“Well, what do we have here?” whispered Jeffery, closing his left eye as he tried to maintain his gaze with the right eye through the microscope. He adjusted the small fine focus knob until the specimen was clearly in focus. He then set the diaphragm to get the best lighting.
“Boo!” yelled a loud female voice from behind him.
“Jesus, Karen!” said Jeffery, “You scared the bit jeez out’o me.”
“We come in peace!” hissing, she grabbed him gently by the neck, “I told you I’ll get you someday.” She ran her finger through his hair. “Whatchu got in there?”
“Uh, nothing.” he answered, smiling. “Just this tissue Doctor Melanie wanted me to analyse. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Hmm! Weird!” he picked a small book and scribbled some lines.
“Thanks for the dinner the other day!” she said.
“Oh, it was nothing!” he said.
“No, really!” she added, “It was wonderful. I had fun that night, I haven’t gone out like that in ages!”
“You deserve better than that,” he responded. Wearing a great smile, he lifted his head. “You look great!”
“Thank you!” she said, “Guess what?”
“I’m all ears!”
“I got promoted yesterday,” she added, excitedly.
“Oh my God,” Jeffery said, Standing up. “Congratulations. Wow!” He gave her a warm hug, “Wow! I mean, this is super awesome, girl!”
“I know, right?” her dimples deepened, admiring his strong look and good skin, “I didn’t wanna text you. Wanted to tell you in person!”
She stood 5’7” before him, just about four inches short of his height.
“Wow, finally.” he said, sitting back. “I’m truly happy for you. How many years you’ve waited like two and a half years or so?”
“Four long years!” she said. “Hey Jef.” She stood there akimbo, “There’s something you must see!” She slipped her left hand down into the pocket of her lab coat and gripped a red pen tightly in her right fist.
“What is it?” he asked, out of curiosity.
“Let’s go to L6!” she added.
“Now?” asked Jeffery, taking off his glasses. “I’ve been onto this since 3:00am. Maybe when I’m done with…”
“You slept here?” she asked.
“Sort of,” he replied, “Closed 9:15pm; Went out for dinner, had a little nap and rolled back into the lab 2:40am.”
“Jeez, Jef!” she said, “Don’t overwork yourself!”
“I need to get this done before 10:00am,” he said, “Doctor Melanie said she’d…”
“I’ve got this thing I wanna show you!” Karen interjected, gazing into his eyes. “You’ve really got to see this. Trust me when I say; you wouldn’t miss it for the world!”
“Could you please give me twenty minutes!” he pleaded, “Is it another…”
“Nope!” she interposed, “This is unlike anything you’ve ever seen in your wildest imagination!”
“Oookay!” he responded, lustfully. Staring at her thick, glossy lips, “What is it?”
“Come with me!” she said.
Jeffery closed the book on his desk, placing his glasses on it as he loathly followed her.
“You smell good too,” he said with a smile on his face.
“Thank you, Jef!” she sighed, “It’s the same perfume I wear every day.” She turned and winked as she chewed her bubble-gum. “Thanks for noticing…today! Smelling nice yourself!”
He smiled and turned his eyes away from her gaze.
“Jef! Jef! Jef!” she hollered. “Always diffident when complimented!” she teased, “So, how’s your girlfriend?”
“I can’t remember ever telling anyone I’ve got a girl…friend” he replied, meekly.
“Hmm!” she responded, “Am I intruding or are you in denial?” She pressed down the hall button of an elevator.
“I’m not dating anyone.” Jeffery said. He smiled back at her, “For now, that is!”
Jeffery stood behind her as they await the elevator cab to descend.
“I know,” she said. “Work! Work! Work! That’s all you know.” Karen shook her head, “Veronica has been trying to get your attention lately…And so does Chloe!”
With her hands in the pockets of her lab coat, still chewing her gum, she left her hips exposed to the delight of his sight.
Jeffery stole some moments to admire her body.
“Observing anything, handsome?” she said as she caught his eyes staring at her hips, “Do you need a microscope, Jef?” she teased, as she smiled seductively.
“You don’t ever part with that necklace, do you?” she remarked, turning her face away from him.
“It’s a gift from my mum,” he said, “It was given to her by an old friend during her trip to Africa in the ’80s. She handed it to me about a month before she passed on!”
“You must’ve missed her!” she said.
“A lot!” he responded, “She meant the world to me!” his face gleamed with a smile.
“Hmm! Good morning!” she said.
“We forgot to say ‘good morning’ this morning!” she said, “So I say good morning!”
