Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Statue
You’re standing beside a statue of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the father of Cosmonautics. A row of palm trees towers above you to the right and to your left are the smooth curves of the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium.
Just half an hour ago you were at home watching TV. That’s pretty much all you’ve done since they put the quarantine into effect. Four days ago a deadly disease broke out in Brisbane city and since then everybody has been confined to their houses. Everybody except your Uncle Frederick, who burst through your front door, dark bags under his eyes, and his crazy grey mane even messier than the last time you saw him.
‘I need your help,’ he cried. ‘The disease is rampant. We need a cure and we need it now! Older generations are contracting it quicker than the young, I need a youngling with a bit more immunity to help.’
He always needed your help. One time, when you were five he accidently shrunk your father to the size of a grasshopper and then dropped him in your backyard ‘by accident’. It was up to you to find him before the dog ate him for lunch.
So here you are at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha, apparently the best place in Queensland to find the ingredients necessary for a cure.
‘The Botanic Gardens are a living collection of plants from all around the world!’ your uncle told you. ‘I’ve been working around the clock, and tested two potential cures on two individuals…but so far it’s been, ah, less than successful. The, um…the first one turned into a Green Tree Frog, and the second one turned into, well, some variety of cucumber.’
You almost bailed out of the car then and there.
‘Not exactly in the ballpark,’ he said. ‘But I reckon natural ingredients are the answer.’
‘You sure the next person won’t become a cash register?’ you ask sarcastically.
‘What? No, of course not!’ Uncle Frederick blinked. ‘I need you to collect two different plant samples from around the Botanic Gardens. I have installed a sophisticated piece of hardware into your phone. All you need to do is hold your phone up to the plant you want to collect and click ‘Scan’. This will scan and demolecularise the plant’s biological structure, and when we are making the cure it will rematerialise the part of the plant that contains the active ingredient for the cure!’
He pulled a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to you. ‘I’m going back to my lab to get some equipment and a virus update. Then I’ll set up a portable lab in the Gardens. I’ll be in touch.’ Then your uncle took off, before you could ask any more questions.
You look around. You’re not exactly thrilled with the idea of being outside during a mass quarantine. You open the piece of paper. There’s a list of scientific plant names. Most of them have medicinal notes scribbled next to them. And you notice the words arid, herb, and indigenous written in red ink beside about half of the plants. You shake your head. For some reason you thought that Uncle Frederick would tell you exactly what you were looking for and where to find it; how naïve of you.
Your phone buzzes and you receive a message. Disease is affecting age groups in different ways. Young (0-50) have sore muscles, aching bones, fever, sweats. Old (50+) experiencing mucous discharge, internal bleeding, trouble breathing. You swallow dryly and comb through the list of plant names. Two plants immediately stand out.
Symphytum officinale, known to the general population as Comfrey. It can be used to help with aching bones and sore muscles or bruises.
Piper hederaceum, also known as the Pepper Vine. The leaves can be used to relieve sore gums and to treat mucous discharges.
Fragrant Plants and Herb Garden: Search for the Comfrey and make sure your age group is protected first? You are, after all, the one who will be tramping among potential infected trying to find cures. You need to be clear headed, not unable to walk because of sore muscles. This will help the younger victims of the disease, but may harm the older generation. Follow the brick path up the hill and past the Information Kiosk. There will be a drinking fountain close by and the Fragrant Plants and Herbs are on the left of that. Follow the main path down.
Peppervine: Search for the Pepper Vine, and make sure the older population get a cure quickly? They are, after all, falling to the disease quicker and harder than the younger victims. You may lose more people to this disease if you don’t address the older generation’s symptoms first. Follow the brick path towards the bus stop. Now follow the road that the bus stop is on towards the forest. Now cross the road and head towards the stone mailbox. Just past here you will find the Australian Rainforest. Follow the path down and when you come to the fork in the road, take the left hand path and follow it until you reach the Pepper Vine described on the information plaques.