• Project Calyptra

    by  • January 14, 2019 • Fiction • 0 Comments

    An account by an anonymous former contract worker, as provided by Rick Tobin
    Art by Leigh Legler

    Leaked Inter-Agency Memorandum: Correspondence of Manager Edward Simpson to Director P. Wallace Tyler of January 8, 2019


    Dr. P. Wallace Tyler, Director
    Advanced Invertebrate Studies Program
    Plum Island Animal Disease Center
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Plum Island Laboratories
    Southold, New York 11957


    Colonel Edward Simpson
    Manager, Special Projects Branch
    Advanced Invertebrate Studies Program
    Plum Island Animal Disease Center
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Plum Island Laboratories
    Southold, New York 11957

    RE: Request for Action on Project Calyptra

    Dr. Tyler:

    This memorandum’s purpose is to summarize details of our telecon of 1-7-19 so your directions and my understanding are in alignment. Recent accidental release of the modified Calyptra fletcheri vampire moths during the holiday break requires immediate mitigation action, but without undue alarm or release of information to the public about threats from a mutated species designed to seek out humans for feeding. The Island must not in any way be held responsible for losses on or at the Cross Sound Ferry, Oyster Ponds Elementary School, or Mason Wool clothing factory.

    You have directed that the USDA will release a statement that rat fleas have been found carrying an active strain of bubonic plague throughout the town of Orient, New York, and that actions are being taken, even during winter weather, to eradicate this serious public health threat. This will be our cover story to explain recent area deaths. House-to-house searches will be completed this week in a federal exclusion zone to ensure capture and containment. These timely actions should restrict further migration from the area around the town of Orient. We cannot, however, confirm your assumption that cold weather will confine these samples. These were prototypes for release in North Korea, where temperatures can easily exceed minus ten-degrees-Fahrenheit for extended periods. So our best hope is active hunting and elimination as soon as possible.

    A special eradication unit from Ft. Meade will lead this effort with special authority for public health response in order to bypass the process of obtaining search warrants and rights of entry. An Incident Command Center will be sited at the Oyster Ponds Elementary School as an additional measure to restrict the public and reporters from that crime scene.

    The Mason factory was burned yesterday, supposedly caused by a space heater left unattended, which ties to two similar house fires reported in the county during the storm, also caused by faulty heating systems. Coast Guard personnel scuttled the ferry, reporting that the boat drifted from its mooring during the recent Nor’easter and was lost. The Governor was persuaded to declare the town of Orient a disaster area. This will provide state funds directly for all local first responders who assist, keeping them silenced regarding any findings, at the risk of losing their state funding.

    Art for "Project Calyptra"

    There is absolutely no possibility that these eight-foot-tall specimens could mate with any known native moths.

    Island personnel from our laboratory will brief and assist Ft. Meade CBRN teams on risk factors and eradication procedures. Naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene will be provided in adequate amounts to overcome our predators. Medical support, including blood transfusion staff, will accompany troops during their forays. All reports of findings and clearing actions will be reported immediately to your offices through ALICE encrypted systems.

    All traffic coming in and out of the area will be blocked, whether by land, sea, or air. All vehicles and containers must be checked. Night patrols with special optics will also evaluate any roosting locations. You maintained your position that because of the cold, patrols will be limited, as moths will search for warm, lighted buildings, especially for feeding. At this time, we are sure that all specimens are males, and there should be no concern about egg-laying activities. There is absolutely no possibility that these eight-foot-tall specimens could mate with any known native moths.

    At your request, we have verified there are no known predators in the immediate area that might aid in removing this threat, so we are confident there will be no potential for cross-contamination of existing gene pools. Our laboratory is aware of only three samples that escaped after heavy snowfall crushed our building roof over the control facility. We found parts of one wing, so we suspect one specimen fell into the bay and never arrived at the spit near the town of Orient. This matches survivor stories describing a pair of moths attacking the ferry and later the school. We believe there is no risk to aquatic species consuming our missing sample. Searching coastal waters would not be productive. However, if remains should wash ashore, these should be quickly confiscated, isolated, and removed by authorities for return to the Island.

    A federal public information officer will work directly with the media to ensure reports of giant moths or blood-drained bodies are redacted. Local morgue and medical personnel at clinics and hospitals will be warned that this is a matter of national security in order to ensure their silence on this matter. To counter any untoward information escaping the federal exclusion zone, the public information officer will work with counterintelligence from Ft. Huachuca to provide disinformation on social media about Mothman sightings. The intent will be to create public anxiety as a diversion with their focus being that a disaster may be close at hand, similar to when Mothman supposedly appeared before the bridge collapse in West Virginia in 1967. This will be connected to a potential threat of a plague outbreak, lending credence to the bubonic plague cover story. Additional media footage will be provided, showing mounds of rats collected during the search effort. This fake video will be provided following a large-scale trapping effort on Roosevelt Island in New York.

    As for Mrs. Patterson, survivor of our laboratory assistant Ross Patterson, we will continue to provide support and aid to her, with the continued explanation that the weather-related roof collapse was the cause of his death. We will further ensure her that her identification of the body will not be necessary as he had a laboratory badge with him, but was terribly disfigured by a falling beam. She will be provided full insurance benefits and bereavement support, but will never be informed about the true nature of how her husband died during this moth experiment misadventure.

    This is my full understanding of your directions and our group’s response to your requests from yesterday’s telecon. Please know our branch will assist the Island and Ft. Meade as the cleanup operations continue. We also hope to continue our work to support this important weapon development to stem the activities of North Korea’s aggression.


    Colonel Edward Simpson,
    Project Manager,
    Project Calyptra

    The anonymous source for this leaked memo is a former contract worker at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) who was called to respond in support for local and state officials during this emergency at Plum Island. He has since left FEMA and is now working as a private contractor to reinstate the Civil Defense Program for readiness of American cities for nuclear attack from Canada.

    Rick Tobin is a retired government emergency and counter-terrorism consultant now puttering as a freelance writer, painter, and photographer in San Antonio, Texas. Scores of his flash science fiction stories are at www.365tomorrows.com. His thriller novels are on Amazon: The Curse of the 8th Buddha and Gordion’s Knot. His art is available on Pinterest, under “Rick Tobin Art for Sale.” Rick also writes safety and security guides and blogs for schools at Safe to Learn in Seattle at www.safetolearn.com. He also works part time supporting special needs patients and protecting feral cats.

    Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.

    “Project Calyptra” is © 2019 Rick Tobin
    Art accompanying story is © 2019 Leigh Legler

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