Waking on the ground with his head next to the computer desk, the first thing DeMarcus notices is the air around him’s still thick with whatever gas has filled the air. He expects to start choking and fighting for breath but surprisingly he feels better. He can breathe again. Considering how much gas remains in the room that may not be the smartest move but his lungs demand air and he’s going to take what’s available.
His head pounds and when he reaches up he feels dried blood on his forehead where he hit the ground. Trying to shake off the fog long enough to decipher what’s going on, he remembers the fans wouldn’t start. The table helps him climb to his feet and he returns to the terminal. The same procedure he tried before yields the same results. The venting system isn’t working, which means he can’t pump this stuff out.
Unable to get himself or the gas out of this room he turns his attention to figuring out what he’s breathing. Walking up to the damaged tubes, they don’t offer any clues. They’re large metal containers and each has around a dozen bullet holes but that’s all he knows. There’s some sort of chemical equation on each of them but the bullet holes obscure parts of it and even if they didn’t, working with scientists doesn’t make him a scientist. He has no clue what they mean. Guess he should feel lucky whatever this stuff is, it isn’t flammable.
Other tubes and containers line the walls of the lab and none of them seem damaged. There’s no way to know if any contain more of what he’s breathing or if they’re different. They have different labels so there has to be at least some variety. A few look to contain liquids but most are the same gas cannisters.
There has to be a way out. Maybe he can go through the vents? There’s no opening the steel shutters over the door without four guards to end the code red lockdown but he can’t sit here waiting to asphyxiate. Escape might be out of the frying pan and into the fire but if he’s going to be cooked either way he prefers to fight. Sizing up the vent, he realizes he’d never come close to fitting. Can he trick the computers into thinking he has four guards? Even if he could, when he ran in here gunmen were right outside. Without help he wouldn’t get past them. He’ll have to get help then.
Patting his chest down, he’s thrilled to find his phone’s okay. A quick call to 911 goes through and after being asked his emergency DeMarcus says, “Yes, my name’s DeMarcus Dodson. I’m a security guard at Secure Solutions Chemical. We’ve been attacked by a heavily armed group.”
The older sounding woman on the line cuts him off. “We’re aware of the attack sir. Police and support are on site and working to secure the building. Are you in a secure location?”
He almost laughs. “Sort of, I guess. I’m in one of the chemical labs which I locked down. There was a gas leak though and whatever’s leaking out, it’s pretty much filled the room. The filtration systems won’t come on so I can’t clear it. I have no clue what I’m breathing but they need to fix the vents before anyone else comes in, or at least wear gas masks. I’m in the main lab of B wing. Can you pass that onto the officers outside?”
The woman on the line doesn’t respond right away. DeMarcus is pretty sure he can hear whispering in the background, though he can’t make out what they’re saying. Finally she comes back sounding out of breath. “Sir, I’d like to have you speak directly with the officers on site. They might have some questions you can help with. Mind if I patch you through?”
Glad to help he agrees and after a minute on hold he hears a rough, annoyed voice on the other end of the phone. “This is Grady, who am I speaking with?”
“Name’s DeMarcus. I’m one of the security guards here at SSC. They wanted me to fill you in on anything that can help.”
DeMarcus hears someone shout to hurry up in the background. Grady says, “What’s the situation in there? We’re trying to get inside but whoever these guys are, they planned this to a T. They’ve got two men stopping us from entering right now. No good vantage point to breach. We’ll get past them but it may take awhile. With the place locked down we’re not sure how to get past the steel shutters either.”
“You won’t have luck getting past them, they’re stronger than steel. You’ll need four security guards to get the place open. I’d probably give the night guards a call. They’re your quickest bet to get inside. I can tell you they breached fast and took out our cameras before I could see much. There were four other guards here today, one was out sick or something, never called in. One seemed to be shot while he was outside investigating the semi-truck they drove up in. Is he out there? Name’s Bobby Dawn. I think there were a bunch more of the attackers in the truck. Are they still out there?”
Grady gets quiet. “We’ve got your man. He’s hurt pretty bad but he’s breathing. No clue on their truck, whatever they used to get here was long gone by the time we showed up. They have to have some plan to get out though. Any idea where the other three security guards are? I’d love to talk to them and see if they know anything else.”
“Not really. I heard gunfire from each of their zones so I’m assuming the worst though. My partner and me were on the last line of defense before the labs. She bought me time while I tried to lock things down since I’m the only one with experience doing so.” He pauses and takes a deep breath. “I heard her gun firing for a few minutes then it stopped abruptly. Draw your own conclusions.”
