Episode III: Part VI - The Case of the Missing Virus
The soft glow of the white fluorescent lights filtered through the small window of the hermetically sealed door. Matt turned and glanced at Delia.
“Are they on their way?” she whispered.
“Yeah — they are,” he whispered back. “Go ahead and position yourself on the floor.”
Satisfied Delia’s theatrics were sufficiently realistic, Matt clasped his hands together behind his back. He pressed his front torso against the door, his face adjacent to the viewing window.
Noticing Delia on the floor through the door's window, the alpha thug turned his head around. “Something’s wrong with the girl,” he told Mitchell standing behind him. "She’s on the floor. There’s blood on her face."
“Move,” Mitchell ordered. “Let me have a look.”
Matt pounded on the steel door with his knee. “She needs help,” he yelled.
“What happened?” Mitchell asked, peering through the viewing window.
“She fainted, then fell and hit her head on the floor. I haven’t been able to revive her. She has a gash on her forehead and she’s bleeding out of her ear.”
The rogue scientist understood enough to know that clear fluids or blood emanating from the nose or ears of an injured party was a distinct sign of a serious head injury. Stepping back, he motioned for his main henchman to unlock the door.
“Step away from the door, Duggan,” the primary thug snarled, gun in hand.
His hands clasped behind him, Matt backed away several steps, careful not to reveal his wrists were no longer bound. The door handle engaged on the opposite side with a distinctive thunk, followed by the door sliding to the left on its track. The perp’s accomplice entered first, followed by Mitchell’s primary enforcer. Standing next to Delia, the alpha thug’s associate turned his head around. “Hey boss, do you want ….”
In the blink of an eye, Delia grabbed both hems of the kidnapper’s utility pants, yanking his feet out from underneath him. Pulled completely off both feet, he fell backwards with such force his head reverberated with the sound of a sickening crack against the concrete floor. It was lights out.
Startled by the suddenness of Delia’s movement, the primary perp glanced in the direction of his partner. That’s all the diversion Matt needed. In an instant he stepped forward, delivering a power punch to the jaw of Mitchell’s chief minion. He dropped like a lead balloon, falling to the floor next to his partner-in-crime. Matt lurched out of the room, sprinting for Mitchell, now running for the stairwell leading to the first floor of the unfamiliar dwelling.
“Aargh,” Mitchell groaned as Matt caught-up with him at the stairwell. He had just placed a foot on the first step when Matt grabbed him and jerked his right arm up behind his back.
“What are you doing?” Mitchell protested.
“It’s called a hammerlock. Let me know if this tickles,” Matt snarled, ratcheting his arm further with a burning twist. “You and I are walking back to your makeshift Tower of London — move, mister.”
“Aargh,” Mitchell cried out louder. “Okay, okay, whatever you say.”
Grasping the shoulder of the rogue scientist’s white lab coat with his left hand, Matt directed Mitchell back to the same creepy room he and Delia were held captive just moments earlier. She was standing outside the chamber, the door closed and locked.
“I have your gun, their guns, and our cell phones,” Delia blurted out.
“Good,” Matt said. “How are the two goons?”
“Sound asleep,” Delia replied, “with their hands triple zip-tied behind them,” she added with a smile, twirling an unused tie in front of Mitchell.
“What is your plan me?” Mitchell asked nervously.
“In a moment you’ll be joining your two sidekicks inside your own mini-gas chamber while we contact the FBI. “But first, you’re going to tell me where those missing vials are.”
Matt torqued Mitchell’s right arm.
“Aarrgh,” he screamed.
“I’ll twist your sorry-ass arm right off,” Matt threatened.
“Alright, alright,” Mitchell cried out.
Matt released his grip. “And I’m not going to ask you again — where are they?”
Mitchell gasped, attempting to catch his breath and re-orient himself as the pain in his arm lessened. “They're in the lab” he confessed. “The vials are in cryopreserved freezers in a separate room underneath the stairwell.”
“Have you opened the vials since bringing them here?” Matt asked.
“No,” Mitchell confessed. “This lab is only equipped to handle BSL-1 pathogens.”
“You mean until we were abducted,” Delia angrily retorted. “I know the difference between biosafety levels regarding pathogens, and those vials you removed from Virolabs contain a BSL-4 microorganism. “You were only hours, perhaps minutes away from ramping it up to BSL-4, with Matt and I as the guinea pigs.”
“That explains the hermetically sealed chamber,” Matt added as he looked it over thoroughly again from the outside, quickly glancing into the room through the viewing window. Mitchell’s thugs remained motionless on the concrete floor.
“Listen, I ……”
“What were you planning to do with that virus after your mad scientist experiment with us was over?” Matt interrupted.
Mitchell clammed up.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Matt responded in frustration, exchanging glances with Delia. "When Frank and his prosecutor friends explain the decades he’s facing in prison, he may be a little more cooperative.”
Delia pivoted toward the scientist. "Turn around,” she snapped.
Complying with her command, Mitchell slowly completed an about face. She secured Mitchell’s wrists with three zip ties, tightening each one with a firm yank, a sharp hissing sound audible with each tug.
“Do you have to tighten them like that?” Mitchell asked, his face cringing with apprehension and pain.”
“How do you like it?” Delia taunted.
Matt grabbed the door’s handle and pulled, unlocking the chamber’s portal and sliding it to the left. He rendered an unsympathetic gaze at Mitchell.