Haven – 03

This took me a while to upload… it’s not much, but I’ve been getting off my butt and right into writing. As always, this is unedited, so be aware of the mistakes. Mistakes galore!

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DAY 13

It’s been three days since the Research City closed its gates after the lockdown. Nobody really asked why, since inside the city was safer than wandering around the outside world. Eventhough it was well distanced from the city, its influence could be felt within the monochromatic walls of every structure: the fear, the incapability to change one’s luck, the insecurity and the desire to reshape the situation. High crime rate and violence, it was no wonder everyone strived to work with the Q3 Corporation. The Black Stars usually patrolled within the buildings, suspiciously at the same hour every day for the past three days. Something was happening or was about to happen, probably something had gone missing and they were willing to do whatever it took to corner the thief.

I looked around for a bit, before starting my shift. Janet stood by the door of the R-6 building; she looked worried. We had been friends, back in our university days; when she was nervous, she’d constantly play with her hair – she was doing that right now. As I walked towards her, I noticed an older fellow walking straight to her. They engaged in conversation as I watched from afar. The expression on her face was that of fear… but why? The old man, grey hair, a long lab coat covered his wide chest, standing well above her head, his short grey beard ran up to his side burns, and a grey metallic briefcase on his right hand. He gave her a keycard and entered the building. I promptly made my way to where she was. She was on the verge of tears.

“What’s wrong? What happened”? I tried talking to her but she made no sense.

“I fucked up… I fucked up real bad,” she repeated over and over again. Lifting her hands to cover her face, she smiled. “I sold my soul to the devil, Michael. Now, it has come looking for that which I promised.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I signed up for a shitty experiment… an experiment I knew there was a .1% chance of survival,” she slid the keycard into her pocket. “I didn’t expect that they’d go ahead with it.”

“What did you get yourself into?”

“There are secrets confined within this place… dark secrets. The devil’s lurking within these walls.”

“What? You knew didn’t you? You knew exactly what you were getting into… you knew what my sister got into! You knew all along!” I stared into her eyes. She tried averting my gaze. “Damn it! What happened to her? You know I’ve been worried sick about her…”

“Mike… right now’s not a good time,” she moved her eyes. A camera, we were being monitored.

She motioned for me to go. As I turned around, she gave me a crumpled piece of paper. Never once did I look back, never once did I even think of saying good bye. Something inside of me whispered that this would be the last time I’d see her alive.

On my way back, I bumped into Ms. Rosa. She stopped and dragged me over to the G-3. She grabbed a piece of paper and wrote something on it, I was unable to make out what it was. Folding it neatly, she placed it inside my pocket and walked away. Jesus Christ, it’ll be a long day.

*****

Lying on my bed, I look up at the ceiling. It was white, absolutely white, with not a scratch or imperfection to be found. It was a lonely place, sometimes I’d wish my girlfriend was here to cheer me up. This job was making me lose my mind. Whenever she called, I had to hide everything that was considered sensitive information from her. The walls had ears and so did the computers.

I got off my bed and walked into the bathroom. Locking the door, I looked at the piece of paper that Janet had left behind. It had a few things written on it: RSTP00986, and below a: Genysis78. Was this a username and a password? If so, where would I input these things? Maybe there was a log in for people in Janet’s position.  Now looking at Ms. Rosa’s paper, it was more of a direct command: meet me at 11 by the G-5 gate. Easier said than done… I had to evade the guards and probably the Black Stars. What was even more puzzling was the fact that she didn’t even ask for directions to the place. She didn’t even believe me when I told her that such a place existed.

Two hours and a few beers later, I awakened to the sound of static: somehow my pc’s monitor had been turned on. Static? I don’t remember that happening on an LCD screen. The computer started, loading all programs till a couple of windows appeared. It had a logo and two spaces for a login and a password. The keyboard started typing by itself, adding the same login name and password written on the crumpled piece of paper Janet had given me. As it logged in, multiples windows appeared on the monitor: fragments of reports, statistics, lists… Emilia Alejandra Guerra… my sister! I crawled closer to the edge of my bed, closer to the screen. Suddenly, the shadows that adorned my room began to fill every nook and cranny, sliding and covering everything – including the light from the windows and LCD. With the fading glimmer of light, a scream echoed through my room – I woke up covered in sweat, as the empty cans of bears fell of my bed. Was it all a dream? Managing to pull my weight, I made my way into the bathroom.

