I remember reading a short story on the internet about a year ago (though the story was a bit older) that was probably a 10 minute read.

It was written from the perspective of a doctor who was remembering how he developed a cure that would stop people from aging (I think). He thought he was a genius and described with a few medical terms where a specialized virus had to be implanted to stop the aging process. I think it was somewhere in the back of the neck.

He described how he showed other researchers his work and how it would revolutionize the world - but they turned him down and said it needed to be tested first. The usual process of testing with different animals before testing with humans before making a patent, ...

That was too long for the protagonist. He skipped a few tests and went right from mice to men. The problem was that something evolved.

The end of the story was that the humans developed a taste for human flesh and similar attributes that you normally see in zombie apocalypse scenarios.

The story was fascinating because you only realized that it was about a zombie apocalypse shortly before the end of it. And the professor was pretty full of himself, always describing how this was just a minor setback.

Can you help me remember what the name of this story was?

  • 1
    So if he'd tested it properly it would have been an apocalypse of zombie mice instead? Might have made a more interesting story. What is a "10 read"?
    – user14111
    Oct 24, 2017 at 8:10
  • @user14111 I think it was something that only happened in humans. And sorry, I meant a 10 minute read, trying to show how long the story was without knowing the word count anymore.
    – Secespitus
    Oct 24, 2017 at 8:11
  • 1
    So doing more animal tests wouldn't have helped, because the problem only showed up when they tested it on human subjects?
    – user14111
    Oct 24, 2017 at 8:15
  • 2
    @user14111 I think so. He released it into the wild to help humanity and started the zombie apocalypse. If he tested it properly he would at some point realized that there might be a problem and the infected could have been contained. But he was too impatient to bother with the formal procedures and the correct testing.
    – Secespitus
    Oct 24, 2017 at 8:18
  • Sounds like the setup for I Am Legend, though I’ve not read the book and hear it’s different
    – Paul
    Oct 24, 2017 at 10:35

1 Answer 1


Antihypoxiant by Andy Weir (roughly 1.300 words - it probably takes about 5 to 10 minutes to read the whole story)

The following citations are from the linked website. I just cite stuff that shows things similar to what I remembered. As this is a very short story I will cite quite a lot of the text:

Best start into a story:

I am, simply put, the most brilliant medical mind in human history.

He is a doctor:

But it can’t be helped; you’re not a doctor. Or if you are, you’re not one of my caliber.

He invented a cure for what he discovered is what really kills people:

Hypoxia is what kills people. Whatever the “cause of death” may be, the actual reason they die is because oxygen stops getting to their cells. Most notably, to their brain.

He did some experiments with rats:

I had a disembodied rat hamstring suffused with the compound, then I just let it sit for three days. By rights, it should have been completely dead, but upon examining it, I found that the cells were still very much alive and healthy.

Zombies (though it's not quite obvious at this point):

so long as there wasn’t physical damage to your brain, you won’t die for several days. [...] You can literally get shot in the heart and they will have enough time to perform a heart transplant to save your life.

He modified a virus:

The original virus was a harmless strain that usually causes mild vasculitis. It attacks the cells of arteries, veins, and capillaries. This was ideal, because it allowed my modified version to deliver the antihypoxiant to those cells.

He tested on animals:

I tested on cats, dogs, and eventually monkeys.

But he had a problem with authorities:

But the FDA was the next step. After animal trials comes human trials. First with a tiny control group, then with larger and larger groups and so on. Getting a drug through the FDA can take ten years and that simply wouldn’t do.

He was too impatient:

I was 57 years old at that point. Waiting another ten years would make me 67. Then, it would take at least another five to ten years before the Nobel committee recognized my genius and awarded me the prize I so richly deserve. There was a chance I wouldn’t live to reap my due fame! [...] No, the FDA was an impediment. It was time to act.

So he took the short path:

I released the virus in several major population areas all over the world.

There is a certain side effect he hasn't accounted for:

It turns out that the higher cognition centers of the brain have a slightly different blood-brain barrier setup. My compound, while transitioning into those parts of the brain, changes slightly due to the barrier and ends up malfunctioning.

Zombies (now quite obvious):

In any event, it caused people to slowly lose their higher cognition abilities. They retained motor control, sensory input, fight or flight reflex, etc. But they lost their ability to “think”.

Animal tests wouldn't have helped, no matter how much he tested:

Cats, dogs, and monkeys don’t have that part of the brain at all.

Great humor if you ask me:

Some could argue this is my fault, but that’s absurd. Clearly the FDA is at fault. If it weren’t for their slow process, I wouldn’t have been forced to distribute the compound like I did.

  • Great humor indeed !!!! I loved this story !
    – Alfred
    May 14, 2022 at 22:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.