19 minutes

by Tomas Jonsson
19 minutes Tomas Jonsson loves fictional writing and his favorite ice cream is cookies and cream. He is 12 and lives in New York.

“I woke up in the morning to realize that my alarm clock hadn’t even gone off yet. It was only four in the morning. Meh, who cared? I would be early for work. Plus, I was the head of the company, no one could get mad at me for being early — right? Wrong.”

I woke up in the morning to realize that my alarm clock hadn’t even gone off yet. It was only four in the morning. Meh, who cared? I would be early for work. Plus, I was the head of the company, no one could get mad at me for being early — right?

Wrong. My assistant publisher was always screaming at me, like, “Grant! Don’t forget your meeting at ten o’clock sharp!” Blah blah blah. Now, I know that I talked about her as if she were annoying, and don’t get me wrong, she was; but she was a real lifesaver.

One time, I had planned a meeting with the president of France, and I totally forgot about it. But thanks to her screaming, I didn’t miss it. Today though, I’m not here to tell you about how dumb I could be sometimes, because today I’m going to the Amazon rainforest. I was flying to a lab where they tested on plants — or, that’s what they said. I was here to find out if that’s what they really did.

Nine hours later, I was at the Harper Labs Plant Experimentation Center. First of all, the place was huge. I don’t mean like the White House huge, I mean like if the Empire State fell over huge. I was twenty-three, and I was the most famous reporter in the world. That meant I’d seen a lot of things, but never something like this. They had hundreds of thousands of plants everywhere. If they were trying to hide something, it was one hell of a cover story. Dean — the man who scheduled all of my interviews — broke me out of my daydream.

“Grant, Grant!”

“Huh,” I replied like an idiot.

“Your interview is in a half hour, so pull yourself together!”

“Sure, dude,” I replied. Dean acted all tough, but on the inside he was a total softie. I’d actually known Dean since I was 15. He was 17 at the time, but we were — and still are — best friends. Dean told me that the name of the man who was going to give us a tour of the lab was Jaden William Smith. When he came to give us the tour, I was quite surprised to find that Jaden was actually a man in his mid-thirties, tall (about six foot one), with light blond hair and green eyes.

“Welcome to Harper Labs. My name is Jaden Smith, but you can just call me Jaden.”

“Thank you for having us,” I replied, slightly in awe.

“So, you ready for that tour?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Please, just call me Jaden.”

“Okay,” I replied.

 

After about a half day of the tour we, ended like this.

“This is the experimentation room,” Jaden said, pointing to a room on the right, “and finally, this is the testing room.”

“What are all those rooms?” I asked, wondering why he hadn’t shown us those rooms.

“Oh, just boiler rooms,” he replied.

I wasn’t convinced, so I said, “Why do you have so many?”

“It’s a big building.”

“Ah I see,” still suspicious.

“Dean,” I said, “can I have a word”

“Sure, wassup?”

“Well, you know the boiler room?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Well, I don’t think they’re boiler rooms.”

“Why?” he asked curiously.

“Well, why do they need so many boiler rooms in the Amazon?” I told him.

“Big building,” he suggested.

“I don’t think so, let’s check.” I walked up to the door and turned the knob.

“Damn, it’s locked. Dean?”

“On it,” he replied. What most people didn’t know about Dean is that he studied in the police force. Nobody knew why he became my interview assistant. If anybody asked him why, he would just say that he didn’t want to talk about it. Thanks to his experience though, he knew how to open locked doors.

We couldn’t be seen, so I told Dean to stop. I went over to Jaden and asked him where the bathroom was. “Two hallways to the left,” he said. I thanked him and called Dean to come. When we got to where he said the bathroom was, we kept walking until we got to a boiler room. Dean worked his magic, and the door clicked. The first thing I noticed was that it was freezing in there. This was no boiler room. The next thing I saw were shelves, thousands of them, lined with a purple liquid. The room was huge, as if it took up half of the lab, but how could that be? We had already seen two-thirds of it. Then, I realized that this room was far bigger than that. It stretched about four floors down. I looked at Dean to see him staring at everything through slitted eyes.