“Oh, yeah!” he grinned, “Good morning!”
“The day’s still young!” Karen said, looking at her wristwatch, “Urgh! 9:06am! Really?”
“What’s up?” he asked.
“Anytime you’ve got a beautiful plan for the evening, the day walks like a turtle with a giant hippo on its back!” She said.
“Hmm!” he responded, “We’ve got plan for the evening I see!” clearing his throat, “A date, I presumed?”
“Nope!” She said, “G.N.O. Homie; Girls night out!” flicking her fingers as she threw her tongue out.
“This is cool.” He said, “One of a kind!”
“What’s cool?” She asked, “My nails or the tongue?”
“The glass elevator shaft doors!” He replied, “Even though it’s scary sometimes!”
“You remember the sightings of that humanoid thingy in the east that was said to have something like fire burning within its torso?” Karen said.
“Yeah!” He responded, “The footage went viral on YouTube, ya?”
“Yup!” She exclaimed, “Thanks to camera phones, right?”
“Doctor Melanie’s daughter claimed she always sees it in her dream?” Jeffery added, “Also, I heard that the person who uploaded it online was found dead. Burnt to ashes in his apartment, on his own bed yet, not even a touch of fire on the bed sheet!”
“Hmm!” she sighed, “Weird huh? Might be SHC… Spontaneous human combustion?”
“Someone said it’s probably one of those biblical end of time stuff?” he said.
“Yeah, the biblical stories…” she snorted, “God and Satan, angels and demons, heaven and hell etcetera! Gimme a break, Jef. You don’t believe in that crap, do you?”
The doors came open.
“Well, if you’d asked me that say, three years back, I’d laugh at you and the entire tale!”
“What about now?” She asked, as she led him into the elevator.
“I do not only believe that God exists, Karen,” he said, “I believe…in God!”
“Mm hmm?” She responded, “Don’t we all, Jef?” Snapping her chewing gum, “Well, if you say so! Anyways, back to our discussion; would you believe me, if I’d told you that something similar to one of those things from that YouTube sensational video has been discovered?” Karen swiped her keycard on a small screen, turning to Jeffery.
“Uh, what do you mean?” he said, “I get uncomfortable when you wear that look.”
“Welcome Dr Keaton.” said the computer voice in a masculine tone, “Destination?”
“Level 6!” she said.
“Level 6 Clearance-Access Granted.” said the computer.
“I thought they said they’d changed it to a female’s voice?” Jeffery said.
“Oh! You’re a feminist now?” Karen remarked.
“Well, uh…!” responded Jeffery, “It’s just that it’s you know…Peachy and cherubic!”
“Well, I’m flattered and I’ve got to say…” She turned to him, “On behalf of all the women in the whole wide world, permit me to say; thank you, Jeffery Bopson!” She snapped her gum again, “By the way, you wanted to say something when we had dinner the other night. You said when we meet next you’d tell me.”
“Well, I meant…I’ll surely um…” He shook his head embarrassingly, “I’ll tell you but, you know, some things are best uttered at the right time…right moment, right?”
“Right!” She said, as she turned her head away. “If you say so!” She smiled.
“Would you like me to play a love song while we descend?” The computer asked.
“No!” Karen and Jeffery said in accord.
“Command Granted!” The computer said.
Minutes later, they got off the lift and headed to the research laboratory. Karen used her access keycard once more to open its steel doors.
As they walked into the facility, Jeffery sighted a dark figure like a naked man on his feet inside an enclosure made of thick glass walls. Many electrical wires and tubes were connected to the base of the big glass box, situated in the middle of the installation.
“Is that a statue?” Jeffery asked.
“No, Jef!” she answered, “Put this on!” She handed safety goggles to him and wore one herself. Karen then switched of the lights with a remote control, leaving them in the dark. “Let there be light!”
“Seriously?” Jeffery said. He turned to her, “You should leave this job and venture into the world of Stand-up comedy!”
“Don’t look at me, Jef. Check this out!” came her reply, pointing her finger at the dark figure in the big glass box.
As Jeffery turned, he saw fire burning on the part that seemed like the chest region of what he thought was a statue.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said. Jeffery walked towards the glass box and placed his hands on it, “This cannot be!”
“It’s not a statue,” Karen said. “This is a living organism, Jef! Though the team hasn’t figured out a name for it yet, as for now, we all call it, ‘CD.’ As in, Charles Darwin!”
