Author: Michael Kelso PM
Working for a large corporation has its ups and downs, as William is about to find out. Please review.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi - Words: 2,823 - Published: 04-05-12 - id: 3011098
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
William had been frustrated for a long time. After completing his schooling and being hailed as a visionary for his theories, no one wanted to give him a job. Some of his theories were also condemned for violating human rights, So companies were somewhat reluctant to take a chance on him. Not being sure if they were hiring a visionary or a villain. William chuckled to himself as he entered the elevator and pressed the button for sub basement thirty-one.
'If only they could see the things I've accomplished in a year.' He thought. 'Thank God the Thransom corporation had contacted me when they did.'
William let his memory drift back to the interview. Security was extremely tight. He had to go through several checkpoints just to get to the personnel office.
'I guess that's to be expected.' He thought. 'Corporate secrets and all.'
He started out being interviewed by a large, very tough looking woman who asked a lot of questions about security and how well he could keep secrets. Then a man replaced her. He was a short, thin man, almost frail. He looked like he was in his sixties, but there was power in his eyes. When he asked what he should call him, the man said, "Just call me 'The Chairman.'" He spoke with William about his theories as if he had studied each one. His eyes lit up and almost seemed to glow when William spoke about the projects that didn't quite fall within the limits of human rights. He had a special interest in his regeneration project. They came to an understanding, he would get me whatever materials needed, no questions asked. But every project William produced would become sole property of the company. William couldn't have been happier. Free reign to create whatever he wanted, and a blank check for anything he might need. His thoughts were interrupted when the elevator stopped. William stepped out of the elevator, into what had become his floor. He passed one of his younger assistants who gave him a brief nod and continued on his way. William returned the gesture. He wasn't big on formality, it was just a sign of acknowledgement and respect. He walked past room after room , each one representing a successful project. A smile crept onto his face.
'Thirty successful projects in a year.' He thought. 'Each one with the potential to alter humanity in ways no one had imagined. I bet those companies wished they had me now.'
Truth be told, not one of his projects were ever made public, nor would they be. Every time a project was completed, the chairman would give William and each member of his team bonuses. His team had grown from six to twenty four in under a year. With the bonuses, and their staggering success rate, each of them were now millionaires. But William didn't care about money, he would've tried just as hard if they paid him minimum wage. He spent so many hours working on one project or another that he considered turning one of the rooms into an apartment. He had no real social life. He was married to his work, and she was a harsh, jealous, mistress. So far, they had produced thirty babies together, and were working on more. He went into the break room to get his morning coffee. When he came out, he thought he saw a woman in a black leotard coming out of a project room. When he looked again, she was gone.
'It was probably just a security guard.' He thought, looking at the 'Intruder alarm' button on the wall across from him. It always struck him funny that there were 'Intruder' alarms in every hallway, but the 'Fire' alarms were only in every other hallway. William shook his head, sometimes he wondered at the company's priorites. He walked away, not realizing that if he had just pressed one simple button, this day might have ended differently.
There are two moments that William found most exciting. When he would start a project, and when he was about to finish one. He walked into the room labeled 'Project 31' in a full biohazzard suit. Two of his assistants were already there, prepping for final testing.
"Good morning Lana, good morning Kim." He said. They both greeted him back.
Lana Bothren, a young, attractive, brilliant, researcher could have many different jobs, but like William, she wanted to work without constraints. Her fire red hair and heavy accent both screamed 'Hey, I'm Irish!' to anyone who met her.
Kim Soo Lei was a graduate student in Korea's top college. He was equally brilliant and did not like limits. What kept companies from scooping him up was that he was North Korean. It didn't matter that he had the highest GPA ever posted, companies still stayed away. William didn't care about such prejudices. Afghanistan, Russia, Iran, China, it didn't matter where you were from, as long as you could do the job and gave your best effort, William welcomed you with open arms and cared for you like a loving father.
The man strapped to the table was another matter altogether. He was sweating profusely, and looked very nervous, like most lab rats, especially the human ones. William had two rules when it came to lab rats.
One…Never treat them as human.
Two…Never question where they came from.
He followed these rules religiously.
"Lana," William said. "If you would turn on the recorder we can proceed."
"Aye sir." She said, pressing a button and assuming her place in front of a bank of monitors. "Subject's heart rate is elevated."
