Cell Wars - the wars within

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sometimes we get sick, but most of the time we are usually healthy. This is in spite of the fact that we are constantly under attack from a myriad of harmful viruses and bacteria. For that daily miracle we can thank the Lord for creating our immune system.
The immune system is the front lines of an amazing war that is fought in each of our bodies everyday. The more we discover about the immune system, the more we see how wonderfully designed it is. There is no way that such a complex fighting system could be the product of chance evolution or mutations.

Just like any modern army, our immune system has many individual soldiers doing different jobs. The various white blood cells that make up our immune system each have a specific purpose. They search for specific invaders that they have been taught to recognize and destroy. Some cells envelop, some shoot, others eat invaders. Some white blood cells produce the needed weapons, some command, some police, and some carry messages, but all work together in synchronized harmony to protect us. It’s an absolute war going on inside of us! If we didn’t have these internal soldiers to protect ourselves from the mass of enemy invaders, we wouldn’t survive long. It’s just one more proof of God’s design and care in His Creation.

Some recent discoveries about the immune system have surprised the researchers. They have found that the brain’s chemicals are the same messenger molecules that are produced by the immune system. This enables the brain and the immune system to talk to each other through these chemicals.
That’s why our physical condition is closely related to our spiritual state. If we are happy and free from stress our immune system is boosted to fight sickness better. In one study, subjects exposed to stress showed increases in infection rates from 74% to 90%, and colds rose from 27% to 47%. It was discovered that during periods of stress, the number of cells responsible for slowing down the immune system’s responses increases dramatically.

Submitted: May 13, 2016

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Submitted: May 13, 2016

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by Curtis Peter van Gorder

 

Cast of Players (in order of appearance)

Joey:  a young boy who likes to play soccer. It is inside his body that our story takes place.

 

Mother:  Joey’s mother and the one who is telling our story. Her name is Chloe.

 

Zoe:  (Greek word meaning life) a young killer T-cell and a member of the white blood cell family. This is a big family of about 1 trillion cells in your body. All of the T-cells are the prime players of the immune system.

 Zoe’s job is to recognize and destroy abnormal infected cells. At first hesitant and unsure of himself, he gains confidence through his rigorous training.

 

Yo-yo:  a helper T-cell of the white blood cell family. His job is to orchestrate the action of the other immune defenses. He helps other cells destroy infective organisms by signaling them to fight a specific infection. He is like a ‘middleman’ in the immune system. Yo-yo is always up-beat and encouraging.

 

Thymus: In our story it is a ‘building’ called the ‘ICTC’ (Intensive Combat Training Center). You may wonder why a building would be a character. It is because this building is alive! It is a gray gland that is in your chest, between your breastbone and your heart. It is especially important in newborn babies. In adults the thymus shrinks. It helps certain white cells of the immune system to develop and mature so that they can play their part in the body’s defenses. The ‘T’ of T-cells, stands for thymus. It is the place that “thymic education” takes place.

 

Hormone commander and instructors: They stimulate the white blood cells to greater effectiveness. They promote the process of thymic cell education.

They have scientific names like: thymosine, interferon? g, interlukins, thymopoetin, and colony stimulating factors.

 

Messenger Cell: The brain is constantly sending messages to the cells. This is why stress or joy affects our immune system. The white blood cells have receptors to receive these messages. These messages are written in a kind of chemical language. Science is only beginning to understand the brain-immune dialogue.

 

Dudley and Lawrence: two cells of the stomach lining. Cells often communicate with each other.

 

Mr. V and co.: a gang of viruses led by the nefarious “Mr.V”. A virus is a bundle of DNA genes containing instruction for making identical copies. It does this by invading healthy cells and hijacking them, turning them into virus factories. It is pure information. Because it lacks the basic machinery for reproduction itself, a virus is not, strictly speaking even alive.

 

Macrophage:  “macros” (The name means “big cell eater”) These are the scavenger cells, the housekeepers, the garbage men of our body. They engulf microbes and unwanted products of the body. They are a non-specific type of immune defense of the body. They also carry messages and help to identify foreign invaders by displaying some of their remains on their surface, which stimulates other white blood cells to action to defend the body against unwanted invaders.

 

Officer Patty O’Brian: a B-cell policeman. B-cells are another member of the white blood cell family.  B-cells are part of the body’s military intelligence system. They seek out targets and send defenses to lock onto them.

 

Suppressor T-cells: These T-cells suppress the activity of the other white blood cells so they don’t become over zealous and begin attacking the body’s healthy cells. Some of these become Memory cells that carry the information of the invaders to the “Hall of Shame” where the body stores the knowledge it has learned from that particular invader so that it can easily defend itself against future attacks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cell Wars – The war of the world within

 “Mom, can I play a game with the guys this afternoon?”

“Absolutely not, if you are too sick to go to school, you are too sick to play ball games.”

“It’s called ‘soccer’, mom.”

“Joey, you’re trying to avoid the issue. You need to work on that.”

“Sorry, mom, but I feel fine – really I do.”

“Let’s see how fine you are.”

Joey’s mother got a thermometer and put it under his arm. She looked at the reading carefully then nodded her head and clucked positively.

“Um,huh, your temperature has gone down. But I think you still need another day’s rest. Your body is still fighting the sickness.”

Realizing that resistance was futile, Joey reluctantly resigned himself to another day in bed. He decided wisely to change the subject.

“You mean there is a fight going on inside my body?”

“Not just a fight, it’s an absolute war! It’s quite amazing how it all works. If we didn’t have soldiers to protect ourselves from the mass of enemy invaders, we couldn’t survive. It’s just one more proof of God’s design and care in His Creation.”

