Flash Fiction: Brithium Contamination

Tec was surprised by the indicator going off. There was never a situation anyone could imagine where poisoning by Brithium could ever happen, so this must be like one of the very few instances in the past where an indicator went off. It had to be a malfunction in the system. He had to run through the protocols anyway. If this was real there would have to be a mass evacuation from the base, which meant soon from the planet itself.
Tec ran the diagnostic to scan the air. Disturbingly, it came back inconclusive. As he understood it, all the false alarms had come back negative for Brithium instantly. Brithium was only a conceptual element that no one believed could possibly exist. It was the fact that its existent couldn’t be reasonably ruled out that kept them on the watch while they were on the planet. If it would manifest anywhere, it would be here.
He ran the diagnostic again and again the result was inconclusive. He dialed out to his immediate supervisor, Dallas.
“It’s Tec. I have an inconclusive diagnostic on Brithium. I ran it twice.”
“Call you back in three.”
It was a long three minutes. It may have stretched to five. He ran another diagnostic to ignore his anxiety. By the time the sixth minute had passed, Tec decided to somewhat ignore the order to standby and called out again. He got no response. He waited a minute, tried again, no response. He went to the suit closet and got a suit meant for outside and a first aid kit.
He rushed down the corridor to operations. He pushed the door, but it was obstructed. He pushed with all his strength. No good. He rushed around to the outer offices. He found people passed out and one woman, Ana, struggling toward the alarm. He pulled an ammonia capsule from the first aid kit and brought her out of her lethargy.
“Get into a suit.”
She did. He left Ana with instructions to get others awake and suited up and started toward the back entrance to operations.
“You’ll need keys.”
He turned and caught the keys she threw. He was unlocking the door to operations in a matter of seconds. It was bleak here too, people passed out everywhere, one had tried to get out through the main door and was collapsed against it. He found Dallas and woke him with a capsule. He was unsure if he would properly come to, but he was coherent enough to get him in a suit.
Once Dallas was aware of the situation, they were able to coordinate with Ana. No one had fatal exposure, so it was a matter of getting everyone conscious, suited, and on the ship. If this was Brithium the planet would be consumed in flames within a week, so it was better to get off world.

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