Friday, August 08, 2008

Right about the Anthrax

This week's news has brought to mind my story "Giliad," written during the fall of 2001 and dealing with the events of that time. I opened up the file and searched on "anthrax," to find this:

The weeks that followed pulled Leslie in opposite directions: toward the fixity of the past and the lunacy of a fantasy future. She read with disbelief the mornings' news of anthrax spores mailed to TV studios and the nation's capital, with senators' offices contaminated and postal employees dead. The conclusion was inescapable: the United States was under attack by biological agents. The twenty-first century was turning out just as her teenaged sci-fi reading had predicted.

"They say it's Saddam." Trent was following the links from news reports on the spores' surprising sophistication to declarations by "fellows" at right-wing institutions that Iraqi responsibility was certain.

"Well, it certainly isn't the Taliban." The medieval theocrats who were regrouping in disarray under assaults from their warlord adversaries and miles-high bombers seemed poor candidates for the invisible attack that sent the world's superpower into panic, though perhaps (pundits mused) al Qaeda's penchant for low-tech operations staged within the target country had led them to obtain a cache of Soviet-era war germs. Such a theory did not require the hand of Saddam, but Leslie found it hard to push the reasoning further. The idea of pestilence blooming in the nation's nerve centers like sparks falling on straw left her disoriented. She did not fear for her own safety, but felt the axis of her being tilt vertiginously, a slow tipping into boundless freefall.

And, a few pages later:

By this point Trent was convinced that the anthrax attacks had not been the work of Islamic militants at all. He suspected rogue forces within the American "bioweapons community," which had secretly developed the strain of anthrax. "Even the administration has admitted that the spores belong to the 'Ames strain,'" he argued, link-clicking deeper toward the documentation he sought. Leslie found his explanations painful to listen to, and she shrank without looking at those windows he left on her screen: laparoscopic images of warblog, like lab reports of current pathology.

It seems as though my character was right.