The morning was warmer than usual, the breeze was blowing, rocking the trees and shaking the waters of the lake. On the shore, the small fleet of small boats for trips was reactivated, ready for couples, families or fools, hoping to catch one of the hundreds of trout that populated its waters, but who were too smart to be caught with crumbs or rubber lures, to board them to sail the crystal-clear waters.
Not far from the shore, in one of the games in the park, Beatriz and her sister Helena were rocking on the swings, using their legs to propel themselves faster and faster, going around the water as if they were the blades of a rotor.
-Stop that now! -Alicia shouted-. Or I won't bring you back.
-You're a boring Ali -shouted Beatrice as her voice came and went with the swings.
-Get down from there now! -After shouting this, Alice suddenly fell back to the ground, convulsing violently, arching her body, her feet resting on the ground while her crown supported the other end and the back of her hands with her stiff arms supported her, her body arching and whipping against the grass, again and again until it became stiff in an arch, while her face formed a grotesque grimace.
Beatriz, the older of the two girls, got off the swing and after seeing her babysitter squirming on the ground, she ran to the booth where the park guards were, while Helena screamed and cried inconsolably for help next to Alicia.
A few yards from the guard post, Beatriz felt an intense burst of pain in her skull, which seemed to spread all over her back, after which she also fell onto the grass, writhing frantically, until she was as motionless as a log with her arms and legs stiff and her head stretched backwards, with her mouth and eyes wide open, as she emitted a horrible, gasping grunt.
The guards who were able to see her fall immediately called the emergency services and took both of them to the hospital in the residential block, where hours later, after trying by all means to stop the violent spasms they were suffering from, the horrified doctors would see them become the first reported victims of the strange illness.
Three days later four new cases were presented, then twelve, thirty, one hundred and forty, after one month one hundred and ninety thousand people from the residential area had perished in the midst of a violent collapse of their entire central nervous system, followed by cardiac and respiratory collapse.
Ignorant of the means by which the disease was spreading or how it was acting on the body, the doctors were forced, only to provide strong painkillers that would reduce the agony of those infected while they waited, the irremediable outcome.
The cause of the disease was discovered a little more than a month after the beginning of the epidemic, a prion, a protein, that although it exists in the human body, in its wild state it is badly folded and once it entered the organism it was capable of modifying other similar proteins, transmitting its fold and altering the genes, having the effect of destroying, quickly, the cerebral cortex and the nervous system of whoever contracted it.
This peculiar molecular killer was named ALBUS, after its first two victims Alicia Landau and Beatriz Urich Salas. It was never known how the prion reached the ventilation system and the water of the Titan colony. Although it was believed that these were the first ways of contagion, even after the construction of new filtering systems, which managed to remove it from air and water, contagion continued, although to a lesser degree.
Ten years after the first two cases were reported, ALBUS disappeared; the number of cases gradually decreased, until it finally ceased. In its wake it was directly responsible for the death of a third of the colony's population, while a similar number appeared to be caused by the effects that the epidemic and quarantine had on society, the economic collapse due to an intense reduction in production, famine, collapse of the hospital system and public services, leading to the fall of the last colony in the solar system.
Years after the crisis caused by ALBUS, the last settlers would board the Elpis generation ship, heading for Proxima Centauri. In the hope of getting a new world to inhabit.