Editor’s note: This column is part of a fictional weekly serial.
The samples they were looking for were sequestered in a separate chamber within the biomedical lab. To this door Alicia had neither passcode, nor key nor any instruction as to how to gain access. This was as far as their research had taken them. As far as it could.
Her father was standing in the middle of the lab, looking confused, looking like nothing more than a wrinkled old man, the sleeves of his sweater rolled up so they wouldn’t hang beyond his fingertips. “This is who we hang our fate on,” she thought disdainfully.
“How do I get in, Dad?” she asked again.
He just looked at her.
For not the first time, she began to fear that he was, after all, truly amnesiac, that the knowledge about this entire program and the final step in their mission was locked in some part of his brain he’d forgotten how to open. She had burnt bridges on the assumption that this would work — spilled secrets, crossed lines and wrecked relationships, including with her daughter.
As if on cue, there was a sudden bang from the lab’s entrance and they both jumped. Cecilia stood on the other side of the glass doors, which had sealed again, and as they turned to look at her, she hit the glass again with one hand. “Mom! You have to stop!” she shouted. Behind her were arrayed figures in tactical gear, their weapons trained through on Alicia.
Without a moment of hesitation, Alicia strode to the doors and slammed the button which released them. But when Cecilia tumbled from where she was pressed against the glass and fell into the room, Alicia caught her and pressed the gun to her throat at the same time. The soldiers in the hallway surged forward, but the doors were shutting again, and they couldn’t enter or risk Cecilia as collateral. Alicia spun them both around to face the interior of the lab.
“Mom, why are you doing this?” Cecilia panted, her fingers clawing at her mother’s arm where it wrapped around the front of her shoulders.
“This science is ours, Cil. We started this program, the government took it away from us. This is a reclamation. And yes, those samples could be destructive when weaponized, and yes, we’re not unwilling to sell them to a high bidder if that’s what we need to do, but what if they could be used for medicine instead, and the government doesn’t share?”
“Let her go!”
They’d forgotten entirely that Edgar was there. In the last few moments of confusion, though, he’d clearly been busy. He stood in front of one of the lab benches holding a beaker aloft, the top covered by an overturned petri dish. Something within the beaker was foaming noxiously.
“If you don’t do as I say, I drop this and we all die within thirty seconds. Sorry, ladies, but we’re doing this on my terms now.”