18,020 / 50,000
Once Brendan's attention had been caught, he heard the machinery rumbling to life, and knew all too well what it meant. His eyes shot around the room, taking in what was happening, as machinery fired to life, lights turning on, and then he saw the quarantine doors sliding shut.
He stared at the door for the briefest of moments, as what he saw sunk in. Brendan's feet started moving, as he raced for the closing door, his shoes squeaking on the floor that had been cleaned earlier that night.
Alphonse watched his friend race across the room from his vantage point through the glass. The action bore a striking resemblence to an old cartoon cat racing after it's prey, or away from it.
Before Brendan could reach the door, the large metal slab finished rolling into place with a crashing thud. He had only heard that sound from the other side of the door, and he wondered if any of the test subjects had felt the same fear that was racing through his mind.
Within the door, and the walls, he could hear gears turning, as the thick metal rods embedded in the wall and floor slid into matching holes within the door, and sinking home with a loud click, locking the quarantine door in place. The door wouldn't come loose from its moorings unless the entire wall was blown out, and the lab was situated in a bunker deep underground, and reinforced to survive a nuclear holocause. These precuations were put in place because of the nature of the experiment, in case the energy core became unstable and exploded.
The door could not be opened until after the emitter's energy systems had powered down, the nuclear, biological, and chemical analyzers determined if the room was clean, and a unique code for that day was input on a keypad on the other side of the wall. There was no corresponding means to enter that code from this side of the door, for fear of any test subjects escaping when they were a danger to themselves and others. There was no way for Brendan to open the door from where he was.
The chance of getting out of the room before the emitter fired was diminishing with every passing second. As the hum of the device grew louder, Brendan knew that it wasn't shutting down, and would in fact be firing very shortly. He knew that once the door was closed, he only had moments.
Even though he wasn't sitting in the chair, strapped down or otherwise, the room would still be bathed in the strange energy Doctor McKenzie had created. The chair was merely to contain the test subject, and to provide a greater focus for the emitter. Sensors placed around the room during the various tests indicated that the energy spread throughout the room fairly evenly, with a few pockets where the effect was lessened, albeit slightly.
Brendan had overseen several of those investigations, mostly out of curiosity, to guage the intensity of the energy under various conditions. They had been surprised to discover it was as uniform as it was, seemingly only stopped by the thick, protective walls, and the matrices of lead particles within the safety glass.
He didn't have long. Checking his watch, Brendan estimated that there would only be about 30, maybe 45 seconds before all hell broke lose in here.
On the other side of the safety glass, Alphonse watched as Brendan frantically looked around the room, seeking any way to save himself, or escape. The doctor knew the search was futile. They'd designed that room to be completely sealed. Nothing could get in or out before the weapon powered down.
The urge built within him, to pound against the glass. Not to break it, but out of fear and rage. Alphonse knew the glass wouldn't break, certainly not in time. He had tried several years ago to do exactly the same thing, when David was caught in that room, when the emitter overloaded.
Now, here he stood, watching the man whom had taken David's place, so close to reliving his fate.
"Not again," he said. "I can't watch this happen again."
Chapter Two - In the White Room
Alphonse knew that was all he could do. The safety precautions were foolproof. Almost too good. Brendan had enough time to escape the room, if his damnable attention hadn't been so focused on his work, and hadn't noticed what was happening right around him until it was far too late.
Knowing what was coming, Alphonse knew what he had to do. He couldn't stay next to the emitter. As much as he wanted to watch Brendan, be with him in what would very likely be his final moments, he had to get out of the room.
The emitter could very well overload with the new code, untested in the simulators, and only compounded with the failure of the laptop, adding a very unknown variable into the mix.
He took one last, long look through the safety glass, his hand placed firmly against it as he stared at Brendan, who had managed to look that way at that precise moment, and their eyes met. Brendan looked scared, but oddly calm, as he usually did. Alphonse tried to fight back the sadness he felt for what was about to happen to the young man whom had been like a son, and a friend to him.
Brendan shot a smile through the glass, and Alphonse smiled back. Forcing his legs to move, he tore his gaze away from his doomed friend, and made for the doorway, smacking a red button embedded in the wall outside the room, and activated the emergency protective doors, a similar system to the quarantine door for the targetting room. Alphonse could hear the mechanisms sealing the emitter room shut behind him as he moved to put as much distance between him and the impending accident.
