Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta security. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta security. Mostrar todas las entradas

viernes, 17 de marzo de 2017

Joanna's zoo

   Joanna was the person in charge while the zoo was closed. She wasn’t the girl who fed fish to the dolphins while they were doing their show, or the one that joined the visitors in each stop in order to tell them everything about the animal they were watching. She was just the girl that fed the animal after hours, when everything was quiet and most creatures were sleeping or, on the contrary, just waking up from their slumber. She preferred like that as she had never been a person of the spotlight.

 What she loved more than anything was joining the scientists, the men and women that worked hard in laboratories trying to discover a cure for the many animal diseases that most humans knew nothing about. Just like them, she felt that by learning about those diseases and destroying them, they could all be able to make the human race more resistant and the whole world would see a surge in numbers for many species that had been threatened for years without a reason.

 However, Joanna had only been in school for two years. She hadn’t even completed the first half of her education. She couldn’t be allowed yet to a laboratory or anything like that. If she had a job there being so young, it was because she had almost begged for it. She needed that job to help out at home, where her mother was too fragile to work in anything and her sister Julie was still in school, so she couldn’t be able to help. It was her obligation to bring money to home.

 Of course, taking care of the animals didn’t pay as much as one would think, but it didn’t pay as badly as other jobs such as waitress ones and so on. The thing was she was in charge of feeding them and cleaning their habitats, which could be really disgusting sometimes. The animals didn’t mind doing their business anywhere they wanted, so her work was sometimes a little bit of a challenge because of many factors. And she also had to do some security work, for a couple of hours.

 Joanna actually liked her job. It wasn’t prestigious or different every day, but she did learn a lot of stuff about the animals by just watching them. Besides, the zoo was normally very quiet at night, so she could wander around just thinking about her stuff, her life. It wasn’t that she loved to do that, but everyone needs a place where they can stop for a while and just think about how life is going for them and if they want something more out of it. Of course, the conclusion was, every time, that she would like to have an easier life than the one she had.

 Her shift began when the doors of the zoo closed, at five in the afternoon. She had to stay there for five hours, until the security team hired by the zoo’s administration would come in to do their rounds. They stayed until opening time, at nine o’clock the following morning. So she didn’t have to stay that long but it was a lot of work packed in just a few hours. She had to clean everything and make it look as if it was new in that time, which was hard but she always made it.

 The only times she was afraid of anything was when she had to clean and then feed the creatures in the Komodo dragon habitat. There were five dragons, all adults with a very bad mood. She had to put the food in a special space for them to run towards it and then she could trap them in that place for a while, as she cleaned the habitat as fast as she could. This could only last for a while, as Komodo dragons eat extremely fast and they don’t care about small spaces at all.

 It was scary but entertaining to see all those majestic creatures during the night. Joanna felt she had a private glimpse into the lives of the animals that people rarely saw. She felt annoyed when she thought about all the people that visited the zoo and never learned anything about any of the animals. It was supposed to be a place for education but most people just used it as a park that you pay to go in. Some couldn’t care less about the animals, they just wanted a place to chill with their kids.

 She would often think about how the world could be changed by just ending the whole zoo system. Of course, she was one of its employees but the truth was that, as a student on the subject, she thought that zoos were not really the best way to get to know an animal’s ay of doing things, his way of life. That’s what science needed to know but by standing in front of a cage watching a bird, you don’t really learn a lot about it except that it needs a bigger space to fly and be comfortable.

 One of her ideas for the future was to create some sort of tour agency that would be specialized in getting people in and around ecosystems that have a lot to teach to humans. She would only take adults in those trips and only the ones that proof that they want to be there to learn and not only to take a nice little stroll around the jungle. They don’t have to be scientists or anything related, just interested in animals, like she was. She even had a three at home and her parents had never being against it because she actually did a great job taking care of them.

 Her cat was called Tigress, as she looked like a small tiger. Her dog’s name was Sherlock, as he was very good at finding stuff, although he had been much better when younger. He was now a little bit slow when looking for anything, yet he still was able to find things all around the house. The last member of her animal group was Ranger, a big hamster she had received as a gift from her ex-boyfriend. She had wanted to get rid of it after they had broken up, but the creature was so adorable she decided to keep it.

 When she wasn’t taking care of the animals in the zoo, she took care of the animals at home. And she also had to help her mother and sister, so her work was never really done, only on Sundays when she was given the chance of sleeping late and just enjoy herself by doing things that most girls her age enjoyed like going out to the mall or watching movies and television shows. She rarely did any of that though, as she preferred resting at home with all of her pets.

