short story by Bailey Doe, ’20
No one knew what was behind the doors of Sector D, no one but the scientists working there. So you can imagine my surprise when I got a message from Caleb, the lead scientist in the star lab (the field I was working in). I didn’t know what was behind the doors of Sector D, but I guessed that I was about to find out.
When I showed up at my office, I found a man standing there. “Hey, I’m Peter. So you’re the new recruit. Well buddy, you have no idea what you’re getting into. Follow me to Sector D,” he told me. We walked up to the door of Sector D, and it opened. We walked into a huge room with electric control panels everywhere. But what caught my eye is the huge window, specifically, what was beyond it.
A man walked up to me and said, “This is what we are working on, what may unlock a golden age of science. This is an energy core.”
I was at a loss for words as I stuttered out, “How did, but…this is, why…”
“I know you must have a thousand questions,” Peter said, “So I will leave you alone with Dustin, the lead scientist. Good luck.” Peter walked away while Dustin leads me to his office.
I finally manage to get out one question. “How did you get an energy core?” Dustin sat down in a seat while I sat down in a chair across from him.
“I will start at the beginning, but it will take a while, so stay with me,” Dustin says. He clears his throat, and then starts a story that I never knew. “About sixteen years back, we had a small station in space. It only had about forty-two people in it, but it still held some of the most advanced equipment ever known to mankind. Just seven years after it was launched, they found a black hole. We managed to stabilize it long enough it extract something from it, the energy core. As soon as we got the energy core out and started on a path to Earth, the black hole exploded, destroying almost all of the station. When we got back to Earth, we only had 9 people left. We built Sector D to try to be able to use the energy core for unlimited energy. It almost exploded in our first attempts. We lost 7 of the 9 remaining original members of the station. Me and Jacob were the only ones left.”
“Wait, where is Jacob? I haven’t seen him.”
“Jacob lost his life in another accident when trying to turn DNA from food into real food. I’m the last of the forty-two originals.”
That night, I dreamed of horrible disasters: death, pain, and sorrow. I could only hope that it meant nothing.
The next day, as I walked to Sector D, I heard yelling coming from behind the closed doors. As I walked into the room, I saw Dustin yelling at another man. Each man yelled at each other, trying to be louder than the other. Finally, just as it seemed it would turn into a fight, Peter stepped in between them.
“Look, I understand your point, Conall, but Dustin is the head of this operation, and I trust his opinion.” Peter said.
“This man is a tosser if he thinks I’m just going to stand here and let him kill us!” Conall yelled with thick British accent like it was his first day in America.
“If you don’t want to follow orders, then you can leave right now!” Dustin yelled at Conall.
“And not be here when you blow up the whole place and I prove you wrong! Not in my lifetime!”
“Then you can shut your British mouth and sit down!”
Conall opened his mouth like he was going to yell, but then shut it and stormed off.
“What happened?” I asked Peter. He seemed exasperated, like he just wanted to sit and rest, but he still answered my question.
“Dustin wants to lower the fan speed so that the cores temperature will rise.”
“But won’t that make it unstable? What good could come from that?”
“He thinks that if he raises the temperature, some chemicals from inside the core will come out for us to study and we could hopefully find a way to get energy from the damned thing.”
“Glad that’s over; that idiot thinks he knows everything.” Dustin muttered as he walks over to us. “Ok, now to begin a new age of science! A golden age!”
“But, sir? Conall does have a point — the core is naturally unstable. What will we do if it does collapse on itself?” I asked Dustin.
“There is that chance, but as long as we keep the containment doors closed, it won’t be able to harm us or the building. Now, let’s do this!” He said, and with that, he pulled down a lever, and before I knew what was happening, an alarm was blaring in my ears. I watched helplessly as the temperature started to rise on the screens hanging above my head with the warning repeating, “unstable, unstable, unstable.” As I looked around the room at all the scientists’ faces, I could tell that all of them knew that this was madness. I walked over to my desk, sat down, and pretended to be busy because I only hoped that Dustin was right, that we would all be okay. Almost half an hour passed, with nobody saying a word. Even Conall just sat in a chair, watching the temperature meter go up and up and up. Suddenly, the alarm started blaring louder and louder, but Dustin didn’t care. He stood up so fast that his chair fell over.
“This is it! A new age of science is starting!” he yelled over the alarms. I watched as the temperature almost reached the top. I didn’t want to watch because I felt that if I looked away, it would stop going up. But I knew that it was inevitable now. It was going to reach the top and we were going to die. Dustin continued to yell, talking about new chemicals, never before seen, but I wasn’t listening. I was in my own world. I felt calm for the first time in what felt like forever. I felt relaxed, but that soon all changed. There was no way to stop it. I now wish Dustin was right, that it would have created a black hole, but it created something much, much worst. At first, I didn’t know what happened; then, everything went black.
I thought I went blind, but then the emergency generators kicked in and the lights turned back on and I looked around, I wished they hadn’t turned them on at all. There was a giant hole in the glass and the panels were destroyed. I looked at the floor, and I gagged. There were bodies everywhere, all burnt so much, you almost couldn’t tell that they were humans. I thought Dustin was dead; he had to be. “How, what but-but-what?” I heard behind me. I turned around to see Dustin climbing to his feet. He looked like he was in a huge amount of pain.
I rushed over to him. “What happened?” I asked him, but before he could answer, another voice answered for him.
“I’ll tell you what happened, this jerk just blew the whole lab up!” I turned around to see Conall climbing over a exploded panel. He didn’t look as bad, but you could tell that he was still in pain; we all were.
“How?” I asked.
“The core didn’t implode on itself. It exploded, blew a hole right through the containment wall and the glass.”