I found myself walking towards our meeting place. The bioluminescent shrubbery glowed as the night sky was illuminated by the tiny glimmer of starlight. The moon was a bright crimson crescent, hovering next to a bright start glowing in gold. The was no wind, the walls blocked most of the air currents but a slight breeze could be felt from time to time; it was a relief that the inside of every building had air conditioning and small fans to mimic a slight breeze at certain locations.

Each building was five stories tall, with no exceptions, and absolutely no windows. Only the cafeteria was allowed to have windows. Inside every building there was a world of its own: its adjusted temperature, humidity, elimination of allergens and static; even the inside pressure had been tweaked.

Still pretty clumsy, my drunken state became apparent as the dizziness grew even more obstructive to tonight’s plans – whatever they may be. On the distance, I could see Ms. Rosa, leaning against the wall. Her hair was tied in a bun, unlikely of her – maybe there would be something that would have us running around like criminals. I shuddered at the sound of that; I wouldn’t let anything or anybody risk my research. I was going to find my sister, no matter the cost.

Haven – 02

Wow, I actually made a part 2… I guess I’m starting to like this story. It’s coming along slowly because I have summer school and an exam every week. I did a slight wtf jump somewhere and still trying to fix it… no inspiration is flowing today. Enjoy and as always – it’s unedited and filled with mistakes, so tread lightly. Leave a comment if you found it amusing, good, bad, or anything.

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DAY 8

                It’s been a whole week. Early morning and late evening, the stress was kicking in. My fingers were so adapted to the whole procedure; I couldn’t even hold a spoon without pressing my thumb unto the tip of its handle. It wasn’t a very technical job but the pay was good.

The cafeteria seemed so vacant, just a few souls lingering about. My supervisor used to sit by herself. She’d seldom speak to anybody beside job related topics. She would always have her hair tied in a bun and her big conspicuous glasses always slipped down her small nose. Her name was America, strange name for a strange girl.

“Good morning, Ms. Rosa, how are you?” I sat next to her. She didn’t even look up but still managed to respond, somehow.

“Mr. Guerra, I’m okay but I’ll be back to work in a few minutes.” Her voice was as cold as the first day that I met her. “And you should hurry up too.”

“Hey, I was wondering… Can I ask you a question?” She didn’t even flinch. “It’s kind of a strange question so try not to laugh.”

“Mr. Guerra, I can assure you that I don’t have a very good sense of humor.”

That explains a lot. “Okay… Here goes: have you heard anything, any rumors or anything at all about G-5 and what lays beyond that gate?”

She stared at me, silently, examining if I was pulling her leg. “Are you serious?”

“Dead serious.”

“G-5 doesn’t even exist; it’s a myth used to scare newbies,” she grabbed a tiny red pill and swallowed it with some fruit juice. “That’s like asking if local folklore is real.”

“Between you and me, there is some freaky stuff happening and it’s all tied to the G-5 stories.” Sitting up, I stared into her small blue eyes. “I saw the place.”

Her face shifted from a burst-into-laughter to a are-you-serious expression. Slipping into her white lab coat, she grabbed her water bottle and finished her juice. I sat next to her, carefully measuring her mood. She wanted to say something but it seemed as if she couldn’t quite piece it together.

“You say G-5?”Skeptial, as always.

“I did but I’ll continue after we get back from our shift,” as I stood, she grabbed my shoulder and shoved me into the chair.

“You are not going anywhere,” she wouldn’t let me go without a thorough explanation.

“I got lost a few days ago and followed the wall. I thought that the wall would lead me straight to a gate… it did but it wasn’t the gate I was looking for. G-5 stood ominous, it was still active but there seemed nobody inside. An old guard told me that freaky stuff happen on the other side of that gate.”

She bit her lip. Placing her hands inside the pockets of the lab coat, she played with her eyes. Looking around, hoping that nobody was eavesdropping on the conversation.

“G-5 is not supposed to exist and even if it did… there is no sane reasoning for keeping such a place,” she raised her fingers. “Testing and Experimentation are within G-2, Research within G-3 and Production within the G-4; there is no reason to have a G-5.”

DAY 10

After a few days of traveling to and from the city, I decided to stay within the compound. The apartments were small yet comfortable; a bet, a closet, a small bathroom and a small table. There were nine buildings, all ordered into three triangles. I saved time and money, things that were precious to me. That morning, Ms. Rosa sent me a message: I want to see the G-5. She seldom talked but the moment she did, things got serious.

That evening, I waited for her outside the building. Late as usual, she was a thorough worker – probably suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. She was wearing a small black dress; the lab coat was for show as she worked inside an office.

“How were the numbers today?” I looked at my watch, it was already past six thirty.  The sun had already set.

