Authors: Victor Methos
A Medical Thriller
Copyright 2012 Victor Methos
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Please note that this is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. All events in this work are purely from the imagination of the author and are not intended to signify, represent, or reenact any event in actual fact.
BY VICTOR METHOS
Jon Stanton Thrillers
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here are maladies we must not seek to cure because they alone protect us from others that are more serious.
Think of the earth as a living organism that is being attacked by billions of bacteria whose numbers double every forty years. Either the host dies, or the virus dies, or both die.
It began with a cough.
Michael Pettrioli sat on a large stone near the Amazon
, sipping warm water out of a plastic bottle. The river churned its brownish contents into white foam and though he was only a few feet away from his adventure guide, who was convincing a local tribesman that they were not here to steal their women, he couldn’t hear anything
but the river
It’d been two days since he’d felt feverish and last night he’d been up at least half a dozen
times either vomiting or
. For several days before
he was unable to sleep from the blanket of insects that would attack him at night as he lay in a hammock a couple feet off the ground. Even with nets and repellent he seemed helpless to fight them. They ranged from harmless pests to life-threatening monsters.
There was o
ne type of biting fly
sought the fleshy part of the lip and injected her eggs there.
in the group had already become a host and the guide had said they
need to wait un
til the eggs
cut them out with a hot scalpel.
The adventure guide, a tall Australian man by the name of Clifford, finished speaking with the local villager and then came over and leaned down in front of Michael. He placed his hand on his head and then his neck.
“You don’t look so hot, mate. Feeling warm.”
“Just a little fever,” Michael said. “It’s nothin’.”
“Well, isn’t nothing out here nothing. I think I need to send you back to the village to see a doc.”
“No way. I blew ten Gs for this trip and I ain’t goin’ back to spend the next week in some filthy hospital bed. I’m fine, seriously. I think I caught a stomach bug or
. I’m sure I’ll be cool in another day or two.”
Clifford shrugged and stood up. “If you say so. Stay hydrated best you can. If we’re
you let me know.”
It wasn’t long until Clifford gave the word that it was time to move out. They had at least a
hour trek ahead of them before nightfall and much of the terrain they needed to cover was either dense vegetation that needed to be cut through or muddy ground that would come up to
ankles. It was tough going for the most experienced of guides and Michael knew for an amateur like him, feeling like he did, it was going to be hell.
But this wasn’t the first time he’d experienced hell.
He grabbed his backpack and followed the group of seven into the dense jungle canopy. They didn’t speak or laugh or crack jokes as they did the first few days. Everyone was dehydrated
tired, a few of them sick, most of them hungry, and none of them having a good time.
Michael kept his eyes on the ground, watching his feet a
s he pushed one foot and then the
other in front of him. That was how he had climbed Everest and how he crossed half the continent of Africa. One step at a time. But this was much harder. With each step he felt his strength leaving him and his mind turn
to mush. He couldn’t think clearly and after about an hour his vision began to blur.
He kept this
to himself. The girl in front of him was ten feet away and he kept his eyes on her boots, a magnet to draw hi
m forward. But as his vision grew
worse, so did his nausea. He felt bile in his throat and tried to swallow it down but could only do so much before it burst out of his mouth.
Considering there was nothing in his stomach but crackers and water, hardly anything came up. But it was so violent that it brought him to his knees. He felt the soft, wet dirt underneath him
against his skin. It felt welcoming, much more so than the humid air and the insects burrowing into him. He collapsed onto his back, certain he would just take a quick nap and then catch up to the group.
When Michael awoke he was in a hospital bed
staring up at dirty ceiling. He glanced next to him and saw a nurse wiping a needle that she had just removed from the arm of the patient in the bed next to him. She then placed it
in a bottle, withdrawing fluid before sticking it into his arm.
looked away and saw
Clifford sitting in a chair by the bed.
“Where are we?” Michael said, his voice raspy.
“Hospital in Iquitos. How ya
“Like I got hit by a truck. You drive me back here?”
“Came in by plane.”
“Man,” he said
, turning his face up to the ceiling, “d
on’t remember that plane ride. How long it take?”
Bout twenty minutes.”
“You don’t have to sit here with me, Cliff. You need to go with the group.”
“Nah, I ain’t never left a fella behind yet. Group’s good. I got someone to cover for me. I just wanted to make sure you’re
right as rain before I go on my way.”
Michael took a deep breath. “Ten grand down the crapper.”
“Well, we’ll giv
e you a discount next time
. Cheer up and get better.
more adventures yet for a young blok
The nurse jabbed a needle in his arm a
l flinched. “Ouch. What is that?”
“Chloroquine. They think you got yourself a bad case’a malaria.”
hit,” he said, shaking his head, “c
n she at least get a new needle?
“Don’t work that way here.” Clifford rose to his feet. “Well, I leave you in good hands. I got some things to do in town and I’ll be back to chec
k on you tomorrow before I head out
“Thanks. Sorry about all this.”
Clifford put his hand on Michael’s shoulder.
Ten minutes after Clifford had left, the nurse gave Michael a shot of morphine. That
he knew. He drifted off into his memories, remembering playing with his grandfather in the garden by his house. He was smiling and relaxed when he felt a
sensation on his chin and chest. He looked down to see
blood spreading in a large pool. Lazily, he brought his hand up to his mouth and came away with
ooze on his hand. It was coming out of his mouth
and he was choking.
He tried to scream and it came out a gurgling wet mess. He began coughing violently, spatters of the black liquid flying over the hospital room. The nurse was shouting something and a doctor came in. They held him down as he thrashed violently, the pain rising from his stomach to his throat and out of his mouth. The morphine didn’t touch it.
He gurgled one final scream before he lay back on the bed,
his lungs filled with blood, and life began to leave him
Dr. Jose Cabero sat in his office on the second floor of the Health Administration Building in Lima and wondered why he had been sent a file about a death from over 629 miles away. This was something the locals should have dealt with. He sighed as he opened the folder, looked at the photo of the patient, and saw his nationality: American. That was the reason. The death of an American in a high tourist locale had to be addressed immediately. Americans were prone to panic and tourism was the lifeblood of many of the small villages. Without the guided tours and photo safaris
seers, many would starve.
He read the autopsy report of the treating physician, Dr. Alvarez, and reread the cause of death: DEATH BY MISADVENTURE. It was
way of saying they had no idea how he died without saying it officially.
Cabero looked at the autopsy photos and saw the young man covered in a thick,
black liquid. It appeared like blood from a
. He had seen many abdominal gunshot
wound victims with
looking blood. But underneath the skin was a thick, purple coloring giving him the appearance of being charred in a fire. That, he had not seen before. At the end of the file was a note from Dr. Alvarez: “Call me right away.”
Cabero picked up the phone and dialed the number to the Hermana de la Misericordia Clinic. A nurse picked up and he asked for Alvarez. He got on the phone
“I’ve been waiting two days.”