Chapter 3: Facility
“Connor,” Michael said sitting in the passenger seat of the car. “You’re not messing with me right?”
Connor turned to him “I wish I was.”
“But how? Where did this come from?” Michael said shaking his head.
“We don’t know! We have many theories but none of them hold up.” He sighed “Heck, we think it might come from extraterrestrial origins.”
“Yes, we legitimately think that.”
“Great like that doesn’t seem familiar.”
“Don’t worry we have it contained at the university.”
“Still, the irony bothers me.”
Suddenly Connor missed a turn to go to the freeway, heading towards a small field with power lines towering above it.
“Connor... you missed the the entrance.”
“I know,” he said blankly.
“Where are we actually going?” Michael said with a slightly nervous tone in his voice.
“Not to the university, I can tell you that much.”
Michael became worried. “How serious is this? Whats going on?”
Connor sighed “This is very serious, Michael. We can’t even transport it to Nevada or something to test it. We can’t move it for fear of it spreading”
“But you said it transfers via bites… that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“But, it does more to victims than what I’ve told you.”
Connor parked the car to the side of the empty road.
Connor removed his seat belt. “This is our stop.”
The two men walked through the field of tall grass, lifting their feet high with every step.
“Does it really have to be in the middle of a field? How can you even tell where it is?”
“It wouldn’t be a secret would it? Anyways it’s near one of the powerlines.”
“How did you even get involved with this, Connor?”
“When we discovered it at the university.”
“Ah you weren’t lying about that,” Michael laughed “But what did you find it on?”
“A coyote, animal control received complaints of a strange animal, when they found it they weren’t sure what was wrong with it and contacted us. We then dissected it in the lab. Sadly one of my colleagues was contaminated”
Michael became confused “Wait how? You said it was spread by bites. And you dissected it...”
Michael saw a strange circular patch of grass five feet away from the base of one of the powerlines. Connor bent then and removed the patch of grass which happened to be plastic. Under was a metal hatch with a keyhole. Connor fished out a small key from his pocket. He inserted it and then turned it. Their was distinctive click as it unlocked. He lifted up the latch which revealed a ladder leading to a brightly lit room.
“Let’s go down, it's not a difficult climb,” Connor told him.
Michael entered first, climbing down the hatch. The ladder was about 8 feet and the room height the same size. He landed on the white tiled floor and oriented himself. The room was brightly lighted by a single bulb and had the entrance of an elevator to the left of it. Connor came down as well with a thud as he lept off the ladder.
“It's not exactly the most efficient way of coming here,” he said walking towards the elevator and punched in a 4 digit number on the keypad besides it. Michael heard the distinctive hum.
As they waited for the elevator Connor turned to Michael “I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.”
“What you will see is going to be serious stuff. You can’t tell anyone not even Anne.”
“I understand, but uh, if this is such a big thing… why me?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not the one who decided to bring you, they are. They wouldn’t tell me.”
The elevator opened and they both walked in “Either way I think I can handle it.”
“Hold that thought.” he said sarcastically.
As Michael stood in the descending elevator he thought to himself what he was committing to. He had never been involved with a scientific discovery, ever. And he sensed that their was legitimate fear in what he was going to find out. He pondered on any reason they would ever want him to know. He was just an author, and he would never consider himself a scientist but only a lover of science.
The elevator doors slid open and revealed a large locker room.
“This is where we keep all our stuff while we work” Connor said “Have anything you want to leave in here?”
“Uh, no I don’t think so.”
Connor pushed open the door leading to a massive circular facility. Dozens of scientist, all dressed in white, wandered around the facility, performing various tasks. In the center was a glass room maybe 10 by 10 feet, surrounded by scientist, containing something that he couldn’t quite see at the bottom.
“This is it, huh?” Michael told Connor.
“Welcome to Project Prion-X.”
“It has a cool name too?” he joked. He then pointed to the glass room. “Anyways what's inside of that?”
“Our, uh, test subject.”
Even though Connor already told him what they would be dealing with, he was still surprised, when the scientist moved out of the way, revealing what was inside the room. He could see the figure of a man. Michael realized that he was not seeing a normal man at all. He was looking at someone with unbelievably bloodshot eyes, pale skin, still bleeding wounds, and a visibly rotting body. He was looking at a zombie.
Chapter 4: Subject
Michael stared in awe. Not saying anything, he crept closer to cylinder.
“Michael… are you ok?” Connor asked.
He didn’t say anything. Michael kept nearing towards the glass wall of the room. Connor followed close behind him. He knew how hard it was when he first saw it.
Michael was just feet away from the room now and he could clearly see in. The “man” was just wandering inside the claustrophobic containment room. The room was composed of 4 metal corners, glass walls with thick metal bars protecting them. The roof was also made of metal with a single large vent in the middle with a metal screen.
Michael was terrified, but he calmed down “What do you guys feed it?”
Connor laughed “Feed it? We want to get rid of it, not study it.” He shook his head “We can’t kill it ourselves, we’ll risk infection, it’s just too risky.”
“So you guys are just waiting for it to starve?”
“Yes, the thing is that it’s taking a while. But we’re hoping.”
Michael continued to stare forward, the zombie was looking away when It suddenly turned it’s head in his direction. My god was it creepy, he thought to himself.
“Greetings, Mr. Crichton.” a voice said.
Michael turned around seeing a woman in a white labcoat.
“This is Dr. Laura Palmer.” Connor explained “She is the lead scientist here.”
Palmer nodded. “It’s an honor to meet you Mr. Crichton.” She turned to Connor. “Thank you, for bringing him in.”
“Connor, have you given him the Agreement yet?”
“Ah, no Laura, I’ll do that now.” he said.
“Ok, I'm going to the observation room.”
Connor and Michael walked to side of the large facility. They were heading to a single door. When Connor opened the door, it revealed an office.
“We are going here so that you can sign a Non-Disclosure agreement.”
“That’s fine, though to be honest, I don’t ever plan on disclosing this.”
Michael filled out the entire form, signing it as quickly as he could.
“There’s a back, by the way.” Connor said.
Crichton flipped the paper and and filled it out. He signed it, then clicked the pen to close it. Suddenly the lights flickered.
They both looked up. “Strange,” Connor said.
“Is that a bad thing?” Michael asked.
“I doubt it, anyways let's go to the observation room, you can get a better look at the subject.”
Michael and Connor entered the observation room. They saw several scientists staring into the containment room while writing on a clipboard. Connor neared towards Dr. Palmer.
“The lights flickered in the office.”
“It happened here too,” she said tensely. “I’ll see what the electricians can do, maybe there's something wrong-”
The lights flickered again. This time staying off for more than a second.
“That's not good,” Michael whispered.
Finally the lights all turned off. Leaving the room dark, but still visible.
Palmer was obviously annoyed “It’s fine, the auxiliary power should come on any moment. If it’s a black out from the power lines then there will be no problems.”
Suddenly they heard a metallic crash. All the observers looked up in sync. They saw one side of the vent’s screen cover in containment room completely unlatch, opening as wide as it could.
The subject noticed as well. It inspected the low hanging vent screen. Then against everyone’s prayers it started to climb. It stuck it’s fingers and then toes through the large screen holes. Then proceeded to climb into the vent, before finally disappearing out of sight.
The observers stood in silence. Their silence was disrupted when the vent screen slammed into the metal floor of the containment room.
“It’s in the vents,” Michael whispered.