Chapter 6: Wing B
As soon as the door had slid open, Elaine crouched down with lightning speed, having realized there were people in the room and she was exposed. She was praying nobody had seen her and from the lack of sound she figured that to be true. She realized the room was quite large and round. It was completely white to the point where even the office equipment was white. It felt so overwhelming in brightness compared to her lab space. A few steps in front of her stood a four-foot-high counter that ran all the way around the room in a circular manner. She quickly ducked behind the counter and thanked her lucky stars that the counter was there to conceal her. She stuck her head up to take a better look. The counter was cluttered with computers and machinery halfway around the room. In front of her was a large stack of paperwork, which added quite well to her vantage point. She guessed whoever was doing the paperwork was not in today. About three-quarters of the way around the room was a metal door that looked like it was part of an elevator, with a security guard standing by it. The man looked like a wax sculpture; he wasn’t moving a muscle. There were a bunch of other people in the room, all wearing white lab coats, huddled around another small circular glass room in the center. She was trying to see into the glass room when the voice startled her into hiding again.
“You,” Rutherford barked at the security guard, “Check out what that was about.”
Elaine saw the security guard head towards the door and crawled into the nook underneath the lab bench. She saw that there was a stack of drawers that she slid out ever so slightly, and crawled behind it. She brought her knees up to her chest and tried to squeeze herself into the shape of the drawers. She saw the security guard’s feet pacing and was waiting for the ‘Aha, found you’ moment, but he never bent down under the bench.
“Nothing, sir” was the man’s response.
“Let us continue then gentlemen,” Rutherford said while walking over to the same control panel that had housed the treadmill controls. He pressed on a large red button, and gas began filling the circular chamber.
Elaine had realized that everyone was preoccupied with something, so she brought herself out of her hiding spot and peered into the center of the room. She saw that there was another room-like structure in the center. It was entirely made of glass, to the point, that she couldn’t see a door to it. She saw that the room was getting cloudy with whatever the man had injected into it. She also saw that there was a man on a treadmill inside there. She stared at Philip, noted his medium-length, wavy, brown hair that fell to his shoulders, his strong jawline, and muscular physique. He was wearing what reminded her of the jumpsuits that one would see prisoners wearing, except his was blue. But what enthralled her were his bright blue eyes that seemed to glisten and burn with intensity. Every time he inhaled it seemed that his eyes would glow brighter.
“Gentlemen, you’re probably asking yourself what was in that gas. This gas is one of my own special cocktails, it includes a neurotoxin, the flu virus, and a rare strain of the Coronavirus. All these together would immediately debilitate a man and kill him. But as you can see, Subject 1 is still in good physical form.” Rutherford explained.
The men began to clap at the grand finale demonstration.
Philip was still in physical pain from the exercise that he was doing, and he could feel his lungs burning from the gas, his vision getting cloudy, and a headache pulse through his temples. He knew that the IV in his arm was causing his body to heal itself quickly, but he could also feel the damage that the gas cocktail was causing. He was relieved when a few large holes in the ground slid open and the gas began getting sucked out. As he was peering at the scientists, he saw slight movement behind the workbench closest to the three doors. Upon intently examining it, he could almost make out the top of someone’s head. Someone who was clearly not invited.
Elaine felt the man’s sharp blue eyes make out her hiding location, so she quickly ducked and strained to hear any sounds coming her way, but all was calm. She let out a sigh of relief but wasn’t sure what to think at this point. Was she a part of a secret government operation to make super soldiers who were apparently immune to viruses and toxins? She remembered seeing a movie like that before. Was she even still in BioOrg? Was her research really applied to cancer treatment or to this, whatever this was? The questions bombarded her mind like a tidal wave. However, all she knew is if she didn’t turn back now, then she won’t have the luxury of finding the answers. Instead, she would probably be fired, or worse in jail. She peeped cautiously from her safe refuge once more and realized all the men were talking amongst themselves, nobody was paying her any attention. As she examined the men, one man stood out more to her than the rest, she knew him, that was Mr. Rutherford, the guy who interviewed her. He was the ringleader she realized.
