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The hallway outside George's office was dark, smelling faintly of cleaning fluid and cool with the humming air conditioning. George silently opened his door and poked his head out, glancing hurriedly in both directions. He saw nothing but darkness to the left, and the glowing red EXIT sign int he other. He folded the lab code in half and tucked it into his pocket, and stepped into the hallway, gently shutting his door behind him.

The elevator was to the left, through all the inky darkness of the hall. George jogged through the darkness until he saw the small orange numbers glowing above the thick elevator doors, pausing only to glance behind him before pressing the GROUND LEVEL button. He rubbed his hands together hastily as the elevator chimed, and he heard the heavy sliding sound of the elevator moving up to him. When the doors crawled open, he casually stepped inside, and slid a hand into his pocket. He felt something small and smooth inside, and he smiled. He pulled the knife out and unfolded the blade, watching the lights from the elevator rolling over the smooth metal. He held it tightly in his hand, squeezing and loosening with his fingers, and waited for the doors to open. When they finally did, he stepped inside.

George’s mouth was suddenly free of spit as he watched the numbers count down to the ground level. Security would almost certainly not be a problem for him; he knew almost the entire staff, and he was fairly certain that they wouldn’t have a problem with seeing a scientist enter his laboratory. But, then again, if Worthington’s orders had gone through already, they would have been instructed to bar him from the lab. That was what the knife was for. If a single soul tried to keep him from his plans, he would stab and keep stabbing until whatever was in front of him dropped dead. The elevator chimed and he slid the knife behind his back, and put a genial smile on his face. A quick swipe of his free hand was enough to dry the tears, and a glance of his reflection in the doors as they slid open showed him a man who was simply tired, maybe a little overworked, although as a scientist he did not believe in such a thing as working too hard. The doors slid into the walls and he stepped into the ground floor lobby, greeted by the faint smell of rug shampoo and the sound of a distant cleaner. George swallowed spit that wasn’t there and began to briskly walk to the private elevator in the opposite side of the building.

“George, how’s it going?” came a shout that echoed across the lobby. George glanced in the direction it had come from, wearing a false smile as his dark eyes found Fred Fleet, hunched over the security desk with a cigarette hanging from his thin lips. His hat was askew on his shaggy head, and he was reading a Spider-Man comic book, kicked back comfortably in his chair. Behind him, twenty small security screens showed empty rooms, free of movement except for the occasional busy bustling by of a janitor.

“Oh, pretty good Fred, just heading down to do a little lab work,” George relied as calmly as he could, his voice wavering. He felt sweat sliming the handle of the knife in his hand. He loosened his grip and let it rest in his fingers just long enough for them to semi-dry.

“Oh, ok doc. Just so you know, I got all the freezers locked up. Worthington gave us a call today. I was sorry to hear about your project, man.”

George felt hate boil inside him, and it took every ounce of strength he had to keep from throwing himself over the desk and slicing Fred to ribbons with his pocket knife. Instead he swallowed the hate and pushed it far into his uneasy stomach, and gave a casual wave with his free hand.

“Oh, it’s ok, Fred. The project hasn’t been completely cancelled yet. I’m just going in for some…” he glanced over Fred’s shoulder and did a quick scan of the screens. As far as he could tell, there was no camera inside his lab. “Some small tests. Nothing major.”

Fred smiled and flipped to the next page of his comic book, releasing one hand to stuff his cheek with a wad of bubble gum. George let a deep breath escape him and placed the knife in his pocket, briskly clearing the short walk across the bright lobby. The fronds of a plant brushed his arm as he rounded the corner to the private elevator, glimpsing over his shoulder. Fred hadn’t moved. George typed in his four-digit pass code for the elevator, and hastily threw himself in when the doors opened. When they closed ad the elevator began sinking to the sublevels of the building, George slammed his fist into the metal wall of the car and cursed loudly. The orders had gone through. Worthington had beaten him. They were probably waiting for the early morning to dispose of his chemicals, but nevertheless, his freezers were locked, and so were his chemicals, and the only person that would have a set of keys was--

The doors whispered open and George stepped into the dimly lit hallway of his labs. He jogged the short distance down it, relishing the sweet smell of rubber gloves and the tangy scent of some chemical, his shoes slapping the slick marble floor. He slid to a stop in front of his lab, fumbling to pull his knife free and grab the lab code with the other. He unfolded it with one hand and read it over and over, whispering it to himself quietly as he punched the numbers in, one by one, on the panel just beside the blast door that sealed the lab. Once his fingers pressed the ENTER key, the lab door hissed open, and George was surrounded by a curtain of chilly fog. The thick metal door slid into the ceiling and he ran into his lab, pausing only to flip on the lights. His face drained of color when everything was illuminated.

His lab had been emptied. His cabinets hung open, free of the chemical compounds they had once held, his drawers pulled from his cupboards and scattered on the floor, his documents, his results, even his computer-- all missing from their vital places. George’s wide eyes scanned his tomb of a lab, eyeing in shock the emptiness, until they fixed on a single white tube near the floor. It had been kicked out of the way by rushed, feet, hurrying to clear everything out before the next work day, grabbing everything important and forgetting the inconsequential items. This one happened to be a syringe, and within a millisecond it was tight in George’s free hand. He kissed it, rubbing the needle against his lips, and his crazed eyes shot in all directions. A small half-emptied box of rubber gloves remained in a cabinet, and what appeared to be gauze. H wasn’t sure if he would be needing the items, but he raked them into his arms anyway, tossing them into a careless pile on his remaining tables. Next he found himself face to face with his freezer, once a vital part of his research now turned enemy. He reached out with one shaking, pale hand, wrapping his fingers around the icy metal handle, and pulled. It clicked, and did not budge an inch. Fred had locked it for sure, and he would have the keys for sure. George slid the syringe into his pocket and walked over to the phone mounted on the wall. He dialed for security, and a moment later he heard Fred’s boyish voice.

“Yeah, doc. What’s shaking down there?”

George lifted the knife to stabbing position and searched for a hiding spot. He chose to wait just inside the door; Fred would never see him coming. He rubbed the blade of the knife on his cheek, and worked hard to keep a slightly worried voice, and one that didn't sound staged at that.

“Yes, Fred. I found my wallet on the floor in here, and someone took all the cash out of it. You want to come down here and take a look around?”

At his desk, Fred rolled his eyes. He closed the Spidey comic and glanced at his screens. Everything looked all clear to him. Nothing moving in any of the hallways, and he didn’t even see George in his lab. He would take a look around to settle George, then come back to see if Spider-Man could whoop Venom or not. He smiled into the phone. It was the simple things like this that made him love his job.

“Sit tight, George. On my way.”

To be continued...

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The following comments are for "Lab Work, pt. 2"
by BobbYates

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