“How do you mean?” He asked. Jeffery took his time to observe the figure; he noticed how the fire that was in form of a human heart began to spread slowly through what looked like the arterial blood vessels of this entity that stood before him. The fire spread like hot lava across what appeared to be its arteries and veins, even its capillaries and lymphatic vessel were seeable, and it stood illuminated before them. Jeffery wanted to say something but paused.
“The way you look at it, like you’ve seen it before.” She said, “Are you okay?”
Jeffery turned to Karen and opened his mouth to talk when all of a sudden, the beast grunted. Jumping from its position, it landed right in front of Jeffery with its eyes closed. The floor vibrated beneath their feet.
“Whoa!” He exclaimed and shifted back, “This thing…is alive!
“Impossible!” came her reluctant response, taking her goggles off. “But I’ve never seen it behave in such a way!” fear gripped them both.
As the beast stood tall before Jeffery, something like branchial arches came open beneath its ears and a hot steam gushed out. Jeffery observed how it slowly widened its nostrils as though perceiving something in the air around it. Its red fiery eyes became visible to them, setting its stare direfully into Jeffery’s soul. The dark beast fumed and began hitting its head repeatedly against the thick glass, trying to break free from the box as the fire in its visible heart continued to burn and glow. It would run back and leap violently towards Jeffery.
Jeffery fell to the floor out of fear as he tried to grasp his breath.
“What the hell!” Jeffery said, his heart pounded. “This isn’t really happening?”
“Ha-Ha!” Karen laughed, walking towards the glass box, “You look scared like a little cat. It can’t get through,” she hit the glass twice with her knuckle. “See, it’s bulletproof or should I say, blast-proof! A glass wall, five inches thick. Courtesy of The Homeland Security and Tech guys!”
“Are you sure it’s blast-resistant?” He asked.
“Uh huh!” She responded, “If you’re on the other side, this baby’s thick enough to stop a woman’s feelings from getting across to you. Know what I mean?” She smiled.
“Uh, sure!” He said, shaking his head gently.
“It remained calm and quiet since they brought it here, until now!” Karen said.
“What is that…Thing!?” Jeffery asked, still panicked and on the floor.
“I have no idea,” she said. “They want us to help them find out what it is and where it came from!”
“How did it get here in the first place?” He asked again.
“The guys from upstairs!” She said, “I think its alien or maybe one of those mad scientists who got asphyxiated under the soft pillow of their own little crazy experiment!”
“Put the damn lights back on, Karen!” He said, as he stood to his feet. “The army brought this here?” He added, taking his goggles off as the lights came on, “You think it’s…Think it’s from another world?”
“Oh my God!” She laughed, “You should’ve seen the look on your face!” Karen tried to hold on to her breath, she wiped the teardrop that found its way down her left cheek.
The dark figure stood seven-feet tall before them, motionless.
“See, its calm!” She said, “Don’t be scared, baby!”
“You were struck with fear too!” He said, “This is not funny!”
“I know, right?” Karen responded, still overwhelmed with laughter.
Jeffery once again walked towards the glass box. He noticed the beast was still staring at him. It began hitting its hands on the thick glass furiously with its heart burning brightly. Sparks of fire hissed from its erratic, dark skin, setting its entire body ablaze.
Jeffery could understand that it can inhale and exhale as humans do, and the fire spread round its body like blood in a normal human circulatory system.
“I don’t think it likes you, Jef!” Karen added, she pressed the Record button on the remote control she held. “It has never reacted like this before! The guys would be amazed”
“How long has it been here?” He asked.
“Today?” She responded, looking at her wristwatch. “144 hours, 66 minutes and uh…6 seconds! There, yes!”
“Its body,” said Jeffery as he observed the figure. “Like it’s made up of…”
“Coal!” They both said in unison.
“Its body is kind of like, carbonized matter!” She added, “I literally walked into that box days back and scraped off some samples for Doctor Melanie!”
“Where did they dig this thing from?” He asked.
“I have no idea,” she replied. “Maybe Doctor Melanie can answer that!”
“Unbelievable,” Jeffery whispered. “You never told me this will happen this soon!” as though talking to himself.
“Jeffery,” Karen said. “Who are you talking to?”
“Never mind!” He said, taking a step back. “There’s something I need to tell you, Karen.”
“Oh, seriously? Now?” She said, “We had a perfectively good time the other night and you didn’t care to say anything, until now that this thing came to life? Oh how great, Jef!”
“It’s not what you think,” he said.
As Jeffery opened his mouth to talk, the beast began to roar, striking its head once more against the thick glass, trying to break its way through as it gazed directly at the necklace hanging from Jeffery’s chest. The young man noticed a crack on the glass as he held firm the small golden cross, he took a few steps back.
