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Discovery part 4 by Ronald Faltus
All he would manage to do was get himself killed.
Still, the decision to go into hiding had caused a part of his mind to real with guilt, a knowing dread that had followed him around since he left Vergos over a week ago. The alcohol had partially silenced his inner protest, but as the haze began to envelope his brain, unknown faces flashed before him. Each feverish apparition appeared, moaning as their bodies were ravage by the unstoppable disease. Open sores seethed across their skin as the infection wretched the internal organs, causing each to cry out in anguish. The images grew more and more terrifying, each case more horrible that the one before. Squeezing his eyes tightly, Gareth finished the drink in one gulp and slammed the glass on the bar top. A harsh fire rolled down his throat, but when he opened his eyes, the specters were gone, replaced by the portly balding bartender. He offered to pour another round and Gareth agreed.
As the foul smelling alcohol filled the tumbler, Gareth tried once more to logically explain away his visions. He had no idea what the physical effect of the virus was having on the people of Vergos. The planet was so remote and sparsely populate that hit had barley managed to get any press, only garnering a thirty segment flash during the hourly news report. And that was mainly to serve as notification of the planetary blockade. Quarantines were rare but not unheard of, at least not any more.
Once thought, they were a menace, causing widespread panic. Space travel use to be enormous colony ships ferrying thousands on decade long trips to their new homes. But with so many living in an enclosed space, all breathing the same air over and over, mutations occurred. A simple cold could, over years in deep space, change into a virulent plague, whipping out not only those on the ship, but also the population at the destination. Word of an outbreak could send entire systems in a panic causing wide spread looting and mayhem. So after years of experience, the media began to down play their severity in hopes of stemming the collateral damage they could cause. Surly, the companies that operated close to the quarantine areas paid a substantial fee to get the press to gloss over the story in order to protect their own assets.
Gareth tried shaking off the effects of the last drink before he started on the replacement. Panning around, he took stock of the rest of the cliental in the bar. Even though it was still early in the afternoon, most of the seats were taken by a collection of unsavory patrons. The mood was subdued, broken only by the occasional bouts of boisterous laughter. A prevalent menacing sensation hung heavily in the air, and Garth couldn't bring himself to pear too deeply into the poorly lit corners of the bar. But there was also anticipation, an uneasy wait, biding its time till the moment was right. Establishments around busy spaceports tended to draw an eclectic mixture of hardened spacers, smugglers, and thugs, places that one misplaced glance could get you into a lot of trouble.
Turning back to the bar, he decided that it was probably best to focus in on his drink.