 Joanna’s story is not one that’s fun and interesting, as many others. She’s just an average person, struggling to come out alive of a situation in her life that seems to go on forever. But she knows, she trusts, that one change it will all change. She will finish college and her mother will get better. Her sister will grow older and will be able to help her around the house more and she may realize all of her dream, the ones she thinks about when she walks around the zoo at night.

 She’s not dreaming too much, she doesn’t think so. Joanna is just an average person, a normal person hoping for something to progress in her life. And she knows it happened because of the animal, because even them are not always the same every single day. They might not be people but they do have temperaments and attitudes. They do change their minds and customs. So, if they change, why not her? Besides, she had way to many plans not to make them a reality.


 Meanwhile, she cleans their shit and gives them meat or corn or whatever it is that she has to give them as food. And she has learned to enjoy it because she’s at peace with them, more than when she shares the room with another person,  fellow human.

martes, 21 de junio de 2016

Aquarium

 He took a bite of the sandwich while looking at the huge shark as he passed by the glass. It was a majestic creature, a real wonder of the seas. Don loved to sit there every day at work and just watch such a creature swim from one end to the other of the tank. It was a very large ecosystem but the sharks had a tendency of always moving around, which made them very interesting.

 Of course, there were many other creatures like manta rays and several types of fish, but none of them had the beauty of the shark, its elegance and just utter grandeur. Don’s lunchtime would soon be over. He only had thirty minutes to eat whatever he brought from home or bought from one of the many stores in the park. He really liked the big hotdogs from the stand by the turtle’s pond. They were always covered in thick mustard that was spicy and so rich and delicious. When he was in a good mood, he bought two.

 It was also the day he had a night shift. He hated it because he had to parade all around the park, walking up and down with a flashlight, looking at nothing because there were never trespassers in an aquarium. Who was going to get in there? Some barracuda thief or someone who really wanted to have a real penguin as a pet? No one would do that. But the company that managed the park was so cheap with their hiring’s and expenses that they rather put him at night with a flashlight than invest in real security like cameras and all that stuff that any other place had.

 In any case, he took that time to see the animals when they were less stressed out and it happened to be really nice. They behave differently, as if a huge weight had been lifted from their… Well, not shoulders but, you know what he means. Don loved to see the penguins sleep because they got all together and put their heads in a funny position and it was like seeing an old man trying to sleep at the park. They were little funny creatures and he had grown to care for them.

 When he was finished with lunch, he had to go to his day job as a janitor. He knew he had to be close to the petting areas because kids always spilt water on the ground there and more than one mom had complained about the puddles there, which could cause accidents and a lot more things according to them but he rarely listened to the whole speech. It was funny to him how they thought he was like the owner of the place or something.

 He always had his mop and his little cart to clean the mop not very far from him. Also a wet rag to clean the glasses and a bottle that left those glasses looking perfect in order for all the visitors to have a good look at every single creature in the aquarium. That was his job and he was kind of proud of it after having done it for more than twenty years. He had to like something about it after doing it for so long.

 That afternoon, just before the park closed, he bought two hotdogs and asked the young lady to put them in a Styrofoam case, in which they sold burritos and nachos and other stuff. She complained because she knew he had the night shift and every one there was kind with whoever had the nightshift. Even Don would always give a chocolate bar to the person that had to do it all the other days. His name was Vinnie and he was an idiot but the surprising part was that Vinnie only worked for that job, four days a week. Don had to do it the other three days of the week. It was a fair settlement, although odd.

 Vinnie was the type of guy not many people would hire: he had been in jail a couple of times and he appeared to show some evidence of mental challenges, if you will. He was very kind, organized and loyal to the place but, he was very dumb, always asking silly questions about the job and the animals, like how they mated in the dark at night or how the manta was able to fly and if the shark could read his thought. He was really insane but people, the other workers, cared for him. He was part of the aquarium family.

 That day though, it was Don’s turn to watch around. He had his food, his flashlight had brand new batteries, and he had brought a bottle of fresh orange juice from home and a magazine he had found in the trash by the tank of the jellyfish. It was one of those celebrity magazines, where they show who has been doing who and how and where. He wasn’t particularly interested in all of that but the magazine had enough information to keep him interested all night and that was the real important part.

 He also wanted ice cream but he had no way to store in order for it not to melt in his hand or his pocket. The weather had recently changed, from very windy and rainy to a dry heat. There were rarely clouds in the sky; no matter if it was day or night, it was really disturbing sometimes. He would have wanted his uniform not to be pants and a thick shirt with a hat on top and those big black shoes. He had even approached his boss about it but he had been convinced that if he wore that in the day, he might as well do it by night.

