The double doors to the facility slid open in smooth silence. Liam Randall walked inside and was greeted by a woman’s voice.
“Good morning, Mr. Randall. Welcome to the BioGenesis Research Institute, where we design a better future for all. Please wait a moment. Dr. Minos will be arriving to meet you shortly.”
Liam looked around the sparsely furnished white lobby. It was bathed in cool blue light to put visitors at ease, but Ian was no visitor. He was joining one of the research teams at BioGenesis as a lab assistant. He knew that their latest project involved genetic manipulation, but further details were strictly confidential.
A set of doors in front of him slid open and a barrel chested man in a lab coat walked out. The man stuck out his hand.
“Liam? Kevin Minos. I’m so glad you decided to come on board.”
Liam shook Dr. Minos’ hand and tried not to cringe at the strength of his grip.
“I’ve really been looking forward to this, sir.” he said, a small smile on his face. “I’ve heard a lot about the project, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Dr. Minos nodded and adjusted his glasses. “Then let’s head over to the Lab, shall we?”
They both walked through the doors and deeper into the facility, with Dr. Minos leading the way. “So what have you been told about the project?”
“Only that it involves gene splicing. Someone mentioned hybrid animals and cloning.”
“That’s pretty close.” The portly scientist was tapping his fingers on a paper thin tablet. “It’s a top secret military project. We’re designing a new kind of bio-organic armor to be used by soldiers and law enforcement. We combined the DNA of several powerful animals including bulls, elephants and rhinos, along with a few very resilient beetles to create an entirely new species of animal.
The live specimen will give us a good idea of how the new armor holds up. Then we can synthesize it out of those components.”
Liam was awestruck. “A new kind of animal? That’s amazing!”
Dr. Minos hesitated a moment before responding. “Well, yes and no. We were quite successful, you see, in creating a well-armored beast. But we hadn’t factored in how much the aggression of the ‘parent’ animals would be amplified. The subject is strong, but also prone to bouts of madness.
That’s actually why we keep it in the Lab. That’s our informal term for the subject’s holding pen, where it can be kept safe. And so can we.”
Safeguarding monsters wasn’t part of the job description, as far as Liam could recall. His palms were growing sweaty.
“So, what’s my role in all this?”
“You’re going to help us gather data.”
“Gather it how?”
Dr. Minos ignored the question and gestured to another set of doors. “Here we are. The decontamination chamber. If you wouldn’t mind, we’d like to make sure you’re clean before entering the project area.”
Liam felt uneasy, but he nodded and entered the chamber. The doors slid shut behind him and through a glass partition, he could see Dr. Minos pressing his thumb against his tablet screen. Pale-colored gas began flowing from a series of nozzles placed into the upper walls. Liam was getting light headed. The last thing he saw before everything turned black was the hungry smile on Dr. Minos’ face.
Liam’s head was throbbing. He opened his eyes and sat up slowly. His body was covered in padded armor and there was a silver rifle lying next to him. He looked around, seeing nothing but high walls surrounding him. There was a mechanical squeal, followed by Dr. Minos’ muffled voice.
“Ah, you’re finally awake, Mr. Randall. My sincerest apologies about this, but we didn’t want you getting cold feet.
Welcome to the Lab. According to our scanners, the test subject is somewhere near the center of the area. I neglected to mention that one of my colleagues had added some predator DNA into the mix. Panther or jaguar, something like that. His ideas were a bit more…experimental than we would have liked.
That’s why the subject is so dangerous, you see. It’s a hunter. And you’ve been selected to subdue it. Kill only if necessary.
Should you fail, another candidate will take up your position. But please, Mr. Randall, try not to fail. Good luck.”
Liam picked up the rifle and backed himself up against a wall. It all made sense now. The Lab didn’t stand for laboratory. It stood for labyrinth.
There was a loud bellowing sound from somewhere on his right. He started running.