“I didn’t mean to!”
“Well you did it anyway! And now we are all going to die because of you!”
“We won’t die if you two just stop arguing and we get out of here!”
I looked around and saw Peter getting up.
“But how?” he asked, “The electricity is down and the main door is powered by electricity! The generators don’t have enough power to do the lights and the door”
“I think I know a way out” Dustin said, finally on his feet.
“Why should we trust you. You’re a nutter if you think I’m following you!”
“Look, Conall, Dustin knows this place better than anyone. Now I recommend that we hurried up before this-” At first, I thought I went deaf, but the sudden pain in my back as I was fired backwards made me realized that that wasn’t it.
“Are you ok, man?” Peter asked as he rushed up to me to help me to my feet.
“What the heck happened?”
“When the core exploded, it hit the lab’s methane pipes, meaning that in a few minutes the whole lab will blow.”
“Then let’s get going. If that’s ok with you Conall.”
And with that we started out Sector D’s doors. The whole lab was going crazy — there were burnt bodies from explosions and from the methane leak. Some people just got crushed under people’s shoes. We walked to the genetic lab, headed for the control room, and walked up to a door hidden in the corner.
Dustin tried to enter a code, but the panel was all busted.
“Hey, you guys want to help me here?”
We all grabbed the side of the door and wrenched it open to a long empty hallway. We walked to the end of the hallway where the walls were falling apart from the pipes bursting inside the walls. When we got to the end of the door, Dustin started to open it, then stopped.
“I hear something inside, but no one should be inside. No one but the-” A giant dent appeared in the door. Then another one, and another.
“What is inside there?” Peter asked.
Dustin started to back away screaming, “We gotta go. NOW!”
“Why should I listen to a barmy like you? Tell me what’s going on right now or-” The door behind us fell, and before I could even see what ran out, Peter grabbed my coat and started pulling me away.
“What are those things?!” I asked between gasps. We got through the door and closed it right before the creatures got through it.
“I guess I have to tell you now since this place is already falling apart. We have been testing on human genetics. Those are when some of our experiments meant to have human DNA and a trait that helps prevent diseases.”
“I’m guessing it didn’t work out well.”
“Yeah, you could say that. We locked them up, but I guess the cell got a hole blown in it. Just another thing I’ve done wrong, right Conall? Wait, where’s Conall?”
We all looked around, but he was nowhere to be found.
“Oh no, did anyone see him come out? I think he may be stuck in there!”
I didn’t get a clear look at what ever chased after us, but I knew that Conall wouldn’t be with us anymore. We were silent for a while, but another explosion reminded us that we had to get going.
“We can’t mourn over him. If we don’t get out soon, we will be the ones who people are mourning for. Now let’s go.”
“It’s no use, there is no where to go, that was the only way we would be able to get out,” Dustin said.
“Maybe not, I think I know another way, but we have to hurry,” I said as the whole building shook from another explosion.
“You said there were pipes in the wall?” I continued, “Those pipes have to lead outside somewhere.”
“But they could explode at any moment.”
“I’m willing to take that chance if it means getting out of this place. Now let’s go.” We got up and walked along a wall until we found an opening to the pipes.
“Ok, let’s hurry up,” I urged, “The explosions are getting closer.”
With that, we started to crawl next to the pipes, hopefully not out of the frying pan and into the fire. We could barely see what was in front of us. We had to feel along the wall to make sure we weren’t about to fall down a fifty foot hole. After what felt like forever, we got to a grate at the end of the tunnel.
“Peter, can you open that?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but I’ll try,” he replied.
I don’t know how much time passed, but I started to hear Dustin yelling something.
“Guys, guys, I think I hear something! It’s getting louder!”
“What is it? Is it a person?”
“I wish, Peter. Can you hurry up? I feel like we are running out – PETER!” He started to scream.
“WHAT? WHAT THE HECK IS IT DUSTIN? SPEAK!”
“It’s the methane! It’s exploding more and more. The pipes are bursting and the explosion is coming towards us! Hurry!”
I heard Peter banging against the gates, but it didn’t seem like it was doing anything.
“I can’t get the stupid thing open!” he yelled.
I thought we were dead; no way we would be able to get it open. Then I remember something.
“Peter! Here, try using this!” I called as I grabed my key card out of my pocket and handed it to him.
“What is this for? A death present?”
“Use it to unscrew the screws! And if you could do it fast, that would be appreciated!”
He started to unscrew them, but I could hear the explosions getting louder and I didn’t know if we will make it out in time. Just when I felt like the explosions were so close that we should be dead, Peter yelled, “I got it!” and sunlight spilled into the tunnel.
“Come on! Let’s go!”
We started to pour out onto the land. Just after I got out, I heard an explosion behind me, and Dustin yelled out. I turned around to see that the pipe next to him had burst. The wall caved in and he was crushed.
“Dustin!” Peter yelled. He ran over to Dustin. “Come on, man! You can get out, come on!” He started to try to pull Dustin out, but Dustin groaned in pain.
“I won’t ma-make it.”
“Don’t say that. Come on, Dustin! Don’t say that! We can get you help, you can survive.”
“No. I started my wh-whole life here; I will end it here, too.”
“No, I can’t leave you here Dustin! I can’t!” Peter cried out between sobs.
“Live on, Peter. Live on my leg-legacy-legacy. Never forget your roots, my son. I will al-always love you.”
And with that Dustin, breathed his last breath. Peter cried to the sky in sorrow. I rested my hand on his shoulder. He sadly stood up with shaking knees. With that, we started towards a new life, forgetting the past, while at the same time, never forgetting the people who lived it.