Annual Findings Report

PTA Research Foundation
Dahlia Linz
Virology Section Lab Supervisor
Suite 101 PTARF, NIH
Cincinnati, OH

Annual Findings Report: PTA Viral Origins, effects on infected humans, and projected mutations

PTA is a highly aggressive parasitic virus, airborne to approximately a two yard radius from the infected. The parasite has been documented in humans since CE 2012. The average incubation period between infection and activation is 75 hours. The parasite procreates by cellular fission, therefore the former theories that the original infection was in 2010 and the original activation didn’t occur til after hatching has been proven unsound.

The immediate effects of PTA infection are apparent after an average of 3 hours. The infected will display extreme flu-like symptoms, hence the original name, Flu X. Within 24 hours, the infected is extremely dehydrated, regardless of IV fluids. The flu-like symptoms persist until death. The cause for these symptoms seems to be the rapid multiplication of the parasites within the infected’s body. During the 72 incubation hours, the individual parasites multiply at a rate of 200% per hour. It is aggressive from the first infection, absorbing cells and tissue like a cancer, usually starting in the lungs and stomach. The key difference between the effects of this virus and those of a cancer is that, while a cancer will simply devour and destroy tissue, the virus devours tissue and changes the construction of the DNA before relocating. In 52 hours, most infected humans are catatonic, and within 72 hours, all signs of human life are extinguished.

There has been limited, incomplete research on infected human bodies after death, however there is documented evidence that the parasite causes the bodies to move. It appears that it has mutated in such a way that it begins devouring and changing the brain and spinal cord in such a way that the body will appear to come back to life, muscles move and quickly adapt to a sort of walk. General protocol is to destroy the brain and upper spinal cord by three shots to the facial area, thereby stopping the body from moving. We have found that, although the body is then paralyzed, the parasites inside remain alive.

There is reason to believe that, after the human host is fully out of order, the parasite will continue to survive for up to a year, however it loses its aggression after one month. It appears to ration the human remains for it to survive as long as possible. The next rational step in understanding the parasite will be studying the brain activity in a functioning infected cadaver. From eyewitness reports of researchers and civilians alike, the functioning cadavers eventually display signs of self-awareness and aggression towards humans and animals.


The pressure is on

Harper just called my home phone to tell me that I have to write up a report on my progress thus far. It's due next week. I hate it when upstairs wants all this damn paperwork with no prior warnings. Yeah, of course, a week is plenty of warning for a report to them, all they do all day is paperwork. But I'm down here, in the basement, doing work and I really don't have time for this crap.
All ranting aside, though, this is how I get paid and get funding for my research. Stupid bureaucracy. Paperwork will be the death of us all, possibly quite literally. 

Childhood is something to cherish

I do have memories of my childhood. I can't remember what order most of the go in, but they're there, making me who I am. I can remember playing video games with Drake in our mother's apartment. I can remember having a friend, a young girl, maybe a year younger than me, and she had a puppy and we would play in her back yard with him.
I also remember the day I grew up. My mother told me that dead things don't always stay dead. From that memory forward, everything is chronological. Everything is in strict order.
We were in the kitchen, working on supper. I was washing carrots, she was gutting a fish. I can't remember how to conversation took that turn, but it did. Those words are etched into my mind, "Dead things don't always stay dead." We had a full conversation, albeit a bit one-sided. She told me, in great detail, everything she saw when she closed her eyes. Everything she saw when she looked through windows. Everything she saw when she locked herself in her room, away from Drake and me.
To this day, I can't imagine what possessed her to tell her 10 year old daughter about those terrors. But she did.
Having Belle around has been a blessing. Yes, she's had to grow up. Yes, she's damaged, hurt, scarred. But she's still got that hope, and that persistence that I haven't seen in people as a whole since the outbreak. She is too young to remember life before this mess.
Every night, I come home to a meal. She spends her mornings studying, fixes herself lunch, then gears up and goes scavenging. It's dangerous, and I don't like the thought of her doing it, but she doesn't exactly follow orders. The truth is, she's very good at it. It's like she has radar that can see where no one else is looking and where she can find excellent stuff. If she finds something worth selling, she sells it, if not, she goes to the store and gets whatever we can afford, then goes home and cooks it right in time for us to have dinner together.
I never imagined myself as a mother. For years I've focused on vengeance against the force that took my family away. But Belle was just what I needed, I guess. She has a fresh view on everything. She has that way of thinking that so many young people have, illogical, irrational, but somehow relevant.
She was the one who opened my mind to the possibility that PTA didn't originate in humans. Of course, she thought (still believes, actually) that it was some kind of biological warfare from aliens. I wouldn't go that far, but I must admit that the possibility of a transmitted disease from another species had not been my first guess. Obviously, I had considered it once or twice, but PTA is strange. It's not just a molecule, not just a cell. It's actually a sort of parasite. A very aggressive parasite. What threw me off was that it wasn't compatible with any other animal that has historically spread diseases to humans: rats, monkeys, birds, chickens, cows, pigs, turkeys, hundreds of different species we analyzed, all the way down to house pets, when we put the PTA organism near samples of their tissue, it didn't touch them. When you did that with human samples, it gobbled it right up. But only human. I still haven't found the animal it can from, or evolved from, or whatever the case may be, but I can't see any other explanation.
So instead of PTA, Belle calls the disease the Alien Bug.
I can't imagine my life without Belle now. She is my best friend, and she calls me mom. I could do without the nickname, but she does so much for me, and helps me so much, gives me whatever I need, so I'll do whatever makes her feel better about this situation. I dread the day that she realizes that the world won't be easier when she gets older, so I try to hide the worst from her.
She's asked to come to work with me before, but I can't imagine how horrified she'd be when she saw all the bodies and parts and vials of blood. I don't want to make that memory resurface. It's hard enough for her to see me in uniform. I think it reminds her of the people who executed her family.
I wish there was an easier way to detain the undead. The way we do it is so brutal... I wish I could know what Belle was like before her world was shattered.