“You mean there are soldiers and enemies in my body? I don’t get it. How does it work?”

“Well let’s see, how can I explain it?…I  know how you feel. It’s not always so fun to just sit in bed and rest when you want to have fun and play, so let me explain it with a story, and afterwards we could draw some cartoons of what is happening inside your body.”

 

***

Zoe, a young T cell, looked up in awe at the large fluorescent sign, ‘ICTC*’ * (Intensive Combat Training Center) hanging in front of the building that he was supposed to enter. He hesitated a moment in uncertainty and checked the address card he had been given to make sure that he was in the right place.  Another T cell that was also entering noticed Zoe’s reluctance and decided he would give some needed encouragement, and so approached him boldly.

“Hey, how ya’ doing, kid?” The jolly cell said as it bumped its cell wall against Zoe’s in a friendly salutation.

“Fine, sir. I think.”

“A bit nervous being called up for activation? Me too, but hey, it’s what we do. Live and die for Joey and all that. Let me introduce myself. I’m a helper T cell. What are you? “

“My name is Zoe. My genes tell me, I’m a killer cell, but I’m worried that…”

“Don’t worry too much. Leave that to the neurons in the cerebral cortex. Hey, I didn’t tell you my name yet. My buddies call me Yo-yo, –that’s cause no matter how low I get thrown, I just keep bouncin’ back. Checking in for duty?”

“Yuh, I passed the initial recognition tests and here I am.”

“Those can be tough. They throw you a protein fragment and ask you, ‘friend or foe’? If you say ‘friend’ when it was a foe, or if you say ‘foe’ when it was a friend – ‘elimination’.”

Yo-Yo always acted out whatever he said dramatically and this time was no exception, “Well, congratulations, kid. Less than 5% of us leuks* make it this far.”  (* short for leukocytes, a kind of white blood cell)

Zoe still did not respond, so Yo-yo tried to say something to break the awkward silence, “Nice protein coat you got there.”

“Thanks,” Zoe said fingering his chains around his neck nervously.

“I see you are hanging some light gamma delta chains. You’ll be trading those in for some heavy duty alpha beta ones after you graduate, I imagine.”

“Yeah, hope so.”

“Ok, its not going to get any easier standing outside, so let’s go in and see what’s happening.” Zoe again hesitated for a moment until Yo-yo grabbed him by the hand and said, “Come on, I’ll help you get through this.” 

They both ran their ID cards through a scanner and the large doors opened and closed quickly behind them. They entered a large gymnasium complex, which was a beehive of activity. A huge poster of Joey hung in the background. There was a red arrow pointing to Joey’s thymus*, *(a walnut--sized gland just under the breastbone). Underneath the arrow was written, “You Are Here”.

  Zoe and Yo-yo took a moment to take in the scene. There were many T-cells in training overseen by their hormone instructors who were stimulating them to greater fighting efficiency. As the trainees practiced, the hormones barked out many loud commands like, “Come on hit’em harder.” “Is that all you got to show me?” “You try or you die!” 

 Some T-cells were throwing hoops on dummy viruses. Some were practicing injecting a moving dummy with toxic poisons. Some were engulfing and chewing on an elusive enemy target. Some were judo wrestling with a weak virus that had been captured for live practice. Some T-cells were learning how to hold and thrust a bayonet, others to fire a laser at a moving virus target.

“Let me show you some of our formidable foes in the ‘Hall of Shame’,” Yo-yo said as he ushered Zoe into a large museum exhibition room that was adjoining the gym floor. A large mug shot picture list of each of the previous enemies that had been eliminated by the body hung on the wall. Underneath each photo was a number and more information about their effects on the body and their individual outstanding appearance traits. Zoe looked up at some of the fiends. Some enemies looked fierce and grotesque, but He was surprised to see that some looked pleasant -- yet a strange fake smile gave them away. Some looked harmless enough. Some were even cute and cuddly but weird eyes betrayed their true nature. Other mug shots were just complex geometric designs. New pictures appeared frequently as fresh fiends were found and fought. 

Zoe and Yo-yo reported in at the reception desk and after the receptionist checked them on the central computer they were logged in and were given identity tags.

“You are just in time for the induction speech for this wave of cadets. Take up a position in the formation over there,” The receptionist said pointing to their designated area on the balcony. Notes of fanfare blared over the loudspeaker. Silence reigned, as everyone on the floor below immediately got quiet and fell into formation and came to attention. Eyes were now focused on the podium towering above the lower level of the graduating class of T-cells who had finished their basic (training).

A helmeted hormone strode up a ramp that led from the communications center. Many military Medals of Honor hung from his jacket. He held a swagger stick in his hand that he flicked ceremoniously. Around his waist hung an ivory pistol that was held in a highly polished holder. His knee-high boots sparkled. The commander took a moment to size up his captive audience before speaking.

“I see before me a squadron honed in your specific skills. Whether your job is to incapacitate, eradicate, eliminate, communicate, activate or facilitate, you will all work together as a well-oiled machine. None of you is insignificant – all of you are important.

We of the immune system have always been thankful for you, but it’s just in the last thirty years that science has begun to appreciate what you do. You and I have always known that without our sacrifice Joey’s life wouldn’t be worth living.”

The commander made appropriate motions as he explained, “ Fungi chewing up fingernails, slime growing in his mouth, muscles inflamed and weak - in short a book full of misery.  But now we are considered the possible key to solving problems from arthritis to cancer to aging.”

The commander waited for the applause to die down before continuing, “You cadet white blood cells are going to go out today into the circulatory system and prove them right. Your mission is to recognize and destroy any intruder that might cause harm. That includes just about anything - bacteria, viruses, the wrong type of blood, a splinter in the finger, fungi, poisons, you name it. You stand ready to attack any invader - anything that is non-Joey.