 Don really didn’t get that logic because, after all, of the other guys in the aquarium got to dress in shorts and nice cotton shirts and sandals. The dolphin trainers were always half naked and no one said anything. There was even a girl in the shark tank that hated to wear shoes. She would never use them, even in winter. Her fashion only included sandals and that was it. She didn’t fell cold or so thought Don. In any case, he would have wanted a changed for the evenings.

 As the doors closed, he decided to change things without telling anyone. After all, no one was even there to tell him anything. He had brought some flip-flops from home and he put them on as soon as the park got deserted. His feet were actually very thankful for that. The black shoes and socks stayed in his locker as his shift started. He watched the main map at the entrance, as he always did, and tried to create a route that would pass once by every single tank or exhibition. That way he did his job right and he had time to read his magazine and eat whatever he had around. He brought it all in a plastic bag.

 It was strange to be the only one making sounds in the night. He thought it was funny how only was person was trusted to stay there at night, to take care of so many animals that needed constant care. Sometimes, he would chat for a while with the vets that came at night. It did happen every night but it wasn’t unheard of that one of the creatures was having problems with its food or something like that. And those men and women knew a lot. The night passed by fast when they were around, imparting their wisdom.

 But that night, there was no vet or anyone else. Don was alone to read about how some celebrity had entered a rehab program and then gone out a week later. He ate one of the chocolates as he stared at the tank holding the sea dragons and then moved on to the sea horses, which he had always considered very particular, because of the fact the male can hold the babies while the mothers do other stuff. It was a little miracle in the sea and he pictured what that might look like in humans.

 A noise good him out of his imagination. At first it seemed to be far, not very important. But then, it seemed to be getting louder, to be more and more serious. He realized it was water and the first thought he had was that he might have to go for the mop right away. As he ran towards the sound, Don thought that maybe one of the animals was restless. He had read about in a magazine, how aquariums weren’t a thing anymore. They had no whale there and the dolphins had a huge habitat but maybe it was them. But it wasn’t.


 The sound stopped before he could arrive. Just as he arrived to the jellyfish exhibition, he saw someone run away. He attempted to follow but he tripped with his flip-flops and his bag of treats slammed against the floor. The Styrofoam case spilled hotdog all over the place. But that wasn’t the worst. The tank was spilling water all over and it wasn’t because of the animals. It was because there was a body floating just above the jellyfish, who seem to carry the dead man. As he got closer, Don’s jaw dropped realizing the corpse was Vinnie’s. He was purple.

jueves, 14 de enero de 2016

Awards

   He sipped a bit of the coffee and burned his tongue right away. It was too hot and he was in a hurry, so nothing different could have happened. He decided to put at least half the pot he had made in a thermos and just take that in the car. It was pitch black outside and the van would pick him up in any minute.

Of course he hadn’t had any sleep at all. He usually went to sleep very late and he had in the auditorium at five in the morning, with didn’t really gave him much time to do anything. He decided to not even try to sleep and shower and get ready at around two of the morning, se he could have breakfast before they came to pick him up at 3:30 AM.

 But as things that shouldn’t happen always find a way of becoming truth, he dozed off for a while and he lost the time to have a proper breakfast, which resulted in him burning his tongue and running around his house like an idiot. The van arrived only minutes afterwards so he just took his thermos with him and went as fast as he could, although the elevator apparently had a problem with that, as it felt it took double the time to get to the ground floor.

  There he finally met the man that drove the van, who he apologized to. The man didn’t even acknowledge that an explained him that he needed to check him for envelops, microphones, cameras and so on. The poor guy that hadn’t slept more than half an hour wasn’t sure he was getting what the driver of the van was telling him. The man attempted to touch him but he just pulled apart in fear.

       - “It’s for security, Mr. Thomas!”

 Somehow, that enunciation woke him up a bit and he decided to stay very still as the man checked his pockets (jacket and pants), felt everything he had to feel and even asked him to take off his shoes. He complied to everything as if he was in a boot camp which made them loose about fifteen minutes of their time, that he had thought to be precious. After checking the shoes and even the socks, the man finally told him to follow him to the van.

 Mr. Thomas sat down in the far back, not wanting to talk at all with that man during the ride. After all, it was a half-hour drive from his house to the headquarters of the services firm where they had to pick up a suitcase that had all the information they needed by five in the morning in the theatre. He knew he wasn’t the only idiot waking up at such time of the day and that made him feel a little better about himself. So when the van started moving towards the highway, he was a bit more awake than before.

