Even if viruses are dead, they have the potential to come alive.
Once the cells in a biological machine stop working, it can never be started again. It goes into a cascade of decay, falling toward disorder and randomness.
Except in the case of viruses. They can turn off and go dead.
Then, if they come in contact with a living system, they switch on and multiply. The only thing that "lived" inside this monkey was the unknown agent, and it was dead, for the time being. It was not multiplying or doing anything, since the monkey's cells were dead. But if the agent touched living cells, Nancy's cells, it would come alive and begin to amplify itself.
An inefficient virus kills its host. A clever virus stays with it.
Nine out of ten humans killed? And you're not bothered."
A look of mysterious thoughtfulness crossed his face. "A virus can be useful to a species by thinning it out," he said.
A scream cut the air. It sounded nonhuman.
He took his eyes off the water and looked around. "Hear that pheasant? That's what I like about the Bighorn River," he said.
"Do you find viruses beautiful?"
"Oh, yeah," he said softly. "Isn't it true that if you stare into the eyes of a cobra, the fear has another side to it? The fear is lessened as you begin to see the essence of the beauty. Looking at Ebola under an electron microscope is like looking at a gorgeously wrought ice castle. The thing is so cold. So totally pure."
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