“Some of you might be scared and are worried that you might turn tail and run when you are faced with a vicious virus that wants to turn our healthy cells into sickening virus factories. But when you meet one of our dear cells that has been turned into a mush of goo - when that time comes - you’ll know what to do!”

The speech was interrupted with cries of “Huua! Huua! Huua!”

The commander shouted, “Seek and destroy all enemies!”

The cry was echoed on the floor, “Seek and destroy all enemies!”

Pointing to The Hall of Shame, the commander said, “You all know your targets. Some of these enemies are easy to spot. You can’t miss them.”

He now pointed to a flip chart of a wanted poster of a particularly hideous virus with extremely exaggerated features. “Like this one!” There was a cry of revulsion and disgust at the sight of one of their sickening foes.

The commander now spoke in softer tones of caution, “But some of these culprits can trick you if you don’t look closely and keep your eyes open.” He then flipped the page to another wanted poster of a virus that looked something like a cute and cuddly teddy bear.

“Most of us who go out to do battle will never return. Remember… you have to go out - you don’t have to come back. It is the highest honor to sacrifice your life for Joey. Are you willing?”

A huge swell of response reverberated throughout the structure, “Yes sir!!!!”

“Good! Now go. And make me proud!”

A signal was blown and the new cadets formed a tight formation and marched off singing a military song. The sergeant called the first line and everyone responded with the next line. It was a ditty that they had often sung during their drills.

“Vboys*, Vboys, run and hide.” *(V boys – slang for virus)

“When we get through you will have died.” 

“Bboys*, Bboys, it’s not your day” *(B boys – slang for bacteria)

“We’ll crush you, stomp you, make you pay!”

 “Joey, Joey, he’s our man.”

 “If we don’t help him, no one can.”

The walls of the outside cell door opened and slammed behind the troops as they left so that no unwanted intruders would enter.

Zoe turned to Yo-yo. “There they go, out into the bloodstream to fight and die for Joey. God bless them!”

“And some day after your training, you’ll be joining their ranks on the front line, “ Yo-yo added.

“Do you think I’ll make it through basic?” Zoe asked nervously.

“Oh yeah, You’ve come this far by faith. You were made to overcome.“ Just then a sergeant hormone came over and interrupted them, “Attention!” Everyone responded by coming to attention the best they could.

 The sergeant walked down the line inspecting his new batch of trainees. He motioned to one, “Chin up soldier.” The sergeant strode up to one soldier and looked despairingly at what he was wearing, ”Where did you get this protein coat anyway? A second hand garage sale?”

“No, sir”

“Loose it.”

“Yes, sir.” The recruit answered.

“Ok, the pep talk is over. Now you are mine. I see you and I have some work to whip you T-cells into shape before you are ready for combat -- But work you will. I will require instant and total obedience from each one of you. The moment you hesitate on the frontline is the moment you meet your fate. Is that clear?”

 “Yes sir!” they all answered in unison.

“I will be stimulating you – making you into the killing machines you were designed to be.”

“Do you like the sound of that?”

“Yes sir!”

“Who do you think you are?” The sergeant paused for effect. No one had the audacity to answer.

 “I’ll tell who are. Right now you are a mess. But what are you going be when I am through with you? I’ll tell you, you are going to be a mean team of fighting machines.

 What you gonna’ be soldier?” Sarge turned quickly and got right up in the face of one T cell and waited for the answer he wanted to hear.

Fortunately for him the recruit was paying attention, “Mean team of fighting machines,… sir.”

“Right. It’s training time. Follow me. Killer T’s file out to the left. Helper T’s file out to the right.”

Yo-yo managed to lean over towards Zoe and say, “Give it your best shot, kid!”

Zoe nodded with determination. “You too, Yo-yo.”

The next few weeks were tough for Zoe. There was a lot of marching, trouncing, pouncing, shooting, slinging, slamming, banging, and zapping of the enemy they would soon encounter. Most importantly, he was taught the use of his new weapons. Perhaps the most powerful in his arsenal were the specific keys that Zoe had been issued and hung about his neck on his chain. These keys were made to fit into the lock that certain enemies carried on their cell wall. Once these keys were fit into the keyhole, Zoe became activated and a whole series of reactions would occur resulting in the ultimate demise of the invader.

Zoe had so many drills that he knew how to react in any combat situation automatically. A lot was expected of him. Sometimes Zoe got discouraged and thought he just couldn’t make it. It was times like this that he pulled out a dog-eared photo of Joey that he had been given to him for a birthday present from a messenger molecule sent from the brain. This was back when he was just a babe in the bone marrow before he had migrated to the thymus. This worn photo was his most treasured possession. It never left his side. The look of Joey’s gentle eyes from the photo seemed to give Zoe strength and purpose that all the tough training he was going through was worth every bruise, sore patch of cytoplasm, and hardship he had to endure. Zoe had his own guardian molecule from the brain that often sent him mail, which consisted of encouraging messages to keep training as hard as he could for the big fight that he would be soon facing. It also kept him abreast of Joey’s various mood swings as well as the latest news, sports, and weather.

 

***

Training time was over and Zoe found himself in formation on the lower level where he had watched the induction ceremony of the last class of graduating T-cells many weeks before. Now it was his turn.

Zoe smiled to see Yo-yo bouncing his way into formation. Yo-yo had a few words of encouragement for him, “Congrats, kid. I knew you had what it takes. Way to go! And hey, wow, look at you -- a new protein coat and some Alpha beta chains to boot.”

