The daily entry of Mark, our lab intern, was unmistakable as his shoe did its routine squeak across the faux wood floor. As the only doctor on staff that shift I was in charge of the microbiologist staff, Mark included. I watched as he sat at his desk to go over the lab work that took place the shift before. All seemed normal from my view until he exclaimed an "Oh Shit!" and let his eyes grow to the size of lemons.

As I called out to him to ask what was wrong he stood up an ran out the door taking a right towards our heat lab. Extremely agile, I thought. Within seconds of him rounding the corner an alarm began blaring throughout the building; between the wailing sounds, I could hear the reinforced doors crashing closed followed by an instant pressure change in my ears. There was a sudden quick thought of dread.

I sat for what seemed a few moments- not sure how long- but was brought back to the screaming alarm with a telephone ringing. All the phones were ringing. How long had I been sitting here? "Hello- this is Dr. Vitsus… hello?"

"Samu! It’s Jeff. What’s going on down there? I can’t get into the building, and people are trying to break the windows on the outer office trying to get-" click the went dead without another sound. Seconds later the main power flickered then with a distant grown I could hear section by section going onto emergency backups. The room turned red making it impossible to see the red blinking light on the farthest wall. I’ll have to mention that design flaw next week at the staff meeting.

The doctor got up from his stock office chair and moved to the door. Using caution, he moved through the opening looking left then right. To the left was a now sealed and locked door, indicated by the double blinking white lights to it’s right. To the right was the remainder of the unsealed corridor leading to the heat lab. Walking to the entrance of the lab he passed the massive windows which allowed all to see what was taking place in that particular lab. A fishbowl if you will. He could see Mark inside talking to the lead of the international bio-hazard team that was visiting for some co-experimentations.

Approaching the door, Dr. Vitsaus spotted that the contamination protocol alarm glass case had been broken and the button depressed. He tilted his head a bit to see Mark looking back at him from across the room. Shifting his eyes between his inturn and the button he attempted to open the door. It was also locked. The sound made by the doctor pounding on the door made all but a dull thud on the other side, but enough to get the attention of Dr. Motgift, the head of the international team. However, he remained where he was turning his back and continuing to read some papers he was trying to keep hidden.

"Uh, Max, could you please open this door for me?" said Dr. Vitsaus.

"It’s Mark," replied Mark.

"I’m sorry, what was that?" said the doctor pointing at the lights as if they were emitting the sound and then his own ears.

"It’s Mark. You called me Max ‘gain doc," corrected Mark raising his voice. "But no, I won’t open the door."

Keeping a stone-straight face, the doctor locked eyes with Mark for a moment before turning on his heels going down an adjacent hallway that led to an unlocked and unmanned control room for use during an emergency. And this seemed like an emergency to the doctor. From here he could see the alarm status and the camera feeds from around the compound. All doors throughout were locked, and the window sensors were blinking as if they were out of sync Christmas lights gone mad.

The cameras, even without sound, showed a major breakdown outside the secure lab. The bystanders, mostly employees of Gumball Labs, were running towards the entrance of the campus and were being met by a line of armed personnel aiming their rifles and pistols. Those aren’t our security guys, thought the doc while squinting a the screens. One by one people were falling to the ground; dozens of people scattered about the landscape. The cameras at the far end of the campus, furthest away from the main road entrance, showed a trench being dug with several tractors that the doctor didn’t even realize they had there at the facility.

He picked up the phone to call Mark and Dr. Motgift, perhaps he could persuade them to open the door. The doctor realized that he was going to need to work with those two if there was a chance of, well, something. It came to his mind that he wasn’t really sure what to do next. Switching one of the cameras to the heat lab, he found that Mark was laying in the corner in a fetal position, not moving. Through the screen, he could see Dr. Motgift walking to the phone in the lab.

"Hallå," said Dr. M.

"Hei, Oscar, it’s me, Samu," said Dr. V. "May I speak to Mark?"

"Um, no. I’m sure you’re able to see that he’s not moving right now, ah, hold on a moment," said Dr. M.

"What’s that you’re working on Oscar?" said Dr. V. He wasn’t able to make out what was on the steel table from his camera angle.

"It’s the tool that’ll get us out of here Samu, come to the lab," said Dr. M hanging up the phone.

With a sigh Samu looked over the camera feeds again. The men with the weapons were pulling bodies on to tarps in a very efficient manner which would suggest that this wasn’t the first time that group had done this tasking. Not seeing an immediate alternative, Samu got up and walked to the lab.

Dr. Motgift met him at the door and let him in. Looking around Samu had not noticed anything out of the ordinary save for the cardboard box on the table he could see from camera room.

"So, we have a problem Samu. Or rather, I have a problem. But worry now, I also have the solution," said Dr. M gesturing towards the box.

Dr. Vitsaus moved forward to view the contents being stopped short by his colleague Dr. Motgift. "Samu, before you look, please note that this isn’t personal. It’s a professional gesture that may bring our cause to new heights," said Dr. Motgift releasing the other to have a look.

Samu moved towards the box with only a little hesitation. Standing over the top of it he let out a deep breath then looked straight ahead at the blank wall. "Why Oscar?" said Dr. V in a calm voice.

"Don’t you know Samu? You’re the plague, and I’m your antidote," said Dr. M.

A rapid beeping sound began emanating from the box. Dr. Samu Vitsaus could only close his eyes one last time before he felt nothingness. The shockwave could be felt for miles if there were anyone in the isolated area to feel it. However, Gumball Labs wasn’t in the habit of building in populated areas just for this reason.

Categories: Short Story

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