Friday Fiction – Lab Attack

Laboratory by Rafael Vianna Croffi. It is shared under the Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License he granted with the photo. Thanks Rafael!

Laboratory by Rafael Vianna Croffi. It is shared under the Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License he granted with the photo. Thanks Rafael!

This is another Solar Ice excerpt. Her our female lead character, Natalie, the discoverer of the new product learns that it was her research partner, Jack, that had sabotaged the work after the discovery. Just as in the previous snippet we have a mystery group wanting the material. They are the ones who used Jack. Now Natalie is wise to the odd things happening through Chance, we met him before, who was put near her to protect her. But this night he’s gone… the intruders are there… So want to know more read on. Want more after that let me know! Who knows I might actually get inspired to clean it up.

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She logged in the file number into the database and pulled up the files associated with it. All she could conceive was that Jack had done some test in the gas but had mistakenly entered it in the alloy log one late tired night. She clicked on the video. It was Jack sitting on the stool she now occupied. He began to address the camera.

“Natalie I know if you see this one of two things have happened either they got to me and you are going through my log books or I’m in jail and have asked you to retrieve this file.”

Natalie felt panic in her throat. “They’d gotten to him? They who? Jail!?” She watched as Jack told of being approached by a group that wanted covert access to the station. They wanted to know all about Pygmalion. He’d told them to go screw themselves. They persisted and vaguely threatened his family. He’d written them off as nut jobs but the next day Amy had been hit. Then they sent a video of the accident to him saying they’d kill his family if didn’t cooperate. He was convinced watching his little girl fight for his life. Natalie was in tears as his image on the screen asked for forgiveness from beyond the grave. He went on to say when Ursula was unable to make it he was told to get Debra on staff. It was through her on station he got orders. It was he that had sabotaged the drill. He thought that would be the end of it but it wasn’t. They had him and had asked more and more of him. He knew now there was no way out but to expose them and that was what he intended to do that night. He was going to let his contact in and trap the here in the secure lab then turn everything over to the authorities. It was the only way he’d be free and the only way to stop the threats against those he loved. “I’m sorry Natalie. I’m so sorry I couldn’t see past…”

It was then the lights to building went out. Natalie gasped from surprise. The emergency battery lights kicked on and soon the computers in the lab hummed to life from the emergency generators kicking in. The building was lit enough for people to see to get around safely and the critical lab equipment was back on line. Natalie scrambled to find the file again this time jotting down the record number on a sticky note while waiting for the computer to reboot and connect to the mainframe. Normally she’d be on trying to find out what caused the outage This was more important she had to find that file again. She wasn’t too concerned about the power loss with the mudslides, continued rain, and periodic neighborhood blackouts on the news she dismissed it. Once she’d gotten to the file again she quickly sent it over to burn a copy onto a cd. Then set it to load. Again Jack’s face came on the screen holding there as the file loaded. Natalie thought of all he must have gone through alone. It explained his odd behavior. His not being as gregarious on the station but more of an loner than he had in the past. The haggard face of her friend looking at her with those sad eyes pulled on her and she found herself crying again softly.

The phone buzzed from an internal call. Natalie was going to ignore it now in full tears. She glanced at it and saw it was security. VanDenEynden had upped security so she thought it best to answer it. She picked it up on the fifth ring trying to sound composed. “Yes?” She said sounding a bit more shaken than she liked.

“Dr. Pickney is everything okay?” The guard’s voice sounded concerned. She realized he was calling because of the power failure

Natalie sniffled audibly over the phone. “Oh it’s fine here. The generators and safety lights did their jobs. I’m just going through Dr. Abernathy’s files. It’s hard for me we were good friends.” She swallowed. It was true, half true but true none the less. She wanted to hear all Jack had to say before showing others her discovery. She felt she owed him that, a chance to have his say.

“Oh I’m sorry Dr. P. We on the night shift got to know Jack and he was a good man. It’s hard to believe something like just being eating a peanut could kill a man like that.” The guard seemed incredulous of it all too. There was a short pause then the conversation turned back to a professional tone.

“So do we know what caused the power to go out?” She asked. “Was our power substation given an unexpected mud bath?” She tried to sound as much herself as she could.

