Rating/Warnings: G, none
Word Count: 1000
Summery: In which we learn about the time that did involve mosquitoes.
Author's Note: I'm friend locking these as I might go somewhere with them eventually, and folks that said that they wanted to look at my Mistfit Toys are now on my flist anyway. This is the next in the series of 30 prompts, each with 1000 words. "Powder" was the prompt.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Hey, Li, want to save the world again? No mosquitoes this time.
David Li stared at the text message for a good two minutes before he blinked and muttered, "I still hate mosquitoes."
Abe Cohen had been a roommate of David's in college. He was one of the few with a girlfriend. With his curly black hair, huge nose, single eyebrow, black-rimmed eyeglasses, and rail-thin build it hadn't been his looks that caught her attention. His sense of humor and sheer brilliance shone out even among a whole school filled with high school geniuses.
After school he'd proven it by making a few hundred million dollars on two businesses during the Internet Boom. That was when Abe and his girlfriend, who had become his wife, Sarah, started doing what they'd always wanted to do.
Save the world.
The first time he'd heard that phrase, David asked, "What do you want to save the world from?"
Specifically, that first time, Abe wanted to do research into how to reliably kill human disease bearing mosquitoes. Trying to find a way to kill mosquitoes carrying West Nile or Malaria was particularly desirable, but it had to be a way that would not tamper with human drinking water resources. It also needed to be easy to disperse and harmless to other insects.
The usual procedure of figuring out if there was a local infection involved capturing a pool mosquitoes, smashing them into a chemical soup, amplifying the proteins they wanted to find, and then finding them. The smashing didn't help at all with the mating habits or specific data about infected mosquitoes versus uninfected. And identifying individual mosquitoes was right out.
Abe asked David to come along as a lark. Abe wasn't sure what would be needed, but together, they started studying the genetics, sexual practices, and habitat information for the bugs. Just on the off-chance that in that sea of information they would figure something out.
In the meantime, the techs that Abe had also hired found that David was a more effective lure than their most sophisticated traps. They could put David in a mosquito net tent and the mosquitoes would just flock to him, clouds of them would gently bump against the mesh while he read a book or studied more data in the center of the tent.
David ended up taking all the anti-malaria drugs they recommended and then some, because even when he was wearing DEET and a full-out anti-mosquito netting suit, he still managed to get bit.
He itched for three months straight.
But it was worth it, as they got their samples, enough to be significant statistically when they started looking for how to create or distinguish populations of infected insects compared to uninfected mosquitoes. From that point on, even David got lost.
In the end Abe and his folks came up with a powdered chemical that allowed introduction of the infection in greater than ninety percent of a captive mosquito population. It was easily affordable, had a good shelf life in powdered form, and enabled research across the country. A solid first step to figuring out how to save the world from mosquitoes.
David found himself suddenly wanting to do something like that again. He viewed the message, and then hit the "Call" button before he could change his mind.
On the fourth ring, David thought about hanging up, but then the phone connected.
"Hey, Li, what's up?" Abe asked, sounding as friendly and relaxed as ever. "You gonna ask the usual question?"
David laughed softly. "I might surprise you this time, Abe."
"Oh, really?" The amusement was clear on the other end. Abe rarely got surprised.
"You and Sarah putting anyone up in your guest suite until you want to leave on whatever you want to do?"
"Okay, you've surprised me. No. We don't. You want it?"
"We broke up."
"Ooooh... ouch. I'm sorry to hear that, you guys... " Abe laughed suddenly. "He couldn't keep up with you, you know."
"I couldn't keep up with him, either, not socially. I don't think I ever will," David said softly.
"Well, who would want..."
"I did," David interrupted again and then shook his head. "Sorry. I don't..."
"Don't want to talk about that, yeah. I understand. What about you coming up here, and we'll put you up for the next couple of weeks? We have the room, and I'll need your brain and hands for that time. The pool's warm now. Two weeks out, we have some folks coming to stay, so you'll have to find your own place after that, but... for now and for this job, we'd be happy to have you."
"Good. Now... what the heck are we saving the world from this time?"
Abe laughed. "How about you find out when you get here over a cup of that clam chowder and some fresh black cod?"
"That sounds like a deal. I'll be up tomorrow. I have one thing I need to do."
"We'll be ready for you."
"No, thank you, we like working with you."
"Good then. See you."
David slid his phone closed with a sigh, and put his forehead against the steering wheel of his TT. He found himself glad that his work machine was in the trunk. It was nearly obsolete for tax purposes, and the others had made a gift of it. With the stuff he had in the hotel room he was set for a couple of weeks' worth of work.
He called his financial advisor, Brad Campbell, and then drove over to drop the checks from the sale of We Get It Done off. They discussed what to do with the money. David gave him Abe's address for the next two weeks, and then discussed what he needed if David moved to the Bay Area. It was surprisingly little.
David slept one last night in his hotel room, packed everything in the morning, and then he headed North.
Copyright 2010 by Phyllis L. Rostykus.