Plague 2020 (continued...)

Plague 2020 (continued...)

A Story by Lea Sheryn

A plague epidemic appears in San Francisco and spreads around the world.


Plague 2020




Waking up in a cold sweat, Ivy Masterson pulled her plaid quilt with her as she rolled over in bed.  It must be the flu, she thought to herself as she coughed into her pillow.  It had been going around.  Trouble and bother�"dealing with an illness hadn’t been on her agenda.  In fact, sickness was never on anyone’s agenda.  For Ivy, it was the height of inconvenience.


Sure she had had a slow start getting her life together.  Since her move to San Francisco, things had suddenly taken a turn upwards.  Landing her first job at a small but popular dress shop in Union Square, she was supposed to start that morning.  Her clothes were all laid out in the bathroom.  Panties and bra on the vanity counter, dress hanging on the shower rail.  How could she call Maureen Tapper, the owner, to tell her she was unavailable on this day of all days?  It was impossible; it meant starting on the job search again.    


Ivy was a big girl�"six feet five inches in height, two-hundred and seventy pounds�"and built like a brick.  Her size and strength were intimidating for a woman.  Along with the gruff quality of her voice, she had the ability of turning many people off whether in the relationship area or in landing a job.  Any attempt at femininity was a losing battle although she put a lot of effort into moderating her tone and making her shape a little more appealing. 


San Francisco had been an open door for someone in Ivy’s position.  Wasn’t it an all-inclusive city?  Life had always been difficult for Ivy.  It was all about personality with her.  In her younger days, no one had understood her, not even her parents or her younger brother, Oliver.  Finding her place in the world had led her to the City By the Bay.  Landing an interview and then acceptance by Maureen Tapper had been a step in the right direction.  Now it was gone in a puff of smoke or, rather, a cough in a pillow. 


Born Ivan Geoffrey Talbot, he knew he was different from the other boys he in his life.  He was clearly unlike his brother, Oliver, who was all boy from the very beginning.  Ivan had no interest in playing football or with trucks in the spacious backyard of the many places his family had lived during his childhood; he wanted Barbie dolls and to dress up in his mother’s clothes and shoes.  How his mother worried and his father scolded when they caught him putting make-up on in the bathroom.  Oliver simply ignored him and tried not to acknowledge the boy who went to school in girl’s clothing.  They did everything they could to “normalize” Ivan, but nothing worked.  He wanted them to come to grips with him being who he was. 


Life could be difficult for Army Brats under more normal circumstances.  Moving from pillar to post every three to four years meant a new base school and a whole new set of friends.  Occasionally the two Talbot boys would meet up with children they had known in various places amongst their world travels.  When they did, rumors would begin to flow the moment they set foot in their new place of learning.  Being different in a military setting was difficult in the best of times.  Ivan endured all the endless teasing and not so funny pranks that were repetitively played on him while Oliver kept his distance.  When he reached high school, all he could think about was breaking away from an insufferable situation to escape to a place where he was understood. 

The facts were the facts.  His father was too important a man to have a son who wasn’t a son.  Retired General I. Jeff Talbot had a reputation to keep; his life must be without blemish.  While Oliver was the perfect replica of his father, Ivan was the zit on the family’s backside.  It was obvious, despite the prompting he received from his father, he wasn’t going to follow in the paternal footsteps.  Best leave that to Oliver who was happy to plan for a military career along with many of the other boys and girls in his class.  Ivan had to become his own person.  When he turned eighteen, Ivan settled everything for the family.   Leaving home to attend Swarthmore University in Pennsylvania with the view towards a liberal arts degree; he dropped out six months into his junior year.  There wasn’t anything wrong with the school or his ability to achieve his degree; he need time off to find himself.  In time, he promised himself he would return to school to complete his education.   


