The Human Genre Project


Prion

In the last few moments of sleep, when the noise of cars and cats and ticking clocks were just beginning to make themselves known to the world of dreams, a thing awoke inside the man.

Its name was Prion.

Its mission was torture and murder.

Like its cousins--Mad Cow Disease, Chronic Wasting Syndrome and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease--it loved the brain of its victim. It wanted nothing more than the pleasure of turning dense, firm tissue into hole-riddled, useless sponge.

Unlike its cousins, it did not travel from host to victim via the food chain. No, it wasn't the love of a big, juicy burger that gave it a chance at wrecking havoc. It was the love of a man and a woman. The act of procreation.

It was a gift, bequeathed at conception, hidden deep within Chromosome 20.

For decades, it had waited for this moment. The man, unaware of its existence, had passed Prion's offspring to his own. A brown haired little girl with a love of flowers and puppies was awaiting the day her own mutated protein would wake.

If a protein could laugh or shout for joy, Prion would have done so. Instead, it made its first big change.

The man was no longer happy and satisfied. He was, from this moment forward, clinically depressed. He was incapable of knowing pleasure.

Prion vibrated with excitement, then forced itself to calm. This would be enough for now. In a month, maybe two, the real fun could begin.

The real fun.

For a year, two years, three at the most, Prion could play. It could replace asparagine-178 and amino acid 129 with aspartic acid and methionine. It could clog the thalamus with plaques, destroying the small gland that gave mankind its ability to dream and restore its balance.

Insomnia was coming to the man. No more sleep. Day-after-day, month-after-month, the man would not know the peace of one moment of sleep. He would be plagued with panic attacks, paranoia, and phobias. Hallucinations would haunt him. Dementia. Insanity. The humiliation of messing and wetting himself was his future.

Yes, the man would be broken, his soul shredded. He would crumble. And in the end he would be but a shell, incapable of thought or speech.

The tiny protein contemplated this for a moment. It was going to be a wonderful year or so.

Prion had but one regret.

The man would die, and when he did, so did Prion. Fatal Familial Insomnia was a fast train to hell.

Ah … but what a way to go.

Marilyn Kosmatka