Zoe smiled in response. He was proud of his new coat and chains that he had earned.

Yo-yo said, “Well, I guess now that the training is over, all that’s left is to do it.”

After the speech from the commander, that was similar to the previous one he had heard, all the newly graduated cadets marched out to the cell wall to the cheers of onlookers. The doors opened and quickly swung shut behind them.

Outside the thymus, Zoe found a quiet capillary to open his envelope which contained his sealed orders. It was addressed with the moniker “Roving bag of cells” and his name in red  “WHITE CELL # 354,675,888 – ZOE JOEY”

It read: “Your mission is to patrol the body -- resist any infiltrators and help restore any damage done. Identify and eliminate foreign agents – be they bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxic chemicals, or cancer cells – with precision and speed. Use your keys!”

Zoe smiled and thought to himself, That’s just what I’ve been trained to do. All his former fears were now replaced with only one gut feeling – destroy the enemy. But he would have to work with his other white blood cells as he had been particularly trained to destroy certain enemies that had locks that fit his keys.

Zoe flowed back into a main artery and was soon carried away by the bloodstream to parts unknown. Zoe spun around dizzily tumbling over the other travelers on the bloodstream until he got his balance and started to move forward with purpose – on the prowl for his first kill.

It was dark and noisy inside the blood vessels. It was a river of incessant movement. Always the constant beat of the heart and sound of the lungs taking in air could be heard in the background. A faint red light grew brighter and brighter as traveled closer to the skin.

***

 

At the cell lining of the stomach a red corpuscle would sometimes come by to collect garbage, other cells delivered oxygen balloons, some gave water bottles, or natural sugar treats to the cells for energy; occasionally, a well-dressed hormone wearing an overcoat and carrying a briefcase hurried by on a business mission.

On the wall, two muscle cells with the character of proper English gentlemen, were deep in conversation. 

“I say there, Lawrence ol’ chap, how’s it going?”

“Splendid thank you, Dudley. And you? How’s is your metabolism level today?”

“ Not bad, but my sugar level is a bit low. Can you help me out with that?”

“Certainly, here you go,” Dudley said as he gave a cup of brown sugar to Lawrence.

“ How kind of you, thank you. Oh, by the by, a messenger molecule dropped by today and delivered a message for us that I need to pass on.” Lawrence said as he handed an envelope to Dudley.

After reading it, he remarked, “Sounds like Joey is working hard and he needs some more energy. Let’s see what we can do.” Soon were heard the sounds of energy being produced and released in muscle contractions.

Not far off, unseen by these cells, a gang of red robotic viruses roamed through the body wreaking what havoc they could -- tearing cells walls they passed trying to inject them with their poison to take them over. They looked as fierce as any band of villains from a superhero comic book. Most of these ‘baddies’ were carried away by the blood stream. But some hung on, or found a quieter place in the body where they could look for some innocent cell victim to vandalize.

But these viruses did not have free reign to rampage at will. Some were caught and destroyed by policemen. The battle was taking its toll on the policemen as well as they staggered a bit after making a kill.

Some viruses were eaten by macrophages, which is short for ‘big eater’. Their favorite diet was viruses and they were being well fed. Some of them burped and left what was left of the virus that was indigestible as a marker for a proper ID to be done of the intruder by other white blood cells who passed by.

 One virus in particular, whom we will call ‘Mr. V’ because he was wearing a large ‘V’ on his suit with smaller V’s on the rest of his suit, stalked in the shadows.

He was hiding from the police and macros. He ran and waited behind a bone to remain undetected. He thought to himself,

I better get into a cell before I get eaten by one of those fat phagocytes.

Then he spotted Lawrence and Dudley. Hey, there’s a likely host now.

He floated along until he landed on Lawrence’s cell wall. At this inopportune moment, Dudley was busy doing what muscles do and didn’t notice what was soon to transpire.

Lawrence felt the bump and was irritated. At first he thought it was just a red corpuscle that had knocked into him by mistake, but then after getting a better look he realized in horror who his unwelcome guest was.

“You must be a virus! Get away from me, you fiend. I know all about your dirty tricks.”

In his robotic voice, Mr. V. said, “That is correct - a very vicious vituperative virulent virus to be exact. …Do I scare you?”

“You’re not going to get away with this. Soon the lymphocytes will be out patrolling and will apprehend you..you…you fiend!”

“Not if I become you.”

Lawrence called out in desperation to Dudley, “Call for help, will you?”

But it all happened so quickly that Dudley was oblivious to his neighbor’s plight. Mr. V began a sing-song chant, “Must infiltrate! Must penetrate! Must duplicate! Must triplicate! Mass replicate! Must infiltrate! Must penetrate! Must mass replicate!”

Mr.V pulled out a large hypodermic needle and injected Lawrence with a load of his toxic contents – a million small V’s waiting to be born. 

Lawrence was fading fast,“ What are you doing to me?

“Oh, nothing. Just making millions more little viruses to take over that cute little boy Joey!”

“Not…the…injection?…Not the…I am …a virus factory. I am a virus factory. “

Lawerence’s voice changed from a polite gentleman into a zombie hypnotic robot monotone. He changed color from a bright red to a sickly greenish yellow. His cell surface began to pulsate. Strange clunking noises began inside the cell. The disturbance alerted Dudley to see what was happening. Outside the cell, the remains from Mr. V were carried away by a sudden current from the bloodstream.

Just then a policeman with a nametag identifying himself as “Officer Patty O’Brian” was patrolling his beat. At first he passed by the muscle cells as he usually did. But then Officer Patty noticed the strange color of what used to be Lawrence and decided he better check it out as something looked suspiciously out of place.