“Right now Reg is on the horn with the city to get the full story. We completely lost feed from them. So that’s as good a guess as any.” The guard was back on friendly professional footing too. “As part of our blackout protocol I am checking on staff in the building. If anything out of order happens, please feel free to give us a call or pull the alarm. Both are on the generators.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. I’m going to keep on working but when you know more give me a buzz.” Natalie said trying to think if that was the normal director response. All she wanted to do was watch the video of Jack. She wanted to know who could have killed him. Who wanted her discovery sabotaged and why.

“Oh m’am the back entrance camera went on the fritz with the switch over to generator power. Dave’s gone to the back to check it out.” The guard added this as an after thought, telling the director what was up. “So just call us if you need anything.”

“Yeah I will. Thanks again and keep me informed.” Natalie hung up feeling uneasy. Thinking of Chance saying for her to play it safe and now the revelation of Jack’s blackmail she was nervous about that back camera going out. Natalie was concerned now. They had killed Jack when he tried to expose them. They knew about the back door and camera. Were they coming back to clean up this? Had Jack said he’d left a confession? Were they cutting power to come in here and look for it? She heard Chance tell her to play it safe, take things one step at a time. She had to let others know and get to where there was a crowd to call Chance. He’d know what to do with the proof.

There was a loud popping sound and much of the electrical that had come up on the emergency generators went out. The rest of the building was now lit by the emergency battery lights only. She picked up the phone to confirm it was dead. All generators had gone in the explosion. As she hung up the phone, she heard someone stumble in the spectrometry lab. The new machine was sitting in an awkward place with that entrance. If you didn’t know the lab in the half-dark it would be easy to run into it. Natalie looked back seeing a silhouette of a person who wasn’t carrying a flashlight like security would be. She kept quiet and crouched low. They were back. She had to get out with proof. She shoved the sticky pad note with the file number on it into her jeans pocket and dropped to the floor. Thinking she needed proof of the confession she got a paperclip using it to open the CD drive from the computer and removed the copy of Jack’s confession and the other files associated with it. There was cursing under their breath as the intruder tried to make it through the unfamiliar lab keeping in the shadows. Feeling she had her keys in her pocket Natalie debated on how to get out of the lab.

Take it one step at a time is what Chance had counseled. Okay there were two doors one behind the intruder who was now coming around into this part of the lab and one behind her. That step is easy get out that door and move fast don’t stop until she gets to the guards. Then she wondered what if the guards were involved? She had to get out and get to Chance or Josh. That was it, she knew they weren’t involved. She swallowed hard know it was a mad dash out and grabbing her purse from the floor where she had been working she kept low and lunged to pull open the door. As she jerked the heavy door open she heard the intruder say, “Hey she’s still in here going out the front!”

Natalie didn’t stop she then hugged her purse with CD stuck it the out pocket close to her chest as Cooper had taught her to hold a football. She ran for all she had down the dark hall way to the side door that would put her at her car. She grabbed a mail cart and threw it down behind her and then bolted out the door. The rain hit her as she fumbled for the keys in her purse. She found them and the car chirped unlocked she threw herself in not buckling up but raced to start the car. She saw two figure come out the side door one raised his hand. She gunned the motor flying in reverse from her parking space. There was no shot the man was talking on a radio but was dressed in black head to toe. She slammed the motor into drive and hit the gas. The gate was open due to the power failure, this was the fail-safe position she sped out into the rainy night. . She’d turned right out of the gate instead of her usual left because it was an easier turn to make at high speed. She wasn’t sure where to go, she wasn’t going home to be trapped there but didn’t know who to trust in EI. She decided the best she could do was head to a cybercafé and get Chance on the line. She was trying to figure out how to get to one when the lights behind her blinded her from the review mirror. A large vehicle had pulled up behind her and flipped on it’s brights. Natalie guessed it was some large SUV vehicle from how high the headlights were in her rear view mirror. She glanced back at it and then down at the CD that had fallen from her purse into the passenger seat. They were gaining on her and Natalie was having a hard time controlling the car on the turns at the high speed. They bumped her small car on a turn and she fought to regain control. Then again but this time she lost control went over an embankment and the last thing she remembered was seeing trees flash by in her headlights and thinking it looked like a cheap horror movie. Her airbag deployed in slow motion and Natalie didn’t remember anything else.

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