I’d been working at the lab ten months when the incident occurred. Every day I’d walked down the long white corridor, ignoring the turn off to the restricted area. I didn’t have permission to be in the restricted area. I was a lab tech. Occasionally I’d glanced down, and seen the huge industrial steel door, with a handle that looked like the wheel of a ship, so big I always imagined it would take about four people to open it, but I never went down the corridor, never peered through the thick glass window. It was restricted. Above my paygrade.
“Morning, Lucy,” I smiled as she walked passed me and turned down the corridor. She was the scientist in charge of this special project. She always insisted I call her Lucy. All the other coats insisted on formality. They were mostly dicks though, and Lucy was really nice.
“Morning Mike,” she smiled at me. “How’s the weather?” She always asked me how the weather was, I don’t think she left the lab.
“Bit drizzly today,” I informed her. “Nice weather for ducks.”
She laughed a genuine laugh. “I’m gunna be stuck in the lab most of the day, wanna have takeout with me at lunchtime?”
“Sure, I’ll order it in. What do you fancy?” I smiled at her. Ten months I’d been there, and not really gotten to know anyone.
“Surprise me,” she smiled. “See you later.”
I watched her walk down the corridor, swipe a key card, tap in a code, press her hand against the panel before turning the big wheel. Security sure is tight down there, I thought as I plunged my hands into my pockets and began to whistle, heading to my area.
By midday I decided I had had quite enough of cleaning jars, so I brought up the takeout app on my phone. I decided to go for pizza. Who doesn’t like pizza? Cheese and tomato, sure winner.
“What are you doing here, this area’s restricted?” A tall man in a black suit and dark glasses blocked my way down the corridor like a giant, living cliche.
“I’m having lunch with Doctor Winters,” I said. “Could you tell her I’ll meet her on the steps outside. Tell her it’s brightened up.”
The man looked confused, but turned and headed towards the room. Dick, I thought to myself, as I headed up the steps and out to the main entrance to wait for our pizza.
“I think I’m in trouble, Mike,” Lucy’s voice from behind me made me start.
“What?” I spun around. She had a large bruise on her face and looked very shaken. “What happened.”
“I knew it was coming,” she said quietly. “The thing I’ve been working on, they want to move it to the next phase. It’s not ready, but they… they don’t want me to work on the next project. I think that would have been it for me, if I hadn’t arranged to meet you for lunch.”
“We need to get you out, now then, Lucy,” I said determinedly. “Don’t go back in, it’s dangerous for you.”
“It’s not that easy, Mike,” she looked awkwardly at me. “Where would I go, they’re everywhere!”
“I know.” I said calmly. I shouldn’t be revealing this. I was going off mission. But Lucy had all the information in her mind. I’d get her instead of the files, we could blow the place. “But we can protect you, trust me.”
“We?” She looked at me, a glimmer of hope in her eyes.
“I’m SECTOR, Lucy,” I smiled at her. I know I was taking a risk. “Trust me, I’ll get you out.”
“My family?” She was looking around nervously.
“We’ll get them too.” I said.
“Are you serious?” Control’s voice came in over my cranial implant. “What are you doing Mike? This is not the mission!”
“It’s the mission now,” I said firmly, turning away from Lucy slightly as I spoke. “Get her family, and send us an extraction unit, we’re leaving now.”
“BOSS isn’t gunna like this,” Control said awkwardly.
“BOSS can shove it,” I responded. “Ten months in this shit hole and I’ve got nothing. Now I’ve got something.”
“Alright, give us 30 minutes,” I could almost hear Control role her eyes.
“Mike,” Lucy looked at me. “We need to get him out.”
“Project J5. If we leave him in the room they’ll weaponise him. He’s behind the door.”
“OK,” I took a deep breath. “Come on, let’s go…”