* * *
Nurse Mitchell checked Matt Siebert’s pulse with her gloved hand. “He’s dead, Jim.”
Doctor James Monroe looked up from his desk in the isolation lab, frowned, and walked beside Mitchell. He placed his own gloved fingers on Siebert’s wrist. “Damn it,” he muttered after a count of sixty. He tapped a button on a machine and spoke aloud. “Time of death…” He placed both hands on his isolation hood and pressed his face against the plastic. “Zero nine seventeen.” He returned to his desk, consulted some notes and continued. “Estimated life cycle of pathogen seven five romeo niner, was one thousand seven hundred sixty nine days.” He tapped the button on the machine again and sat at his desk. “We kept him alive for almost five years.”
Mitchell nodded and went about the task of shutting down all the machines surrounding the patient. When she was sure Doctor Monroe wasn’t looking, she secreted the syringe he had previously injected Matt Siebert with between the body and the sheet.
While the doctor puttered around his desk examining sheaves of printouts and muttering to himself, Mitchell had partially disassembled the gurney and was zipping up the integrated body bag when the doctor exclaimed, “what the hell?”
Doctor Monroe looked up from his desk and Mitchell took a step back.
“What have you done?” He yelled, his mask fogging up.
He leapt up waving a printout, the neat folds unraveling as he stormed around the desk. “He was stable until this morning!”
Mitchell responded by removing her gloves and reaching for the Velcro that covered the zipper to her mask. “I did what I had to do.”
The doctor staggered back against his desk, papers abandoned and fluttering to the ground. Mitchell stepped towards him, mask in hand and the doctor recoiled in horror. “You’ve killed us all!” He screamed, eyes wide.
Quietly, she replied, “It was already too late for us.” She returned to prepping the body for transport.
The airlock gasped as a rush of air flowed into the lab. Red lights blinked marching a klaxon warning all those in the facility both doors were open at once. The two in the isolation lab looked to the airlock as Kelvin stepped through with a woman at his side. She looked out of place in her leather jacket and red hair framing her high cheekbones.
The woman walked to the body bag still on the gurney, unzipped it, scowled and declared, “You smell terrible. What happened?” She rezipped the bag, took a step back and raised her fist to her mouth.
“Gregg?” Asked Mitchell.
Samantha nodded. “You can call me Red.” She gestured towards the doctor, frozen next to his desk. “Who’s this?”
“Doctor Monroe.” Kelvin called from the airlock. “He could be an asset.”
Samantha leaned down, grabbed the bag and tossed it over her shoulder. She turned to Kelvin. “Well,” she adjusted the weight across her shoulders, “bring him along.”
Kelvin and Mitchell took the doctor by the arms and led him out the airlock after Samantha.
Next: The Wait