It wasn’t to be.  The conflicts within himself were too great to overcome.  Without his family to support him, he drifted from place to place, picking up work where he could.  In New Orleans, he discovered a patron in Acatus Evergreen who understood him like no one had ever understood him before.  Moving into his new friend’s massive mansion was a true turning point in the young man’s life.  He was able to express his feelings for the first time and laid out the course of his life in stunning detail.  With the financial assistance of Acatus, at the age of thirty-six, he underwent a sex change operation, went through hormone therapy and changed his name to Ivy Masterson�"Masterson being his mother’s maiden name.  Alas, it wasn’t to last.  His wealthy benefactor passed away in his bed leaving Ivy alone in the world.  There was no legacy for her in the billionaire’s will and no point in facing the irate family members who wished she were gone.  As soon as she was ready, Ivy was San Francisco bound; there was no looking back.  


Ah, the City by the Bay.  Ivy thrived in the nightlife and the people she met�"people who had been in the same position she had been in and who understood the struggles of her inner conflicts.  The only thing that was missing was a meaningful career.  The job search had been long and arduous but, finally, she stumbled into Maureen Tapper’s boutique.  After filling in an application and going through the interview on the spot, she was hired with no questions of her past touched upon.  Happy to start the next day, Ivy went home to her small apartment and prepared for her first day of work.  Feeling a little woozy from the activity of the day, she stumbled into bed at one o’clock in the morning.  She woke up sometime in the night feeling miserable.  Thinking it was the flu, she felt the deep disappointment of having to phone Maureen in the morning to beg off from work.  Not the way to start a new career. 


For five days, Ivy tossed and turned in her blankets racked with intermittent fever and chills.   On the sixth day, a small round bubble appearing underneath her left breast.  At first she didn’t understand then it occurred to her that it must be a side effect of her operation.  No big deal.  Once she was well enough, she would see a doctor to have it looked at.  The next day, a second bubble appeared on her groin.  On the seventh day, Ivy Masterson was dead. 


By the end of the following week, the lead stories on all the San Francisco newscasts declared nine people, all a part of the LBGTQ community, had died of the plague. 


Chapter One


Plague.  The word hung in Lt. Col. Oliver Talbot’s mind as he contemplated the classified memo he had received that morning.  Stunned by the word “plague”, he sat on the edge of his chair to consider what he knew about the disease.  The illness consisted of three differing types: the bubonic plague that infected the lymph glands and named for the bulbus that grew beneath the armpits and on the groin.  The pestilence was transmitted through the bite of fleas by the regurgitation of infected blood into the veins.  The Septicemic variety occurred when the lymphatics drained into the bloodstream, causing clots throughout the body.  And, finally, pneumonic plague takes place when the lungs are infected.    


The news broadcasts around the world were alarming: the plague was rapidly spreading through San Francisco.  Its first appearance was in the LBGTQ community with the death of nine people; now it was moving into the general population.  In the City by the Bay, thirty lives had been taken by the disease with a hundred and fifteen quarantined in the local hospital.  Additional plague cases began appearing in New Orleans, Seattle and Key West in the United States, Liverpool, Lima, Marrakesh, and Hong Kong on the world prospective.  The word Pandemic was unofficially spoken about behind closed doors.  How long before John Q. Public started to use it on a common basis was a matter of question.  If the disease continued its speedy spread across the globe, it wouldn’t be long.


What had suddenly caused the unexpected occurrence of the Plague?  It was a question the Intelligence community had grappled with over the weeks since the commencement of the disease.  Starting with the port of entry in San Francisco, it had entered on a flight incoming from Tokyo.  At first, the Japanese had been considered as the source of the epidemic, but the theory was quickly terminated as the trail led back to Bangladesh then to Ethiopia and finally to a location in Iran where the strain had been developed then purposely spread into the LBGTQ community in San Francisco.  Lt. Col. Talbot and his team stood ready to storm the facility where the virus was created as soon as the final directive arrived by way of the Pentagon. 