Maybe she could get a few answers then leave, she thought to herself. So, looking at the stack of papers above her head she began to gently slide a few papers from the top of the stack, trying not to make any noise. But no matter how gentle there was no guarantee they wouldn’t hear the sound of papers shuffling. Right at that point Philip glanced at her and addressed his audience.
“Just wondering if this segment of show-and-tell is over, as much as I love amusing you people, I would like some solitude.”
His voice sounded worn and tired, but Elaine was secretly thankful for the diversion. As soon as he spoke everyone’s attention was focused on him. She quickly took advantage of the situation and grabbed about a handful from the paper stack then ducked back behind the counter and began to look through the documents.
The papers revealed things that seemed crazy or impossible. There was documentation about using nanotechnology to possibly stabilize something referred to as ‘blue fire.’ Then there was something about subject one no longer demonstrating this ‘blue fire.’ There were two pages of pictures of the human body and little notes scribbled on the sides. The remaining pages that she had grabbed didn’t make much sense to her, they were all nonsensical formulas.
“Ha, he finally talks an entire sentence. He must be fond of you all.” Rutherford jested making grand hand gestures.
The others began laughing like a pack of hyenas. Elaine couldn’t help but feel sorry for the man. He was clearly not a willing volunteer. She wanted to help him but wasn’t sure how or where to start. She got that sinking feeling in her stomach, just like when she was stuck in traffic and an ambulance would drive up behind her, and there’s nowhere to go. She stared at the door, she figured when everyone would leave, she would head back out without them noticing, then immediately going to the press. She reasoned that the papers she’s holding could be the proof they need.
In the meanwhile, Rutherford walked over to the control panel and shut off the treadmill. “Take him back.” He said to the security guard. “You’ve earned yourself a few days in solitary confinement as a result of your antics today.”
Philip couldn’t possibly care less. He was happy at being done and out of the fish tank. He grabbed at the IV and yanked it out, then stood in front of the sliding glass panel and waited. As soon as Rutherford lowered it, he walked straight towards his comfort zone.
As Philip disappeared through the door, Elaine couldn’t help but feel vulnerable all of a sudden. It was as if his mere presence made her feel safe. She couldn’t really understand why she felt that way, she didn’t even know the man.
Elaine sensed that the rest were about to leave so she regained her hiding spot behind the drawers. Rutherford walked the scientists out another door while talking softly on his phone. Elaine noted that they used a different door than the one she had come through. She waited for the sound of the door closing, determining that now was the time to make a dash for it.
As soon as the door slid shut, she began unfurling her legs, when she heard the sound of another door opening and footsteps everywhere.
“Sweep the whole place, our orders are to look in every nook and cranny!” a security guard ordered his team.
Elaine began to feel her palms get sweaty, and she hugged her legs closer to her chest. Seconds seemed like hours. OH NO! NO! NO! Her brain was screaming, she could see a man’s shoe headed right for her. She wished she could melt, or dissolve into the counter. She was pressing her back so hard against it, she might as well have been welded to it. There was no way out, she realized. There was nothing she could do but hold still and pray he wouldn’t look underneath the counter and see her. She squeezed her eyes close but couldn’t help thinking she was being as stupid as an ostrich that hides its head in the sand thinking its predator won’t see it anymore.
Time came to a stop. The moment seemed to drag on forever, an eternity almost. Then suddenly, and without any forewarnings, the drawer cabinet she was hiding behind was yanked from before her, and she was roughly jarred from her hiding spot and dragged out. Elaine began scurrying on her back with the man looming above her. He looked very large, like a giant almost. Elaine momentarily thought about kicking him where it counts and trying to make a run for it. But she soon realized she was surrounded by security guards. She knew she couldn’t take them all on.
“What do we have here?” The man said, hovering over her.
Elaine looked up at him, and the entourage of security guards, and figured what the heck, she’s as good as dead now.
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