A loud thud. It sounded more like a clank. Large metals clanking into one another. I got up and ran to the door only to witness confusion like never before within the quarters. I ran out from my cubicle, out into the corridor.
I heard someone call out to me from behind. I turned around to see Mikel catching two large bags and run past me. He turned around while running and yelled, ‘its not a drill, run.’
So I did what Mikel said. I always did what Mikel said. Mikel was my salvation when my childhood threatened to choke the life out of me. Mikel was that small smile that got me through the day. By the time I ran to my room to pack only necessities, Mikel was already back. He was talking to someone on the walkie-talkie while I was busy rummaging into my belongings, deep into a debate in my head about the things that were mandatory to carry. I was just about done with packing my bag when Mikel came up to my side, closed the zip and picked up the bag in his right hand and caught hold of my right arm with his left. I looked into his worried face, ‘there’s no time maya.’ He said and began walking fast. I had to jog to keep up with him. We ran out the corridor and on the left, the lift that otherwise operated rather lazily, now took herds of humans, working tirelessly. Mikel surged forward into the crowd, tightening his grip on my arm. I, in return tried to stay as alert as I could, as close to him as I could. I still didn’t know what was happening, I still couldn’t figure the source of paranoia. I sighed. I’d eventually figure out, Mikel would tell me. Mikel again. Always mikel. Always too ignorant to notice the obvious, too indignant to accept reality because I knew he would be there to mend the wrong, to make the oblivious obvious, the reality acceptable. So I played along. We were about 3 feet away from the elevator when something shook again. What was happening?
‘Joe? What’s happening?’
Joe saw the large frame of Mikel’s back and looked back at me.
‘A lab. They say someone put something there, and a chain reaction exploded the insides of the lab and has released gases that must’nt reach us. Some form of corrosive gas; Melting skin, charred bones kind of situation.’
I shook my head from imagining the picture of man melting away amidst smoke.
‘Is it heading our way?’ I asked Joe.
Joe didn’t seem to be listening at this point. He was talking to someone else and had gone back into the crowd. I tightened my grip on Mikel’s hand. We were almost at the elevator when our movement stopped. Now, all we had to do was wait. Wait till the elevator opened and we got to go up. Our quarters were built underground. Mikel looked at me and smiled.
‘Another ten minutes and we’ll be safe. When we reach ground zero, I want you to go to my place. The keys are the kept at the neighbours…’
And there was a beep. Like beep you hear when you’re sent to someone’s answering machine. The kind of beep that haunts you when you’re alone at home in dark waiting for your mother to come, but she never does. And I heard that. I saw a door open, and pool of blood and bones lying on the floor.