The Virus
or
so I hear. But you need not worry about her, you won’t be making
her acquaintance any time soon.”
    “Why is that?”
    “Well, let’s just say that
your astronomer friend is a very important person now, but if he’s
important, than this young lady is extremely important.”
    Geoffrey could not decipher
the doctor’s mysteriously dark assessment and didn’t try. Instead,
he said, “ Okay ,
well…why is everything here white?”
    “Right,” sighed the doctor, “You’re a
persistence one, aren’t you, Mr. Summons? Well, let me try to
explain it to you in as much of laymen’s terms as I can.” Geoffrey
could easily sense something of the same brand of egotism that he
had grown used to in his dealings with Mr. Reynolds, but it didn’t
chafe him nearly as much. There were more important things to be
concerned with.
    “All the lights in this entire
facility,” began the doctor, gesturing toward the ceiling, “are
virtually identical to the Cleaning Lights in the entranceway,
except they are not nearly as powerful. They don’t need to be. As I
told you before, the Cleaning Lights that you passed through when
you first entered all but completely sterilized your body inside
and out, but your body needs a large array of bacteria and other
microorganisms to function properly. It is one of the many
necessary symbiotic relationships that man has been forced to
acquire in order for us to survive our atmosphere.” The doctor
paused to give Geoffrey a moment to digest the information. “So,
besides acquiring many of these microorganisms from our
surroundings, the body itself also produces a number of them. The
lights in this room as well as in rest of the facility are to keep
these newly-forged microorganisms in check…” The doc glanced down
at his watch (also white), “…as is the sterilization shower that
I’m supposed to be escorting you to.”
    “Right, but you still haven’t told me
why everything’s white. Is it to help control
these…microorganisms?”
    “Yes and no,” answered the
doctor cryptically, “The Cleaning Lights are just one variation of
this particular technology that we were able to garner from the
foreign intelligences we’ve been studying. What you experienced
with the fragment, we think, is that technology at full blast. Now,
I’m sure you can see why it wouldn’t be very beneficial for us to
have much contact with that , don’t you?” Geoffrey nodded
solemnly. “Now, what we’ve found,” continued the doctor, “is that
if we introduce certain variables into the equation, we can get
different applications from that technology. Safer applications.”
He glanced down at his watch again. “Well, anyway, we’ve found that
certain colors…excite this particular application and increase its
power. The only problem with that is that if the Cleaning Lights
are too strong, they’ll kill off more of us than just
microorganisms. They would start actually soldering organ cells,
which means goodbye lungs, heart, brain…you get the
point.”
    Geoffrey certainly did.
    “We’ve found a few colors that cause
this reaction, but until we know how every color will affect the
lights, we think it’s best just to keep things neutral. We believe
that’s why the fragment fell near the research station where you
were in the first place. That light was intended to carry the
fragment, but the miles and miles of unbroken white landscape in
Antarctica most likely altered its application.”
    “These lights can kill us?” Geoffrey
asked, with some alarm.
    “Mr. Summons, if we don’t figure out
what’s going on here and how to stop it, the human race is a goner
anyway. And besides, like I already told you, we can’t study living
alien specimens without them. You take a risk with every breath you
draw, Son, that’s just the nature of existence. This is no
different.” Geoffrey didn’t ask any further questions, and it
likely wouldn’t have mattered if he had, because after the

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