A nameless, faceless enemy uses an invisible army to attack America's agricultural system.
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“What’s next, apple pie?” A-Mark asks as he and Larry begin into the vendors section at Dodger Stadium.
“Don’t say that,” Larry returns. “Don’t even joke.”
“Well, let’s get to work. They want this place open tomorrow night, and that doesn’t give us a ton of time,” Larry says.
“Who is performing?” Markson asks.
“Ozzy Ozborne, according to the sign out front.”
“Oh! We probably don’t want to disappoint that audience,” A-Mark says with a grin.
“I’ll start with the coolers, if you want to test the kitchen area,” Larry says, ignoring A-Marks comment.
“Works for me.”
An hour later, after thoroughly testing the food, the packaging, the griddle and popcorn machine Markson moves on to the serving area. “I’m not finding anything,” he says at last. “I’ve run every test, and other than the usual grunginess found in so many of these kitchens there seems to be no bacterial or chemical contamination. I am going to check the serving area.”
“Well, there are other kitchens. Maybe this one is clean and others will demonstrate contamination. We’ll see,” Larry says.
“None of this makes any sense,” A-Mark begins. “They have a limited menu and everything they serve is prepared fresh and sells quickly. The employees all work in close quarters and none of them could sabotage anything without others seeing them do it, and
everybody is watching everyone else right now.”
“Well, just keep testing. It had to come from somewhere,” Larry says as he makes his way toward the condiment section. He proceeds with his examination.
“Never mind,” Markson says after a few moments, discovering a positive result. “I found something here, at the cashier area.”
“Over here, too,” Larry says. “The condiment section is moderately infested,” he says while finding yet another section with a positive reading.
“They wipe these areas down pretty good after hours,” A-Mark says.
“Yeah, they do, I know.”
“If we are finding residual now, after they’ve been sanitized this place must have been crawling with contagion while serving. Nevertheless, this is unlikely the only section contaminated. I doubt eleven hundred victims ate at one vending area,” Markson says, looking up and over at Larry.
“Then where else?” Larry asks.
The two make their way toward the spectator’s area.
“The seats?” A-Mark asks, vexed at the prospect.
Larry shakes his head. “I doubt anyone would have time for that, and no one person could discreetly get away with it. They would be caught, and there are just too damn many seats.”
“Maybe it isn’t all of them, only random sections,” Markson suggests.
The two look at the thousands of seats.
“We could be here a while,” Larry says, sighing.
“You know, most people that go to a ball game have a dog and a beer. Beer leads you to…”
“The rest rooms,” Larry says.
The two proceed to nearby rest rooms and, once there swab the entryway.
“There is some on the door, but nothing more than residual,” Larry says.
A-Mark stares at the door, and shakes his head. “Not the outside of the door,” he says, pushing one open and entering, “the inside.”
“Of course,” Larry says, considering. “Hands get contaminated after they wash them. That means anyone using a restroom can return to their seat and contribute to further contamination, man, woman or child. Sneaky bastards!”
“I don’t know who these guys are, but they have tediously planned these attacks. Their tactics are very effective,” A-Mark says, removing his neoprene gloves. “It wouldn’t surprise me if some involved in this excursion are prior military, and my guess would be biological weapons specialists. I think the FBI should review files of personnel, both prior service, and those currently serving,” A-Mark says, further considering. “Their investigations might also conclude the men from my old unit.” And one individual in particular, A-Mark considers, but does not say. “I’ll make a few phone calls, and say hello to the boys. It could lead to something, although I prefer to remember none of them as willing participants to any of this. The FBI can contact the rest.”
“That would actually be quite a short list compared to the massive investigation bogging them down due to running background checks on virtually everybody,” Larry says, nodding.
“Yep, and focus on those notoriously disgruntled, dishonorable discharges, the politically opposed, things of that nature. That can establish motive,” A-Mark says.
“This could be done by anyone understanding biological warfare. This is a cluster fuck,” Larry says, wiping his brow. “I’ll inform the bureau.”
“If you think about it, this maneuver is brilliant. Many restrooms these days have no paper towels. The tree huggers, God bless em want the use of paper restricted to save trees. That leaves air-drying machines, which leaves only toilet paper to protect hands that grab the door handles to leave the restroom, and I don’t see that happening. These people are as brilliant as they are evil,” he says, shaking his head. He sighs heavily. “We will probably find more if we keep looking, but I think you will agree we don’t need to. Our work is done here,” A-Mark says as he approaches Larry.
“Given the trend of Americans that have had their lives turned upside down, lost their house and their job and cannot find work and blame the government for sending our economy overseas, this could be anyone. Far too many harbor deeply seated animosity, which means it could be people from all occupations banded together in desperation, and in some cases, starvation. Accumulatively, that amounts to millions. This is crazy!” Larry says.
“This is a David and Goliath story. For almost no money, an unknown, unseen enemy brings to its knees the multi-trillion dollar conglomeration known as America. If word of points of public contact got out, everything would stop immediately. People will not ride the transit system, bus or train in any city. Airlines could have planes idle on the tarmac. Many people would then not go to sporting events, or even allow their children to go to school. Hell, attendance at church will diminish, if not cease. Not to sound religious, but this is a kind of Armageddon,” A-Mark says, shaking his head.
“You’re a smart guy, A-Mark. Tell me. How do we protect against this? Are we gonna shoot every kid touching the seats with one hand and a hot dog in his other, or just strip search their parents? People leave the bathroom and later find they are poisoned. What a false sense of security, appalling, really. They wash their hands and think it is all good, and then touch the door handle to leave, and wind up victimized by an invisible contaminant. Jeez! How do we fight these guys?”
“I don’t know,” Markson begins. “They’re going to have to sanitize this, and probably every public place after each event, or I think they will find ticket sales will drop. Spectators won’t attend any function knowing they may become infected.”
“I think the players unions might have a little something to say about it,” Larry says.
“These guys have to be stopped, and now,” Markson says, rubbing his forehead with his palm. “We have to communicate with our leaders, and demand the end,” A-Mark says, pausing and contemplating the last three words. He resumes. “I am trying to imagine how many handrails, public restrooms and points of hand contact there are at all the train stations, civic centers and public auditoriums in this country. I wonder how many people go through the New York City subway system every day, or take a piss at the local civic center. Pardon the pathetic pun, Larry but I think the terrorists just hit a grand slam right here at Dodger Stadium.”
“This is a hand job to faith,” Larry begins. “And it is becoming increasingly evident these people are systematically dismantling our society. It is enough to be fearful of every food purchase, and suspicious of individuals handling it, and other people or points of contact. But if, in addition we all become apprehensive about public events, estranged from one another then…” Larry pauses, his considerations drifting.
A-Mark looks at the multitude of seats. He envisions them filled, and then one by one
disappearing as food poisoning claims one after another. Soon, there remains a stadium attended only by cobwebs. “We can never let history finish that sentence."