When you're a kid, everyone wants to know what you want to do when you grow up.

I remember being seven, and we had to write a paper for school about what we were going to do when we grew up. I stared at that paper for an hour trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I think I finally settled on writer or something like that. I never really had a plan til my brother died. A week after they took his body away, I decided what I wanted to do: I wanted to fight back against God or the Devil or whoever or whatever had caused my only blood relation in this world to die so horribly. So I started thinking, started researching. I could be a finder, researching and hunting down the undead, but that wasn't fighting the cause, it was treating the symptoms. I thought about becoming a doctor, but after some research I found that there was no treatment, not a single way to even relieve the pain of the people who were dying. That's when I realized what I wanted to do when I grew up: Become a biologist. Study the undead. Find a treatment, find a cure, and, ultimately, find the source.
I continued my schooling by mail, like everyone else who grew up around the same time I did. I worked every day, even the weekends and holidays. I worked from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed, and I ended up finishing my basic education two years early. Then I applied for special training with the government. They didn't take me the first three times I applied. I talked to dozens of different people from all over the country. Finally, I came into contact with Harper Nelson, the woman who eventually became my advocate and supervisor. At the time I met her, she was recruiting safety assurance assistants, like Jerry and Daniel.
I told her my plans, and she told me the only way she would help me is if I started at the bottom. So I took the job, moved to Cincinnati, and started training to be a safety assurance assistant.
I worked that job for about six months, every week I applied for special training. Finally, sick of filing my paperwork, Harper called me in on my day off.
"You're annoying." That's what she told me when I came into her office.
"I've just been doing my job, I don't see how that's annoying."
"Every single week, I have to file your application. Do I need to schedule you more hours? How do you have time to fill out that application, with updated information, every single week?"
I didn't know if I should tell her the truth, or make something up. I sided with the truth, "All I do when I go home every night is work on that application and study anything I can find on the origins of PTA online or in the library. It's getting difficult to find new information, though. My access to confidential is basically limited to safety protocol, and after six months of reading, I'm running out of fresh materials."
She sighed, and pulled out her stamp from the drawer in her desk. She inked it and looked at me and asked, "Why do you want this job, Dahlia?"
"Because I want to set this world right. I want to see it how it was supposed to be."
"You'd be the second youngest person to be a PTA biologist. Do you think you'll be worth my time and payroll?"
"I'm old enough to remember going to school with other people. I remember seeing actual faces in crowds, not just masks and suits. I'm only young in the sense that I hope one day to raise kids and tell them about how I worked with the team who brought them a world like that."
Harper stamped the papers in front of her. "Take these to payroll." She handed me a folder. "And take this all the way upstairs, to my boss, Lee Baker."
"Yes ma'am." I turned to walk out the door.
I turned back to Harper. "Yes?"
"Congratulations on your promotion. Make me proud."
I couldn't help but smile. "Yes, ma'am."