Team Leader of Delta Force Squadron G, the Clandestine Operations Group, Lt. Col. Oliver Talbot commanded a team consisting of Major Alberto Gonzalez, Master Sergeant Emil Hollister, and three Sergeants, Bud Cassidy, Tyrone Jones, and Carl McMillian with McMillian being the newest in the group having been recently recruited from the Rangers.  Capable and determined, they were each warriors focused solely upon their duties.  A member engaged for Delta Force training at Ft. Bragg must be twenty-one years of age and a U.S. Citizen; an Officer at the rank of captain or major must accomplish twelve months of successful command, complete advanced courses and be a college graduate with a B.A or a B.S.  while NCO’s must rank as an E5-E8 sergeant with four years minimum service/2 years active duty remaining, a passing SQT score in primary MOS (Military Specialty) with a minimum GT (General Technical) score of 110.  They must pass a HALO/SCUBA physical, have Airborne Qualifications, pass security checks with no history of disciplinary action, and pass a rigorous physical fitness test.    


“Plague, that’s a tough one,” Major Gonzalez’s voice broke the silence as he burst unannounced into the space Talbot was using as a temporary office while he awaited final instructions.  Sgt Jones entered on his heels.  No matter how many missions they were sent on, it was the waiting that seemed to be the hardest part.  Although each step in their operation had been formulated and approved by the Pentagon, they couldn’t proceed until they had the approval of the President.  So they waited in an undisclosed location until the final call came through.


“Does anyone know someone, a friend or family member, who has it?” Tyrone Jones asked.  The response was negative.  Although they were all trained to keep their private thoughts out of their assignments, Oliver felt it was good if no one on the team was affected on a personal level by what they were about to do. 


However the vibration of an incoming text message did turn Lt. Col. Talbot’s attention to his private life.  From his mother, it simply stated: “Hank arrived 1340 hours.”  D****t!  Where had Elizabeth gone this time?  Why did his wife feel she was free to go off with her clique of girlfriends every time he was sent off on an assignment?  At least his mother had enough sense to let him know where his son was.  How many times in the past had he found himself in a situation where he didn’t know where his only child was?  Was the child with one of his grandmothers? a friend of Liz’s? or was he with the wife of an enlisted man his spouse had convinced to watch the boy?  Spending time searching for the whereabouts of his only child should never be a top priority for a man on a mission.  Finally after once finding Hank in the care of a thirteen-year-old daughter of an enlisted man with transfer orders, he had put his foot down.  If the woman had to disappear, the child should be left with one of his grandparents and no one else.  And his mother was given orders to message him if Duff was with her which she did…way too frequently. 


The marriage had been a mistake for the get go.  Elizabeth Ann was the second of General Thomas Amberley’s three daughters.  According to his mother and father, she was highly suited to be the wife of an upcoming Army Officer; they approved of a relationship between their son, Oliver, and their long-time friend’s daughter.  Oliver, however, wasn’t interested; he had someone else in mind�"someone he believed was even more qualified.  Nicola Prescott�"beautiful, charming and with a calming personality�"was the woman he had fallen in love with.  Meeting her by chance on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, they had hit it off instantly.  They met several times in different European settings before he made up his mind to marry her.  Finally introducing her to his mother and father, he announced their planned engagement. 


Although cordially accepting the proposition in the presence of Nicola, his parents had other thoughts in mind.  They intended him to marry a woman well versed in Army life, not one with no apparent connections.  His life was too rigorous for the inexperienced.  Liz Amberley was a much better choice.  After listening to all the reasons Nicola was unsuited, Oliver informed her the marriage was off.  His heart was heavy, but he courted Liz and asked her to marry him.  Within six months of the wedding, they were expecting a child; a boy.  Since there had been an Ivan or an Oliver in the Talbot family for generations, he anticipated naming his son accordingly.  The shock set him back, when his wife gave birth while he was away on a mission, to discover she had named the child Duff�"her mother’s maiden name.  He knew, in his heart, that it had been done for spite.  After a night of heated argument, he declared that the child would be known by his second name, Henry; the nickname Hank was adopted when the boy began displaying a rough and ready personality.  


