:: Biotic antics ::
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Brent had the calm, continental demeanor expected of a four-star hotel manager. His staid attitude and firm belief in orderliness belied a past that included multiple felonies and the writing of a book entitled "Everything I Needed to Know in Life I Learned from Taking Painkillers". He was pushing forty, balding, and in need of waterskiing lessons. With no children of his own, Brent doted on his nephew Leonid, whose private-school tuition was paid almost entirely out-of-pocket. The tips from wealthy patrons amounted to far more than a single middle-aged recovering substance-abuser could spend on himself alone, no matter how many private "massages" he ordered to the managerial suite.
On Thursday the twenty-sixth of June, Brent entered the labyrinth that passed for his hotel's system of service hallways through the rear entrance adjacent to the employee parking garage. His collar was asphyxiating in the morning swelter, and the sterile air-conditioned flow that greeted him provided a relief bordering on ecstasy.
As he turned the corner to his office and began removing his skeleton key from his front-right pants pocket, Brent heard a faint squeaking behind him. The meager night staff was not permitted access to this section of the back office, and it was too early for the day shift to have arrived. Shoulders tensed and ready to deliver a thorough scolding, the manager pivoted on the balls of his feet and looked up from the shaky hands that had been fumbling with the key ring.
A clear sealed plastic jar of liquid, five feet in height, sat on the shiny tile floor of the hallway. Despite the cool regulated temperature of the building, condensation formed on its exterior and ran in miniature rivulets, through which he could make out small inscription reading "Property of Ewell Laboratories" in addition to a Mondale/Ferraro bumper sticker, down to the junction of jar and floor. The liquid inside the cylinder must have been quite cold. A shiny trail extended from the jar's present location down the length of the corridor and around a distant corner. Brent suspected the watery friction between the container's base and the tiles must have been the source of the sound he'd heard. But that would have implied movement.
"Hello," a calm voice broke the near silence of the air whistling through both the hallway ventilation ducts and Brent's narrow nostrils, "I am a giant vat of semi-synthetic tetracycline. I represent the next stage of-"
Brent tuned out. He felt his muscles seize and became unusually aware of the icy sensation of sweat, left over from his time spent outside, evaporating off his skin. He had been a sickly child, and was therefore no stranger to medicines of all kinds, antibiotics included. But this tub had somehow developed sentience, and cornered him. Alone.
Before he could think twice, Brent's prison instincts came back to him. He deftly pulled a butterfly knife from his front-left pants pocket and lunged towards the dripping barrel. At over three hundred pounds, the lumbering cask could not dodge his steel quickly enough, and the sharpened blade point punctured its precious hermetic seal. Yellow fluid sprayed forth. His collar no longer a lily-white, the human removed the weapon and rolled to the hallway's edge, panting.
A look approximating carnal satisfaction overcame Brent's face as the tetracycline jug let loose a ululant shriek. Within minutes it was empty, the erstwhile contents coating the floors of the hotel's back office. Humanity: 1, superdrug: 0.
Brent arose and continued about his business, unlocking the door to his office and hanging his suit jacket, drenched and heavy, on his coat rack. He dialed room service and ordered a steak. He had earned his pay today.
Posted by morland @ 04:11 PM
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