by Nur Atikah Abdullah, Charles George Gajim, and Seti Faezah Rosli
Disclaimer: the following article is a fictional piece that may or may not be scientifically accurate. Reading with discretion is advised.
It started in 2016, when more and more parents refused to get their children vaccinated, claiming that immunised children were unhealthy and at risk of developing chronic diseases later in life. In a mere three months, the propaganda had spread to Asia, including Malaysia. In the year 2050, 98% of parents worldwide were against vaccination. Petitions were signed globally and governments were forced to de-legalise vaccines in the name of democracy.
By 2051, epidemics began to occur.
Born to a genius scientist, and a remarkable ex-navy Lieutenant, Mikhail’s parents were a part of the 2% of the human population that still practiced vaccination. Knowing what would happen, Mikhail’s father invented a super vaccine — AFOV, also known as ‘All-for-One-Vaccine’ — to fight off all communicable diseases. When Mikhail was born in 2050, he was vaccinated with AFOV by his father, making him immune to the worldwide epidemics that had begun to plague the world’s population.
Twenty years later, the world had changed dramatically. Things had gone from bad to worse and many people who were born after the year 2050 had succumbed to epidemics. The deadliest of them all was a new plague called Severe Intravascular Croatoan or famously known as SIC, which was wiping out the world population every day. By the time someone realised what was happening, it was too late. There just weren’t adequate resources to formulate a cure for it, let alone a vaccine.
Every nation in the world was hit by the plague. There was no food to eat, no jobs to go to, and no entertainment to cheer anyone up. The only entertainment available was the news, which only existed to inform the citizens about the current death toll. People were quarantined inside their own homes.
It was Armageddon.
“I’m next!” Mikhail was frantic. He had just witnessed his neighbour’s son, a boy around his age dropping dead right before his eyes through his bedroom window.
“We will not let anything happen to you,” consoled Diana, Mikhail’s mother.
“Everyone I know is dead,” Mikhail gasped. “I’m going to die soon, just like them.”
“Son, there is something you should know,” Mikhail’s father said calmly, seemingly unaffected by his son’s outburst.
Learning the truth about himself was by far the most shocking event in Mikhail’s life. According to his father, the SIC plague was the least of his worries. Thanks to a vaccine called AFOV, created in secret by Mikhail’s father and given to him as a child, Mikhail was resistant to the plague and other diseases as well. He was not immortal by any means, but at least, he was safe.
Nevertheless, he was restless. He was certainly safe, but what about others? The plague began with fever, but the symptoms progressed dramatically in the victims. In a matter of time, the blood vessels would burst, mimicking a haemorrhagic stroke. Some took months to reach the final stage, while the unlucky ones only had days. Those who were infected never made it to another year. He couldn’t bear seeing any more people die. He couldn’t just sit and do nothing while others fought for their lives each day.
He had to think of something.
He had to do something.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Diana appeared hesitant.
“This is the only way we can stop this, Mom. We can end this once and for all,” replied Mikhail.
“You have to be cautious. If you were to be caught, you would be their lab rat, you would be a precious test subject for their everlasting experiments,” said his Dad, voicing his doubts.
“With all the physical activity training I’ve done with mom since I was four to keep me fit and athletic, and the homeschooling from you, Dad, I will be fine. I am the ultimate combination of brain and brawn, aren’t I?” Mikhail said confidently.
“What is your plan?”
“Dad, you can extract the antibodies from my blood, right? We can synthesise it and distribute it to everyone,” Mikhail said. “Carefully and stealthily,” he added to reassure his parents.
Mikhail began his mission in plain sight. He didn’t use any costume to do his job. He wasn’t planning to be a superhero wannabe but he did do his best to conceal his identity. Every day after sundown, he would visit those who were infected and give them a vial of ready-made antibodies. With it, people were progressively getting better. They started calling him a vigilante since he wasn’t exactly a law-abiding citizen. He didn’t mind being a vigilante for the rest of his life as long as he could help people.
It took years before the SIC plague was completely eradicated.
Nonetheless, people finally learned their lesson about the importance of vaccination.
About the Authors:
NUR ATIKAH ABDULLAH, CHARLES GEORGE GAJIM, and SETI FAEZAH ROSLI are Bachelor of Biomedical Science final year students at Management and Science University (MSU), Shah Alam. All three of them have also previously studied Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology. Their final year research projects comprise many research fields such as anatomy, pharmacology, and microbiology. Nur Atikah enjoys reading and writing fiction, Charles is into sports especially basketball, while Seti Faezah likes cooking. Find out more about the authors by visiting their profiles at:
This article first appeared in the Scientific Malaysian Magazine Issue 12. Check out other articles in Issue 12 by downloading the PDF version for free here: Scientific Malaysian Magazine Issue 12 (PDF version)