Reading the news over the past months about the Ebola virus, I can’t help but identify even more strongly with the predicament of my protagonist in Way of the Serpent. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Jenda Swain’s flight from Costa Rica arrived at the Dallas airport right on time. Jenda was surprised to see how crowded the international terminal was. “I wonder what the holdup is?” she asked herself. And then she almost panicked; what if the international corporate police had caught wind of their plan and were searching bags? “It’s okay,” she told herself, “as long as you stay calm and don’t attract attention.” As she got nearer the gateways, Jenda saw that they were not inspecting bags, but rather scanning people with an infrared device. She felt relieved. “Do you know what’s going on?” She was now relaxed enough to speak to one of her companions in the slow moving queue.
“It’s the IHA – that blood disease, the hemolytic anemia. Well, I think they’re calling it VHA now that they know it’s a virus. It’s been spreading like wildfire. How long have you been out of the country anyway?” her companion responded.
“I didn’t think it was contagious,” Jenda said, “Why are they screening us?”
“Well, now they know it is contagious,” the man replied, “although they’re still a long way from understanding how to deal with the virus that’s causing it. Lots of cases in Mexico and Guatemala, so all passengers from anywhere in Central America are getting screened.”
Jenda thanked her fellow traveler for the information. “Well, here’s something else I could worry about,” she said to herself, “but let’s just say I choose not to.”
When Jenda finally passed through the screening device, she noticed that several people had been pulled aside and equipped with face masks. A gloved and masked physician wearing a Pharmakon uniform was speaking with them. “I am not going to worry about this!” Jenda told herself again.
Riding in the autocar back to her apartment, Jenda gave her grandmother a call.
“Oh, I’m so glad to hear your voice,” Granny El said. “I’ve been worried about you, you know, what with this VHA thing beginning to get all out of hand. At least I was glad you were in Argentina rather than Central America – it’s really getting bad there!” Not worrying about viral hemolytic anemia was getting harder for Jenda.
WATCH FOR publication of Way of the Serpent on Amazon in early 2015!