Stories I didn’t write- Ebola House

I’m writing the second novella featuring the adventures of not quite completely retired MI6 analyst Irwin Baker at the moment, (the first instalment was Tiger, gratuitous plug fans!) and some of the characters in it have been with me for years, evolving through multiple other projects.

In particular Detective Kay Wood and crime scene tech Gloria date back to a comic from 1997 called The Millennium Watch. This was going to be a crime with sci-fi series following a high tech forensics team who get involved in plots involving nanotechnology, AIs etc.. I might describe it as CSI with sci-fi, but NCIS with sci-fi might have been nearer the mark because of the number of action scenes. But neither of those show existed in ’97, so I don’t know where the inspiration came from.

I found a guy who produced the pencils for the first issue (I ‘computer inked’ them) and got it listed in the Diamond comics catalogue. Then I failed to get the funding needed for printing and the project came to a halt. I think a dozen or so photocopied versions went to the few people who had ordered them, but that was it.

It was a shame, because I had the story plotted out well ahead. The first four parter was the nanotechnology tale, climaxing on New Year’s Eve 1999. Then there were going to be stories about drive by shootings and gang wars with sub plots about an ongoing foreign conflict and xenophobes on the streets which would collide when some refugees were found to have am Ebola type disease. It may not have been Ebola I was thinking of when I planned the story, but the idea probably came from reading some of The Hot Zone.

Whatever the disease, the refugees would be quarantined in an overcrowded building and the xenophobes, and the even worse racist mob they inspired, would turn up to blockade it, keeping health workers out and making the situation worse. I think there may have been plans to firebomb the house and then have a race against time plot as the heroes tried to track down refugees- infected or not- before the mob got to them.

But, as I said, I never got past the first issue of The Millennium Watch, so I never got to write the plague house episode. I’ve recycled many of the ideas and characters from the series on the way to finding something that actually got released, but not that one. And now we have Ebola in Africa and western countries panicking about its spread. With news of New Jersey implementing mandatory quarantine for health workers returning from west Africa, it seems I wasn’t so far off in my predictions of the reaction to an outbreak, either.


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