Dudley was relieved to see some help coming, “Hello, officer. I’m so glad to see you. Could you have a look at my friend here? He doesn’t look so well.“

Officer O’Brian began his routine questioning, “Good day to you, sir. How’s it going? Is there some problem?”

At first the former Lawrence maintained his proper English accent for appearance, “I am very well, thank you, kind sir.” Then he broke into a song that gave his true condition away and sounded more and more like the robotic tone of Mr. V himself. ”Good bye. Farewell. Auf Wiedersehen.  Nice seeing you. Farewell. Arevederci. Chiao. Salamat jalan. Adieu to you and you and you and you and you and you.” He kept repeating the last line again and again until it slowed and then came to a complete stop. 

“You know, you don’t look very well, and you aren’t speaking our language either. Where are you from, anyways?” The infected cell now began to expand greatly. Officer O’Brian pulled out his radio and frantically called headquarters

“We got a situation here. An infected cell here is about to blow. My position is CharlieBravo709er – lower end of the stomach lining --muscle tissue. Send some back up here quick and pump out some hungry antibodies- yum yum time! It looks like a job of Mr. V. Over.”

Just before the cell exploded, Officer Patty managed to affix a small V on the outside of the cell for identification.

Just then the hijacked cell exploded sending many smaller viruses out dressed as mini Mr. V’s. They ran around in robot fashion. Officer O’Brian tried to throw hoops on as many as V’s as he could to slow them down. 

He shouted into the radio, “He just popped. We need reinforcements. Got a whole slew of V boys here for you to eliminate. Over.”

The baby viruses had the same ugly smirk on their faces that Mr. V wore. Officer O’Brian was still defiant though he was losing his fight to sheer numbers, “You vile virus villains! You’re gonna’ die!”

The V’s tried to escape to infect other healthy cells but were slowed down by the hoops that constricted their movement. There were so many of them that Officer O’Brian couldn’t stop them and they soon began to engulf him as a group of piranhas or killer ants do to their prey. He was getting weaker by the minute. He spoke into his phone again.

“I’m feeling weak, don’t… know how long… I’ll be able to hold on…Send reinforcements…Roger.” His voice trailed off.

Yo-yo was the first one to pick up the officer’s distress call. He was soon on the scene to see what had happened. By now, most of the V’s had fled the scene of the crime but some fragments and the ‘V’ marker that Officer O’Brian left before his demise were left. This was all Yo-yo needed to ID the invader.

 Yo-yo radioed his buddy Zoe filling him in on what had happened. Zoe soon arrived at the scene and picked up the info he needed and was off in hot pursuit of the V boys. He trailed one and found it on the surface of a new cell trying to enter and take it over. Zoe came up close and bumped his nimble receptor key into the lock of the virus. It had to reconfigure its structure slightly to fit snugly into his adversaries’ antigen* lock. *(antigen: the signalers. These are the fingerprints of the cell. They are identifying molecules that reside on the surface of cells and like fingerprints are unique to the cells that bear them.)

The lock turned and Zoe began to glow as he became activated. Once attached, Zoe injected a load of toxic chemicals into the invader, puncturing its surface membrane and causing its insides to gush out into the bloodstream.

Meanwhile, Yo-Yo was carrying one of the V’s he found at the scene that had been neutralized and brought it to the lab for analyzing and so that more antibodies could be produced that could defeat this new invader. After analysis, a sample of the virus’ antigen was brought by the messenger boys to the antibody factory.

At the factory, the samples were fed into the matrix* *(matrix: something holding within it another object to which it gives shape or form. Die or mold, as for the face of type.)  that designed new antibodies and the machinery immediately kicked in. Soon production was in full swing.

Now the antibodies arrived to help out. They put plungers on the appendages of the viruses to disable them.

Just then, Zoe’s guardian messenger molecule arrived with a message. Zoe quickly read the missive that contained only two words ‘MULTIPLY FAST!”

Zoe began to feel funny. A mysterious change was coming over him that he had never experienced before. His cell wall began to stretch. He felt himself grow in ways he never thought possible. Zoe was multiplying! Clones of himself were being produced. The amazing thing was that each of these clones knew exactly what to do. They were soon doing it by chasing down more V boys. Each of Zoe’s clones had within itself the training and skill that Zoe had acquired.

Soon the body was a raging battlefield with many of Zoe’s comrades coming to the rescue. Besides the macrophages, antibodies, and Zoe’s clones, there was a host of other soldiers, with names too long to pronounce. Zoe was comforted to know he was not alone in the fight for Joey.

The battle raged hot and heavy. Some of the white blood cells jumped on their victims. Other soldiers shot with their lasers. A net consumed some of the viruses. There was the general confusion of fighting but within hours the V-boys were neutralized. It was not a pretty sight as remains of the fallen lay scattered about everywhere. Some of the antibodies coated the debris with a sweet

honey-like substance that was irresistibly delicious for the now glutted macrophages.

A big jolly jelly macrophage with appendages like an amoeba appeared on the scene to clean up. It made gurgling noises and kept saying. “Yum-yum --Yum-yum” as It enveloped any stray or wounded viruses and any garbage it came in contact with. It seemed to enjoy its work. One virus screamed as it was engulfed and only his tell-tale markings were spewed out for further ID’ing. The macrophage burped and then staggered off a bit drowsy.

A whistle was blown by the suppressor T’s. It was time to stand down. Their job had been done for that day. Zoe and his clones and Yo-yo retired to the spleen lounge to take a break and some much deserved R&R.

A celebration party was going on. Soft music played. Waiters brought drinks around and filled everyone’s empty glasses.