“Ha ha ha,” she replied dryly. “Was that a joke?”

“I just don’t see the need for a lab coat inside an office.”

“It’s part of procedure, okay?” Her high heels knocked the sidewalk with such force, it echoed amongst the building. As tall as monoliths, these building were dead remnants of a green area that was burned to the ground to make way for this facility. “I have to keep a close eye on those numbers. Stabilizing the environment means that reactions take place at a controlled pace. I’m mother nature.”

“Morris told me that these bioluminescent plants were your idea.”

“In a way, yes. I was working with splicing jellyfish DNA with living things. It was a pretty straight forward work, testing the whole splicing business and then it hit me: save the grid, plant living light posts,” she grabbed her phone and showed me the digital photos of the first experiments. “We made trees but thought that small and medium sized bushes would do the trick.”

“But you still use LED light.”

“Yes, but these bioluminescent plants generate around 45% of the light needed to traverse around the compound. A simple way of saving money and keeping this planet clean.”

We walked into the cafeteria of a nearby building to grab a bite, already sensing that the adventure would definitely take its time. The place was empty, except for two or three persons still eating and the staff. The air conditioner had been turned off but a soft breeze was being pumped from the outside. It was dark, probably around seven thirty but you could see, through the transparent windows, the glow of the bioluminescent shrubbery; a light blue glow.

“So, you were in the Botanical Gardens, next to the Biodome?” I played around with my soup. “There’s a research lab within the confines of the glass dome, right?”

“Yes, I was. I worked there with another colleague; we were in-charge of the Cytogenetics Department and Cryogenics.” She fixed her blonde hair, as it dangled from between her fingers. Making a short ponytail, she continued: “She was moved to the Necrobiology Department… I think she had a degree in Thanatology or something like that.”

She sat fixated on her spoon, swirling things around her plate. “Taphonomy too, I guess. She was well versed on every topic pertaining to death.”

“No shit, she was modern day necromancer.” I moved my plate over to a side. “We’re way off topic. The thing is, this G-5 does exist and I want to know why it’s not on the map.”

The LCD screens, overhead, were pouring an absurd amount of local news. Something was going on outside, riots and blockades. Due to this very incident, many were unable to make it to work. The floor was tense, on the eve of the Phage’s release, the Research City was undermanned. The Black Stars were patrolling within the building, almost as if bracing for something.

“Is it that bad?” I asked.

“What is?” She looked around at the passing heavily armored soldiers.

“The riots outside the Research City.”

“Even if a volcano erupted, the walls of this city are reinforced. They can take artillery fire and not crumble.” She slid off her coat. “The Black Stars are the anti-contamination unit. They are called in when a severe outbreak occurs and quarantine is evoked upon the facility; and when I say evoked I mean that they force you to sit by and die.”

Carrying gas masks connected by a large tube over to a tank strapped to their backs, every soldier carried a semi-automatic rifle, a riot shield and a couple other firearms. The rifles were covered in a black ink-like substance with a bayonet on its tip, its long handle was lined with a sharp blade – the rifle could double as a spear or an axe, by the looks of it.  The riot shields were darkened, metal plates with a small slit at the tip and hole on the right side. These men were armed and ready for an invasion, not a contamination breech.

Their shadows painted the glimmering tiled floor, as their shoes echoed with each step. The white walls that furnished the building became dull and gloomy. I became tense. I always got tense around soldiers, especially those who looked as if they were about to butcher a community.

“Something’s not right,” a woman’s voice could be heard from over a distance.

“To hell with this,” someone else commented.

Haven – 01

So, it’s been a while since I posted anything on this blog. I might be a little rusty, feel free to comment and/or reprimand me. Okay, as always, it’s unedited and I’m not sure how long I’ll stretch this story… so, enjoy while it runs.

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DAY 1

Sunlight shone on my face, disturbing my sleep. I slowly opened my eyes as the window darkened. The constant hum of the vehicle was as seductive as the comfy bed I had left behind. Grabbing a hold of the seat, I pushed myself in an upright position. The radio was low, humming a few tunes I could barely recognize. Janet looked back and smiled, holding a small plastic cup in her hands.

“Take this, it’s pretty strong,” she leaned to a side and took out another cup.

As the warmth of the small black cup seeped into my skin, I took a small sip. “How long was I out?”

“For about an hour or so, I wasn’t expecting for traffic to be this troublesome.”

The coffee lacked sugar but it was good. We had stalled at the very entrance, right after the Belize Bridge; traffic was terrible. Monday mornings were the worst time for anybody to be stuck in traffic. The street drowned in grey smog with echoes of car horns and paperboys going from window to window, in an attempt to make a sale.

