The spokesperson for the medical team put together by President Lealand walked up to the microphone, eyeing the room full of journalists.  Her voice, even with the microphone, was heard only by those standing closest to the podium.

“The emergency is real,”  she started.  “There are 2,500 confirmed dead from the pathogen.

The crowd grew louder.  Illegible questions shot out.  The pushing, shoving and yelling  tugged at her composure.

She looked to General Thompson for help.  He did not return her gaze.  Stoic in his manner, he stared straight ahead, waiting for his turn to be put under the microscope of the media.

“Please.  Please. Quiet down.  I’ll start taking questions, if you’ll just quiet down.  We all can be heard, just not at the same time.”

A 40-something man in front with a Loci News badge on yelled out.

“How long has this information been kept from us?  Where did the.. it come from?  What’s being done to contain…”

That was all she heard before the rumbling in the crowd grew in volume drowned him out.

The Marine guards in the front and back of the room took strategic steps and deployed their weapons in a show of strength.  The crowd quieted.

She began again.  ” It appears to have come from the U.S. government’s lab in Atlanta.  That has been confirmed. What we still don’t know is how it got out and became airborne.  Listen, we have the best scientific minds available throughout the world working on this, trying to target exactly how the germ has mutated since its release and how we can get one step in front of that mutation process.  We expect a turnaround in events once they’ve been able to do that.”

A question came from the crowd, though she could not make out from exactly where.

“Bloody hell, what are we supposed to do in the meantime?”

She responded quickly, not wanting the crowd to work itself into a mob that would require military intervention.

“We have laid out a list of precautions.  The germ targets the lungs.  So it is imperative that when you are in public areas you wear face masks.  Everything needed to be done in order to keep as safe as possible has been posted on line.  You can link up from any dot-gov site.  We will also be supplying each you with the same information to be printed in your newspapers, blogs, etc. ”

Looking again at the general, she spoke for the last time.  “General Thompson has a few remarks he’d like to make as well.”

The decibel level grew once more and seemed to match the level of anxiety in the room.

As the general approached the mic, he cleared his throat, then began to cough a deep harsh cough.  Bloody bubbles cascaded down his chin.


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