Yo-yo was sitting next to Zoe and said, “Hey, Zoe, it’s time to party and kick off our shoes and relax a little bit. “

“Yeah, until the next gang of V-boys show their ugly head.”

Yo-yo munched on some delightful hors d’oeuvres that were served, “Hey, you gotta’ love this food.”

“Yea, Joey must be eating healthy. You should see the slop they serve when he is eating junk food.”

“The music is great too.”

“Joey must be relaxed right about now. But I’ll tell you it’s no party when he’s stressed out. Operations shut down to 1/3 of capacity. Makes it hard for us to do our job.”

“ So right. Eat right, sleep right, and exercise right. I always say.”

Just then a hormone commander entered the room and everyone stood to attention.

“At ease. Good job today. Another V-boy attack has been stopped in its tracks. Thanks to the diligent work of our team. Let us raise a glass for our fallen comrades.”

Everyone raised glasses in a salute and called out, “Here,here!” 

The commander loved speeches, and he was not going to let this opportunity pass him by, “Next time it will be your turn to make your sacrifice for Joey. Truly it is an honor to serve in the corps of the immune system!”

In response, everyone clapped and cheered. 

“This will be the last time that pack of V-boys will ever deceive us! We have entered them into our Hall of Shame.”

 The commander then held high a fragment (called an ‘antigen’) of one of the fallen V-boys and inserted it into a chute that connected directly to the “Hall of Shame”. Mr. V’s photo and other pertinent info was soon displayed on the board beside his other fellow vanquished villains.

With a, “Please return to your festivities,” from the commander, the scene obligingly soon reverted back to its former relaxed atmosphere.

As he took a sip of health drink, Yo-yo nudged Zoe and said, “Way to go. Looks like we stopped another nasty virus attack.”

“Any word on what it was?”

“Yeah, lab did an ID. Turns out that gang were real baddies. Out to nail Joey dead. If we hadn’t stopped them we might all be history by now.”

“Just doing an honest day’s work - what we’re made for. Thank God that our immune system works!”

“And thank the Cell Architect – the One who made it all happen!”

The party continued for some time until the tranquility was disturbed by an alarm bell and announcement. “Bahmm! Bahmm! Bahmm”! “This is not a drill! I repeat, this is not a drill! A pack of B-boys has been picked up in quadrant 4 in the femur region. Man your battle stations! Man your battle stations!”

Red lights flashed and the alarm continued as everyone donned their gear and scurried to their positions. It was fighting time and Zoe and Yo-yo were ready and eager to join the fray!

 

Curtain opens:

Scene 1 Immune System Military Academy

Sign ‘Immune System Military Academy’ sign  hangs in front of a gym. A large poster hangs in the background. It has a sign that says”Joe” on it. See pg. 66 of “I Am Joe’s Body” for illustration of poster. There is a red arrow saying “You Are Here” There are two kinds of soliders: T’s and B’s. Each of them have a T or a B on their T-shirt. The B’s are practicing throwing hoops on dummy viruses. The B’s are practicing engulfing and chewing on an enemy target. There are instructors giving tips on how to hold a bayonet etc. There is a ramp, which has a podium. Behind the podium is a “Hall of Shame” which is a large list of enemies. Underneath each one is a number in the thousands. Each picture looks like a mug shot from a police photo. Some of the pictures could have a fake smile but with weird eyes, other mug shots are just a design.

The podium scene is reminiscent of movie “Patton” intro. A fanfare is heard and all stop their activity and come to attention. The military commander strides to the podium and speaks.

Military Commader:  Comrades in arms, it’s just in the last 20 years that science has begun to really appreciate what you do. You and I know that without your sacrifice Joe’s life wouldn’t be worth living (appropriate motions as he talks) - Fungi chewing up fingernails, slime growing in his mouth, muscles inflamed and weak - in short a book full of misery.  But now…(pause for effect) We are considered- the possible key to solving problems from arthritis to cancer to aging. (applause continues) You cadets…you white blood cells are going to go out today into the circulatory system and prove them right. Your mission is to recognize and destroy any intruder that might cause harm. That includes just about anything - bacteria, viruses, the wrong type of blood, a splinter in the finger, fungi, poisons, you name it. You stand ready to attack any invader - anything that is non-Joe.

Some of you might be scared and are worried that you might turn tail and run when you are faced with a vicious virus that wants to turn our healthy cells into sickening virus factories. But when you meet one of our dear cells turns into a mush of goo - when that time comes - you’ll know what to do. (cries of huua repeated several times) Seek and destroy all enemies!  (soldiers respond with same response) You all know your targets (pointing to Hall of Shame) Some of these enemies are easy to spot. You can’t miss them. Like this one (points to one with exaggerated features.) But some can trick you if you don’t look closely and keep your eyes open.

Most of us who go out to do battle will never return. Remember… you have to go out - you don’t have to come back. It is the highest honor to sacrifice yourselfdie for Joe.

Soliders: Yes sir!!!!

Commander: Good! Now go. And make me proud!

(The soldiers shout and form a tight formation and march off singing a military song. The sergeant calls the first line and everyone responds with the other line.

Sergeant:  Vboys, Vboys, run and hide.

Soldiers:  When we get through you will have died. 

Sergeant: Bboys, Bboys, it’s not your day

Soliders: We’ll crush you, stomp you, make you pay!

(All exit continuing to chant as they march out which fades out.)

  Joe, Joe, he’s our man. He’s the best man in the land.

Scene 2 Inside the blood vessels

Dark - Noisy sounds like a river flowing - heart pumping- faint red light that grows brighter, then sound of breathing and beating heart. There are several cells together. To stage this, have a wall with several large holes.

