing his work. Jimmy had tried hard, but had not fulfilled his promise. God was happy though.
Sylvia would make a difference.