Reaching the north edge of the city, she started up a long hill. She heard her breathing deepen, felt fatigue wash over her body. When had she last slept? She couldn't remember... had it been only a month since the grey madness, as people had come to call it, had afflicted the city?
As she reached the crest of the hill, the pharmaceutical research facility came into view, apparently abandoned. The grey madness had started here in the north end of the city. People suspected the pharma lab, with it's ties to giant defence contractors, was somehow responsible, although nothing was ever said about the lab by city health officials. Still, without any official word being given, many of the people living in the north of the city had fled south, crossing over the river into the city centre, as if the river was a moat that would protect them from the advancing menace. But the madness followed, at it's own slow but relentless pace. Angry mobs torched buses on the three bridges crossing over the river, and manned barricades. But one by one the grey madness took them and they wandered off, their minds seemingly no longer caring what their bodies did. She had had to climb over the abandoned barricades and continue on foot.
On level ground now, she felt her body start to run. Her breath was coming in gasps, and her legs felt weak and unsteady, her balance almost lost to exhaustion. She crossed the laboratory parking lot, started up the walkway to the building entrance . Almost there. She thought of turning to take in the panoramic view of the city, as she had almost every day when she came to work here. But her body was intent on reaching the lab entrance. Her mind could still control her body, but it took a great effort, as if her body was slowly moving farther and farther away from her. She knew that the grey menace, the nanotech synthetic virus the lab had released, was transforming her brain, partitioning it. Her conscious mind was losing control of her body. And the part of her brain that, increasingly, controlled her body, seemed to have an agenda of it's own. What had the lab director told her? Weaponize the brain, and you make all previous weapons technology obsolete.
That agenda, whatever it was, was focused on the lab. Her hand frantically rummaged in her bag, pulled out her door access card. She had left the lab – when? A week ago? Her mind was increasingly foggy. After she learned the nanotech being developed was not intended to rehabilitate stroke victims as she had been told. It was designed to created programmable, mind controlled soldiers. Turn humans into robotic killing machines. The director had explained to her why the technology was necessary, and why she must continue with her work. When she threatened to go to the media, the director seemed unconcerned, telling her with a half smile that he knew her mind better than she did, and that she would remain loyal to the lab. She had stormed out of the lab, furious.
Yet here she was, back at the lab. Had it really been her own decision to come here? Was she here to put a stop to the lab's sinister agenda, or to serve it?
The light above the door card reader turned from red to green, and the door lock released with a metallic click.
Without hesitation, she pushed open the metal door and strode briskly into the lab.