Daniel was a scientist, and that's what he blamed when he was mean to his wife. He just figured she wasn't logical in the way she talked and he hated when things weren't logical.
But he also didn't think he had been like this before the epidemic. Specifically, he hadn't been like this before the vaccine.
They had rushed it to market and his lab had been one of the 500 employed to reproduce the vaccine to a large enough scale to administer it to the whole world. And so partly because of him, three years ago, the whole world received this little, weak virus now surging through their veins, keeping them from getting a slightly worse than normal version of the flu.
And ever since then he had been randomly snappy with his wife. He'd get into these moods where he'd be totally judgey of her. She was so illogical. He hated it. But had he always been like this? He didn't think so.
But the other day he saw a coworker snap at another one unjustly, and this got him wondering if maybe this was a problem with himself, not his wife.
His wife had felt a little snappier back too. And so did his colleagues. I mean, they still didn't do anything that someone could pin down as being "wrong," but perhaps there had been a slight shift in of him that blamed the world for not being the way he wanted.
Yesterday his wife had said, "You never used to be so mean." And that's what he was thinking about as he put his eye back to his microscope. It had been a while since he had looked at pre-vaccine, filtered blood but he came to work this Saturday specifically for that. When they filtered the blood it took out all of the antibodies that this battlefield world had forced our bodies to produce. Filtered blood was a beautiful sight. He enjoyed watching the perfect, round lozenge-shaped cells squeeze around each other, always bouncing back to their original, beautiful shape. They seemed to act differently somehow when they were in regular, everyday blood, surrounded by all the anti-bodies and junk that were now in the human race's blood.
Watching purified blood often put him in a trance and it was in that state that he did his best thinking. It was almost like prayer for him, looking at the blood as pure as the day the creator gave it to them, and letting it bring to mind whatever thoughts it would. It was beautiful. It was during this time when he remembered the wonderful dinner his wife had made him the day before. And he thought about his father and resolved to call him on the way home. He also just thought a lot about his dreams of making this lab a place where all his employees felt respected and found joy.
An hour had passed when he finally lifted his head from the microscope, a tear of beauty blinking from his eye. He sighed, sat back and was happy.
His phone buzzed and he saw a text from his wife, "What time are you coming home for dinner?"
He picked up his phone to respond when all of a sudden he thought, "Why is she always trying to control me?"
It startled him how different it was to the pure, blissful, generous, meditative moment before.
A hypothesis hit him. He slowly, pensively, put the phone down on the desk and his eye approached the microscope. Without even having to look, he reached over to a test tube, unstopped it and sucked a bit up with the tiny turkey baster pipette. He kept his eye in the microscope as he deftly inserted a tiny drop of the vaccinated blood into the purified blood. He saw it spread out and fill the space like food coloring would in water. And he waited.
And only because he had spent so much time watching healthy, unadulterated blood for the previous hour, did he recognize something was wrong. He realized the healthy cells were separating slightly from each other at random times. Several next to each other would suddenly be divided from the rest of the group, almost like a river pushed its way between them.
He suddenly saw it happen again. How had no one else recognize this happening before? So weird. He clicked his microscope over from 100x to 500x and looked at the stripe where the cells were divided. And that is when he saw it. An almost transparent membrane, only visible at the edges, in the shape of a microscopic worm sliding between the blood cells, pushing them apart. And wherever it brushed against, the blood cells got ever so slightly shriveled for a moment. How had the vaccine of near-dead viruses become this horrible parasite?
Without a chance to think, he pressed down with the tip of the pipette and against absurd odds, somehow pinned the near invisible worm to the petri dish. The cells on the edge of his view were jostled and he realized this was from the invisible tail writhing back and forth.
The way this moved among the blood cells felt exactly how his own new selfishness came and went inside of him. And he imagined the effect it probably had in the brain.
He realized right then that he and all the human race had a disease, a self-introduced parasite that made them care for themselves more, and for others less.
He may not have known how to exhume a parasite like this. Something like this would be near impossible to get out. But now he realized it was there and knew that when he wanted to be mean and judgmental, it was not the way the creator had made him. It was something else operating within him. And only by knowing the way he was meant to be could he recognize it when the parasite was speaking.
And he had only recognized that because he had spent so much time basking in the glorious perfection of the purified blood.