“Dean,” I whispered. “This can’t be a la –”

Beep! Beep! Beep! A loud alarm went off, and then we heard a voice over the speaker. “Evacuate the premises quickly. We have had a leak in sector 1382 C.”

“What the… ” I was confused. What was sector 1382 C? What type of leak? I checked my watch, and it was 6:22. Then, I was reminded of the evacuation. Dean and I dashed out of the place and into the hallway. It was chaotic. People were running everywhere, but as a reporter, my job was to find out what was happening. I started running against the tide, Dean on my back, until bam! I lost consciousness for a moment. When I came to my senses, Dean was standing in front of me with a woman. She resembled my sister Claire. Wait. It was my sister Claire. She helped me up and told me to follow her. She led us into a strange room with lots of strange looking animal statues.

“Claire! What are you doing here?”

“Hi, brother. I work here.”

“What! You told me you were a travel agent.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not. We need to get out of here.”

“No. Not until you tell me what’s going on.”

“Ugh. Fine. This isn’t a lab for plant experimentation.”

“Yeah, I realized that,” I interrupted.

She continued, “It’s actually an animal mutation center.”

“What do you mean? What about the purple liquid. Is it — ”

“You saw that?”

“Of course, it’s my job to see what people don’t want me to see.”

“I knew it was a bad idea bringing you here. You find things out too quickly.”

“Well, can you explain to me what’s going on please?”

“Okay. Umm, so the purple serum is called a SeurgaGene Serum, and it’s supposed to help us speak to animals. The leak that you heard about over the speakerphone is referring to the serum.”

“Okay, so what’s the problem?”

“The serum is still in the testing phase, so there is no telling what it will do to the animals in the rainforest.” Just then, a huge bang hit the other side of the wall. I checked the door window. A huge jaguar was walking down the hallway. There was blood everywhere. The large animal was carrying two humans — dead humans. A man and a woman. Horrified, I noticed that the the man was Dr. Jaden Smith. He had blood on his neck and looked like he had died terrified. The woman I did not recognize, but I could tell that she had been a very good-looking woman, no more than twenty eight.

I checked my watch. 6:41. It had been 19 minutes since the leak, and the animals had already started to react. I ran to my sister and said, “Wha — ” She covered my mouth with her hand. I looked into her eyes and saw her fear. She removed her hand from my mouth and shushed me. By now, I realized that the animal has heard us. Claire showed us a secret exit, and we ran. I heard glass shatter, and I realized that the jaguar was following us. I turned to see the jaguar leap at me, and then I screamed. I closed my eyes and wondered why I was not dead. I opened my eyes and saw that the animal was on the ground.

“Is it — dead?” I ask, horrified.

“No, it’ll just be too weak to do anything for a few minutes. Now, let’s get moving,” my sister said, like it was obvious. We followed her outside, and that’s when we saw about forty animals waiting in front of the lab. They immediately noticed us, and Claire shot darts until she ran out of ammo. Crap, we were screwed.

“Run!” Claire shouted. If the other animals hadn’t noticed us earlier, they definitely noticed us now.

We ran through the jungle until we ran into a nest of anacondas. “SSSSSSStttttooooooo pp,” I heard a voice in my head.

“What? Who said that,” I said out loud.

“You are looking at us,” replied the voice in my head. I looked at the anacondas.

“How can you talk to me?” I asked.

“Yessss, now I suggest you run before I kill you.” He didn’t even answer my question.

“Come on, let’s go,” Claire shouted.

“Okay,” I replied. We started running. I looked back to realize to my horror that the anacondas were slithering after us. My sister stopped.

“Why did you stop?” I looked at her, panicking as I realized that the snakes were closing in.

I looked at what my sister was looking at, and I realized that we were on the edge of a cliff. A huge waterfall hit the bottom into a river. Jump. It was our only option. I breathed deeply and told my sister, “Follow me.” She looked at me confused, and then I jumped. I hit the water, and then I saw nothing.

 

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