Cerberus 14

Thursday morning – 10:37 a.m.

It took me almost two years but I did it. After making my way up the ranks and earning enough of their confidence I was given enough security clearance to enter certain areas of the facility and I stole it. The glass vile is only four inches long and is contained in a secure steel box about the size of a small book. It can’t be opened without a punch code – thank God, without that safety measure I wouldn’t have touched it.

I now have a limited amount of time to exit the seven-story building owned by BHO Industries which to the outside world is an industrial manufacturing plant. It’s thought that BHO stands for Bio-Human Operations but the acronym also stands for something else. BHO is a corporation that’s in the business of manufacturing biological weapons; particularly man made viruses.

Its government run and headed by the one who is believed to be president of the United States, a usurper. This “president” is attempting to radically redefine and change the U.S. Constitution. He weakens those organizations that oppose him by putting a stop to their funding.

This commander in chief has secretly started his own personal militia apart from the U.S. armed forces (Hitler did the same while in office). He’s even attempting to alter the 22nd amendment, to increase the terms a president can serve so he can remain in office longer. He’s regulating big business and medicine so he can control what is produced, how much, and who consumes it. He’s fascist.

This so called president is also a puppet of Bilderberg, an organization of world leaders whose objective is to assemble a one world government. Not by the choice of the people of the world, but through forcibly altering global economy and laws. World domination, isn’t that always the plot? This time they’re close.

One of the major goals of Bilderberg or who some call Illuminati is population reduction; less people are easier to control. The target is under 500,000 people worldwide- it’s even etched onto the Georgia Guidestones (Google it). To accomplish this, millions of people have to die so viruses and diseases are manufactured to exterminate the masses; AIDS is one of them.

The virus in the metallic casing I stole is the newest. We still don’t know exactly what it is capable of but we need this sample in order to create an antidote.

I know a silent alarm goes off as I walk out of the small containment room on the fifth floor. I’m wearing my uniform and I.D. badge so those who don’t know the virus is stolen don’t suspect me yet.

I avoid elevators so I walk quickly down the hall to the empty stairwell at the back of the building. I descend the steps to the second floor and the light goes out – someone enters the stairwell from the floor above. Rapid footsteps echo throughout as he hurries down the steps in the darkness. Somebody knows.

I speed up. Two bullets zip past my ear and hit the wall. He’s using a silencer by the sound and must have night vision. I take the 9mm from inside my lab coat and continue even faster down the steps. I can’t see in the dark. I shoot blindly back to buy some time and get out where lay-employees are.

I make it to the first floor, hide the gun and step out into the light of hall, BHO lay-workers walk along as usual. “Hey there, Adam,” Joe says as he walks by. “What’s up, Joe?” I reply. I look back at the door to the stairwell and see the shooter looking at me through the small glass window. He wears a black leather mask, reminds me of a ski mask but his eyes are covered by dark lenses. His head whips away and out of sight.

Down the hall ahead of me I see my supervisor, Jerry, talking with his boss, they look at me simultaneously. Unfortunately I need to continue in their direction to get to the cafeteria and out of the back door. I avoid eye contact and speed up slightly to make it to the cafeteria entrance. I glance back to them – they’re gone.

“Hey Adam,” Jerry says, “Can I talk to you for a moment?” I didn’t even see him walk up to me, I’m getting slow.

“Hi Jerry, how are you?”

“Good. I need you to do something for me. The city inspector was here earlier. They’re making sure everything is up to code and I was given some questions to ask one of my managers. Could you come with me just for a second?”

They know, Jerry’s stalling until security gets here.

“Sure Jer, I’m just going to run in the cafeteria for a minute. Need to get a honey bun and a Coke. I’ve got a real headache from not eating all day.”

“We need you now, Adam.”

“Give me two seconds,” I say with a friendly smile. Jerry gives no resistance. They probably told him not to get pushy because I could be dangerous. I walk into the cafeteria, close the door behind me and by-pass the soda and snack machines.

