Zero (or, The Collected Correspondence of Patient Zero)

An essay provided by Cameron Suey
Art by Justine McGreevy

Istanbul, Turkey


09:12:09 AM

I am at a small outdoor cafe just a few hundred yards from the teeming throng of a morning market, just in sight of the Bosporus. I love this city, and all its thick and violent contradictions. The rising heat of the day is already causing the linen of my suit to cling to my legs.

I awoke last night with a change of heart; you are owed an explanation, and even a warning. If I do as I have planned, I and my actions will be vilified, and misunderstood. Please believe me, I am doing this for all the right reasons. You may not see it now, but in ten or twenty years, you will see a new world born. That is worth any sacrifice, and my good name is no sacrifice at all. It is worth nothing to me now.

I have done my work here in Istanbul, the first of many great cities to see, and I board a plane tomorrow. Don’t bother looking for me here.


I have left you something. One last breadcrumb, woven into these letters. It may be the key to your salvation. If you find it, it will set you onto the path to the cure. You understand that I can not just hand it to you; that would defeat my whole purpose. Believe me when I say that I want you to live, but I must be strong not to undermine the grand struggle that will shape you for centuries to come.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2013 collection.

Patient Zero is a caucasian male, aged 50-60, who passed away at San Francisco General Hospital of the PZRV pathogen that has since appeared in many major cities. The collected letters he left behind were never addressed or sent, and the intended recipient is unknown. Based on the these documents, we can surmise only that he was at one point employed by a pharmaceutical manufacturer, and later worked on the creation and weaponization of the pathogen responsible for the ongoing pandemic. Anyone with any information on Patient Zero should contact the World Health Organization or the CDC.

Cameron Suey is a California native living in San Francisco with his wife (who can occasionally be convinced to edit his work, as long as it’s not too gross) and infant daughter. He works as a writer and producer in the games industry, and along with several other talented writers, won the WGA Award for Videogame Writing in 2009 for “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.” He can be found on the web at, where he writes about writing, horror, and other influences, and on twitter as @josefkstories

Justine McGreevy is a slowly recovering perfectionist, writer, and artist. She creates realities to make our own seem slightly less terrifying. Her work can be viewed at and you can follow her on Twitter @Fickle_Muse.

Author’s note: The puzzle hidden in the story is in the timecode. If you convert each listed time into 24hr formats, and then to letters (With A=01, B=02, etc.), the message reads “I lied there is no cure.”

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1 Response to Zero (or, The Collected Correspondence of Patient Zero)

  1. Jetse says:

    I love this one: nicely executed (pardon the pun) with a true mad scientist who believed in his cause until the very end.

    Well done!

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