2019 - Biodatr Medical Research Institute, Buckinghamshire, England.
Independent journalist, Philip Street, contacts a reliable source for medical research, on the pretext of writing a novel. While hiding his true motive, he is surprised when Dr. Leah Kensill invites him to her office, to ask his opinion on a troubling development.
I wanted you to come down here, because I want to show you something, and perhaps ask your opinion.”
“Yes, really. Don't look so surprised.”
She took a slim manila folder that was perched conveniently on top of her block of files and held it in front of her, while she thought.
“Your email almost coincided with an interesting and not entirely unrelated query from deep within the World Health Organisation. Sort of, thrown at us casually, like a 'what do you think of this' consultation.”
“Yes, we couldn't quite make head nor tail of it, at first. It didn't seem to be anything to do with us, but I'm sure we'll be attending conferences on it soon enough.”
“Well, what is it?”
She opened the folder, then had second thoughts and handed over the whole thing. Philip sat back intrigued as he opened the cover. Leah explained over the top.
“I suspect that this discussion paper has been sent to all sorts of medical testing centres that the WHO and respective governments use, around the world. The working group seem to be asking what our thoughts would be on the working validity of producing, as in mass producing, pre-printed death certificates for quick and easy distribution, on the basis of an assumed cause of death.”
The documents were laid out with a summary at the start, followed by pages of qualifying information.
“Sounds like a political decision, rather than medical, unless...”
Philip looked up.
“Assumed cause of death? You mean, something not identified in an autopsy?”
Leah waved a finger at the folder.
“Somewhere in there is the suggestion that autopsies would not be performed, either for logistical or other reasons. All that has to be established is that the patient died with certain symptoms that would, presumably, coincide with the parameters of a disease previously identified by testing stations, such as Biodatr.”
Philip was shaking a finger at a paragraph heading.
“What's all this about worldwide numbering conventions?”
“Yes, I found that a little dramatic, myself. From what I can gather, the idea is to pre-print a death certificate for everyone in a country, using their national insurance number as a unique identifier.”
Philip's head swivelled upwards, leaving his glasses halfway down his nose.
“Everyone? Everyone in the country? Including, say, you and me?”
Leah could almost see the cogs turning in Philip's mind.
“Yes. But not the country. Every country with an NI system.”
Philip's mind turned to Anil Merun and his experimental African populations.
“What the hell are they expecting to happen?”
“I have no idea. But it does seem like an odd exercise for the WHO to speculate about.”
“But... but whole countries? What? Being wiped out?”
Leah pointed back at the folder.
“Er, no. If you carry on through, there is a second scenario for managing national survivors of a 'health event.' That's rather odd, too.”
Philip found himself looking at diagrams. There was a matrix of dots in a square, joined by odd lines and annotated with little diamonds and lines of text.
“What the hell is Luciferase?”
Leah hummed quietly as she tried to frame an unemotional response.
“It's a luminescent dye, that shows up under a scanner. Believe it or not, the idea is to use it as a form of tattoo that contains information about someone's record of vaccination.”
Philip was shocked.
“Tattoo? Actually on somebody's skin?”
“Yes, well, under the skin actually. It's sort of invisible unless exposed to the scanner that reads it. It's like a vaccination card that people can carry around with them.”
“Why would anyone want to?”
Leah thought that was a good question.
“Well... possibly as unforgeable evidence that they are in fact vaccinated, but... um, there is at least an implication in there that the configuration of each tattoo is unique and could embed the corresponding code for these pre-printed death certificates.”
“It does sound like... my science-fiction.”
“Now do you see why I invited you down?”
Philip's mind was running on ahead.
“So, basically you get a vaccination and a death certificate at the same time. It's like... marking a herd.”
Random Skies: The End is the first prequel to a series of speculative fiction set in a parallel world where the surely unthinkable has already started to happen.