American Chimera – 8.1

American Chimera Cover Small

The interrogator looked up at the lights in the ceiling. “It’s bright in here,” she said, voice muffled by an N95 dust mask.

Dallin Smith smiled and, with considerable effort, pulled his leg up to put the cloth bootie around his foot. He tied off the cotton drawstring around his ankles. “Well, it might have been darker in the past. Settings change when you get older.” He grunted and allowed the clean booties to touch the floor. “Wash your hands before you put on your gloves. You just got done covering your shoes, after all.”

“But I dipped the shoes in antiseptic.”

“Only the bottom, though!” Dallin wagged a finger and moved to the small sink. He pumped the handsoap a couple times and lathered beneath the warm water. “You can’t be too careful. We treat this like any veterinary research facility, and you’ve got to follow the rules if you want a tour!” He chuckled and used his elbows to turn off the flow of water, then dried using an autoclaved towel.

The interrogator followed suit, using her own elbows to turn on the water. “I suppose your house, your rules.” Once her hands were washed, she chose a new, clean towel to dry off with, then slipped on a pair of cotton then viscose gloves. “I’m ready.”

Dallin stepped over to a clean table and picked up a small, aluminum box, which was slipped wordlessly into a pocket on his lab coat. With a nod at the camera, a light on the door turned green. A buzzer sounded, a lock clicked, and the door swung open.

The interrogator walked into the much dimmer hallway, following Dallin where he led. “It looks just like where my prisoners are being kept.”

“Well,” Dallin said, “The prisoners are actually stored in a section of the facility we’d shut down about five years ago – oh, golly, has it been that long?” He shook his head and pointed onward. “So yes, the cells are the same.”

“Is that why there’s a trough of flowing water instead of a toilet? Why there’s a giant gerbil dribbler instead of a sink?”

“No. The trough was actually where the specimens drank – the dribbler was added because we didn’t know how to get plumbing for a sink into the rooms quickly enough. I’ve heard from the contractors that work is being done for some of your assuredly permanent residents, so things should be improving shortly.”

One of the doors thudded and shook on its hinges. The interrogator jumped back. “And these cells will hold?”

“Ever since we removed the windows, we’ve had no problems with escape. Trust me – your humans won’t get out.” He pointed at a door and stopped just outside. “Ah, number 951. He’s a calm boy, will let you give him a belly rub if he’s in a good mood. This is our first stop.” He typed in his door code to the lock. “Now, you are ready for this, yes? Two hundred pound spider, you know. Not for the faint of heart.”

The interrogator nodded. “I’m prepared. I read through the manual of a board game to access a simulation – hint I got from one of my interviewees – and I think I’ve prepared myself.”

“Sounds good!”


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