Friday, 14 November 2014

Lab spillage

Madeley sprinted down the corridors, his heart thudding in his chest, breath rasping in his throat.

Barging through gaggles of lab technicians, physicists and virologists without apology. Ignoring hostile stares as he shouldered his way through, leaving a wake of red faces and strewn paperwork.

He had been in reception when word had come through to his personal phone. Carson had called. His voice sounded tight and nervous. “..Err... there's been a spillage in the isolation lab Sir, I'm afraid it's...”

Madeley hadn't waited for Carson to finish. Panic swept through him. He snapped his phone shut and set off running.

Madeley's mind raced as he sped down the corridors. The present projects were robust, elegant, dangerous beyond comprehension.

Rh704, a rapid spreading virus with a ninety percent fatality rate, very nasty.

Even worse was BGX1402. An air-borne virus with a ninety eight percent fatality rate, a three day incubation period, and an agonisingly slow death for anyone coming into contact with it.

“Oh please god, don't let it be THAT one, anything but THAT one.” He silently prayed to himself, all the while, knowing in his heart that it would be THAT one.

He skidded round the corner towards the elevators, hesitated for a split second, then continued on, ploughing through the waiting crowd and punched through the access door and down the stairs, deciding it would be the quicker option.

Almost faint with oxygen starvation he reached the Level Seven security door, swiping his card through the reader and punching in his personal code.

The door hissed open and he stepped quickly through, chewing his lip impatiently as the the door closed and the lock cycled before the inner door opened.

What greeted his eyes did not herald good news.

The three technicians before him huddled together in a primal act of communal safety, they trembled in their white coveralls, staring at him with wide eyes.

There was an almost overpowering pungent aroma in the air, an all too familiar smell that Madeley's panic-stricken mind immediately connected to a worst case scenario.

Madeley glanced at the grille in the wall, the cold tendrils of sheer horror danced down his spine. The green light on the panel told him it was in active venting, his heart sank. It was too late, whatever had been spilt was out, vented into the world. It was probably a matter of weeks, or maybe even days before everything started to come apart.

Madeley sank into a nearby chair, he was close to tears. He reached for his phone, the sooner Operation Exodus got under way the more lives would be saved.

His voice was on the verge of breaking as he spoke.

“Wh... Which one was it? BGX1402? ...Rh704?”

“Err... what do you mean, Sir?” Ventured Carson, hesitantly.

“The spillage, you moron, the goddam spillage! What the hell else would I be talking about?”

“Err... it was ...err … tea, Sir.” Stuttered Carson, shrinking back into the embrace of the other two.

“Tea? TEA?” Said Madeley, staring incredulously at Carson.

“Y... Yes Sir. Th ...the special blend you had imported from Ceylon. It was an accident Sir, Janet tripped while carrying the tray and the packet split spilling all over the floor, the milk jug smashed and milk soaked into all the tea leaves Sir. I'm afraid we had to bin the whole lot.”

Madeley let his head sink into his hands and he sobbed uncontrollably. That tea was expensive, and it would be weeks before he would be able to get more shipped in.

©2014 Stephen. J. Green.