I looked at my cellphone; it was ten in the morning.  “Aren’t we running a little late?”

“You start at twelve, Richard and I need to be there by eleven,” Janet didn’t seem the least bit worried. “But, we’ve got a pretty good excuse and Richard is in-charge of the project.”

“So, you’ve got more liberties than what you should really have.” I lay back on the seat. It was soft, smooth, with slight warmth still lingering on its surface. “By the way, is it the same smart polymer you’ve been working on?”

Janet glanced at Richard. Richard smiled, “don’t worry honey; the information had already been leaked. At this very moment, there is nothing more we can do, besides, he’s going to be a part of the research staff.”

I stretched my arms and sat upright, “I swear I didn’t leak any information.”

“We know you didn’t,” Janet smiled back at me. “We are being cautious about who we trust. Oh, I almost forgot to ask you, how’s Carol?”

“Carol’s fine. I didn’t want to leave her but I needed the money to finish my studies.” Gazing at the walls on the horizon, the highway was surprisingly empty. “I can’t have her worrying about me.”

“So, what are you studying?” Richard looked over from the real-view mirror.

“I’m trying to get a degree in Pharmacogenomics.”

“That’s great; I have a degree in genetics and evolutionary genetics, among other degrees I’ve picked up along the way.” Richard had this strong assertive voice, as if he was in command and would always be in command. It bugged me a little.

Taking a left turn, we parted ways with the highway and entered an enclosed region. The narrow road was wide enough for trucks to go through, with both sides surrounded by tall light-grey walls with the company logo. Ahead in the distance, a large gate came into view. Q3corp, the three was inverted, all in red, with three hexagonal structures in the background.  The doors were a few inches thick, possibly concrete and steel; it’s a pretty well secured research lab.

The slow creaking of the bolts rotating and locking in place, the sound of the air being pushed out of the structure and the wall being shut tight behind us; it was scary, I had a really bad feeling about this.

“This place is really uptight about their security, aren’t they? What exactly do you guys do?” I looked back at the guards standing in front of the gate – they were not unlike soldiers or a riot squad.

“Here we research anything of importance to the human race – from polymers to tissue, from medications to biodegradable glass, we have it all,” Janet took out her identification card from the small black purse, “we are not bound by limits since we have so much to offer the outside world.”

“Let me put it this way, Mike: we do the stuff that makes the world go round – we are pioneers on the brink of new discoveries.” Taking a sip from this coffee, Richard continued, “those phagocytes that we announced, that’s a medical discovery. To use a virus that eats bacteria to eliminate infections? That’s a masterpiece in itself. That is who we are.”

“But we aren’t expecting the other companies to come rushing in with battle tanks and mortars, are we? These security measures seem a little excessive don’t you—“I was promptly interrupted by Janet.

“We’re here! Grab your identification card and come with me… we need to disinfect you, thoroughly.”

Disinfection? What was she talking about? We were still in what appeared to be the outer courtyard. I opened the door and as I stepped outside of the vehicle, the ground crackled beneath my shoe. The gravel, like a harsh coarse pillow, scrapped and rocked with each step. The sun was high on the blue sky, an ocean above our heads with not a cloud in sight – a gentle breeze flooded the ground as Richard parted ways and into the first building. The structured were all plane white, with big black numbers and letters to identify them. The T-8 building stood before us, as the car reversed and drove past us. Janet led me to a small parking lot where small vehicles, similar to golf-carts, were parked.

“Where are we headed? I see these buildings are all marked but why is the T-8 building the first one beyond the gate?” I leaned forward, as Janet slowly drove the cart. “Is there an order to these labs or are they even labs?”

“The first letter defines what exactly goes on inside: T for Testing, R for Research, E for Experiments and P for production. You’re headed over to the P-3 building.” Janet made a few turns and moved into through two other gates. “The whole facility is divided by four different walls, with the first wall being the outside wall and the other three dividing the inside… like a mitochondria.”

“Or a eukaryotic cell…” Correcting her made me feel as if I wasn’t so useless after all. She was a research scientist; I was here just to help with production.

We stopped on the first gate: G-2. We parked next to a few other carts, similar in shape but differently colored. Taking a step inside, the door locked behind us, a red light shone on us as the room became flooded with a gas. “This is for disinfection, it might not be much since we’re stepping outside again but we want to ensure that the only pathogens that you have are ours.”

“That sounds pretty ominous.” I whispered.

“Did you say something?” She replied, swiping her card. The door opened.

