Over the next week, reports began to surface all over the country about incidents eerily similar to Ritchie’s. I guess that was about the time they started looking for a cause, but it was already too late. But how could anyone have known?
When they first incarcerated Ritchie (they took him to the state mental hospital for a routine evaluation – it’s only a few miles from my house), they ran all kinds of tests, including a blood screening, and even a lumbar puncture, but they just did not know what they were looking for. In the meantime, countless people were exposed to Ritchie, and they in turn exposed to others, and so on and so forth. There was no telling how many there were like Ritchie living in Compton.
It took some time, but the doctors did finally discover the virus, and suddenly pictures of the deadly bug that had managed to keep itself hidden for so long were being shown on virtually every station – pictures of a tiny, imperfect circle edged with minuscule wavy cilia. This was the culprit, the new enemy of the state, and it was spreading like wildfire. Special isolation wards were set up in hospitals, jails, and mental institutions all over the country to try to deal with the ever-increasing number of cases.
Meanwhile, authorities were still searching for the source of the virus. There were a lot of rumors flying around, but none that seemed to connect with the truth. People were starting to get edgy, and back in Compton things were starting to get outright crazy.