"Understandable." William said. "Average the reading from the last five minutes and use that as a baseline."
"Aye sir." She said. "Got it."
"Kim, please give the subject an injection of 10 cc Regen serum revision #52."
"Yes sir." He said, injecting the serum.
The result was instantaneous. His heart rate jumped nearly fifty points in just a few seconds.
"He's spiking sir." Lana said.
"Let's give him a minute to assimilate." William said.
The minute passed, the heart rate slowed by about thirty points.
"Ok." William said. "Let's initiate regen."
Kim took a pair of what looked like stainless steel garden shears, and placed the cutting blade under the second knuckle of the subject's pinkie finger. William never used painkillers or anesthesia on his subjects. He said they would taint the test results. Naturally the subject's heart rate shot up again when Kim squeezed the blades shut, severing the subject's finger.
Screaming had become part of the job. No one in the room, except the subject, reacted at all. Blood ran freely from the wound, but no one attempted to contain it. They just watched. After five minutes, the table was covered in blood, still no one reacted. Then the subject started screaming again, as a new finger grew back to replace the severed one. The subject screamed as much from surprise as from pain. William, Lana, and Kim looked at each other with approval.
"Stage two?" Kim asked William.
"Yes, please." William said, as they rolled in a large protective barrier, and placed it beside the subject. Kim and Lana stood behind William, as he reached into a cabinet and pulled out a twelve gauge shotgun. The subject struggled against his restraints, to no avail. William aimed at his chest and fired. Blood and chunks of meat showered the protective barrier, but it held firm. All the monitors immediately flat lined. William went to get coffee for the group while five minutes slowly ticked by. Soon after he had returned, the screaming began again as the chest knitted itself back together.
"Stage three?" Kim asked, as he logged his results so far.
William nodded, setting his coffee down and picking up the shotgun.
"What more can you possibly do to me?" The subject asked.
William pointed the shotgun at his head and pulled the trigger. Blood and bone exploded, showering the barrier. They finished their coffee in the five minutes of silence before the screaming started again.
"Are you done now?" The subject half screamed.
William's answer was to merely smile.
"Subject has passed physical tests." He said to the recorder. "Preparing chemical portion."
"I don't like the sound of that." The subject said.
Kim handed William a large syringe filled with several highly toxic poisons. William injected the subject, and within a minute, he was dead again. Five minutes later, he was back.
"So I'm indestructible now?" The subject asked.
William couldn't resist. He broke one of his rules, and spoke to a subject.
"No, you can be destroyed to a point, but the regeneration serum rebuilds you."
"What about diseases and viruses?" The subject said.
"I don't know." William said. "Let's find out."
They injected him with Anthrax, Hepititus, AIDS, anything else they could think of. Each disease would take hold for a few minutes, then be eradicated by the regen syrum.
"So I really am indestructible." The subject said.
"Almost." William said, while injecting him.
"What was that?"
William grinned at him.
"You're not indestructible anymore."
The subject stared in horror, down the barrel of the shotgun, and for the second time, felt his head beig torn apart by the blast.
William turned to Lana and Kim.
"Please file your reports quickly so I can send the results to corporate."
"Yes sir." They echoed.
The body was taken by Lana and Kim to the disposal room, where it waited with dozens more bodies, for the disposal truck which came once a week. They left to finish their reports. Two hours later, the newest resident in the disposal room reached up and pulled the plastic sheet off of him.
An hour later William received a video call on his computer. The face of the Chairman filled the screen.
"Sir." William said. "What an honor."
"It is I who is honored to have you on my staff." He said.
"Thank you sir." Willliam said. "I hope my projects have been acceptable."
"Far beyond my expectations."
"Thank you sir," William said. "Did you receive my latest package?"
"Yes. Regen has been a tremendous success. I will put it to good use."
"I'm looking forward to starting my next project."
"Excellent." The Chairman said. "I will send the usual bonuses to you and your team."
"Thank you sir." William said, but the Chairman was no longer looking at his computer.
"What are you doing here?" He said to someone offscreen. "This is my private office, and you are trespassing."
While he spoke, his finger slid along the underside of his desk until he found and pressed the 'Intruder' button.
"My organization has heard about the atrocities you've committed here." A female voice said.
"I'm afraid you've been misinformed." The Chairman said. "We build wind turbines, Solar panels, and a host of other environmentally safe products. We were voted 'Greenest company' this year."
