Fictions and Depictions: What Really Killed Dr. Lake?

Beaker, courtasy of Wikipedia.

 

What Really Killed Dr. Lake?

Keith ran quickly and quietly down the halls, peering discreetly into empty labs and dark offices.

Good.

He was alone.

       Keith had no fear of security cameras, from the back he looked like Bert, and he had been extra careful not face them. He punched the stolen combination into the pad beside Bert’s door. Bert was the only one who got an electronic lock. What was so darn special about Bert? All the man ever did was sip coffee and shoot the breeze with the bigwigs. Perhaps that’s why he’d gotten that extra funding. Keith doubted any of Bert’s crazy ideas were worth a sinch otherwise.

      With a beep, the door opened. Bert’s computer monitor shined like a beacon of hope. Keith knew exactly what went on between Bert and that hot young supervisor. Their relationship had certainly played a huge part in Bert’s project getting raised to priority six, a position Keith had been stalking for the past five years. It was, of course, against company policy to promote your lover. If only Nora’s dirty little secret was common knowledge –

     Keith’s fingers flew across the keyboard, typing out the sequence he painstakingly recorded one digit at a time with the camera on his phone. Bert loved to show off his office. Even to his enemies. It had taken multiple occasions of sucking up to the man for Keith to sneak enough pictures of his finger work so as to learn the entire password.

Yes, he was in . . .

Minutes ticked by . . . adding up to an hour. Keith felt stupid.

Why would Bert and Nora need to send lurid E-mails to each other when they could just hook up after work? Most likely he was wasting his time.

Then he heard footsteps.

Keith logged out instantly, hid in a dark corner, and waited, glad he’d had the foresight to close the door.

    Bert stormed in, gathered some papers, and left. Bert was burning the midnight oil it seemed. A sudden thought occurred to Keith. He grabbed a hefty triple hole punch and crept after him. “Don’t think.” He said to himself. “Just act.” Keith needed that grant. Keith really, really, needed that grant.

   Bert was due for an extended vacation. Nora wouldn’t go with him, as it would give their affair away. It would be some time before Bert was missed. No one would suspect mild-mannered Keith Waterson of anything. No one even knew he harbored a strong dislike for the man.

  Hoping to catch a glimpse of his prey, Keith peered through the small glass window in the specimen room door. What he saw made him forget all about Bert’s Murder, and rush inside. Seemed someone had beaten him to it.

   Keith had once mentioned Burt’s crazy experiments to a janitor. They had laughed about Bert’s obsession with mind control and dissecting monkey brains. The janitor soon revealed herself as an undercover animal advocate. Sarah said that Keith’s own gene mapping project was of no concern to her organization, and that helping to expose Bert as an abuser would force a company renowned for it’s ethical practices to either sack him or lose face. Keith’s boring but far less controversial work would rule the day, and all would be right with the world, and it would have been – had it not been for Keith’s cold feet. Now however, there would be no turning back.

       On the damp tile floor sat Sarah, the dying Bert in her arms. “It was an accident.” hissed Sarah. “No it wasn’t.” hissed Keith. “No one has to know about this.” They said. Almost in unison. Keith smiled and they kissed.

       Their interlude was interrupted by one of the companies elite security guards. Grail Industries employed some very expensive and dangerous substances, as well as some equally expensive and dangerous people. The Guard raised her gun, and without even blinking, put three shots in Burt’s chest, finalizing his ordeal. The couple didn’t even have time to wonder if they were under arrest, before the guard spoke. “Thank you” she said. “for helping me catch a terrorist.”

    “What?!” They responded, both shocked and relieved. “Mr. Bertram Lake” She went on, “was filmed talking to some suspicious persons outside his car last night. As you probably know the technology he was working on is of special interest to the government. It could be a valuable tool in our nation’s defense. In the wrong hands, however, it could be deadliest thing since the invention of the atomic bomb.” So that’s why Bert was getting all the special treatment. Thought Keith. “Ma’am, may I ask what -” “Sorry Sir, but that is all I’m allowed to tell you. There will be a de-briefing, so any further questions can be addressed then.”

They waited in silence. Till a second guard barged in.

“Report to Central.” Said their captor. “I will.” said the new guard. “just as soon as I take care of business.” He raised his gun. “Stand back.” Yet another bullet struck Bert. Keith was starting to pity the man. “What was that about!” Shouted the female guard. “This man was refusing to cooperate with quarantine!” “He’s a terrorist!” “He’s also been infected with Q2 Pariah!”

Gasps filled the room.