“Karen! Your blast-proof glass has cracked!” He yelled, “I don’t think we’re safe down here! We should get the hell out of here!”
“I think so, too!” replied Karen. She tossed the remote control away and began walking backwards.
By the time the steel doors came open, the beast had broken free; shattering and spewing jagged pieces of glass in every direction. Karen and Jeffery ran out as the doors went shut. The beast came ramming its head on the thick steel doors.
The fire alarm came on.
“Oh God!” Karen cried, “This better be a dream!”
They both ran into the elevator, which came down just seconds after hitting the button several times.
“This is a good sign!” He said, “Imagine if it took longer than that!”
Karen swiped her keycard on the small screen, “This damn thing!” She lamented.
“Welcome Dr Keaton.” said the computer once again, “Destination?”
“First floor!” They both hollered.
“Voice Recognition Error!” said the computer, “Please, say command again!”
“First floor!” She said, enwrapping her hand around Jeffery’s mouth.
“First floor-Access Granted!” The computer said.
“We need to warn the others!” She recommended, breathing heavily. “Did you see that?”
They both laid their back against the wall laughing at each other. Panting and gazing into each other’s eyes, followed by an affectionate smile.
“Would you like me to play you a rock song?” said the computer.
“No!” They both shouted.
“Command Granted!” said the computer as a rock song pelted through the speakers from above.
“Jesus Christ!” said Karen, shaking her head. “This is perfect! Just perfect!”
The duo continued to laugh.
Jeffery took his eyes away from her and set them on the digital display above the elevator doors as they ascend. It felt as though the numbers aren’t counting. They both stared at it as though hypnotized.
Karen’s senses were so high up. They just couldn’t wait to get back up. Jeffery turned to gaze at her once more, she smiled fondly at him. They again turned their eyes back on the digital display.
“I’m going to have a headache!” She said, with her hands on her chest.
There was a loud bang. The elevator came to a halt and the lights went off.
“Jesus, this is not happening!” Karen said, turning to him. “What the hell just happened?”
“I think the building just lost power!”
“Great! She responded, “Just great!”
Jeffery kept pressing the buttons repeatedly, nothing happened. He pressed the emergency button to make a call but no response. He then pulled out his cell phone, it had no signal.
“Lord!” He exclaimed.
“We’re about eight meters below the first floor,” said Karen. “You can’t get signal down here!” holding on to Jeffery’s hand firmly, “The standby generators will come up, right?”
“I pray so,” he said. “What the hell was that thing, Karen?”
“Doctor Melanie called me this morning and told me we got work to do on level 6 so I thought to myself, how about I have a look at the lab before she and the rest of the guys arrived this morning.”
“But you told me it has been here for about 144 hours!” He said, “What’s going on? Where did you guys unearth that thing?”
“I don’t know,” she said with tears in her eyes as fear took over her. “The thing is; these group of experts were to show up yesterday. Oh well, we later got a call that the research has been cancelled and they intend to move the specimen down to IMRC!”
“The International Military Research Centre?” He asked.
“Yes,” she replied. “And the whole thing is classified. I only wanted to show you what’s down there…Before they show up. That’s all! I’m going to lose my job, Jef!”
“No, you won’t,” he tried to console her. “Don’t say that. I’ve got your back!” He held her in his arms.
“What am I going to do?” She asked.
A sharp blow came from beneath their feet. The car shook.
“Well, first…” he said. “We need to find a way to get the hell out of this tin can before angry ember down there gets up here and vaporise our butts!” He looked up at the car ceiling.
“Please don’t leave me,” said Karen. She tightened her grip on him.
“Let me give you a lift!” Jeffery said, “When you get up, turn that red thingy anticlockwise and push the cover up.”
“I don’t think I can do it!” She said.
“I don’t think you wanna stay here and be eaten by a living coal that pumps fire through its arteries! Trust me!” He said, “I saw fire, woman! Fire! That thing has got like gills below its ears, that jets out steam?”
“I am scared, Jef!” She said, “Are we going to die?”
“No!” He tried to reassure her, “No one is dying tonight. Not on Jehovah’s watch! We’re getting out of here! Now!”
Jeffery held her firmly below the hips and lifted her up. She followed his instruction as she steadily climbed up onto the roof of the car. He then jumped and made his way up.
“I can’t climb up there,” she cried. She looked up at the thick cables holding the car, “I can’t!” Karen shivered as she held him, gazing deep into his eyes.
