107 | First Place

In the beginning, they went to war. Now arbitrium came through to the descendants with instructions to settle; to make a new home and wait.

This story tied for 1st place in our 48 HOUR FLASH FICTION CONTEST. Bacteriophages (or ‘phages’) are viruses that replicate inside bacterium. In 2017, researchers discovered that the original phage and their progeny communicate using the arbitrium system. So, how does this work? Once a phage enters a host, they release a peptide chain message. The initial phage then communicates that its replicated progeny should destroy their host cells or maintain the cell’s life and integrate the phage genome into the host cell genome. This research drove Alex Robinson to ask: If such “simple” entities are capable of such complex message transmission and group decision-making, who knows what else viruses can communicate to each other? 

//Alex Robinson @pronerdalex is a nerd and a nurse. They write table-top RPGs and co-host @letsdoitpodcast, a sex ed podcast. Check out Alex on Medium for more of their sexual health writing.//

Winners | Virology Flash Fiction

Ahhhhh! It’s time to announce the results of our 48 HOUR VIROLOGY FLASH FICTION CONTEST!! I’m thrilled to reveal that once again we got enough submissions for this competition to be worthwhile.
Thank you to all those who submitted and to our amazing judges, Dr. Ben Johnson, Head of Communities & Engagement at Springer Nature and Dr. Bish Marzook, virologist, comedian, and writer. Ben and Bish kindly volunteered their services and as thanks, we are donating their combined $40AUD fee to Virology Comics.


This time around, we have an astonishing result – a tie for first place!

First Place: “Death is Yellow” by Rodrigo Assis Mesquita AND “Arbitrium” by Alex Robinson @pronerdalex

Second Place: “Relapse” by Bijou Lin

Third Place: “The Heist” by Megan Hippler @MeganHippler


Congrats to all our winners and thank you to all those who submitted! The winning stories will be published next Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Want to support Virology Comics?

You can donate funds directly to their PayPal account susan.nasif@cimaza.be. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook

We plan on doing more 48 hour competitions in future, so make sure to subscribe to our Twitter feed and stay tuned for future updates! We also announce competition topics early on Patreon, so for just $1 you can get advance notice of all future competition details.