    “Don’t panic.” said the male guard. “Q2 runs its course in a week. We will however, need to remain under observation for at least a year.” “There must be a cure.” demanded Sarah. “This a level three facility!” “There is a cure.” said the guard, but I don’t see why they’d bother. The cure causes a severe allergic reaction in twenty percent of recipients, and Q2 has never killed anyone.” He regarded the body on the floor. “At least not directly.” Keith stood up. “Then why even bother -” The new guard was big man fresh out of black ops, he had probably gotten fired for being too trigger happy. He shouted in Keith‘s face like an angry drill sergeant “Because it just a dangerous disease!”

         The people in the room started to fidget. “What he means to say.” said the woman. “Is that while Q2 Isn’t harmful in and of itself, it can be easily manipulated by a terrorist to create something far worse.” Keith relaxed, even though he knew he was being fed bull. It was becoming clear the Bio-agent in question was a closely guarded trade secret rather then a killer scourge. He did his best to reassure Sarah, yet Keith still couldn’t dismiss the feeling that something was terribly awry.

       The sudden appearance of Burt’s fling would confirm those feelings. Nora’s voice rang loud and clear over the tense tableau. “This whole section is blocked and no one will let me use the phones!” She pushed past the two guards and was confronted by Bert’s battered body. The look on her face brought on a pain like nothing Keith had ever known. He sincerely regretted what had had to happen. Burt’s death had been necessary – or had it been?

     He saw Nora’s face go from twisted to spiteful. “Good riddance.” She said, and began to kick the corpse repeatedly. A guard put a hand on her shoulder. “Easy ma’am, we know how it is to be betrayed by a friend.” “Friend!” She screamed. “That two-timing bastard had lots of friends!” Keith couldn’t remain silent a moment longer. “Does it bother anyone that we all suddenly hate Bert?” They looked at him like he’d just said something crazy.

    The containment team arrived before Keith could finish. All were led to sealed plastic cells to await screening. “You may not even be infected.” Keith was told by his long time friend and associate Howard Means. However, if you are infected, this bullet-proof prison may be more for your own protection then anyone else’s.” “What do you mean?” said Keith, pressing his hand on the glass between them. “I’m not supposed to tell you this but – Q2 has only one symptom – those who die of it – “They said it wasn’t Fatal!” “It is not directly fatal, but let me finish. Those who die of it, are murdered.”

Fictions and Depictions: The Red House

THE RED HOUSE

Old Slumpy – courtasy of Wikipedia.

The old house was boarded up tighter then a bank vault. Rumors abounded of water in the cellar and bodies under the floor.

A large beehive droned in the attic, driving all would be interlopers even further back.

No one, stood farther away then Dale Winter, latest executor of the town blight.

      The Red House had stood in Bismuth since before Bismuth was even a town. As there were no records of architects or owners, it had fallen under the jurisdiction of city hall. The condemned box of mildew was occasionally offered to various historical patrons, or bounced around Bismuth’s various families as way of writing “I never really liked you.” in a will.

      Two bulldozers rolled past him into the yard, crushing a jungle of ancient weeds. Two Bee-keepers pumped smoke into the attic, making the roof appear to be on fire. As soon as those bees were boxed up, Dale would use a friend’s tractor service to discreetly get this over with. That permit was taking forever, and he was tired of waiting. Volatile chemicals and asbestos be dammed – he doubted that anyone had set foot inside the friggin’ thing since the stone age.

   “Can I have a key Sir?” Dale looked up to see his bee enthusiast neighbor staring him down through a ridiculous mask. Dale laughed. “A key? In all the records we have on this place there has never even been mention of a key. If you need to get in we’ll have to remove the door, that’s all there is to it.”

* * *

    In the dim living room she sat waiting, as the demolition crews gathered outside. Today was the day her prison would be broken. Today was the day she’d be loosed upon the world.

    Leaves floated in her cracked cup, the only surviving member of a tea service smashed years ago at a party permanently interrupted. Something dripped in to it as she raised it to her lips – honey – oozing like blood through a crack in the ceiling. It tasted sweet. Sweet Like revenge.

Thrills and Chills At The Old Snow Cone Stand

In the south Louisiana town of Gueydan, are a couple of vacant buildings few seem to notice.

The, now closed, Pioneer Hotel catered mainly to hunters, coming in for ’duck season’. The towns only claim to fame is for being the ‘Duck capital of America.’ (Yes there is a sign, and yes, It has been desecrated on many occasions)

Imagine these doors in various bright colors. So sorry I didden’t photograph it sooner.