 As they travelled through an unusual cold morning in Los Angeles, light still absent, he decided to finally have some coffee and just enjoy the ride. He decided to pay attention to the world and the world revealed itself to him in a way he had never seen. After all, it wasn’t everyday that he woke up at this time of day, when every single person that was up seemed to have a certain thing about them.

 The driver was the first in that list. He was a very tall guy, the kind that when they bend over it looks ridiculous. When he was checking Mr. Thomas’s shoes, his body contorted in the most funny shape ever and the owner of those shoes almost laughs, partially because of the time of day but also because tall people always looked funny in the simplest positions. Besides his height, he had this weird thing where the mustache was the same color of his hair, which was blonde, but the eyebrows were very black. Somehow it looked odd, as if he was a big Mr. Potato Head.

 The next person that drew his attention was a lady on the street. They stopped in a red light for a while and he saw this elderly woman, body curved as it was humanly possible, walking her Chihuahua in the middle of the night. What was curious about the woman was not at all the fact that she was walking her dog at that time, which he knew to be very common among dog owners, but that she was wearing the strangest combination of clothing. She had a large overcoat, the color of flamingos. Under that she had a flowery shirt that looked too big for her, kaki shorts and fluffy sleepers with a baseball cap crowning her head.

 She was a sight to behold and that was only for a couple of minutes, before they got in the highway and he only saw some cars and a couple of dead pigeons that had been killed by crazed drivers or just by people that had not realized that birds wee not the brightest creatures in the universe. When he saw those bodies, he couldn’t stop thinking about the poor man or woman that had to clean that up from the asphalt of the highway as his or her job. That thought made him realize he was a very lucky guy with a very good job and that he had no right to complain about something as silly as waking up early in the morning.

 It seemed that in no time they were in downtown Los Angeles, stopping in almost every stupid traffic light. He saw his watch nervously, telling himself that if he was a couple of minutes late it wouldn’t really be that big of problem as the show began a little later than five. But then he remembered he had to pass the information to the people than made a nice little presentation video for people at home to get what the presenters were saying. He worried again when he thought of this.

 It was right then when they finally got to the skyscraper where the services offices were located. He got out of the van and remembered what they had told him: he had to go the information desk and ask for Tamara Parks. Then, they would direct him to the top floor where Ms. Parks would give him the briefcase with all the information they needed in the theater.

 So he did just that. The man at the information desk was a security guard; obviously the person that tactually worked there had not yet arrived. The man gave him a badge and told him to take the middle elevator and press the button to the top floor. Said elevator took forever to arrive and also to get up there. It seemed to be going for ages. He checked his watch several times and repeated to himself that they were on time and that the theater was not that far away. He realized the elevator had a mirror so he decided to check his suit for stains or anything unusual, his teeth and his face. It was right then the elevator decided to stop and open.

 This startled him but no one was outside waiting. He had to walk to an office and wait there in a waiting room for the woman. But he didn’t have to wait at all. She was there and greeted him with a big smile that he would be unable to do at that time of day. She asked him to follow her to a conference room and there he found the briefcase but also two big guys, with black glasses and earpieces. Somehow, it was funny to see them there, as if they were thing to put in a room like plants or statues.

 Ms. Parks explained they were the security team assigned to join him to the theater to ensure all the information got there safely and that only the people that had to see it saw it and no one else. They checked everything in five minutes and then they were good to go. He left the smiling Parks in the top floor but was joined in the elevator by the two big guys who didn’t smile at all.

 He was a bit relieved when he got to the van and this time the driver decided to speed up as he realized time was running short. The theater was not far away and, with the presence of the two big guys, Mr. Thomas had no opportunity to see the outside world, mainly because he was trapped between those two mountains that were apparently people.

 Exactly at five in the morning, they pulled off outside the theater and there was already someone waiting, telling her they were a bit late which was a lie. Apparently people there were very stressed. The four of them walked, almost jogged, to the theater and there straight to the master room when a lonely woman was waiting for them behind a computer. It was Mr. Thomas job to only look at her work like crazy for the next twenty minutes, helped only by another man.


 When the presentation was done, Thomas’s work was done. The big men would guard the briefcase and   he could just sit in the back of the theater and hear the name of the nominees from there. At that point, he was finally awake and also very excited because he knew he was part of something that meant a lot to many people and that was, somehow, the pinnacle of their efforts and the most coveted prize in the cinema industry.

jueves, 20 de agosto de 2015

Virus

   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.