Brian Adam Cramer tried to keep his focus on the task ahead, but kept peering back over his shoulder, feeling eyes burning holes into his back where he saw none. His messenger bag tucked close to his body, the wind threatening to tear it away with each violent gust, he hurried along the road to his destination. Knowing that if he didn’t make it to Pathway Laboratories tonight, he might never make it there again.
Felicity Ann Daniels chewed at her ragged cuticles, staring at the doorway every few minutes. Checking her phone to see if she had received any new text messages from Brian. In the last few months, his communications had grown more cryptic and even less comprehensible. In the beginning, he had stopped answering her calls and texts, then the calls were forwarded directly to voicemail. That was when she knew his phone was turned off most of the time. Felicity eventually came to terms with this new form of communication with Brian. He would reach out if, and only if, he wanted to. Never the other way around. She feared not only for his safety but also for his sanity. Brian had always been a bit of a loner. But never this much.
Their positions at the company had always allowed them a certain amount of anonymity, but they were still required to check in via video calls weekly and make physical visits to the lab at least twice a month. The company had to justify the expenditures on the research projects by some means as most, if not all, of the research was funded by government grants. In the typical Brian style (avoidance style), he always managed to show up late at night when no one else was there. At least, that is what the computer logs displayed, although Felicity had her doubts. Brian was a certified genius. She would not put it past him to manipulate the system to make it look like he had been coming into the office, when in fact he was toiling away in that basement dungeon of a lab of his at home. But at the same time, she didn’t want to commit to that condemnation of her closest confidant. Or, what had been.
Before Brian’s plunge into what she had come to refer to as his “delve into darkness”, they had been as thick as thieves. Spending hours in the lab working together side by side. Day in and day out for the last three years. But then Brian started working on a solo project that he did not share with her or any of the lab assistants. Of course, at first, she was happy for her friend, happy and a little jealous! What was he working on that he didn’t want to share with her? Was he going to get a special grant dispensation? Would he move on to human trials? She was left to ponder her questions with the rest of the team as he obtained rare permission to pursue his project independently and dove deeper down the rabbit hole into oblivion. That was two years ago almost to the day.
His latest and last communication had come two weeks prior. Telling her to meet him at their lab. Alone. On this night. At precisely one hour ago.
Felicity picked up her phone and called his cell phone, hoping against hope, that he might pick up this time. The phone connected.
She could hear someone breathing in the background but no one responded.
“Brian? Are you there? Answer me! I’ve been waiting at the lab for you for over an hour! I’m worried sick!” The line went dead.
Felicity’s mouth fell open. Her hand flew to cover her mouth as her salivary glands began to fill her mouth with a tangy metallic taste. She hurriedly pulled her coat on, grabbed her laptop bag and keys, and rushed to lock up the lab as icy tendrils of fear began to wrap themselves around her.
As Felicity made her way to the exit of the building, a dark four-door sedan was speeding into the parking lot. Knowing that this was no coincidence, she peered to her left and could see the moon glinting off her pearl Mazda x30 which was parked only steps from the front door. Grateful now for all of the cardio she did at the gym every morning, Felicity sprinted headlong for the vehicle and made it into the car, and had it in gear before the dark sedan had even made it halfway through the large parking lot.
Fingers trembling, her veins pumping with adrenaline, Felicity floored the accelerator and disappeared around the backside of the building and took a few side streets before she vanished into a small suburb, hopefully, lost from her would-be pursuers. With shaky fingers, she called the CEO of Pathway Laboratories. A woman she had only met a few times during her years in their employ. It was the only logical first step she could think of. Then they could figure it out together.
Margaret Constantine answered on the second ring. She gave Felicity her home address and told her to come to her house immediately and that they would call the authorities together. Felicity was instantly relieved and plugged the address into her GPS.
“2 Scientists Perish in Infectious Bacteria Accident at Pathway Laboratories”
By Gregory Nichols 16H Ago
NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ- Two research scientists were developing a highly infectious strain of a bacteria of previously unknown origin, public health officials said on Friday.
Brian Adam Cramer, 35, and Felicity Ann Daniels, 32, died Thursday evening, becoming infected by the illicit contagious bacteria strain they were independently working on without prior approval or authorization of the laboratory they were employed by, says Margaret Constantine, CEO, and spokesperson for Pathway Laboratories.
In the meantime, co-workers, relatives, close friends, and any medical personnel who may have come in contact with Cramer or Daniels who have not been contacted are being asked to reach out to the CDC.