A few co-workers are munching, sipping coffee, and chat at one of the round tables. Dennis waves, “What’s up, Adam, lunch already?” I walk past the table. “Not yet. Just need some fresh air,” I say as I head out the exit into the back area of the facility onto a freshly rained on lawn. I see the Detroit River off in the distance behind the facility. I move toward it which will take me to a side street into a local neighborhood. Now I run for it.

Pop, pop, pop, three gun shots come from above and behind me. Two miss, the third grazes my ear. Warm blood trickles down my face as I duck behind a tree for cover, my 9mm drawn. Peeking from behind the trunk, a fourth shot is taken and would have hit me if I hadn’t jerked back.

In that split second I saw the shooter – same mask wearing guy dressed in black with a rifle poking out a third floor window. Now sirens blare. Its security, they’re headed my way.

I run out from behind the tree, gun blazing, multiple shots unload at the shooter in the window. He ducks out of view as I evade his line of fire onto the street and out of range. I ditch the lab coat and run down the street as the sirens get louder. Dammit! Where’s Taylor? My ride isn’t here!

It’s a pretty urban local; houses are not the best. A few civilians move along the side walk as a black SUV speeds out from behind the facility after me. It’s BHO’s private security.

Both security officers in the SUV unload hand gun at me. I have no choice but to run into someone’s front yard. I jet past a man who paints his front porch. Security holds their fire. It wouldn’t look good for BHO if a civilian is killed by a black truck with the company security logo on the door.

As I run along the side of the house I call Rebecca on the cell. “Where the hell is Taylor? He should have been waiting,” I shout.

“You’re ahead of schedule,” Rebecca says, “What’s your location?”

“I just ran down Howard Street, I’m in a civilian’s backyard.”

“Taylor is in the area now.”

“I’m going to get off this person’s property and into the alley. Tell Taylor to meet at end of the alley onto Sandler Street.”

“Right, be careful Ryan.”

I hang up then hop over the chain linked fence and into the alley – all seems clear at both ends of it. The sirens have stopped but I hear classic Tupac blasting from someone’s back yard. I run toward Sandler Street in the direction of the music and glance behind me. Way back at the end of the alley – the front end of the SUV slowly creeps into view.

I stop at the garage of the house from where music blares and align my back against the graffiti covered metal garage door. I make myself as skinny as possible in hopes of not being seen. The SUV stops at the end of the alley and the security officers stare down in my direction. Not sure if they see me.

A pit bull’s loud growl in the backyard next to me makes me jump. His front legs are propped up against the short chain linked fence and his huge head jettisons out. The dog’s eyes are transfixed on me as slobber drips from sharp, yellow teeth. He barks angrily and my reaction has given away my position.

The black SUV turns down the alley at full speed. I run for Sandler Street along side the garages belonging to multiple back yards. The SUV’s sirens ring out again but there’s no sign of Taylor. Security starts firing and I shoot back.

There’s no way I can out run the vehicle, I’m going to have to jump into someone’s yard again. Please God, no pit bulls. The next few backyard fences are too high and if I attempt to climb any of them I’ll give security a clear shot.

I aim for tires as I keep running and hear a loud pop as a one shot hits its mark. The front driver’s tire is blown and the SUV skids but continues down the gravel stretch. I finally make it to the end of the alley at Sandler and the blue Lincoln stops in front of me, the passenger door swings open.

“Get in!” Taylor screams. I hop in, slam the door and he steps on the gas. We head west on Sandler and the SUV stops at the end of the alley as a procession of civilian vehicles drive by, leaving BHO security stuck.

“You were supposed to be at the corner of Howard. What took so long?” I ask.

“You’re early, I was on my way.”

“No. I’m sure I was right on time.”

“What matters is that you’re safe and have the virus. You do have it don’t you?”

