Ditto what Farming guy said.
I’m a pretty avid sci fi reader, and I can’t recall a story where a pandemic pathogen came from a landfill. A deep cave, the ocean floor, a deep ice-covered Antarctic lake, yes, commercial interests involved, yes, but a landfill, no.
I just finished reading, for the first time, Gregory Benford’s 1980 Campbell and Nebula award-winning Timescape
, and was impressed with how well he sketched out, without going into deep detail, what a human extinction-threatening pathogen might be like, biologically. You might find it food of thought, and helpful in you writing.
Most pathogens are infectious – that is, parasite-like, they use a host’s cells to propagate themselves, so it’s to their advantage not to kill their hosts too quickly, or kill to many of their population. A nastier kind of pathogen is one that’s doesn’t use a host, but rather “wants” the hosts’ ecological niches, and evolves a way to clear the niche by killing off its competitors. The cyanobacteria that cause the 2,400,000,000 year-ago “great oxygenation event
”, may be pathogens of this sort, as they wiped out most other lifeforms on earth, but “friendly” mass-extinction even causer, as they opened a gigantic new niche for new aerobic organisms of many kinds, including us, and a simple one, as the means of the extinction was the O2
molecule. Imagine something that created a big molecule like C4H10FO2P
, that killed any organism that used acetylcholine in its nervous system – pretty much everything with a nervous system.
Of course, not microbiological SF story has to be about a ELE. Something like an antique influenza virus unlike any in recent experience could be nasty enough, without threatening to wipe out every higher organisms on earth.