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Rated: E · Short Story · Scientific · #2272355
A young journalist tries to get to the bottom of a lab explosion and a man-made virus.
“Sir, we seem to be receiving odd signals from the chemical!”
“Sir, the bat is going nuts!”
“Sir, we have a prob…”
“Sir, something is”
“Sir, you need to see this.” Sirens begin to blare as the calls become more urgent.
“Put it on the big screen, Sean,” Dolan ordered. With only a glance at the changed page, he calls for an immediate shutdown.
“Shut it down! Shut it down now!” The sirens slow to a slow drawl before stopping and the silence in the room is deafening as everyone holds their breath waiting for the boss to tell them what to do. “Good job everyone that was close. We are going to shut down this research it is unstable and unsafe.” The room all releases a breath at the same time and the clean-up begins.
A loud crash makes the researchers, scientists, and techies to jump.
“What are you lazy lab rats doing? Did I order for these experiments to cease?” Dolan hurries over.
“Sir, it’s unsafe. It’s a virus that can be used against the people.” The man drops a heavy hand on Dolan’s shoulder.
“Exactly my boy, exactly. Now get your sorry group back together and finish that virus.”
Dolan gulps and looks back at all the people in the room with him. He knew well to finish would most likely be suicide but walking out those doors without a finished product was suicide. He looks each of his colleagues in the eyes. With shaking hands Dolan presses the start-up button.

~ ~ ~

The screen blanks out for a moment before it lights again and a large explosion fills the screen, and everything goes fuzzy.
“That was all the footage we were able to piece together.”
“Dolan didn’t look like he knew it was going to blow. He looked afraid of what they were making.”
“Correct which makes me think this is going to be used as a weapon.”
“You mean something to scare people into submission with?” Rook leans forward his excitement glowing in his eyes.
“Yes, exactly. Rook, snap out of it. This is not exciting this is serious.”
“I know sir, but we have seen this coming.”
Hardy groans rubbing the bridge of his nose.
“Explain what you're saying.”
Rook hops up and paces the room he spins on his heels when he reaches the wall and begins again. “What did I tell you when the unruly riots began?” Before Hardy can answer Rook moves on. “I said if there are no consequences things will get worse. And guess what happened, this.” Rook waves a hand at the still fuzzing screen. “And before you know it a puppet is in power.”
“Rook you are going too far.” Hardy interrupts sinking into his chair.
“No disrespect sir but I have not gone far enough.” Rook stops pacing and stare’s out the window. “What if they were building something that is said to stop the virus but it really is to kill off people; because the world is “overpopulated’?”
“Rook,” Hardy says sternly.
“Hardy sir, I’m not being unrealistic. These things happen this is how communist countries strike fear into their people so they can control them. Sir, America is not a country to be controlled. We fought for our freedom and many gave their lives for it. Would we bend so far that their lives were for nothing?”
“I have a meeting in five. Go home and take the weekend off. Get this nonsense out of your head. I need you ready to talk to the public about what happened over the news on Thursday.” In deep thought Rook nods and leaves Hardy’s office. Only in the parking garage does he realize Hardy had laid him off. With a sigh, Rook goes in search of his car.

Rook arrives home and soundlessly hunts the house till he spots his wife reading on their couch. He sneaks up behind her and catches her around the waist and drags her up out of the chair. She screams and struggles for a moment before she recognizes his chuckles and dissolves into a giggling mess. She half-heartedly slaps him until he releases her.
“Rook, you nearly gave me a heart attack.”
“Nearly.”
“I might have died.”
“But you didn’t.” He whispers. She begins to soften but realizes she was supposed to be mad.
“Rook, you shouldn’t do that what if it actually happens and I think it's you?”
“Candace, I love you.” Her heart melts and she sighs twisting his unresisting curls around her fingers.
“I love you too. You’re home early, aren’t you?” Rook sets her on her feet.
“Hardy thinks my theory is too unrealistic.”
“Tell me.”
“Two days ago there was an explosion at a research lab. Over at the compound, we have some leaked footage from three hours before the explosion, but only for a few moments before it cuts off. It cuts back on as the explosion occurs.” He sticks the tape in and plays it.
“So what would have caused the blackout and what happened in between?”
“We don’t know it could have been anything. From the reports, we received Garnet had only just reached safety when the lab exploded. Hardy thinks some bats may have survived.”
“Wouldn’t they hunt them down?”
Rook pauses. “No. No, not if they assumed the bats died in the explosion with all the people. The area surrounding the compound is known for serving bats.”
“So someone killed one of the bats from the compound and serve it as a dish and that’s how everything started?”
“Yes.”
She pats the cushion beside her and when he sits she leans on his shoulder. “You think it was purposeful?”
“I think when the camera’s blacked-out Sean had a few bats packed up and sent to his home lab so he could use his more advanced technology to get better scans. He left the rest for Dolan to keep an eye on and do what they could with their limited resources. After Sean left something went wrong. And that is what set off a chain reaction and the entire compound went up in flames.” Rook catches her hand and weaves her fingers between his. “I’m sorry Candace, I’m probably boring you.”
“Your theories don’t bore me, Rook.” She says sternly sitting up to look him in the eyes. “I love you and your theories.”
Rook gazes into her eyes and kisses the back of her hand. “I love you. How did your day go.”
She pulls his arm over her head and around her and scoots into his side. “It was fine, a usual day.”
“What’s a usual day like?” He asks watching her with sharp eyes as he holds her protectively knowing something wasn’t quite right.
“Well, I finished all the laundry, went to my doctor's appointment, and made a big meal for the orphanage. They wouldn’t let me stay because of some state mandate but I didn’t wait around to hear what they were talking about I had a few things I needed to get at the store anyway. I went to my class at the college and…” She stops and presses her face into his shirt with a pitiful sob.
He pulls her more into his arms and hugs her tightly. “Shh Shh, I thought something was wrong, what’s going on?”
“I lost the baby, Rook,” her body shakes and he clutches her closer.
“Oh Candace, why didn’t you call me? Babe, you know I would have come right away.”
“That’s why I didn’t call. I knew you had important things you were working on,” She gazes up at him and he looks into her pained eyes, “I didn’t want to tell you over the phone,” her voice breaks.
Rook pulls her into his lap and holds her tight feeling his heartbreaking with hers.
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