There is a noise like a high-pressure gas valve being released coming from above my head.
I am hiding under a cryogenic storage cabinet in an underground laboratory where I’ve been frustratingly trapped for the last eight weeks.
This particular cabinet looks as though it has grown red fur from all rust built up on its surface. The cabinet is six-foot long with a foot gap underneath, next to a wall. It is the one-foot space under this cabinet that I am currently occupying. I squint out across the floor to the door in the distance.
The room I’m in is almost identical to the others I’ve been living in for the last eight weeks. A cold cast chamber with digi-glass interfaces covering all the walls. The words ‘BEN BLACKTHORNE GET BACK TO YOUR ROOM,’ my name, scrolling in turquoise across the walls.
The walls, although plastered with an interface much further advanced than anything I’d ever encountered, had acquired a stickiness to them that suggested they hadn’t been cleaned for a while, or knowing Juniper who owned the lab, perhaps never.
Every room including mine was always chilled, even now my breath frosts out from my hiding place, like dragon smoke rolling across the chamber. This room is characteristic of cryotech, run-down. The door scanners were temperamental, only some of the digi-glass display functioned, the bio-detection systems were clearly bunked.
My room, although it has the semblance of homeliness is small, claustrophobic and still housing my iron cast preservation chamber. Everything inside it is grey except the writing that scrolled across the glass surfaces of the walls.
The lights never dimmed which made sleep difficult and there were fake windows that showed me Salvador Dali paintings as though they were the scenery outside. Which for all I knew of the outside world, could be accurate?
Inside my room I can access a small alcove hidden behind the glass walls that served as a toilet, but unless Juniper came to take me to the medi-room, I couldn’t leave. The only sense of day and night I had was through scrolling pictures on the interface walls that would occasionally display something that looked like a sun or a moon.
This place had been my hell. The woman who worked here deflected my requests to be allowed outside. I was well enough. I guess that’s what led me to my current position. There is also a noise buzzing through the air. It is loud and annoying and a woman’s. At this point in time I am choosing to ignore it favour of concentrating on my escape route.
A door and the possible exit to the cryolab is two chambers from the one I am in now. I narrow my eyes, giving myself door tunnel-vision. Of course there is supposed to be biological detection systems in all the rooms. But, it has been my suspicion over the last few weeks that this lab isn’t as up-to-date as they’d have me think. And now, those suspicions have been confirmed. I had army crawled across the cryolab floor for three chambers before realising no alarms had gone off. I could simply walk.
Hiding under the cabinet had was probably an unnecessary precaution. It smells like feet and probably contains an unsuccessfully reanimated body, I squint through the door. There’s an Androbot at the exit. Her name is Shirley; she looks like a cheap prostitute from my time, garish pink nails and a ghastly Australian accent. She was outdated but Juniper had told me that prostitute-chic had been big when she’d been installed. Shirley, the prostitute android; the last obstacle between me and potential escape…