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Grade
7

No one could expect World War III to be launched upon the world. Ever since the International Global Warming Reversion Act (IGWRA) had been established, most of the world had become friendly and started cooperating to reverse the effects of global warming. North Korea had stayed silent for over half a century. It was sudden… the first missile hit a city in Hawaii, USA. Everyone thought there was no way one country to could beat the rest of the world. They had no clue that North Korea had been participating in underground discussions, and forming alliances throughout the world. Soon many countries turned traitor against their previous allies. Bombs were being dropped on countries like rain coming from the sky. The world was in absolute chaos. It didn’t take long for Moscow to be hit by a North Korean Bomb (NK Bomb). The NK bomb had been designed to release bacterial spores that first infect the body and then duplicate until there was no space left in the body, causing the host of the bacterial spores to burst. It was a gruesome and horrible way to die. Most sickening, the bacteria hack the leukocytes, the very defense of the body, to attack the other immune cells, and normal cells,  leaving the person helpless as the disease finished them off.

When the NK bomb hit Moscow, the spores traveled like fleas, people were getting sick like wildfire spreading through a forest. Ekaterina Polinkova was one of these people.

Ekaterina Polinkova, or Katya for short, was a small girl the age of thirteen. She was one of the innocent people walking the streets of Moscow the day it was bombed. Like any other, she was simply going to the store to buy groceries for her parents. Since her parents worked hard from day to night at one of the many phage laboratories in Moscow, she had to buy and cook food for her two little sisters and little brother everyday. It was incredible that she could be at full energy from the time she woke up to the moment she was back in bed at night. The power of youth, one would guess. Today, however, she wasn’t so fortunate. Today, the day of the bombing.

It was December 21st, 2115. There was a terrible blizzard stirring up in the air. The wind was strong enough to turn the treetops 5 degrees from their initial point. Katya was treading through the snow wearing a thick, gray, fur coat; a pair of warm black snow pants; tall, red boots; green, cotton mittens; and a cozy, black hat. The wind harshly stuffed her face with snow, making it cold, but comfortable at the same time. Katya slowly stomped her way toward the marketplace, then she stopped, frowning slightly. She stood in the snow, staring at the sky. Time slowed down, and then everything stopped. It was peaceful and quiet for just a moment, then it went off.

She couldn’t hear it, but she felt it. The explosion slammed her through the glass windows of the marketplace and threw her across the floor and into the concrete wall, causing ripples through the ground. Now, she couldn’t feel either, the immense amount of pain made her numb. She couldn’t move, both her kneecaps and a shoulder had shattered. She lay there hopelessly staring as blood pulsed out of her arms and legs, staining the white snow; her boots; everything, as red as the wine her dad drank when he read her stories in the past. Tiny black spores surrounded her body and slowly seeped through her skin. Katya’s head started spinning, she saw her mother smiling at her.

“Katya, come here,” her mother said in a sweet voice.
“Ma…” was all Katya could say in reply, before she drifted off into darkness.

 

“Katya…” a voice cooed, “My poor, sweet Katya….”

“Is she going to be ok?” a high pitched voice asked.

“I…I  don’t know.”

Katya’s eyelids separated, forming a blur of her mom and siblings. Her mother’s cheeks were stained with fresh tears. “Ma…” Katya managed croak out.

“Katya?!” her mom yelped. She rushed out of the room, coming back with her father, who’s thick, bushy brows were furrowed with concern.

“Katya?!” he asked.

“Da…”  she whispered. Katya wanted to jump up and hug him, but she realized she was laying in a hospital bed with shattered bones. Instead, she looked towards the right. Her sister, Natasha’s hands flew to her mouth, and tears started dripping down her porcelain white cheeks.

“Tasha…” Katya breathed .

Alina, the smaller of her two sisters, flung her arms around Katya.

“Alina, where’s Dom?” Katya whispered hoarsely.

“Kah-tee.” Dom gurgled.

Feebly raising her hand to brush against Dom’s cheek, Katya smiled softly. She felt like a hundred needles were being driven into her skin. Slowly, Katya stuck her arm out towards her mom, “Help….” The darkness once again engulfed her.

Katya’s mother stared at her child, who had already developed black speckles on her skin. She turned to her husband. “Vladimir, we absolutely must do something about this!”

