Story Time: Agent E. Coli

Hi all,

Enjoy this spy thriller by Leandra Ranger!

Happy Reading,

Leandra and Gwen

P.S. If you want to learn about the science behind this story, check out this explanation by Leandra and/or this paper from the Church lab that details their bacterial video-encoding experiment.

Agent E. Coli

Leandra Ranger

            Waiting for a fellow agent was similar to waiting for a storm.  Though the midnight black may have been a shade darker than a typhoon’s gray-dark cloud cover, it still caused the scientist (code-named Agent 42) to jump at every sound, certain this footfall would start the flurry of work or rain.

Agent 76 arrived at 12:43 with a body bag over his shoulder.  42 helped him lay it on the table and unwrapped the body inside.

“How long?” asked 76.

“Two hours, max,” she replied, rubbing antiseptic on her dead colleague’s stomach.  “It’s a shame she had to die for this.”

“It’ll only be a shame if your method fails,” replied the other agent, biting a nail.  “We need to figure out who’s been betraying us.  I’ll stay to help you clean up.”

42 nodded while snapping on her latex gloves.

Fifty-seven minutes and one large abdominal incision later, she had removed a sample of gut bacteria.  She carefully placed the sample in the DNA sequencer and started the program.

“Should be about a half hour to sequence the genome from the genetically engineered bacteria 84 ingested,” she confirmed to the other agent, “and then only ten minutes for the computer to translate the inserted genetic code into an image.” Her partner nodded from where he was leaning against her benchtop reading a dog-eared paperback.

“Good book?”

“Not really,” he said, lifting the cover to show her a young couple embracing in an anatomically impossible way.  “It was cheap and passes the time.”

She shrugged and started sewing the body back up and cleaning up the associated mess, stopping only to activate the appropriate program after the sequencer finished.  The agent was apparently too engrossed in his book to notice.

She watched a photograph form on her screen as she zipped up the repacked body bag.  It appeared her new method had worked. She walked back to her screen, ready to determine the identity of the double agent.

“Shame that that worked,” hummed the agent, thudding his book onto the benchtop.

Momentarily confused, the scientist studied the still heavily-pixelated image.  Though blurry, she could identify the culprit as 76 easily enough.

She quickly emailed the image to her handler as the double agent approached from behind.  If she was going to die, she planned to make the success of her new methodology known first.

2 thoughts on “Story Time: Agent E. Coli

  1. Pingback: In the Author’s Head: The Science behind Agent E. Coli | Pages of Fiction

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