Prologue: At an Undisclosed Location
“Dear God, what have we done?”
The lab was bathed in darkness, lit only by pulsing red emergency lights and dying computer screens that flickered and rolled crazily. James Drewe tossed his bloodstained lab coat aside and stared at the few screens that weren’t useless. They couldn’t be right, he didn’t want to believe them. He shook his head in denial, closed his eyes and tried not to see. But it was right in front of him. The instruments might lie, but reality was separated from him by nothing but a pane of bullet-resistant glass that was cracked and pitted from impacts. All of that was real, he’d seen it. Touched it.
The door beside him shook with a thunderous impact, causing him to stir from his reverie of terror. He turned to look at the reinforced steel and knew it wasn’t strong enough. It shook again, and then again. The hinges, strong enough to keep a charging rhinoceros in check, bent under the force of the blows, allowing the atmosphere beyond to drool into the lab. Drewe stared in horror, then some small piece of his soul, some survival instinct so old he didn’t know it existed, kicked in. He didn’t know where he was going, what he was doing, he just ran. His stylish brown loafers, now stained with blood, skidded on the metal floor and he slipped at the corner. The fall caused him to tumble into the wall and hit his head on the warm steel hard enough to break his glasses and make the world swim around him. When he regained his senses, he caught a glimpse of the things in the corridor behind him. A shriek of horror escaped his chapped lips and he began to crawl then run down the next hallway.
Moments later, wild-eyed and frightened, he slid to a halt at the end of the corridor and rammed his hand into the elevator button. His fingers left bloody smears that glowed when the button came to life, summoning an elevator that he knew would be too late, but that his heart hoped would somehow arrive just in time.
Drewe leaned against the door, looking through the tiny window, hoping to see the shadow of the elevator somewhere above him. He could hear the whine of the motor, feel the breath of air pushing out of the shaft, and he felt hope.
When the elevator opened moments later, his bloody flesh fell onto the metal-plate floor. The light faded from his eyes, but there was no one to see it.
No one human.