Hall and Stone continue to watch Dutton on the monitor.
“He can’t keep breathing like that forever,” says Hall. “He’ll hyperventilate, pass out. We’ve got to get him something to alkalize his blood.”
“Well, we can’t in there,” says Stone. He looks at the monitor, startled.
“Charlie?” says Stone, “Behind you! That cage – – “
On the monitor, Dutton makes an about-face and looks into the hot room. A rat is sniffing the air. Six petri dishes are scattered around the rat’s cage.
“It’s alive!” says Hall.
“That rat’s been exposed as long as I have – – longer!” says Dutton. ” I exposed it to the cultures before the seal broke.”
“Precisely,” says Stone. “Andromeda’s mutated to a non-infectious form.”
A red glow fills the console display. “Holy!” says Stone.
In red letters on the display:
EARLY DEGENERATIVE CHANGE IN GASKET
> L5Y-001 <
“Where does that gasket lead?” asks Hall.
“Central Core,” says Stone. “Connects to all the labs.”
A series of Level 5 gaskets failures fill the screen.
“The gaskets are – – decomposing!” says Stone. “It’s Andromeda!”
GASKET INTEGRITY ZERO
LEVEL V CONTAMINATED
A siren sounds The red emergency indicator on the wall flashes, and the countdown clock resets to five minutes.
Hall struggles with his disarming key.
“Next sector!” yells Stone. “There’s – “