 Originally the hotel’s eight rooms had color coated doors. An adjoining home office for the woman who ran it is off to the side, where a single trellis still passes for a garden.

I used to suggest the place when we planned our vacations, liking the colorful doors and being too young yet to realize the pointlessness of accommodations so far from the beach and not ten miles from home.

Though now that I think about it, the place may have been closed even back then. The lady who ran it lived out her life there, long after she stopped renting rooms, so it continued to look livable for quite awhile. It deteriorated after her death, so that now nearly all of the color has faded from the doors that sparked my interest.

 I could go on forever about that hotel, but It was the much smaller building next to it that led to one of the most harrowing experiences in my otherwise uneventful life.

This second building is red, but for some reason I remember it being rainbow. Those I’ve questioned insist it has always been simply red.

Small things amuse small minds I guess.
 

I have very clear memories of being held up by an older cousin while my first snow cone ever was handed to me through the single bay window that formed the little shack’s entire front.

It may have been a case of mistaken identity, as many such places had come and gone all over town, yet for much of my life it continued to be the old snow cone stand.

I would discuss it with friends at recess, who mostly had no idea what I was talking about, though it seemed some older kids had mentioned a place where small trinkets had come with snow cones in much the same spirit as Macdonald’s or Crackerjacks.

One evening, as I was falling asleep to my one-eyed Teddy Ruxpin’s rendition of “Come and discover the world with me.” I quietly concluded that it must have been the place, what with a building that cool, they had certainly gone all out.

I shot from my bed when it hit me. Surely some extra trinkets were left behind when they closed the joint. All those prizes could still be there, locked up in the stand, awaiting the child bold enough to brave the ghosts and claim the treasure. ( It was a proven fact that all old buildings had ghosts and treasure.)

I tossed and turned but couldn’t shake the thought that there was an endless pile of multicolored crap with my name on it. This thought followed me onto the porch where I found myself mounting my rickety, training-wheeled contraption and pedaling like mad across the wide open. Simply being alone at dusk was almost enough to make one die of fright but my eye was on the prize, and my brain was full of that awesome, idiotic reasoning one often encounters around bed time that makes even the dumbest ideas seem divinely inspired.

Soon those three black windows gaped at me out of the dark trees. I had second thoughts when there seemed to be blurry faces peering out of them. The faces never moved, and with all the courage and stupidity that could be mustered I snuck around to the back, where I discovered an even greater obstacle.

A rusty screen door was the only entrance. Those things were a pain to open. The handles would stick, and if you tried to force them, they would summon an army of angry adults. I attacked it anyway. The noise was deafening in the quiet.

Three dark figures eclipsed the light of the windows. They never moved so I turned on my light, and shrieked.

Someone had left some cardboard cutouts in front of the windows. Maybe the video rental place was using the building for storage? It didn’t matter. I was scared to death of cardboard cutouts; all those eerie, two-dimensional people with their staring eyes and obviously fake smiles. Oh, but what was that?

There were boxes of Mardi Gras beads and quarter-machine eggs littering the floor. I was in heaven. I propped the stubborn door open with a stick and was faced with enough beads and bracelets to make up a kiddy-king’s ransom. I thus filled my pockets with enough small rubber animals to make up a first class security force.

There was too much to carry, but I wasn’t worried. I only needed enough time to nab the pieces I wanted. Ooh a dinosaur! I reached for it just as the stick fell to the crabgrass and the door slowly started to close. I turned around to catch it, but the thing was tightly sealed. I tried the stuck handle again and again, then struggled against the screen, screaming for all the world to hear.

The wind moaned outside and one of the cut outs fell over. The pouting face of Julia Roberts wavered inches from my own. With superhuman strength borne of unholy terror, I burst through the screen. The next thing I remember was my butt hitting bike seat and my legs tearing out of there.

I awoke safely the next morning with three pink bracelets still safe on my arm. No one believed me when I showed them those bracelets. Father insisted I’d won them at a party the day before, and swore I’d never left my bed. Still It’s hard to believe I dreamed it, though I was never that impulsive in real life.

As for the old snow cone stand, knowing what I know now it is unlikely that it could have ever been used for that purpose. Mother always commented on how much it reminded her of a tug boat. It was only recently I questioned my uncle who insisted that it was indeed, part of a tug-boat. Namely, A disembodied wheelhouse left there by a man who used to fix them back in the fifties. He knew very little about the man and claimed my late grandfather had known him.

It was too bad I’d missed my chance, not that I never asked my grandfather about the past, but without specific questions there was never much to say. Perhaps if I’d known the right questions then, many of my favorite landmarks would have had even better stories.