Chapter 6, The Grand Tour
6: The Grand Tour
The doors of the elevator opened with a click and a whoosh, a breeze of cool air rushed in, as if a seal had been opened. The panel on the elevator indicated that this was Sub Level 3.
“This is our Observation level” Said Dr Mendel, gesturing them to exit.
“We shall meet my colleagues shortly, but first an overview of the Lab.” Thomas stepped out first, followed by Nan and the Doctor. A bare hallway stretched to the left and right, the walls were unadorned, but gave off a soft blue light of their own. Further down the hallway, entrance portals could be seen on the opposite inner wall. The hallway was not straight as it first appeared, but curved inward in both directions, forming a large circle around the perimeter of the lab. It was much larger structure than could be guessed at from the ground level. The Doctor indicated that they should go to the right. As they walked, he explained that the underground lab was shaped like a cylinder with the elevator at an outer edge. It extended down two more levels, but just below on Sub level 4 was where the actual lab and machinery was placed. From this level he explained, we will be looking down at the core machine. They reached the first portal, the Doctor punched a button on the wall and the double door opened revealing a vast space beyond.
“Step out on the gangplank, but watch your step” Thomas' eyes went wide. Nan gasped and stepped back, glad there was a handrail before them, the doctor smiled.
“Here you have a birds eye view of our Lab in all it’s glory” A sign on the railing before them indicated that this was “Observation Deck 3-A” The view was awesome. On the floor below, Technicians appeared to be going about their business, some walked the floor with clipboards in their hands, headsets dangling from their ears, others sat along the back wall, at desks covered with brightly lit control panels. There must have been at least twenty technicians in view.
The center of the room was dominated by a structure resembling a pillbox.
“That is the star of our operation” Said Dr Mendel gesturing at the structure in the middle.
“Our Technicians refer to it as the “Grow Room” Nan winced. It stood a round, enclosed chamber, it’s exterior walls were of a dull brushed aluminum with no windows, it stood ten feet tall, and approximately ten feet in diameter in the middle of the lab. Lining its exterior wall was a series of exhaust pipes, fans, and blowers, a maze of pipes and conduits punctuated with dials and gauges that the technicians kept well monitored. Along the raised catwalk they walked along the circumference of the room until they could see the means of entrance into the Grow room; An enclosed glass tube walkway from the outer wall led up to the structure. Seen through the glass enclosure was the actual door to the room, a double sliding mechanical door that hermetically sealed it’s interior.
“The inside of the room, and it’s atmosphere is independent of external conditions, and is controlled by that bank of computers along the far wall” The Doctor pointed to the right.
“What’s that?” Thomas asked, gesturing at the large complex machine that stood to the side of the Grow room.
“Let’s walk further to get a better view” Suggested the Doctor. They edged along the catwalk, passing another outer door and plaque indicating “Observation Deck 3-C” Now on the floor below they could better make out the intricate clockwork of the odd looking machine.
“That’s my creation, the key to this project” Said Dr Mendel proudly. Rising up majestic from the lower levels was the large box like machine, looking more like a Neon art project or a gaudy Wurlitzer jukebox, then the complex instrument that it was. Nan could make out a large translucent tube that emerged from a bank of dialed panels. It was flanked by bright glowing Blue, Orange and Green tubes they extended to the Central room and doubled back to the base with smaller neon type tubes. The large tubes were pointed ominously like a large gun, directed to a diffusion filter on a side panel of the outer wall of the Grow room.
“This is my particle accelerator shaft” Said Dr Mendel as he gestured. “It shoots a beam into the wall of the room, that sets up a vibration inside the room, and” He eyed Nan and Thomas, “And does it’s magic.” It reminded Thomas of a colorful Battleship Cannon pointed toward the Chamber.
“That tunnel that goes to the room? How do you get to it?” Asked Thomas.
“Ah, Down below, that’s where the sterilization rooms are. Anything entering the chamber must be free of any microbes or foreign particles. We will visit them later on the tour. I see Dr Xavier down there over in the corner, let’s go down a level, so I can introduce you to some members of the staff.”
After a long day touring the facility, Thomas and Nan dined with the Doctor and several associates in the cafeteria. The Steaks were done to perfection and the vegetables were served up fresh and deliciously seasoned.
“This is just common fare, from our kitchen, we bring in our own chefs” The doctor noted.
Nan had warmed up to the Doctor, and found him charming through the course of the day. All the workers and technicians were friendly and informative. It was clear to her that millions of dollars had been invested into this facility; No one doubted the Doctors genius. A fiscal plan had been drawn up, offering incredible cash compensation for Nan and all her family for life; Schooling for the kids, Transportation and housing were covered. Health and Insurance all covered. Nan only wanted the assurance from the doctors, that there would be no danger to Thomas. They assured her that even though the details of the project were top secret, every precaution imaginable would be taken to safeguard Thomas. She asked for a night to think about it. Her Lawyer, Mr. Cooper would go over the paperwork she would fax him. She mulled over the details of their proposal; She and her family would have to relocate, Thomas would take a year from school, but be tutored at the facility during training, Her son Ralph would be transferred to a local but highly rated public school in the area. Thomas would be home every evening, and all weekends. All details had been worked out. Nan was sure when she left the building, that her Ex would be no problem, and furthermore, she believed that her sister and Thomas’s father would have wanted it this way. She would give them the go ahead, and sign the papers in the morning If Mr. Cooper gave it the green light.