“Yeah, I got it.”

Friday – 12:05 p.m.

I walk into the briefing room greeted by fellow agents who belong to the same government organization I do – a faction that opposes the president’s fascist attempts on increasing government powers over the people.

Hatcher, a gray haired man, whom I’ll only describe as the head of our team, looks me in the eye extending his hand for a shake. “Good job,” he says.” Taylor shakes my hand as well and Rebecca gives me a hug and a smile. I feel her thin frame against me and her long brown hair on my face. I look into those gray eyes and smile back.

“So glad you made it, Ryan. I knew you could do it,” she says.

“Well, was it worth two years as a BHO employee?” I ask as I pull away from her.

“Sit down, here’s what we know.”

We all sit at the conference table; Hatcher and Rebecca take the end at the wall. A rectangular space on the wall opens revealing a flat screen monitor. Video footage appears of scientists in a laboratory working in biohazard suits.

“The vile you stole, Ryan, contains a deadly genetically engineered virus created from three strains of pre-existing viruses: hence the name Cerberus 14 from the Greek, three –headed mythological creature, Cerberus,” says Rebecca.

“And the number 14?” asks Taylor.

“It was on the 14th attempt at combining the three strands that BHO succeeded in creating this flesh devouring virus. It spreads fast by simple human skin to skin contact,” Rebecca replies. “This is what it does.”

Rebecca pushes a button on the remote and new footage appears. Three men and two women lay in hospital beds, covered in pure white sheets. Each bed is sectioned off by clear plastic curtains. “These patients are the first scientists who to studied the sample,” says Rebecca.

Other scientists wearing the protective suits pull away the white sheets of one of the unlucky victims, revealing his condition. Underneath the sheet is a blanket of clear plastic which is also pulled away.

The victim’s face, neck, and shoulders look normal. The torso which has no skin whatsoever reveals partially exposed, bloody muscle tissue. The bones of his ribs are visible and his abdominal wall has rotted away revealing internal organs. One by one, each infected individual’s sheets and plastic covering are lifted away, their innards revealed. The look on the living one’s face is horrible, he’s alive and suffering.

“The virus causes the literal decomposition of the flesh in the torso area first. It’s excruciatingly painful and the victim will die within twenty-four hours. We are working on the antidote now,” Rebecca says.

“There’s one more problem,” Hatcher interjects. “We’ve intelligence that this administration will release Cerberus 14 on a small portion of the local public. It will spread quickly, killing thousands of people within days. The president will then declare a state of emergency, calling it a terrorist attack and use the tragedy as a means to infringe on citizen’s rights, giving the government and himself more powers.”

“Any idea when they’re going to release the virus?” I ask Hatcher.

“Memorial Day, Monday, three days from now.”

“Where?”

“The downtown plaza at the city Memorial Day festival. Cerberus 14 will be released in an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas.”

“How do we stop it?”

Monday, Memorial Day – 8:00 a.m.

My hair is bleached blonde, cut short, and my goatee has been shaven off. I’m given blue contacts and a false nose. I don’t even recognize myself. I arrive at an BHO industrial plant, one of my ex-job sites. I’m chosen because I know the building like the back of my glove.

The plant is less then a mile from downtown’s square where the Memorial Day festivities will take place. At 10:00 a.m. the virus will be released. The warehouse is empty because of the holiday. Memorial Day is perfect because it gives top management good reason not to be in the building when the virus is released on the public.

The small, red MX2 airplane was donated by a local airport affiliated with BHO industries. It’s for aerial stunts to entertain the masses after the mayor’s speech and is kept in the large warehouses as a temporary hanger.

One of our boys inside BHO was able to get the security codes to the warehouse so getting inside is cake. No alarm goes off. I disable the motion detectors before I enter the make shift hanger through a side door. The pilot arrives in an hour giving me ample time. We are still unsure if the pilot doesn’t know what he is about to do or is a willing participant, doesn’t really matter.

