Author : Callum Wallace

“A spray bottle?”

“That’s right,” she smiled merrily, pulling her gloves further up her arms. “To make it easier to apply.”

I stared, deadpan. “A spray.”

She nodded. “Have you tried pouring a bath of this stuff? It’s difficult to test the effects on larger animals. And the small ones just dissolve.”

My stomach danced unhappily at the thought. Kept my face straight. “How small? Like a frog?”

The smile faltered for a moment. “No, I said small. Bacteria, amoebas. Small.”

I looked down at the spray bottle, so innocent in the clinical light. All that was missing was a little label declaring it killed 99.9% of germs, with a hint of lemon.

“That’s alright then.”

I moved to take it, but she snatched it away.

“Probably best if I handle it, Sir, wouldn’t want any accidental discharge would we?”

I nodded. ”When will it be ready?”

“Depends on what you do with it.” I roll my hand to prompt her. “Well, for local area usage it would yield perhaps a ninety percent mortality rate.
“Buildings like schools, churches, office blocks and so on would have a lower rate at first, but as the chemical worms its way through the glass and brick, the rate would quickly increase.”

“A timescale, please.”

She drummed on the bottle. “Approximately twenty-four months, give or take. We’re still testing the effects on living tissue, as you—“

I cut her off, the eggs from the cheap flight breakfast still churning from her last vivid description. “That plastic,” I indicated the squeezable spray bottle she coddled, “is already immune to the chemical, correct?”

She glanced down, then nodded.

“And how easy to produce is that particular plastic?”

She blinked. “Exceedingly difficult, I’d imagine. It’s a complex string of polymers and—“

“A timescale, please.”

Her smile faded completely now. I felt a tug at the heartstrings, fighting with the queasy grumble in my gut, but didn’t show it. She mumbled under downcast eyes. “Four months, maybe less.”

I patted the slick plastic over her shoulder.
“That’s good. Continue your tests. Start even bigger. Cats, dogs, apes.” A greasy lurch threatens to betray me, but I stifle it. “Then begin human trials.” I swallow. “Children first.”

She looked up, eyes twinkling. “Already? That’s very good news! Human safety trials were projected for next year, at best.”

I smile again. “Well, I’m pushing things forward. I have faith. I’ll send you the amended timescale once the board agrees on the precise application of your chemical.”

She beamed at me. “Care for another demonstration? I’m sure bio has some mice—”

“No, no, that’s quite alright. One was enough, thank you.”

I take my leave hurriedly.

In the corridor my breakfast emerges into the obligatory rubber plant found in every large-scale organisation’s buildings, and I’m sweating. I wipe vomit from my suit and adjust the corporate name badge.

Modern business was getting so hard. Used to be corporations sold weapons to the highest bidder, cut costs on public services, and all the other wholesome activities big money attracts, the kind of evil everyone knew about and couldn’t have cared less regardless.

Now we’re melting kids, and I’ve got vomit on my suit.

And what’s with this airplane food?

Damned cheap eggs.

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