Biomalware: A Short Story

Here’s a very short Science Fiction story for a slow Friday afternoon. This is a story that I wrote several years ago which started me on the novel I am trying to finish now.  The story has gone through quite a bit of changes, but this is still the basis.

Potager_en_plate-bande

“Daddy,” Maddy whispered. Derek looked into the two year old’s dull eyes. “I hurt, owie.”

Derek’s stomach clenched. “I know, honey. The doctor’s going to give us something to make it better.”

“This should do it.” The doctor handed Derek the prescriptions. “One dose of each before a meal will help get her eating again and control the IBS symptoms.”

“Thanks, doc.”

The doctor nodded. “Wait here and Stephie will be in.”

Derek hugged Maddy tighter. This nightmare had to be at an end. Maddy always seemed to be in pain, either from hunger or from trying to digest the food.

The nurse, Stephie, came in. She had taken care of Maddy each time she’d been at the doctor’s since she was born. Despite the fact that she had to give Maddy shots, the little girl liked her. She took Maddy from Derek and bounced Maddy, cooing.

It took Derek a minute to realize that Stephie was waggling a note in the hand under his daughter.

“Wha?”

She gave a short emphatic shake of her head so Derek tucked the note in his pocket. Was she hitting on him?

“Let’s get you scheduled for an appointment, shall we?”

*****

In the car, Derek pulled out the note.

“Before you get the medicine, take her to John Garrett. Trust me, he can help you.”

There was a map below the instructions.

“What the heck?” The doctor had prescribed medicine. Wouldn’t that take care of it? He looked at Maddy’s listless face in the mirror. “What would your mother do?” And he knew, she would have gone to any lengths to care for Maddy and she would have trusted another woman.

Derek started the car and headed out of town, following the map into the hills.

It took about half an hour to reach an access road, which led to a farmyard. The house was plain but neat, with a flower box at the windowsill. Derek got out and opened the back door. As he unbuckled Maddy from her car seat, two kids came running around the barn. They stopped when they saw him but as he straightened up with Maddy in his arms they came forward.

“Is this where John Garrett lives?”

The older girl nodded. “Dad’s inside.”

She led the way. “Dad, somebody here to see you!”

Derek stayed on the front porch, unsure of his welcome. A bearded man in jeans and a flannel shirt came to the door. His face was impassive but as he took in Maddy, it softened.

“Stephie, at Dr. Cole’s, sent me.”

The other man nodded. “I’m John. You’d better come in. She having trouble eating?”

Derek nodded. “How’d you know?

“That’s who Stephie sends me. Have a seat.” John indicated the table near the kitchen area.

Derek stepped inside. The floor plan was open, with doors to the right, leading into the rest of the house, a kitchen area in front of him and a family area to the left.

John opened the fridge, pulled out a bottle of green juice and poured a little into a cup.

He put it in front of Derek. “Try to get her to drink some of this.”

Derek picked it up and sniffed. It smelled… green, but a little sweet, like juice.

“It’s just fruits and vegetables – apples, kale, lemon, some parsley, and the like.”

Derek offered it to Maddy. She was hungry enough to take a few sips but then she pushed it away and Derek set it down. “Thanks, but it’s hard to get her to eat.”

John nodded. “Because it hurts, I know, but this won’t. Just give her a few minutes.”

They watched for a minute and Derek was amazed when Maddy actually reached for the cup and picked it up. He laughed as she drank the cup down. “What’s in this? Chocolate?”

John smiled and shook his head. “Just fruits and vegetables grown from open-pollination or heirloom, non-gmo seeds.”

“Are you saying I just need to buy organic food?” Derek was incredulous.

John shook his head. “Not quite, your little girl’s having a reaction to the genetically modified food. It’s like lactose intolerance or inability to digest soy, but on a larger scale. Genetically modified seed has become ubiquitous in our farming. For the most part, you’re getting organically farmed food from genetically modified seed. Crops have been contaminated by pollen from GM foods.”

Derek tried to make sense of it. “Her mother died six months after she was born. Maddy seemed to do well when she was breast feeding but when we started formula it started and got worse as she started eating more solid food.”

John nodded. “Her mom’s body was filtering out a lot of the bad stuff, which helped your girl but overloaded her system. I lost my first wife the same way. That’s how I got started in this type of farming. One guess as to who holds the patent for the medication the doctor prescribed for your girl today.”

“The same people who hold the patent on the genetically modified crops?”

“Bingo.”

John excused himself and returned with a bag for Derek.

Derek opened the bag and found envelopes, hand labeled with tomato, corn, peas, etc.

“These are heirloom seeds. They’ll get you started and you’ll be able to grow more plants if you save some seeds from these guys. I’ll be able to supply you with safe food for her for a bit but we need to get you producing your own food.”

It was hard to take in but Derek looked down at Maddy. She smiled and held up the cup “More?”

He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen her smile.

“Okay. What do I do?”

3 Comments

  1. Aami Aabir said,

    May 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    I wonder what qualifies for a sci-fi, but this piece, Melora is way beyond science and fiction… To the horror of us all, this is the reality today.. I loved your short story. Following you

    • melorajohnson said,

      May 23, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      Thank you! My writer’s group keeps saying it doesn’t qualify as science fiction but I promise it is fiction, as far as I know. However, good science fiction is always grounded in reality.

      • Aami Aabir said,

        May 24, 2014 at 3:38 am

        And that is the reason this story touched me so much. We have had enough of these technologically superpower stories… Its time for sci-fi which looks at a potent science, rather than a hypothetical speculation


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