by Paul D
A man made disaster.
|“Where did this crap come from?”
Wendy rolled her eyes at Dr. Robertson's sharp, grating voice. He was the Allegany nuclear power plant director, and he was a major pain in the ass to everybody who worked there. Wendy was the daytime shift supervisor, which meant she had to listen to his crap for most of her shift.
He stopped at the trace of gray dirt on the concrete floor and gave her a withering look. “I realize housekeeping is not high on your list of priorities, but this is the third time this week I've pointed out this gray dirt on the floor. You may want to consider replacing the cleaning crew. Obviously, they're incompetent.”
“Every morning, I walk the facility. This dirt was not here earlier.”
Dr. Robertson shook his head. “You are doing yourself no favors by covering for them. You need to grow a backbone and stop
mollycoddling the employees. If you replace the cleaning crew, you'll send a message to the other employees.”
“Yes, a message would be sent, but it wouldn't fix the problem.”
Dr. Robertson didn't respond, and they continued on their way.
As soon as their walk through the facility was done, Wendy returned to her office. Earlier this week, she'd been in full agreement with Dr. Robertson that the cleaning crew was slacking off, but now she was puzzled. She clicked on the camera for corridor seven, then she selected the time for when she would have walked that area earlier in the morning. She watched herself walk through the corridor and verified no dirt was there. She selected a time for an hour later – still no dirt. She continued to change the time until she found the dirt.
She watched the playback and was mystified by the dirt that seemingly moved of its own accord. It appeared to pop up out of the floor. She lifted the phone and hit a speed dial number.
“There's dirt in corridor seven.”
“I don't believe it.”
“I want it analyzed, and I need the results right away.”
* * *
Brandon parked his Volvo in the driveway. He stayed in the car and stared at the house for a while. There were only two other families left in this neighborhood, and the ghosts remaining in those empty houses, haunted his dreams.
It was hard to believe six years had passed since Cynthia's death. More than fifty people had become ill. They had hired a lawyer, but Allegany power was part of a conglomerate with very deep pockets. Some people had taken a settlement, but he'd decided to keep on fighting.
His cell rang, and he answered,. “Mark, I thought you were going to get back to me a couple days ago.”
“Shut up and listen. The program has gone rogue. We need to tell somebody.”
“Don't say a word until that power plant is shut down.”
“It may too late if we wait that long.”
“Look, write another program and get it under control.”
“Brandon, I already tried and failed. I'm going to call the power plant.”
“Wait--” Brandon listened to dead air.
* * *
Dr. Wilbur Robertson said, “I'm going to report this threat to the police.”
“As I already told you, this is not a threat. It's a warning about the nanobots already infecting your facility.”
Wilbur set the phone back in its place. He received half a dozen or more crank calls a week. This one might have been a bit more inventive than the others, but it was still from a nutcase. He hit speed dial for Inspector Dawson.
“This is Dr. Robertson. I have another crank call for you.”
“Okay, I'll get right on it.”
His phone rang again. “Hi, this is Wendy. Can you come down to my office? There's something I want you to see.”
“It will need to be quick. I have a meeting in a few minutes.”
“It's important and won't take long.”
“I'm on my way.” He hung up the phone and stood up. I hope this isn't a waste of my time.
He entered Wendy's office two minutes later. He shut the door behind him and asked, “What's up?”
She pointed at the monitor and said, “Take a look at this.”
When he'd seen enough, he said, “Make a copy for me, and don't say a word to anyone.”
“I have a meeting with someone from the nuclear regulatory commission in just a few minutes. I will get instructions from them.”
Wendy nodded, and Wilbur left her office. He had no intention of telling the NRC a thing. They would shut this place down in a heartbeat. He would take care of this problem.
* * *
At the first sound of an alarm, Wendy felt as if her heart would leap from her chest. The red light flashing on the panel left no doubt this was a real emergency. Reactor number one had a leak, and the water level was slowly dropping. She paged Dr. Robertson and prayed he would contact her soon.
A loud sound startled her. The metal door to her office lay on the floor. She stood up and walked to it. It appeared something had sheered off the metal hinges. A laser?
A second alarm sounded, and she hurried back to the panel to see the power room had a problem. One of the generators was off line. She placed a call to make sure the backup generator would take its place.
When she turned back toward the office opening, she saw half of the wall was gone. She watched in disbelief as it slowly vanished.
* * *
“This is a special report from Allegany news. The Allegany nuclear power plant had a catastrophic failure today, which was much worse than Chernobyl, and now there are reports of buildings collapsing for no apparent reason in the nearby city of Waxon.”
Mark turned off the TV. The computer program that controlled the nanobots was no longer working. He'd inadvertently unleashed a man-made plague, which he feared no one could stop.
The roads were already clogged with cars, but he knew it was already too late. Roads, bridges, and the nearby dam would also be destroyed soon, and this was but the start.