The Blast of God.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This story is set in a biological research lab somewhere in England.

Submitted: December 09, 2014

A A A | A A A

Submitted: December 09, 2014




The Blast of God.

“It died a horrible death”.

I had my vid cam and voicer on.

“It’s only a fruit fly – John.” Dr. Chaterjee said.

The high-speed cameras were running. The other blowflies had stopped moving and had clustered as if sheltering from something, in the corner of the tank. The word fear came to me. I dismissed it as inappropriate for simple organisms.

“Its death spiral reminded me of the fascinating loops and curling patterns I’d seen in the cloud and bubble chambers in the Cavendish lab before I specialised... I was considering neutrino research then, on the Antarctic ice: pure research.

This was different. This was living material and it died horribly, ruptured by the blue fire from within it. “The Blast of God” as it had been named in antiquity.

I’d always been interested in the bizarre and unexplained. As a child I invented my own experiments. Looking back I can see how my objectivity could have been mistaken for cruelty. I discovered that my magnifying glass could be a death ray for an ant colony. I caught blue bottles in jars and experimented with how much gas it would take to sedate them and how much to kill them. Later I read those lines in King Lear and understood the words about Flies and boys and using flies for sport. But I was never sporting. I was only ever curious about the dark corners of science. Science seemed to me more night than enlightenment. But I was always curious and attracted by the outrageous and the mystical.

As a child I read avidly about Von Braun and his work at Peenemunde. Then there was the Tunguska event in 1908 and at the time I thought the massive destruction was caused by anti-matter. But what initially caught my attention was something I read in a Sunday newspaper. It was about the “Blast of God”. It was about SHC- Spontaneous Human Combustion. What I had just witnessed was the culmination of my life’s work. My work for Harvey.

That initial piece on SHC described how, from medieval times, there were records of human being consumed by fire from within. I sought out the material evidence from Victorian times to a recent case in Galway. Often all that remained of a human being was ash and charred feet. Theories ranged from those that related the condition to the build-up of acetone in the bodies of alcoholics, to the wicking effects of the clothes worn by the old or obese so that an individual burnt slowly like a candle feeding on the bodies lard. It seemed to me that none of this answered the many questions.

But I read widely and was fascinated by the unfashionable, gothic experiments of science; like Dr Mengele obsessed with eugenics and racial Aryan purity. His experiments on Gypsy twin children were without mercy. I grew interested in genetics. But then there was Rosland Franklin, that strong independent Crystallographer that should have won the Nobel Prize with Crick and Watson. So I followed Crystallography and on that path was infatuated by the double helix and the potential of genetic engineering. I wrote in the New Scientist on the potential of engineering genetic improvement on the external backbone of the double helix. The fruit fly formed the centre of my research: Drosophilae Melanogaster, where 75% human disease genes match the genome of these flies. The idea had come to me in a flash as I was tinkering with the rebuilding of my old BSA C-15 motorcycle. Much of the parts I sought were generic to the breed of BSA.  I was two years in with the project and the simplicity of the machine and the solutions that were created in its time were elegant. The machine was khaki drab, an old army surplus thing I’d found rusting in the corner of a scrap year. I roamed scrap yards like others might prowl shops in Oxford Street for the elegant and sumptuous.

“Professor Chandus. This is conclusive.”

I nodded. “You must secure the footage. Only you and I must know of this at the moment.” I said.

We had delivered our promise we had created the gene specific weapon. We could now deliver the promise to target the DNA characteristics of any defined enemy group, down to family and they would be destroyed by the Blast of God, immolated by the bodies power- turned in on itself.

Harvey had come offering grant money after my paper; dryly titled New Genetic Possibilities for the Eradication of Malaria.

“You can map the code and cause the insect to self-destruct?” he had asked.

“Why yes of course.” I lied.

That was it. He invited me to Portan Down, gave me substantial funding, a lab and a team of my own.


Dr Chatterjee nodded. “We’ve done it.” She said.

I smiled. “We’ll hold the Champagne for the moment…You go, I’ll finish here.”

I heard the air lock close behind her. Cooler outside air entered. The lab had negative pressure for containment.

I went back to the experiment tank. The room was lit now only by the lights in the corridor behind me. Then I saw it. The same eerie, blue light flashing in the darkness. In the unit I saw them one after another burning out like small things coiling out in an aerial dogfight. Soon every living thing in the tank had turned to ash. Where there was an accumulation of insects the heat had been most intense and the armoured glass was cracked. A sift of something had filtered through the split and had spread across the bench. Some must have dissipated in the air. I started to run towards the airlock. A blue light was following me. I looked at my fingers, they were, glowing, shedding eerie patterns, like scrolling, slowly growing finger nails.

For a moment I thought of my C-15. It had come to me in a flash as I was gently turning the distributer to set the timing. You aim for the zone were the piston is precisely at the correct point for ignition. I had sought then the ignition fuse within the helix for each racial and genetic type and I had found it. But the C-15 always had the off position on the ignition if things went wrong.

“It’s not quite right.” I said. “There’s a better way!” I was running now speaking into the voicer. “We should have done more with the ignition switch.”

I got through the air lock and I was free in the open air.

“It’s to be found…in…”The vid cam and voicer fell …

“So blue….so blue…” the mouth is saying; spouting fire so that even a scream is burnt from the dying agony.

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