15 years ago
Nova considered herself a pretty down to earth sort of person. She didn’t freak out over broken nails or squeal and jump on a chair if a mouse skittered by. In fact, she handled lab rats and mice all the time in the course of her work.
Zombie rats and mice, however, were the most disgusting things she had ever seen. She shuddered as she reached in with gloved hands and picked up another specimen. She wasn’t taking any chances – she worked with cages that had the gloves built in, passing them to a buffer cage and then into the study cage. They had to be kept separate because they would go cannibal fairly quickly.
Gross gross gross.
She worked as rapidly as possible, speaking into a recorder rather than taking notes, making slide after slide. There were still many things to try, and so she did not panic, but there was an intensity about her, something frantic in her movements that underlined the meticulous, careful nature of her work. Later her voice would sound breathless, muttered, entirely unlike her usual brassy loud tones. Keys clacked, mice squeaked, scopes clicked, and, almost out of hearing, the zombies moaned. Sweat ran in rivers down her neck.
Something creaked in the ceiling.
She wasn’t expecting an answer, but she got one anyway – a thin, high wail from almost directly above her. She crept toward the flashburn button that would send a burst of chemical flame through the air ducts, but did not press it. The lab had its own vents, separate from the rest of the system, precisely because they wanted no risk of some experiment escaping and causing mass chaos. Pressing the burn button wouldn’t do any good, however – the zombies weren’t in her part of the system, but the public one, the one with no direct access to her lab.
Plaster fell down like snowflakes, swirling around her head.
Could they break through?
Well if they could use the vents, so could she, and she was willing to bet that she could get into her vents faster than they could get out of theirs. Only if she hurried, though – she could hear the scraping metallic sounds that indicated they were making good headway. She shoved her box of slides into her gym bag and hung her recorder around her neck, then climbed up onto the table and ripped off the nearest vent cover with a soft grunt. She started to climb into the small opening she had created for herself, then thought better of it – instead, she swung her legs down hard into the vermin cages, smashing them to smithereens and letting loose a hoard of zombie vermin before swinging back up into the vent system and throwing the cover into place behind her.
That was when she realized that she had nowhere to go. She crawled slowly through the ductwork, making as little noise as possible, but all too quickly found herself at the drop that led to the boiler room. There was no time for indecision; if the zombies found that flashburn button, she was well and truly baked.
She dropped down and landed in a heap in the room below. Behind her, a panel swung closed and sealed, and she could hear a roar of flames. She cringed and moved to the adjacent drop, not knowing what she would do if she encountered more zombies, but knowing that she couldn’t figure out a cure from inside a boiler room.
Her phone chimed, then, and she looked down. She had signal now, and apparently she had missed several calls. Carol, some guy she didn’t know, Security, Carol, Dr. Peabody, Security…geez, you’d think there was some sort of crisis going on. Deciding that the quickest way to get information out would be to tell Carol, she auto dialed, then wedged the phone between her ear and her shoulder and continued crawling.