It was a cold Monday morning when Baby Claire’s rabbit died. It had been ill for a few days and her dad had the burial all prepared. Tears were shed and dirt was shovelled and Fluffy was laid to rest. Minus one furry white foot.
Several days and a bucket of water and borax later, the foot found itself keychain bound to the dad’s set of keys. It was for Claire of course, and it would be hers one day, but at only 3 years of age, her father would be using it for some time yet.
But not that long.
Several Fluffy-less days later, the dad’s drive to work was unexpectedly halted. He was a reliable, attentive driver, never easily distracted. Usually anyway. However, on this misty morning, a small bump in the road would undo his many years of good driving. As the car bounced up from the concrete below, Fluffy’s fluffy foot fought itself loose from its keychain prison. Trousers riding up as he drove, his bare skin felt the gentle tickle of fur, creating just enough of a distraction for him to take his eyes off the road. As his gaze dropped down, a car pulled out, and the lives of all involved changed forever.
The first person on scene was a Good Samaritan who witnessed the accident as she went to pick up her laundry. She quickly raced over to the father’s car, but, so intent was she on helping an already dead man, she failed to hear the gushing sound of fuel leaking from the engine. A small electrical spark later the car, the father, the Samaritan and the surrounding area exploded up in a wonderful display of twisted metal, blood and flame.
A paramedic reaching the scene minutes later discovered the foot miraculously undamaged at the side of road, having been blasted from the wreckage by the explosion. Saddened by the scene around her, the young woman, only two weeks into her professional career, consoled herself by travelling back to the hospital one item heavier.
It did not stay in her possession for long.
After a suspiciously long lunch break, a rushing young paramedic missed a stairwell step and enjoyed a short, sharp drop and broken neck. The rabbit’s foot was found, and kept, however, by a notoriously brilliant and well-liked doctor, who intended to give it to his wife as a surprise gift, making up for the fact he had missed their anniversary a day earlier.
Later that same afternoon, the brilliant doctor, a specialist in infectious diseases, was called away on a very important and highly classified matter. Just hours later, he found himself in a small town in the French countryside. He didn’t know it at the time, but the man he had been sent to see was infected with a new, and highly dangerous virus for which there was no cure.
It took the doctor three days to discover this fact. Many died in the meantime. On the day he discovered the cause of the outbreak, his symptoms began. Within twenty-four hours, the doctor died. On his deathbed, as hundreds of other infected people spluttered and convulsed around him, the doctor passed the rabbit’s foot on to his research assistant, wishing that it bring her better luck than it had him.
Word soon reached the assistant that the French authorities intended to cut their loses and eradicate the town. She left within the hour. Three hours after that, the entire town was bombed and along with it any trace of the virus.
Or so they thought.
The assistant didn’t realise it, but she infected everything she touched and everybody she came in contact with on her frantic journey to the airport. Hundreds of people now unwittingly carried the virus’ deadly spores as they went about their daily routines. Within days, half of Europe would be infected. Several weeks later? Well, I’m sure you can guess. But that’s a tale for another time.
And so, on a stormy Friday night, the rabbit’s foot found itself on the red-eye travelling north to Manchester airport. It’s new owner was already feeling the debilitating effects of the virus as she boarded the aircraft. One hour in, almost all of the passengers were also feeling the effects. Two hours in, and the research assistant was dead. Three hours in, and the pilot spluttered his last breath and promptly died at his controls.
The plane quickly fell from the sky and found not its intended destination, but an equally desired one. Witnesses from miles around saw the ensuing explosion. There were rumours at the time that the fireball could be seen from as far away as Bristol. What was true, what was indisputable, was that the house the aircraft landed on would never be lived in again.
Luckily for its widowed owner and her only child, known throughout the family as Baby Claire, they were out at the time.