This article isn't done. The majority of my sandbox articles are one-off concepts I never finish, so don't come here looking for anything that wasn't written in one night.

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The blaring of alarms sent blisteringly hot coffee down Researcher Donovan's brand new button-up shirt.

Donovan sputtered, first from pain and then from anger. That shirt set him back two-hundred dollars, for God's sake. He expected to get a good few years out of it, at least, but ruining it on the first day he wore it? He'd need to get the stain professionally removed, but that'd cost —


Shaking himself, he found the pink-faced Doctor Sorts staring at him, eyes wide. His boss was saying something, he realized.

"We need to move," Sorts was saying. "Containment breach. The pager says it's on floor B4 and sapient. Infectious hazard. Lethal." Sorts looked Donovan up and down. "Let's go, damn it!"

Oh, that's right. He should be running for his life.

He took off at a sprint, the geriatric Sorts lagging behind.

They were on the second basement floor now — nothing but empty hallways lined with containment cells and a few steep flights of stairs to traverse. Whatever was breaching containment below would have to contend with remotely sealable doors, the strength of which bank vaults would envy. They could make it to the staff bunkers in time.

Donovan told himself that, anyway, as Sorts wheezed behind him that his pager now said floor B3 was reporting a containment breach.

Skidding to a stop at the end of the hall, Donovan shoved the stairwell door open. He looked back to see Doctor Sorts pushing his wizened body to the limits, gasping raggedly for air as he scrambled onward.

The door Donovan held open clicked, and he nearly lost his balance as the door began pushing itself closed.

"Donovan!" the doctor called. "Martin, my boy, please! Please, wait for me!"

Donovan hesitated, then pressed himself to the door, resisting the increasing force of the containment-grade door. It barely slowed despite his efforts. It shut with a hiss five steps before Sorts could reach it.

Donovan heaved, but it was closed. They were locked down here with the something that was working its way up to them.

A shaky laugh echoed down the halls, and it took Donovan a second to realize it was his. "My shirt!" he screamed, his voice echoing down the hall before being drowned out by the alarms. "I splurge and buy a new shirt, a Goddamned nice shirt, and it gets ruined on day fucking uno." Another fit of laughter forced its way out of his chest, tinged with mania. "Two hundred fucking dollars," he added softly.

Sorts worked the door's handle over and over, as if not comprehending that he was locked in.

Donovan slid down the wall to a pile on the floor, giggling incessantly. Nausea hit him in waves. He was going to die here.

He was going to die here because he tried to save his unappreciative bastard of a boss.

No. Not a chance he was going to die because he was playing lapdog for his higher-ups.

etc etc

"Ah, Researcher Donovan, come in."

Donovan stepped inside the small office. Binders filled to the brim with documents lined three walls, and the desk held trays filled with orderly stacks of documents.

Site Director Vaughn sat at the desk, gesturing to a chair on the other side. Donovan took a seat.

"You wanted to see me, sir?" Donovan asked.

Vaughn cleared his throat. "Well, your work during the recent containment breach was appreciable. It was… unorthodox, let's say, and very against policy, but you saved dozens of lives by doing so. And for that, I thank you."

Donovan beamed internally. It was good to be appreciated.

"Now, the other thing I wanted to talk with you about," Vaughn said. "Because of the massive damage that occurred throughout the containment breach, we've had to make some… budget cuts. We're going to have to let you go."

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