Pandemic Predator, a Mary MacIntosh novel
Maureen Meehan Aplin
Copyright 2010 Maureen Meehan Aplin
Her twenty-year-old body lay twisted in the center of the Medicine Wheel – a circular alignment of rocks on the western peak of Medicine Mountain in Northern Wyoming. Her long, thick, dark hair was matted to her scalp, caked with coagulated blood and other bodily fluids. It appeared that she had been raped and tortured for days before being set free from torment. Her lips, which had once been luscious and full, were grimy and speckled – as if she’d been forced to drink a cocktail of ground coffee and mud. Her face and neck were covered in odd-shaped, purple bruises, giving the impression that her ruptured blood vessels were desperately trying to escape the horror. Even her skin looked like it had attempted to detach itself from the bone. Yet, she was still breathing.
Two rangers from the United States Forest Service found her ravaged body sprawled on the twenty-eighth stone spoke of the Medicine Wheel. At first glance, they assumed that she was dead. As they approached, they noticed her chest cavity propelling out and heaving in, like a fish suffocating on air. The rangers felt for a pulse, but her veins collapsed and formed bruises the moment they applied pressure. They tried to perform CPR on her, but as they compressed her chest, thick, black mucus spewed from her mouth. They rushed her down the mountain to the nearest hospital in Sheridan, and hurled her onto the first gurney they could find in the emergency room. Nurses and doctors scrambled to find a vein strong enough to accept an IV, but their attempts were futile. The victim’s veins wiggled and collapsed like overcooked spaghetti. Blood was seeping from every orifice of her body. Without an IV, she would soon die, but no vein would hold steady. She coughed a few times – a choking, gagging cough like that of an asthmatic – and when the chunk of a clot oozed its way from her mouth, she appeared to have a reprieve. But the relief only lasted a few seconds before the gagging started again.