“Patricia…” Vladimir shook his head, “What can we do? The bacteria is going to kill her immune system!”

“Oh, come on, this is a case of bacterial infection, yes?”

“Yes.”

“Have we not worked on producing many types of bacteriophage our whole lives?”

Bacteriophage, also known as phage, is a virus that destroys bacteria in the body. In the past it has only been effective on skin infections, but in recent years phages have evolved to be able to kill bacterial infections inside the bloodstream, which happened to be exactly what type of illness the NK Bomb released. However, this evolution was at a price. Different types of phages correspond to different types of bacteria, and they became deadly when they were inserted to kill the wrong bacteria.

“Yes, but....”

“But what?”

“But… nothing, we shall check her blood right now.”

Patricia smiled. “That’s my Vladimir.”

 

Patricia and Vladimir rushed Katya to the blood testing room.

Where am I? Katya thought through the midst of her throbbing head. What is happening to me…. Am I dead? As Katya reached the testing room, black splotches were already dotting her pale skin. Patricia turned white as snow when she saw them.

“Vladimir! She’s developing splotches!”

Vladimir didn’t even flinch. “All the more reason to hurry!”

“Right!” Patricia replied, but her voice was shaking badly.

Vladimir and Patricia proceeded to wash their hands and fixated blue, non-latex gloves on them. What’s that noise? Mom? Dad?  Katya’s head was spinning, I’m sorry, so sorry, you must be so worried. It’s all my fault. Katya sighed. She felt a warm breeze stir against her cheek, and froze. Something about that breeze tugged at her heartstrings. She envisioned herself, sitting in the lush, green grass with Natasha and Alina. The sweet scent of pine was overpowered by the strong fragrance of her parents cooking. Oh what she would give to eat her parents’ cooking one last time, to feel the warm sun against her face, to see her siblings…. Tasha, Alina, I’m sorry… and Dom, little Domonick, how delightful your smile was.

Katya tilted her chin up to the cerulean blue sky, watching the fluffy cotton-like clouds float across the summer sky. She sighed. I wish I could stay here forever….

The skies suddenly darkened, and it started to rain missiles. World War III…. I had forgotten about it. Katya gripped the grass beneath her, which was now turning a sickly yellow color. She hated the world war, she hated the missiles, Why? Why did it happen? She glanced helplessly at the sky, watching the bombs pour out in thousands. NO!  Her thoughts were useless, they couldn’t stop something that had already taken place.

Vladimir palpated Katya’s skin for a vein in her left arm. He took the blood out of one closer to her hand. Pain? Why do I feel pain… am I still alive? It’s gone…

 

After taking the blood sample from Katya, Vladimir and Patricia needed to test which phages would work on it, so they said goodbye to their child, and rushed to their laboratory. They arrived without a moment to spare and immediately started testing many different phages on the bacteria in Katya’s blood. Minutes turned into hours of testing for something, anything to work. By the time they finished it was dark outside. Rain filled the skies, occasional thunderbolts clashed with the quiet, dripping sound of the rain. There was only one phage that worked on the bacteria, but it worked at the speed of a snail. By the time it could kill the bacteria in one section of the body, Katya would have already died. If only there was a way to speed it up… but there was no way to make the phage kill bacteria faster, they were hopeless.

“Whatever will we do?” Patricia leaned against her husband, her tears were pouring onto him.

“I don’t know… this illness will slowly infect all of us, and eventually there will be no one in Moscow to tell of this catastrophe.”

“Slowly… if only this stupid infection progressed slowly!”

“Wait, what are you suggesting?”

“If this infection progressed slowly then the phage would have plenty of time to kill all the bacteria infecting our sweet Katya’s body!”

“That’s it! We can’t speed the phage up, but if we suppress her immune system, it means we can save more time before her own immune system kills herself!!”

“How?”

“We must head back to the hospital to get some immune suppressors!”

In a flash they were back in the hospital, with the phage in hand. They rushed up to the front desk.

“Would you happen to have immune suppressors?” the words jumped out of Patricia’s mouth and were quickly followed up by short breaths.

“I’m afraid not…. ” The man asked, boredly resting his chin on his hand, Patricia let loose a sob,

“Please can you check? Our daughter’s life is on the line!” Vladimir put a hand on his wife’s shoulder

“There’s none.” The man looked up from his computer and sighed, “I’m very sorry, but you’ll have to find another place.” Patricia shot the man a destructive glare.

