Graham Sheppard sped down Route 2 away from Columbia Falls wrestling with his thoughts. It’s too late for martyrs. I should have pulled the trigger and ended it. But Sheppard had not taken his own life. He had felt a sudden rush of adrenaline and urgency as if the walls were constricting around him. Was it the siren in the distance? He didn’t know, but the feeling had been so overwhelming, he had put the gun down, packed up his shit and got in the car all within minutes of having the barrel in his mouth ready to blow his brains out.
He’d left in such a hurry; he hadn’t even turned in the key to his room. Not that it would’ve mattered. The motel clerk had been feeling ill for the past few weeks, unable to keep anything from running through his bowels. He had been on the toilet too many times to mention. Raw and sore he had been shitting blood for the past four days and as Sheppard had haste-fully departed, nature had called and the man was again glued to the porcelain bus. He’d eventually be found, still sitting on the toilet, slumped against the wall, his pants around his ankles and a yellowish liquid in the bowl below him mixed with a coil of blackish blood and about four feet of intestine.
Sheppard shifted his gaze to the surroundings as he raced his car toward Coram, his two canister respirator with charcoal filters rested on the passenger seat on top of a brown satchel that contained his belongings. No need to wear that any longer. I’m in the deep shit now. There’s plenty of other ways for it to get into my system .I’d be surprised if it wasn’t already. The respirator won’t help. Either way he looked at it, he was already dead. Whether by his own hand, or at some unforeseen juncture in the coming hours, through the will of someone else, his end seemed inevitable. Dead man walking.
Sheppard remembered the first time he had come in contact with the phenomenon in 2006. He’d been dispatched to study an anomaly near Trinity, Texas, where there had been reports of a skin irritant. People had complained to their physicians about different colour threads, or fibre-like lesions appearing under and on their skin.
Sheppard had witnessed it firsthand. He had examined dozens of all ages with varying degrees of growths affecting their bodies. In his report he had noted, "It sounds a little like a parasite, like a fungal infection, like a bacterial infection, but it never quite fits all the criteria of any known pathogen. The lesions contain fuzzy thread-like spores approximately a quarter to an eighth of an inch long that cause the subject to experience the crawling sensation under their skin combined with a great deal of discomfort. Patients have been prescribed Tamadone for pain and Viltricide, an anti-parasitic, but nothing has worked. The cause of this disease is as yet unknown."
The University of Texas Health and Science Center along with the World Health Organization had determined the disease was Morgellans and since it wasn’t contagious, there was no risk of further infection. They also questioned whether many of the people studied even had Morgellans. It was suggested most of the patients seemed to be borderline delusional with wounds that were self inflicted.
Self inflicted? They got that right. Over a hundred people studied, suffering from this “mass delusion” had torn, or cut the very flesh from their bodies and committed suicide shortly after WHO had packed up their swabs, microscopes, and general disinterest and returned to Atlanta.
Sheppard, however, had continued with his own research. He had started to question the findings of those higher up, and he had uncovered the sequence of things to come. It scared the shit out of him. Trinity was child’s play compared to what was planned for Coram. Sheppard knew it.
If only I had more time. If only. Sheppard’s foot pressed harder on the gas pedal as if applying the whip to get more speed from the horse. How anyone could have such disregard for human life was beyond his comprehension. This wasn’t even in the name of science, or rendering a killer disease benign. This was all about reclamation by those who believed the earth was theirs to share with no one. This was about constructing a new super highway right through the backyard of humanity.
Sheppard glanced in the rear-view mirror. Behind him flashing red lights blazed. A police car was coming up fast behind him. He was being pulled over. Instinctively he searched the bag next to him for the gun as he slowed and pulled onto the shoulder. Perhaps this is all going to end sooner than I thought.