"Save the sales pitch." She said. "Let's talk about what happens in subbasement 31."
"That's quite impossible." He said.
"Why? Don't want the truth leaking out?" She said.
"No, this facility only has twenty eight floors." He said.
The timing couldn't have been more perfect. She hesitated just as the four man security team burst in the room. They trained their sub-machine guns on her, and she aimed her pistols at them. The air was thick with expectancy as each side mentally sized up the other, and searched for options.
"Put your weapons down and your hands up." The team leader ordered. She answered with a round in his throat. The remaining security team didn't hesitate, they opened fire at her, but it was a split second too late. She had already dropped to the floor. Instead of taking out the threat, the bullets flew harmlessly over her head, cutting the Chairman in half. He had been behind her at his desk, had drawn his own gun and started to fire at the same time the team did. He inadvertently took out a team member, right before he was cut down. Realizing what had happened, the security team ceased firing. In their moment of shock, she jumped up and mowed them down. Guns still smoking, she ran to the computer, shoved the bloody corpse out of the way, and started downloading files to a flash drive. Once she had all the evidence she needed, she uploaded a virus with a specific purpose in mind. The internal power plant that supplied electricity to the entire complex, was a radical new design. It wasn't nuclear, but was still volatile if not kept in check by a complicated computer program. The virus attacked that program, disabling it. Her mission complete, she ran out of the office and escaped as alarms began to sound.
William had watched and listened the entire time. His horror increased with each event. Seeing through the webcam his boss, the man who had given him the greatest opportunity of his life, ripped to shreds, was devastating. Watching the woman work at the computer right before the alarms went off, told William that she had sabotaged it. An electronic voice announced, "Core unstable, evacuate immediately." He immediately began downloading backup files for all his projects, and sending them to a secure location, off site. Kim and Lana ran to his office.
"Sir, what do we do?" They pleaded.
"Get out!" He yelled over the blaring alarm. "Evacuate!"
"What about you?" Lana asked.
"I'll be right behind you." He lied.
They left without another word, racing to the elevator. His files transferred, William calmly walked down the empty hallway, into one of the project rooms. Over the sirens came an electronic voice.
"Ninety seconds to core breach." It said in a businesslike manner that belied the urgency of the situation.
William had to keep one nagging thought pushed to the back of his mind. He unlocked a cabinet, took out a full syringe, and injected himself. Once the syrum was running through his veins, he collapsed to the floor, and began to run through the events of the day. When he had seen the woman using the Chairman's computer, he noticed she was wearing a black leotard. Mentally putting two and two together, he realized that he could've prevented his own life's work from being destroyed, simply by pushing the 'Intruder' button this morning. William sat on the floor, covered his face, and began to cry.
"Thirty seconds to core breach." Reminded the calm, electronic voice.
The driver awoke to the sounds of alarms and an electronic voice saying, "Fifteen seconds to core breach."
He rubbed his eyes, trying to clear the haze. He felt a bump on his head as he looked around a room full of covered bodies, trying to find his missing truck.
The packed elevator car was almost to the ground floor. Inside, the smell of sweat and fear was overwhelming. No one spoke, aside from the occasional half whispered prayer. The doors opened and the people exploded out of the elevator like it was the running of the bulls. They scrambled madly toward the exit doors. The seconds ticked by like days, as the voice counted down.
They made it through the doors, into the open air. Some people collapsed on the stairs, breathing hard, thinking they had made it to safety. Others kept running.
It didn't make any difference.
A blinding flash of light followed by a ball of energy, engulfed everything within a mile of the dying core. Dozens of city blocks were instantly vaporized. When the glow subsided, nothing existed but a hole in the ground. It looked like someone had taken a giant melonballer and scooped out a section of the planet.
He drove the stolen truck as fast as it would go, away from the city. The flash in the rear view mirror startled him. He almost stopped to see what it was, when he saw that it was rapidly approaching his truck, threatening to engulf it. He pushed a little harder on the gas pedal that was already on the floor. The light came within fifteen feet of his rear bumper, then receded. He kept driving at full speed anyway, only diverting his attention away from the road when he saw a 'Thransom' helicopter fleeing the explosion just above him.
At the bottom of the newly formed canyon, a single atom bonded with another atom. Those two atoms bonded with another atom, and another. Two hours later, William lay naked, looking up at the giant hole in the earth.