“Don’t worry,” he said. Jeffery switched on the light from his cell phone, “I’ll help ya! First we have to get rid of your coat!” He assisted her, and immediately taking off the one he wore as well, as he managed to resist the temptation from her luscious lips.
Her breast pressed gently on his chest, they could hear each other’s heartbeat.
Abandoning the warmth feeling of the momentary flash of their newly found affection, on recalling the impending danger, they began to wonder how to mount their way up through the elevator shaft.
As Jeffery used his phone to light the shaft, the arm of what was chasing them burst through the floor of the car, shaking them off a bit. His phone fell down through the hatch opening. Karen and Jeffery watched as the beast used its hand violently to search the floor for their feet, it then ripped off the floor and made its way up into the car. They could see their pursuer in the car looking up at them through the hatch, sniffing. Its weight pulled down the car, straining the cables.
Karen and Jeffery didn’t think twice. They quickly begun climbing up, and with a little help from him, she forged ahead.
The electric power came back on and the car began to pull up but jerked and went to a halt. The beast tore off the ceiling to climb up and the power came back on again, the car moved up a bit and came to an abrupt halt, again. Losing its grip, the beast fell down into the car and through the hole it ripped on the floor.
Karen and Jeffery continued to make their way up quickly as the cables holding the car clapped. They got to the next level, placing their feet on the small floor space on the base of the glass elevator shaft door.
“Help!” They cried out repeatedly as they hit the glass door. No one could hear them. Jeffery removed his shoes and began hitting the glass door harder. Luckily for them, the glass door made them visible to a security guard, an older man who was passing by.
The old man kept pressing the button from the other side but it did not come open, another security guard came to help. Karen looked down below and was frightened by the size of their pursuer on top of the car, engulfed in flames, trying to make its way up.
“Oh my God, Jef!” She said, “It’s back! Hurry! Tell them to hurry!”
They could hear the sound of the cables as though they were about to snap. Her keycard fell and in coming into contact with the beast’s forehead, the keycard incinerated.
“Get the fire extinguisher!” Jeffery yelled, pointing his finger at it on the wall, behind the guards.
One of the guards went for it, and on his return, Jeffery held Karen on one side as the doors came smashing in.
“Run! Run!” Jeffery and Karen hollered at the security guards.
Putting his shoes back, Jeffery held her hand as they made their way carefully through the Shards of glass scattered on the floor and did not hesitate to run after warning the guards.
“Doctor Karen, Jef!” said one of the guards, “Calm down, it’s only a power outage, and it’s been fixed!”
“Run! It’ll kill you.” Jeffery said, “Run for your lives!”
“We grew up without electricity in my days!” said the old mocking guard, he giggled. “Modern day kids. A minute without electricity and they’ll go loco.”
“They act like they’ve seen a ghost!” remarked the other as he shrugged, “Let’s have a look!”
Laughing, the guards shone their searchlights down the elevator shaft.
As Karen and Jeffery turned, they sighted the guards trying to look down into the shaft. Jeffery and Karen shouted at them, telling them to run. Ignoring the warnings, the beast jumped and crushed the old man’s skull with its bare hand.
The second guard fell on his knees in shock as he trembled.
“Freeze or I’ll shoot!” He said, pulling out his handgun from its holster.
The beast roared down at him.
With his shaky hands and wobbly knees, the terrified young man fired multiple shots at the beast; a bullet ricocheted, hitting the guard on his kneecap. He moaned, dragging himself towards the wall. The young man put his handgun into his own mouth in fear as he cried, after squeezing the trigger several times, he realized he ran out of bullets.
Jeffery and Karen watched as the beast angrily jumped and sniffed the panic-struck guard, it stared at him for a while but did not harm him. With the injured guard on the floor lying in-between its legs, the beast stood tall as it continued to sniff the surroundings. It turned its head towards Karen and Jeffery; on sighting them, it growled and took a step to go after them when all of a sudden, the people who heard the commotion began to come out of their offices only to come across a huge fiery creature in the hallway. It turned its attention on the people and behaved as though raking through the panic-stricken crowd as it whiffed those it laid its hands on. The beast jumped on sighting an elderly lady, and grab-hold of her head, crushing her skull and piecing her chest with its hand. All the people panicked and scattered, running for their dear lives as it ripped her heart out.
Jeffery and Karen watched all that happened before making their way up through the staircase. The sound of their footsteps was accompanied by a roar from the dark beast that shook the grounds beneath their feet.
Gracias por leer!