Although it was supposedly summer, the island was covered by ice and some snow too. Only a few patches of green were seen from the plane but once in the ground, those patches proved to be really small and sad. A car came to pick up the three people that had arrived: a security official, an expert in virus and pandemics and a botanist. It took them only fifteen minutes to reach the northern part of the island, where the vault was located. In the past, there was only one smaller vault where all the seeds that could be found in the world had been stored. Wanting to expand the collection, the owners of the vault decided to expand to living being, although they kept them in a special substance for the body not to rot or decay with time. It was a very delicate an expensive endeavor.
But something had happened recently: one of the specimens brought in for the collection apparently contained an unknown virus than had already killed two of the scientists working in the vault. No one in the world knew about it because the place had been properly sealed and no one that was inside during the incident had been let out yet. They had enough food for a year inside the vault and it was imperative that they solved what was the virus in order to let them go. That’s why the owners of the vault had decided to call for help and received some from private parties involved in the creation of the collection. They couldn’t ask a government entity or everyone would know.
Doctor Patel was a renowned botanist, dedicated to find a way to feed every single child in her native India. She had travelled all over the world in order to find every type of seed and nourishment that could help her achieve her goal. And, although she had not revealed it to anyone, she thought she was fairly close to achieving that dream. Ironically, one of the elements that she needed to complete her task was kept inside the vault and it was just days before she applies for a visit that she had been summoned due to her expertise with plants. She knew everything about them and it seemed that the people from the vault believed that a plant had something to do with the virus that they were experiencing.
Then there was Fred Connor, also a world-renowned scientist but in a very different field. He had studied the use of several types of viruses as weapons and had also learned every tactic used by the governments that had used biological weapons against someone else. Viruses as weapons were no joking business to him and he was too well documented not to take one case seriously. This one of the vault one particularly intriguing, as the people working there had not been able to say if the virus that they were facing was from a botanical or an animal origin. The fact that it came from a rare animal had not been confirmed. He was eager to study this apparent new virus and neutralize it.
Someone less excited about this trip was the taller black man that joined the two scientists. He was no science man or had anything to do with any studies or viruses or animal and certainly not plants. Mister Fox, as he liked to be called, was a private security agent that had been called to assess the situation in the vault. His role was not about helping anyone in any way. His orders were to shut down the place completely if he found out that whatever was inside could be dangerous for human life and, more specifically, for the investments of many wealthy businessmen that had put a lot of money to make the vault in order to get their taxes lowered. Fox had the authorization to use force, if necessary.
When they arrived, one of the local scientists that did not work in the vault greeted them and told them to get inside. They were a bit nervous but he told them it was the only room that hadn’t been exposed to the virus as every shipment went in through a door in the other side of the building. The vault was built underground, so the building you could see in the exterior was only a very small part of everything that was the vault. Inside, they felt a bit less cold, maybe because the space was very small and their bodies helped each other to feel a little bit better. The local scientist, called Jorgen, told them that they could talk to the people in the vault via an intercom system that even video feed.
It was Connor who sat down in front of the screen and asked Jorgen to dial the code of three numbers. There was no tone or ring, only silence. That was until, almost an entire minute later, someone answered and an image in the screen appeared. They seemed to be in almost darkness and the person that had answered could not really be understood. As the image got better, they all realized that he was wearing a mask in order to breath a bit better. But the mask had the disadvantage of masking his voice too. He then started communicating in sign language and Doctor Patel translated, as she had learned the language when she was in medical school. The person on the screen said that three more were dead and that only him and another one remained.
The four-person team decided to suit up with special uniforms that were originally created to enter radioactive areas. They checked every single centimeter of fabric before entering the elevator, as any hole could bring the virus into their bodies and to the surface. No one knew if it could die in the cold but the fact that it had survived the trip to the vault wasn’t a very good reference. Only Connor and Jorgen had worn these kinds of suits before, the other took some time to put them on and he tried to help them. When they were ready, Patel communicated with the people below before they entered the elevator.
The elevator was a very small space too. On the instructions of Jorgen, everyone practiced how to properly breathe inside the suits. They had oxygen tanks that could last up to three hours but it wasn’t a very good idea to be there all that time. The plan was to go there and just check on the survivors and help them decontaminate. Once they had done that, they could put them in quarantine in a special room and then go up to call for help. After that, they could go down again in order to investigate everything they could about the virus. Fox was not so glad about the procedure, as he didn’t want to stay longer than necessary. His boss wanted news fast and helping people would only delay that.
Once the elevator opened, Jorgen told them to follow him. It wasn’t long before they found a large room and, at least, three bodies pilled up there. All three visitors stopped to look at the bodies and Connor said that he had never seen anything like that before. He had being in the presence of several victims of biological incidents and none of them looked like these people: these one had no visible eyes anymore, their skin had a purple hue and their bodies seemed boneless, like puppets. Doctor Patel realized they had dirt beneath their nails and that they were barefoot. Then, there was a crash and Fox pulled out a gun and pointed in the direction of the noise. One of the remaining scientists had dropped a tray.
It was Jorgen who reacted first, very angry that Fox had brought in a gun inside one of the pockets that was supposed to hold medicine for the wounded. No one noticed when he put it in and he ordered him to keep that thing deep in that pocket if he didn’t want to have a real problem with the local government. But as they quarreled, they hadn’t noticed that the scientist that had dropped the tray was trembling. A scream by doctor Patel came just as the man’s skin started to bleed and his eyes seemed to melt inside his head. Then his body collapsed. Like the others, he was barefoot. The team ran towards the elevator and pressed up. As the machine moved slowly, they were panting.
Once up, they were not able to speak or move. It was Connor that said that the other scientist was probably contaminated as well. He was about to remove his helmet when Fox stopped him and told him not to remove it, as they could have been contaminated. This statement by Fox surprised them all but no one said anything to him. They just headed for the chemical showers, which would clean up very single trace of the pathogen of their suits, if they had it at all. As they showered together, they discussed the horrible nature of the virus and how devastating it looked. None of them could believe something like that was real.
They were not paying attention when something crawled in the showers. It had entered the elevator when they did and it decided to crawl up in a corner and just stay there and wait. After all, it had a way of waiting, a certain patience. It was the creature they had brought in but it didn’t look like it anymore. And it was getting near the cold, were it could finally feel much stronger.