The warehouse is dusty, has an extremely high ceiling of about forty feet and is filled with large 6 x 4 foot boxes packed with steering wheels for the latest Ford Explorer. I disappear behind one of these large boxes and scope the area. The plane is near the large shipping and receiving dock, the huge garage-like door locked shut.

I was given a crash course in airplane mechanics last night, specifically the MX2. My photographic memory makes me perfect for this type of work. I learned how to access the storage unit underneath the plane that holds the Cerberus 14 storage tank. The black leather bag that hangs over my shoulder has a special protective casing. It’s here I’ll hold the Cerberus 14 tank after I swipe it.

Everything is clear along the dirty cement floor of the warehouse as I make my way to the plane. The tools needed to remove Cerberus 14 are in the bag with me. It’s too quiet, which allows my other senses to become heightened. I see movement, ever so slightly in the darkness, atop a 15 foot shelving unit that holds the big boxes packed with steering wheels. Immediately, I dive behind a parked hi-lo as the tink, tink, tink of gunfire bounce of the metal.

He’s up on the shelf near the ceiling crouched next to a box, it’s the same asshole dressed in black who almost killed me when I stole the vile. He still wears that black mask and has got his rifle again. With the 9mm, I fire from behind the hi-lo. I let go five rounds as my rival ducks behind other boxes.

His turn, he shoots back with his rifle just before jumping off the top shelf onto a lower shelving unit six feet across from it. He landed on the middle shelf and uses another box for cover. He’s trying to get closer. I can’t let that happen. I have to take him out before I disarm the plane, if he doesn’t get me first.

From behind the hi-lo I keep an eye on the box that covers him. I know how these wheels are packed inside, I used to work here. There’s nothing but air in between cell spaces that separates the stacks of wheels. If I can get a shot through a certain area of the cardboard box, the bullet will zip past the stacked wheels inside, out through the other side of the box and right into him.

I aim at the weak areas of the box and release a barrage of rapid fire but he leaps out from behind it, this time landing on the ground floor behind another parked hi-lo. He leaves his rifle, too bulky, so he uses a side arm. We exchange fire, neither of us hitting our target. I’m low getting on amo.

The nose of his pistol peeks out from the back end of his hi-lo. I have to make the last shots count so I use one of the oldest tricks in the book. I fling one of the tools from my bag across the warehouse. He changes the aim of his gun toward the echoing sound which gives me a shot.

I let my last rounds go and hit the barrel of his gun, knocking it out of his hand. It lands on the cement floor and slides behind a stack of wooden palates. He steps out from behind the vehicle motioning his top four fingers toward himself in a come here fashion – the way Bruce Lee used to do. He wants do this hand to hand and I have no choice. I have no more amo or I would have just offed him.

I leave the tool bag on the floor and step out from behind the hi-lo. We get into stance and by his style I see he’s trained in a style of Ninjutsu. So am I. We face off and step closer to one another. He throws a handful of screws at my face he found someplace in the warehouse, another old trick. I flinch, giving him a few seconds that he takes full advantage of with a swift front kick to my stomach. It hurts but I fight the pain as I’m knocked a few paces back, closer to the plane.

He sends fist after fist my way, I block as soon as he gives them. He’s fast. I strike back with a few shots myself but he dodges. I get closer and tag him with an elbow to his chin. It pisses him off and a fast round house kick is delivered to my face. The blow shocks me and I lose balance, my back lands against the side of the plane near the wing.

He pulls a knife from his belt, jabs it at my face but I dodge, left and right as the blade strikes the metal of the plane; Tink Tink. The next jab is at my chest, I parry blocking his arm with my right. I grab his knife welding wrist, twisting it back, almost breaking it which forces him to drop the knife as he succumbs to the pain.