 The entire surface is covered with a thin material that allows the audience to see the facial features. Slits are for arms, which are in white and have white gloves. Two cells that have the character of proper English gentlemen are talking to each other. If actors have a hard time with this kind of accent they can use another caricaturized accent as long as a distinctive change can be seen after the virus invades them.

Sometimes someone comes by to collect garbage or to give some oxygen through a face mask, or to give water. They are flowing by in the same direction.

#1 Cell: (in proper English)  I say there chap, how’s it going?

#2 Cell:  Splendid thank you. How’s is your metabolism level today?

#1 Cell: Not bad, but my sugar level is a bit low. Can you help me out with that?

#2 Cell: Certainly, here you go. (gives a cup of sugar to the other cell)

#1 Cell: How kind of you, thank you. Oh, by the by, I have a message for you I need to pass on.  (handing him an envelope. Cell 2 accepts and reads it.)

#2 Cell: Sounds like Joe is working hard and he needs some more energy. I’ll see what I can do. (sounds of energy being produced and released - factory noises.)

 There are floating jelly like things and red corpuscles floating by. Another man walks in wearing an overcoat and well dressed. He is carrying a briefcase with ‘hormone’ written on it. He is walking quickly like he is on a mission. He could be humming or singing an appropriate song. Some go by with balloons (oxygen) or others with cotton candy (sugar). Everyone is going in the same direction.

Evil mood music. Viruses dressed in full body red jump suits like superheroes come in like a gang of Hell’s Angels. They make mean faces at the crowd and vandalize as they do. Most of them are carried (washed) by the blood stream away but one is caught. The viruses have a stiff robot motion. In the background some viruses like him are being caught and destroyed by policemen. The police also stagger a bit as they exit after killing the virus. The virus in the foreground is wearing a large V on his suit with smaller V’s on the rest of his suit. When he talks he has a robot style accent. The healthy cell is very proper in his speech and manner.  The virus hides, runs around and waits behind a bone.

 Virus:  I better get into this cell before I get eaten by one of those fat phagocytes.

(He sticks on #2 cell like Velcro sticking to another strip. Cell looks alarmed and starts to scream. Other cell looks on in horror.)

Cell #2: You must be a virus…..

Virus: That is correct - a very vicious vituperative virulent virus to be exact. …Do I scare you?

Cell:You’re not going to get away with this. Soon the lymphocytes will be out patrolling and will apprehend you..you…you fiend!.

Virus: Not if I become you.

Cell #2: (to other cell) Call for help, will you?

Cell #1: I see what I can do. (picking up the phone)

Virus:  (in a sing-song chant) Must infiltrate! Must penetrate! Must duplicate! Must triplicate! Mass replicate! Must infiltrate! Must penetrate! Must mass replicate!  (He pulls out a large hypodermic needle and injects the cell with the contents of needle. Inside the needle are many small V’s)

Cell #2:  (begins in English accent and gradually changes into robot style) What are you doing to me? Not…the…injection?…Not the…I am …a virus factory. I am a virus factory.

(The cell changes color and V’s are shown on surface. It pulsates. Strange noises. The virus exits as it is now empty and is carried along by the bloodstream..)

Now to make millions more little viruses to take over the body!!!

(An antibody with a badge ‘B’ on him and dressed like a police officer is patrolling his beat. At first he passes by and then he gets a check and then he returns to come back because he notices something suspicious..)

Cell #1: Hello, officer. I’m so glad to see you. Could have a look at my friend here. He doesn’t look so well.

Police Officer: Good day to you. How’s it going?

Cell#2 - Virus:  (changing voice. First he tries to put on a proper English accent and then he falls back into robot style of voice like Dr. Jekell and Mr.Hyde) I am very well, thank you, kind sir. (breaks into Sound of Music style song) Good bye. Farewell. Auf Wiedersehen.  Nice seeing you. Farewell. Arevederci. Chiao. Salamat jalan. Adieu to you and you and you and you and you and you. (repeats as if a broken record and slowing down)

Police Officer: Funny, you don’t look very well.  (virus begins expanding greatly)

We got a situation here. An infected cell here is about to blow. My position is CharlieBravo709er. Send some back up here quick and some pump out some hungry antibodies- yum yum time! Over.

(Cell then explodes. Many smaller viruses come out dressed as virus. They run around in robot fashion but quickly. He tries to throw hoops on as many as possible. The hoops have “eat me” written on them.)

Police Officer:  (On the phone again) He just popped. We need reinforcements. Got a whole slew of V boys here for you to wipe out. Over.  (To viruses) You virus scumbags! You’re gonna die!

(Viruses try to escape but are slowed down by the hoops that constrict their movement.  He picks up a phone and speaks into it)

I’m feeling weak, don’t know how long I’ll be able to hold on. Send reinforcements- roger.

 (He begins to feel weaken but still holds on to rope. He could also shoot them with a red dye from a squirt gun that marks the viruses for destruction.)

(Factory noises. Instantly, several other lymphocytes and a phagocyte come. It is a big jolly jelly thing or like a Pac Man with a huge circular mouth that is snapping. It is making gurgling noises like it is hungry. It keeps saying yum, yum. He envelops the viruses. The virus screams and only his clothes are left. The phagocyte burps and then staggers off a bit drowsy. Antibodies that put plungers on the body of the viruses overcome viruses. Others jump all over them. Others come with guns and shoot them. A net or a sheet could consume the viruses. There is general confusion of fighting. A whistle is blowing.)

Scene 3 Back at the gym

 A celebration party is going on. Nice music is playing. All the lymphocytes are drinking cocktails. Waiters are bringing drinks around.