“Are you sure?” She narrowed her eyes, Patricia’s mother, Nikita, who had worked at the hospital,  had told her that the Moscow hospital never ran out of anything, including sick people.

“Yes!” The man snapped.

“A substitute perhaps?”

“Not that I know of!” The man growled, slamming his fist against the wooden desk, “Do you want me to lose my sanity?

A tiny girl walked up to Patricia, and showed her a sample of cytoxan in a flask. “This might work as a substitute.”

“By the Lord, where did you find that?”

“That’s irrelevant isn’t it, don’t you have a child to save?”

“But, you’re so small how did you know what-”

“Take it! Hurry!”

Patricia nodded her head. “Yes, I will. Thank you very much.”

“You can thank me later.”

Patricia and Vladimir rushed up the stairs and to Katya’s room, clutching the flask like a baby bird. They ran up the stairs and burst into Katya’s room

Patricia immediately ran to her sleeping daughter, she shook her shoulder gently, “Katya? Katya? Are you alive?” She whispered, Katya stirred, groaning, Patricia sighed with relief, she felt Katya’s forehead, which was surprisingly hot to touch,

“Vladimir!” She urgently called to her husband, who was in the lab, “Get the needles ready!”

Katya’s father soon walked into the room, taking quick, urgent strides, he placed a tray besides his wife, who chose a long, thin needle.

“Get the phage ready!” She told her husband, she filled the cytoxan up to the bolded line, along with a mixture of other fluids. She took Katya’s arm gently, ignoring the still growing splotches of necrosis, and swabbed it gently with rubbing alcohol mixed with a pungent smelling liquid.

“Be strong sweet! This is going to hurt!” She murmured, she lifted the needle with a shaking hand, placing it on a vein, she injected the fluid quickly and bandaged it up, she glanced up at the ceiling, now I just need a miracle….

Vladimir soon was finished with the phage, which was soon also injected into his daughter's body. They couple clutched onto each other, waiting for any signs of life. Katya coughed quietly, to both parents great relief,

“Tricia, you should go home. You must be exhausted.” Vladimir put a hand on Patricia’s shaking shoulder. Patricia shook her head.

“How can I bear to rest when my Katya could die any second?” She sobbed, burying her face in her husband’s chest. Vladimir stroked her hair.

“You have to go take care of the little ones, Tasha must be worn out.” Patricia nodded, and Vladimir brushed a tear from his wife’s cheek, who kissed her daughter’s forehead before reluctantly leaving father and daughter.

 

Quiet tweeting noises filled Katya’s ears. Birds? Am I in heaven? Katya looked down, and saw her little brother. Dom?! Dom grasped her legs. “Kah-tee!” He smiled at her. Katya felt like her heart would shatter into a million pieces.

“Dom, what happened? Why are you here?” Katya hugged her little brother, “Kah-Kahtia!” he said, pleased, “Wakie wakie!”

Wakie wakie? Katya turned around, confused, Dom happily led her around, proudly pronouncing her name. “Kah-tia! Kah-tia! Kah-ta….”

“Kah-tia!” A small voice rang, Katya groaned, her eyelashes fluttering open. She blinked, letting her eyes adjust to the dim light.

“Kah-tia!” Small arms flung around her neck. Katya gasped, it was actually Dom! She set him down and sat up.

The door creaked open, and a thin woman with porcelain skin, dark hair, and blue eyes stepped in,  a concerned look on her face.

“Mother?” Katya stammered, as two young girls and a tall man followed right behind.

“Dad! Tasha! Alina!” They all surrounded her and hugged one by one.

Katya had survived and with her survival a new vaccine arrived in the world. This vaccine cured the world of the terrible disease released by the North Koreans. With their best weapon stopped, the North Koreans were cornered and soon surrendered. Patricia was never able to thank the tiny girl in person as she disappeared soon after Katya’s miraculous recovery. After time the girl was forgotten by Patricia, but she continued being helpful behind the scenes.

The world recognized Katya’s family as saviors, giving them the 2115 Nobel Prize.

Katya never stopped being called “Miracle.”

 

State
MI
Zip Code
48109