Watching through the glass, as best he could into the shadowy interior of the darker room, Brendan saw his mentor, his father, his friend run from the room. The emitter room grew even darker as the safety door closed for that room as well. All Brendan could clearly see through the glass now, the contrast between the room he was in and the far-darker room making most everything in there bathed in an inky darkness, compounded by the many feet of glass, was the faint flicker of the console lights as the systems in the room worked through their computations, preparing for their next, unscheduled test.
Brendan stood near the glass, the barrel of the emitter poking through its bored and sealed hole through the glass roughly two feet into the room, and passing by his head.
He turned from the now-empty room, and turned, surveying the room down along the barrel of the emitter. The metal tubing was about six inches around, and connected to the shielding glass through a box, containing parts that would refilter the energy once it entered the room through the conduit, as well as fed wires inbetween the two rooms, to control the components, and monitor them.
After about a foot, the piping passed through another, smaller box, a thick wire connecting the two, and coiling around the foot of tubing between the two. The box served as the final point of energy manipulation, before it travelled down the last foot of metal tube, tapering from six inches, down to two, and pointing directly where the average person's chest would be, sitting in the chair.
He looked over the crude cobbling together of pieces, that had ended so many lives, and was the hope of so many others, even if they didn't know it. Brendan did not fear his end, as he stared at the instrument that would bring it about very shortly. The only thing he feared was having it be a painful end.
Remembering the research that had been done, Brendan calmly went over to the point where the energy saturation was at its lowest from all his tests he had run. He didn't think it would save him, but any port in a storm, as they say.
He turned from the end of the barrel, and looked back down along its length into the black room, a stark opposite to the white room he was in. Brendan moved closer towards the glass, and leaned against it, and slid down to the floor. He situated his feet against the floor, and pulled his knees up against his chest.
Much like soundwaves, the majority of the unique energy this cannon created blasted mostly forward and spread outwards from the point it entered the room. The place where the radiation levels was the lowest was directly behind the tip of the emitter, and beneath the barrel. There was still a good deal of backwash, and the difference was negligible in the greater scheme of things, but the point at which Brendan sat was his best chance to minimize exposure to the energy.
He didn't have any more time to ponder his fate, whether or not he would even survive, as he heard the distinctive whine he had heard so many times from the other side of the glass, and the walls around him, as the emitter entered it's final stage, and the entire room was awashed in blinding white.
Brendan's eyes burned from the light. It felt as if he was looking straight into the sun on a clear day at noon. And then someone took a picture with a camera flash. All this with his eyes squeezed tightly closed already.
He feared that if he held up his hand, he would be horrified to see straight through it, the light turning him into a living x-ray, only seeing his skeleton through now invisible skin, it bruned so bright. If his eyes didn't melt from merely opening them to try and see in this heart of a burning star.
Those were really the least of Brendan's fears, knowing all too well what this light was capable of doing to a body. He wished this was one of those other times, when he was in the room not more than a few feet away, safe and sound behind the protective glass, and with the goggles they all wore during the tests because of this light.
He knew what this light did, but he had naturally never experienced it first hand. Only one of the subjects had survived long enough to describe what it had felt like afterwards, but their words were woefully inadequate for what Brendan was feeling now.
It wasn't just his eyes burning from the brightness of the light, the white heat bathing out even the darkness behind his eyelids - they were closed, weren't they? thought Brendan. It was his entire body that felt that burning. Was it just the intense light? Was it the radiation, killing him instantly, even if his body would keep going for a little while yet? Or was it all in his head, expecting such a bright light, and the energy, to burn him down to his soul?
Brendan briefly wondered if this was what a burrito felt like in the microwave, but that thought quickly faded from his mind. The pain intensified another level, and he screamed. Alphonse could hear the scream all the way down the hall where he was, surprised to have it come all the way through the thick, reinforced walls, and all that distance.
The young man's entire body tingled, as if it had fallen asleep, and the pins and needles feeling had been intensified a thousand fold. He knew there would be pain, from what had been said, and it was obvious from the deaths, if not so much from the lone account, that the change was not a pleasant process.