With his wrist now in a lock, he in a kneeling position, I snatch the blade from the floor and turn it sideways. It’ll slide easier this way between his ribs. I slam it sideways into the side of his torso, through his leather suit. I repeat the stab motion again and again and I pull it out quickly so that blood doesn’t slide on my hand. I wipe the blood from the blade on his back, put the knife into my inside jacket pocket and drop him to the ground on his stomach.

His wounds are deep and he’s too weak to fight back. I want to see his face. I notice something odd about the suit he wears when I turn him over – it’s bulky – like padding. It’s probably a type of Kevlar but not strong enough to take a blade at close range. The armor makes his body look much bigger than he really is.

I pull off the mask from behind the neck and strands of long hair fall to the floor. I see her face. She looks at me with those gray eyes.

“Rebecca? You’re a double agent.”

“Of course…” she says in a weak voice, “who do you think sent Taylor late to pick you up yesterday?”

“Why?”

“We’re going to win, Ryan. It’s just a matter of time. People are too stupid to run their lives themselves. They want to be ruled. That’s why they voted for him. Cerberus 14 won’t be the last contagion created. You know that.”

She closes her eyes and dies in my hands, by my hands. I need to hurry so I leave her on the floor. I retrieve my tool bag and the tool I threw across the warehouse. Underneath the plane I locate the paneling of where the Cerberus14 tank located. With the tools I open the panel, remove contagion tank, extremely carefully. I place it in the special containment unit in the black, leather bag.

Just in case they have another tank of the virus hidden somewhere in the plane, I open up the front of the plane and dismantle the engine, pieces by piece. I leave the engine visibly exposed so they’ll know not to fly it. They’ll know something’s wrong when blood is seen on the floor too.

I’m not going to leave Rebecca in the warehouse. I wrap my jacket around her wound to prevent a bloody mess and drag her body to the door I entered. I call Taylor and he pulls up within seconds. Not sure if I can trust him either. Any surprises and I’ll take care of him too. Rebecca’s body is put into the car and we get away, not a soul watching, as far as I know.

 At base, one hour later:

 I don’t know what was done with Rebecca’s body. No use worrying about it – it’s out of my hands. Makes me wonder who else can’t be trusted. Is Hatcher even on our side?

I’m told the antidote for Cerberus 14 is almost complete and should be ready in two days, they work fast.

From the conference room Hatcher, Taylor, a few others, and I watch the Memorial Day speech by Mayor Grant. He stands behind the podium in the downtown plaza and a large tarp covered object is erected behind him. The sky is a bright blue, not a cloud in it, perfect for BBQ, soda, and potato salad.

Channel 2 news reporter, Kimberly Salidos, appears on screen holding a microphone in front of a crowd waving American flags. The mayor in the background gave his final words and the reporter provides us with the news: “Mayor Grant finished his speech today by thanking United States Veterans for their service and sacrifice. He told us to remember those who have died for freedom. He also promised an exciting new addition to the city’s downtown landscape, let’s take a look,” Salidos says.

The camera zooms past the reporter to the twelve foot object behind Mayor Grant. The blue tarp is removed by three city workers and falls to the ground unveiling what’s underneath. The cameras zoom closer and we see a bronze statue of the one who sits in the oval office. His image is standing and is sculpted wearing a suit and tie. Left arm is to the side, the other is in mid-wave. The face displays a most benign smile. To think, he was the one behind the Cerberus 14 aerial plot and half the country adores him.

He’s been the media darling since his campaign and this statue only adds to the fuel. The crowd cheers and I think: what does this Manchurian Candidate have to do with Memorial Day? Not a damn thing.

The reporter speaks again: “We’ve just received word that the airplane that was supposed to entertain the crowd this morning with an aerial demonstration was found to have mechanical problems. It will not be flying this morning. Fortunately, a back up plane has been provided just in case of such a scenario. The new stunt plane will ready for take-off in just five minutes.”

Copyright  © Abel Ramirez

 

 

 

 

 

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