FLASH FICTION:-- HORROR, SCI-FI, HUMOUR, CRIME, SLICE OF LIFE, ETC.

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.

20 comments:

  1. Phew! hee hee - no good crying over spilt tea eh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha!! Not unless it's your own "very expensive, hard to get hold of, personal stash."

      Delete
  2. I didn't see that ending coming lol. Great building of the suspense and another nice little twist with how upset he is at the end :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Casey, I think his priorities may be a little out of kilter. LOL. :-)

      Delete
  3. I had a feeling you would pull a reverse switch of scale on us! Good fun all the same

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Marc, these are the kind of stories I really like to write. :-)

      Delete
  4. Sharp one. The sort of work day excitement one tries to avoid, but never quite prepared for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you David. I don't think my nerves could cope with his type of job, not for all the tea in China. (Or Ceylon for that matter.) LOL. :-)

      Delete
  5. LOL, I was hoping it was something like that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Catherine, I'm happy that it didn't disappoint. These kind of stories appeal very much to my own sense of humour. :-)

      Delete
  6. I am thinking those are tears of joy it wasn't one of the dangerous things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Either that, Sonia, or that tea was very precious to him. LOL.

      Delete
  7. Glad to see he has his priorities right!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha, yeah, to some people nothing in the world is more important than a nice cup of tea. :-D

      Delete
  8. Oooh, I had a tin of nice Ceylon tea once, from something to raise money for Oxfam if I remember right. Yeah, I got upset if I dropped stray leaves onto the counter.

    Great touch with the switch in priorities here, but although I can certainly understand the characters' reactions, I wonder if the stress of working with such dangerous stuff isn't taking a toll on them :-).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Katherine. I sincerely hope that there is no-one like Madeley holding a position like that, panic is the last thing you would need should the worst case scenario happen.

      I think Madeley needs to chill out with a nice cup of tea. LOL.

      Delete
  9. I got a laugh out of the twist. Worst-case scenario indeed! Personally, I don't think he's crying over spilt tea so much as relief over the end of the world not happening today. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad it gave you a chuckle, Larry. :-)

      You could be right about the tears of relief, but I think Madeley would still be better suited to a job that carried less responsibility... and possibly more tea breaks. LOL.

      Delete
  10. The horrors. I would rather it had been one of the deadly strains than the tea. The good stuff can be so hard to come by.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heheh! Spoken like a true tea-lover, Jon. :-)

      Delete