by Eli Crow
John followed them into the vault. The hatch slid shut; they were safe.
|Panic was the general response. Panic—of all things! Lawyers, businessmen, underwriters—usually composed and equanimous—all sprinting madly to the safe rooms, shouting profanities and pious oaths at the top of their lungs. One businesswoman broke a heel and tumbled to the floor. Determined, she abandoned her shoes and ran barefoot through the throng that now clotted the hallway, despairing that there would not be room for her.
But of course there was, there would always be. Seven times, the safe room had been expanded to accommodate MBB’s ever-increasing numbers. Every precaution had been taken to ensure that no threat could penetrate its massive steel hatch. The floors were made of concrete; sturdy frames buttressed each of the walls; two automated turrets stood guard outside.
John the intern stirred from his cubicle and saw the crowd funneling to the hallway, which, at great fault of its designer, bottlenecked so obtrusively that the traffic therein now slowed to a crawl. John rushed to join the throng, not entirely sure what was happening. The three weeks he had worked at MBB, he had never seen them like this.
John unconsciously followed them into the vault. The hatch slid shut; they were safe. John spotted two bare feet in front of him, which nervously shuffled back and forth. “Wh–What’s going on?” John’s voice cracked.
"It was horrible." the businesswoman replied, “Lisa must’ve gotten sick or something and ... and—”
“Well what?” John blurted impatiently.
“... She sneezed.”
John frowned. I don’t have time for this. He pressed through the crowd and slapped the green release button. The door slid open. The crowd reacted with much panic.
“Where are you going?” the businesswoman shouted.
John glared at her sardonically. “To the bathroom.”
"Well hurry back ... and bring the hand sanitizer.” she added, “Don’t come back without it.”