A leading U.S. bioweapons scientist dies of an unexplainable neurological disease. A mysterious cocaine factory operates out of a Swiss chocolate factory, guarded by highly trained combat troops. Chechnya is destroyed with thermobaric bombs after an outbreak of a bioterrorist virus. And the beautiful but enigmatic CEO of a biotechnology company fights off a take-over attempt by a sinister Boston investment group. Unrelated as these events may seem, Liam Michaels, an artist, photographer—and the immortal Angel of Death—recognizes the insidious moves of fallen angels and he must act quickly to stop the rise of the Fallen.
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Rise of the Fallen
Sunday, May 4th; Framingham, Massachusetts
Jeffery Blazek was dying. He lay on the kitchen floor of his cozy three-bedroom house that backed up to the Boy Scouts forest preserve in Framingham, Massachusetts, unable to move or call for help. His muscle control gone, the room smelled of urine and feces. Saliva drooled slowly down his cheek and pooled under his face. His mouth snapped open and shut like a fish out of water, and his breath came in strained gasps and whistling rales. His body shook with constant tremors; his left hand beat gently against the floor. He was dying.
Two bizarre-looking figures sat at the kitchen table covered head to toe in pale green hazmat suits made of a cross-linked lyotropic liquid crystal-butyl rubber composite. The suits operated on a principle similar to Gore-Tex, but with pores one hundred times smaller, blocking the entry of bacteria, viruses, and most chemical warfare agents. Blue latex gloves covered their hands, and they wore clear plastic facemasks attached to respirators on their backs. Both took notes on the Tablet PC’s of two Panasonic Toughbook computers.
A man’s baritone voice spoke, “Let’s go over the progression of the disease.”
“Fire away, my young genius.” The voice of the second figure was female with a slight Irish accent.
The man frowned through his mask. “The pneumonia first appeared three weeks ago, correct?”
“Yep, inoculated him twenty-eight days ago on Sunday, April 6th, as he took a leak in the company washroom,” the second figure answered. “There’s a lesson here, sweetums.” She stared at the man, her eyes grinning behind her mask. “Working weekends will kill you. I put the inoculum in the automatic air freshener dispenser.”
“When did his symptoms first appear?” asked the man.
“Let’s see,” the woman said, consulting her computer. “Five days after the initial exposure, he showed signs of pneumonia. Doctor put him on azithromycin. Looks like his pneumonia was better five days after beginning treatment.”
“Excellent. When did the neurological symptoms appear?”
The woman again checked her computer notes. “Twenty-one days after infection he began to complain of tremors and a general weakness in his legs. According to his medical records, he stated he felt unsteady and found himself leaning against the walls of his home in order to walk without falling.” She looked up from her computer. “Sounds like you after a couple of beers.”
“Cut the crap,” the male snarled.
“No sense of humor, little one?” the female purred. “Twenty-five days after infection, his doctor wrote that his speech was slurred, his coordination deteriorating. Boy, this really could be you after tossing back a few.”
The man ignored the comment. “And the doctor’s opinion?”
“Doc suspected Guillain-Barré syndrome.”
Guillain-Barré syndrome resulted from an attack on the peripheral nerves by the body's immune system. It usually followed a few days or weeks after a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. The symptoms varied and included weakness or tingling sensations in the legs and, in many instances, spread to the arms and upper body. The symptoms could increase in intensity until the muscles were useless, and the victim was almost paralyzed. In most cases, the affected patient recovered completely, but in rare instances, the paralysis remained. Even rarer, death occurred.
“Exactly what we hoped. So, if today is day twenty-eight post-infection, then the symptoms have progressed just as expected,” the man declared, flexing his gloved fingers.
The man on the floor gasped frantically. His body tried to inhale deeper without exhaling, straining for the last bit of precious oxygen. Abruptly, the sounds of his wheezing ended and his chest muscles stopped working. He was dead.
“Ironic, isn’t it? The guy’s an infectious disease expert,” the mysterious man said.
“Correction. Was an infectious disease expert.”
“Whatever,” the man continued. “Here he is, dead from an infection, and there was nothing he could do to prevent or cure it.”
“At least you’re good at some things, kitten,” the female said. “I’d say the Desesperado agent is a success.” She began typing into her computer. “Let’s see, oh-three-thirty-five hours, May 4th, the subject, Jeffery Blazek, was pronounced dead. The presumed cause, Guillain-Barré syndrome.”
“That’s it. We’re out of here,” the man said.