The marital relations between Oliver and Elizabeth Talbot ceased after the birth of Hank.  Liz went her way while Oliver put all his energy into his career.  They shared a home and a child but that was where the line was drawn.  When he bumped into Nicola Prescott in a hotel elevator, he was pleased.  It wasn’t long before they began meeting up in clandestine places, mostly after he had completed a tough assignment.  All he had to do was text Elysian Fields to her and Nic would arrange a meeting place.  Dear sweet Nicola�"she was kind, generous and never questioned him or expected him to do anything he couldn’t achieve.  How he wished he had pledged his life to her instead of caving to his parent’s wishes and linking himself with Liz. 


Once the current assignment was complete, he was on his way to Naples to meet up with Nicola.  Firmly ensconced in the military life he was brought up in, Oliver led an exceptional life and attempt to keep his outstanding image as an officer as clean as he could manage.  However, he was still human and not infallible; there were things he needed, emotions he felt that Liz could never comprehend.  Nicola understood him; he needed her.  Although his relationship with her was as clandestine as his mission, he wouldn’t have made a different choice.


“Colonel?” the voice of Master Sgt. Hollister broke into his personal thoughts.


“Yes,” Oliver responded, dropping his feet to the floor from where they had been propped on his desk. 


“The European Union has just enforced a travel ban.  No one in or out of any EU nation for the duration of the epidemic,” Hollister exclaimed.  “A similar ban will be in effect for the US by the end of the day.  This thing is spreading and spreading fast.” 


“Thank you, Sergeant,” Talbot state with a tone of dismissal in his voice.  Without a word, Hollister departed followed by Gonzales and Jones who had been standing ready for orders. 


Oh dear God, Nicola, Oliver thought as he leaned back in his chair and templed his fingers beneath his chin.  How he hoped she hadn’t reached her destination in Italy before the EU declared it’s travel ban.  It would kill him if anything happened to her, particularly after the distress he had caused her over their breakup.  Liz’s name never entered his mind. 

© 2020 Lea Sheryn

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Sounds novelous. What a write. Interesting indeed to kill off your 1st main character as a prologue I have found you have quite a knowledge of things that are inner such as the motives behind the thoughts and actions This is where the real story is isnt it? And you have a profundity of knowledge to complete with details. A very interesting narrative at this time of upheaval only adds to the realism of what i conclude happened in the past. Really splendid story with an exemplarary narrative. Intriguing realistic writing so well done. WOW
Thank you for the honor of reading this work I stand corrected noticing it says plague 2020 but this totally reads as historical to me set me straight

Posted 1 Month Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Possibility of a great tale here. You have a story line and interesting characters. Always read aloud if you can. Can catch the error. Keep writing and I hope to read more.

Posted 1 Month Ago

a reminder of the plague of 20/20,,or even 1918 either way we are still there
great piece,

Posted 1 Month Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lea Sheryn

1 Month Ago

It never ends

1 Month Ago

when we make it to heaven it will
Lea Sheryn

1 Month Ago

Everything will be perfect in heaven
This really caught my attention. Thanks for this

Posted 1 Month Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lea Sheryn

1 Month Ago

You're welcome!
Sounds novelous. What a write. Interesting indeed to kill off your 1st main character as a prologue I have found you have quite a knowledge of things that are inner such as the motives behind the thoughts and actions This is where the real story is isnt it? And you have a profundity of knowledge to complete with details. A very interesting narrative at this time of upheaval only adds to the realism of what i conclude happened in the past. Really splendid story with an exemplarary narrative. Intriguing realistic writing so well done. WOW
Thank you for the honor of reading this work I stand corrected noticing it says plague 2020 but this totally reads as historical to me set me straight

Posted 1 Month Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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4 Reviews
Shelved in 3 Libraries
Added on June 12, 2020
Last Updated on June 12, 2020
Tags: Thriller, military, plague


Lea Sheryn
Lea Sheryn

Sarasota, FL

I love to write! To have the ability to put words together to express myself is an ability that I cherish. Working for years to strengthen my talent, I am a self taught Word Weaver. Up until now, I.. more..

Plague 2020 Plague 2020

A Story by Lea Sheryn

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