“Did you get it locked down? The last thing we need is to go in there and not know where to look.”
“Some of it. Wings A and B are locked down. They got to C before I could get there. I had to retreat to avoid getting shot. No clue what’s going on in C wing. The main lab in wing A and lab 1 in wing B are filled with people. Down in the basement you’ll find the main storage area where the bosses likely retreated. Hopefully they got it locked down but I can’t say for sure. I’m in the main lab of B wing and when your men get here, they can’t breach right away. When the shutters were closing, one of the gunmen hit a couple gas cannisters. They let the gas out and its filled the room. I’m breathing the stuff in right now. It seems to be clearing a little but I might just be getting light headed. No clue what it is or what it’ll do. The vents are down too so I can’t get it out of here. You need to either get the vents back up before you come in or at least wear gas masks or something.”
Officer Grady takes a moment but finally comes back. “Great information Dodson, I appreciate it. Look, I have one of your scientists here. Apparently he was running late or something this morning. I’m going to put you on the line with him and maybe he can help you figure out what that stuff is. If anything changes regarding your situation, let him know so he can get me. Sound good?”
DeMarcus tells him that’s fine and after some shuffling and whispering, a familiar voice comes on. “Hey DeMarcus, it’s Jerry Klodge. Glad you’re okay. Any clue about the other scientists? You hear from Layla or Kriss?”
Layla’s safely locked away in wing A. She’s one of DeMarcus’ best friends in this place and he secured her area first. Kriss isn’t someone he’s close with but he’s one of the main scientists and is actually Jerry’s boss. He would have been in wing C. “Layla’s fine Jerry, got her locked up first thing. Didn’t make it to C before I had to lock myself in though. I hope he’s alright.”
Jerry’s voice shakes for a moment but he fights through it. “Ya, me too. I understand you’re locked up in the B wing main lab, is that right? Apparently there was some kind of issue with one of the tubes or something? They didn’t tell me much.”
Walking back over to the tubes, DeMarcus examines them for any helpful information. “Ya, the big metal tanks here in the main lab. Before I could get it locked down the fuckers shot them. Stuff sprayed out and filled the room.”
“Well that’s no good. Stay out of that lab DeMarcus.”
Shaking his head, he feels a strong headache coming on. “Not sure you understand man, I’m in that lab. It’s locked down so I can’t get out. I tried the venting system but it seems to be offline. Don’t know why.”
There’s a pause before Jerry says, “How bad’s the leak? Is just a little getting out or a lot?”
“All of it. There were a bunch of holes in each cannister. It’s all in the air. I’ve been breathing it in for the last half hour or so. What is this stuff?” His only answer is silence on the other side of the line. “Are you there Jerry?”
More silence greets him. There’s whispering in the background again. He almost hangs up before Jerry comes back. “I’m here. Just trying to think. That’s a lot of that particular chemical. Probably more than I’d call safe but right now it sounds like you can’t do much about it.”
Shaking his head, DeMarcus feels more light headed every time he blinks. “What is the stuff man? What’s it gonna do to me?”
He hesitates. Is Jerry really on his side? “Well, I can only tell you so much. Not my project. I know it’s a kind of mood altering drug we’ve been working on. Called KJC2800. Meant to help adjust people’s mood when needed. You know, happy pills I guess though it can also bring someone down, or make them more agreeable. It’s got a lot of potential uses.”
“So it’s meant to be used on people then? That’s good news isn’t it?”
“That’s a little trickier. It hasn’t gone through human trials yet. It’s close to reaching that point so I’m not that concerned about you breathing a little of it. Probably wouldn’t be a big danger. Probably being the key word there. Even when we start the trials though, that’s a lot of the stuff. An awful lot. Like, thousands of doses per cannister. I have no idea how you’re going to handle that or react to it. I’m actually kind of surprised you’re standing and talking to me right now.”
“I passed out for a few minutes. Not sure what that means.”
Jerry chuckles under his breath. “That’s not surprising. Once we get you out of there we’re going to have to run a ton of tests on you. For now try not to push yourself and don’t breathe too deeply. The less of that stuff in you the better.”
As those words hit his ears DeMarcus starts to feel really dizzy. Soon the whole world’s spinning around him and he grabs for the metal table. There’s nothing to grip and his hands slide off. He considers sitting but there’s no time. He hits the ground with a thud and his phone skids across the lab. He tries to keep his eyes open and crawl towards it. He needs Jerry’s help. It’s no good though and after making it only about two feet he drifts off.