“No, nothing, just admiring how strict the security is around here.”

“A few things can come in but nothing comes out without our approval,” her eyes twinkled as she said that.

 ******

                The P-3 building was a five story building, white and non-characteristic on the outside, but on the inside it was brimming with activity. Everyone covered from head to toe: masks, goggles, gloves, and what appeared to be light blue surgical bonnets that covered everything except their face. As I stepped inside a room lit with ultraviolet light, a soft muffled voice asked me to step over to a small metallic plate.

“Please look up at the sensor, it’s that small red light directly in front of you,” his voice was so soft; I could swear he was whispering.

A laser beam scanned my body. “I’m not going to turn into the hulk or am I?” I snickered; he didn’t.

“Brace yourself, gas treatment in 3, 2, 1-“his voice was interrupted by the outburst of gas jets battering my body. “Disinfection complete, step outside.”

A door opened to my left.

“Please follow me; we’ll get you everything you need.” A young lady, much younger than me, guided my through the maze. She was just as tall as I was, feeling a bit intimidated myself, and her eyes were perfect blue, like the deepest part of the ocean; strong and piercing, she grabbed a coat and a few other items. “Put these on, you’ll be briefed in a while. Please ensure that everything fits and is secure.”

Everything fit, everything was secure but what’s with the extreme measures? What exactly are we dealing with? The lady came back, portfolio in hand; she grabbed a test tube and hung it next to the light.

“Phagocytes, Mr. Guerra, these are tiny bacteria-eaters that will revolutionize the world. In this lab we denature them and keep them in a “dormant” state, if you want to call it that,” she fixed her glasses, pushing them closer to her eyes, “these are active… once spill could put your life in grave danger.”

“Intestinal flora, right?” I examined the test tube.

“That’s just the start…”

*****

                The day had been pretty rough, transferring phages from vacuum sealed tubes and “inactivating” them. It wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be but the risk and danger of it all kept me on my toes. After the final checkup, I walked out of the G-2 and into the night. It was around eight thirty pm. The shadows of the buildings cast upon the small paved sidewalks, dispelled by tiny led lights, hung solemnly over the ground. It wasn’t uncommon to see a guard patrolling but it seemed that security grew tighter in the late hours of the day.

I became lost amidst the maze. Everywhere I went, not a sign of the G-1. To my dismay, there were no guards here. Everything was so empty, abandoned… it was creepy and a perfect setting for one of those serial killer movies. The gravel cracked beneath my shoe, I had abandoned the sidewalk, crossing over to the wall. Maybe if I follow the wall, it’ll lead me to the gate? It was worth a shot. Small shrubbery neatly planted in a row, one after the other, cut in tiny cubes; they were my only companions. Finally, after half an hour of walking, a gate game into view – G-5. G-5? I don’t remember hearing about a G-5. The front gate was G-1, with the inside being divided into three sectors, G-2 through 4, where does that leave 5? I took out my phone; it was nearly out of battery. Searching through the virtual map, it was directly connected to the network yet there were no signs of a G-5. That was pretty strange. Had I been following the wrong map?

Upon reaching the gate, the door was lit. I pressed the button and the door slid open. The inside was active but nobody was there at the control panel. A red light engulfed the room, that wasn’t normal. Was it malfunctioning? As I was about to step inside, a guard spotted me and walked towards me; he didn’t look to happy.

“Sir, did you know that’s a restricted zone?” He was well on his fifties, a shaggy beard and bags under his eyes. “You’re not authorized to enter this place.”

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t know there was a G-5, I was looking for G-1. I’m lost,” as I quickly took a step back, the door slid shut. “It’s my first day of work.”

He inspected my ID and my phone. After confirming what I had said, he escorted me to G-1. Along the way he told me stories about how that place had been abandoned after an accident.

“There was a spill or something, people died!” His voice grew darker. “They say that every night, you can hear the cries of the people who died in there… their souls never parted from that place.”

“You can’t believe that… I’m not much of a believer myself but I don’t believe in ghosts.” I looked away, staring at the bioluminescent plants.

“No son, I have a few friends who patron on the other side of the gate. They say that sometimes the screaming becomes so unbearable and just as quickly as it started, it ends,” he whispered. “They lose three guards by the end of the month… three out of the five that usually patrol.”

“Three out of five? That means that two of them are veterans.”

“Old man Patrick and a youngster by the name of Jeffry. They’ve outlasted everyone.”

Leaving the place seemed like the best idea. Ghosts? Not really… Or was it? That night, I could barely sleep, their voices echoing in my head. Were there really ghosts on the other side of G-5?