Lymphocyte: Time to party kick off our shoes and relax a little bit.

Lymphoctye 2: Yeah, until the next gang of v-boys show their ugly head.

Lymphocyte: (snacking on some food)  Hey, you gotta’ love this food.

Lymphocyte 2: Yea, Joe must be eating healthy. You should see the slop they serve when he is eating junk food.

Lymphocyte: The music is great too.

Lymphocyte 2: Joe must be relaxed right about now. But I’ll tell you it’s no party when he’s stressed out. Operations shut down to 1/3 of capacity. Makes it hard for us to do our job.

Lymphocyte: So right. Eat right, sleep right, exercise right, and love right. I always say.

(Immune System commander interrupts the party and makes an announcement.)

Commander: Another V-boy attack has been stopped in its tracks. Thanks to the diligent work of our team. Let us raise a glass for our fallen comrades. Next time it will be your turn to make your sacrifice for Joe. Truly it is an honor to serve in the corps of the immune system!

(everyone claps and cheers) 

This will be the last time that pack of V-boys will ever deceive us! We have entered them into our Hall of Shame.

 (The commander pastes the viruses picture up in a row of pictures of other viruses under a title that reads “Hall of Shame”:)

Lymph 2: Way to go. Looks like they stopped another nasty virus attack.

Lymph: Any word on what it was?

Lymph 2: Yeah, we did an ID. Turns out that gang were real baddies. Out to nail Joe dead. If we hadn’t stopped them we might all be history by now.

Lymph: Just doing an honest day’s work - what we’re made for. Thank God that our immune system works!

Lymphyocyte 2: And thank the One who made it all happen!

(party continues - singing and someone makes a toast. An alarm is heard.

Announcer:  This is not a drill! I repeat, this is not a drill! A pack of B-boys have been picked up in quadrant 4 in the femur region. Man your battle stations! Man your battle stations!

(Alarm continues as everyone scurries to action.)

AIDS KILLS SECTION

(the following can be preceded or followed by a discussion on AIDS)

Scene 4 back at the blood vessels:  (The battle alarm is still sounding. Some of the policemen are patrolling and two AIDS viruses jump behind a bone or some part of the body and the policemen pass them unnoticed. They heave a sigh of relief. The two AIDS viruses bump into each other accidentally and begin discussing how they entered into the body.)

AIDS #1: Hey, brother of my brother! Funny seeing you here!. How did you get here?

AIDS #2: I was wondering the same about you. OK. I’ll go first. See Joe was feeling good about a certain lady – a lady of the night if you know what I mean.

AIDS #1: You mean a prostitute?

AIDS#2: Well, if you must use such coarse words. I am trying to be delicate here.

AIDS#1: Nothing delicate about her line of work – or ours. Let’s just call a spade a spade shall we?

AIDS#2:  Right, well then – Joe made love to her and I entered Joe’s body through the fluids that are interchanged during such activity. How about you?

AIDS#1: Joe shared a needle with someone that he was taking drugs with and it was hello, Joe for me.

AIDS#2:  Man, Joe’s been really stupid hasn’t he? I guess he deserved us.

AIDS#1: : Your are right of course but let’s not be too judgmental here. We attack the innocent and the guilty. Babies are sometimes born with us - or sometimes a heath worker gets cut and we enter from an infected host that way – or sometimes we enter by way of an infected blood transfusion. (they could also say how they can not enter to dispel superstitions and wrong information.)

AIDS#1: Look, those policemen are going to be snooping around here soon. We got to plan a strategy. What are we going to do?

AIDS#2: What we always do.

Together: Look innocent and infiltrate!

AIDS#1: Shhhhh! Here comes a dumb cop now. I’ll take this one and you get the one behind him.

AIDS#1 &  #2: ga, ga, goo, goo(walking on all fours and playing baby games . Both AIDS viruses pull out a baby bottle or toys and pretend to be babies. Two policemen enter searching for viruses.)

Policeman #1: Hey, Mack. Come here. I found something.

Policeman#2: What? Another stinking virus?

Policeman#1: Na, a cute little cell. Looks kinda’ like a nerve cell. Maybe it’s lost. I better get it connected back to a neuron.

Policeman#2: I’ll help you. (They pick them up in their arms and the AIDS virus plays baby games with them until the AIDS virus pulls out a hypodermic needle and stabs the policemen in the back. They weaken and die.)

AIDS#1: Now, the fun part. Let’s dive in and begin our impersonation.

(The policemen die. The viruses put on the policemen’s coats and get rid of the bodies. The AIDS viruses now take on the mannerisms of policemen. Enter more policemen.)

Policeman#3: Hey, guys. Anything happening? We haven’t found the invaders yet – any sign of them?

AIDS#2: Nay, pretty quiet here. Maybe it was just a false alarm. There have been quite a few of those lately.

Policeman#3: Guess you are right. Well, keep a good eye open. Wouldn’t want any slimy viruses getting by us on our watch.

AIDS#1: Not a chance with old eagle eyes and me on the job.

 (the other policeman goes off. The AIDS viruses laugh together that they pulled a fast one on the policeman.)

AIDS#2: What do we do now? Kill off Joe, quickly?

AIDS#1: That’s not too smart now is it? Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, I always say. Let’s hang around for ten years or so. That will give us enough time to make more AIDS viruses and take over more of the police force. Then when the time is right, and Joe has infected someone else then we can get a free ride into a new host.

AIDS#2: Then we kill him?

 (AIDS #1 shakes his head in approval. They both say goodbye to each other.)

AIDS#2: Happy Hunting!! :

Curtain closes

 


© Copyright 2020 curtis peter van gorder. All rights reserved.

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