Here's a new original story I've been working on recently. Taking my inspiration from the famous Marvel comic series... HULK Part 1 Tom painstakingly filled in the next column of figures on the spreadsheet on his laptop, taking care to transfer the numbers from the readings on the apparatus onto the screen correctly. He knew that one tiny miscalculation would risk wasting years of research time and jeopardise funding for the new research proposal his team was putting through this week. Research funding was now incredibly tight and his project was up against three others competing for the next round of expensive animal, and hopefully, human subject testing. Tom was one of the physicists working for GammaMed Solutions, a medical research unit exploring the use of controlled gamma radiation systems for cellular and gene molecule modification. The potential for this research to revolutionise medical care for many chronic diseases was enormous with likely trillions of dollars of profits to be gained from the new advances. Phase three human testing was only months away and the computer model simulation and animal results so far had been incredibly positive. Toms main task was to recalibrate a prototype genetic analyser and cellular modification system for a new testing phase on monkeys that was meant to have started already but had been set back due to technical failures. Part of the process was to reset the gamma radiation settings for safe tissue interaction in order to minimise risk of cellular damage that would counteract the possible benefit of molecular and genetic manipulation that the device offered. The last column of figures had almost finished computations when the door to the lab opened and Dr Ross walked in. As usual, this completely distracted Tom, who had harboured a deep and longing crush on her for many years. Dr Elizabeth Ross, known as Betty to her friends, had been one of the company medical advisors since its creation and was responsible for medical care to the research team and chief advisor for the application of their research to clinical practice. Tom had tried for ages to muster up the courage to ask her out on a date as they had always got on well, and were good friends in the workplace, but had always chickened out. Hi Tom!, said Betty, How are you getting on with the final recalibration? she asked. Good thanks., Tom replied Almost finished. Great. Forward the figures on the final phase to me as soon as you can please. Ive got to put a report together for the Research Strategy Group this Friday., said Betty, looking miserable about the prospect. No problem Betty. Ill email it to you tonight, said Tom. It was already 11pm he realised. Shit. He would have to get a move on. Thanks Tom. I knew I could rely on you. See you later! she said, walking on through the lab to the administration office entrance accessed at the far end of the room. Tom watched her go longingly. Her athletic but curvaceous shape was as well presented as always in her sleek, business-like clothing. Her femininity could not be ignored but her powerful intellect and academic profile were also incredibly attractive to Tom. She had been a star graduate from Cambridge University and had led research into molecular and genetic manipulation from an unusually young age following graduation. He often fantasised about her but knew in his heart of hearts that she was way out of his league. He got on with his calculations, trying to shake the vision of her out of his mind. As he completed the final column, he hadnt realised his finger had traced the line of figures that he had already calculated. As well as that one of the numbers he had typed had missed a decimal point although the auto-recognition system hadnt picked this up either. He completed the transposition and did a quick visual check. The system was designed to show up out of range figures in red highlight, but there were none so he saved the datasheet and ran off the macro calculation to the calibration sub-system. A few minutes later and a high-pitched double beep confirmed the data had been saved, loaded into the calibrator and was being reprogrammed into the gamma emitter control terminal on his work station. Tom opened the door to the leaded glass lined chamber immediately to the centre of the lab space and walked in. The safety controls had all been engaged and he set the emitter module to auto-calibrate, whereby it would send out focused beams of gamma radiation into the receiver grid in the centre of the chamber in order to reset the system to the new gene sequence his team had spent the last few months confirming and reconfirming. This new sequence would provide an exciting method of reversibly inducing absolute male infertility by effectively stripping the gonadal tissue of its ability to produce functioning sperm. As a form of contraception this was felt to be unique and of enormous potential. It would bypass all the side effects and complications of other methods of contraception and was completely painless and reversible. As the male reproductive system was so easily accessible and simple to manipulate it had been the only research stream that had reached phase three trials, and the only one to show consistently good results. The next set of tests was due to prove its worth and commercial potential once and for all. The modified receiver grid was designed to capture the gamma radiation beams and analyse their accuracy and waveform. As yet, a test subject bench had not been fitted, instead the receiver grid and its bank of multiple analyser units and thousands of wire connections was stood in the centre of the chamber. Tom leaned over it, as he had to in order to reach the central control mechanism linked to the ceiling-mounted power supply gantry. He switched on the receiver grid and the power-up sequence began. Pausing to check the emitter array was centred via the laser guide point, Tom left the chamber and set the calibration cycle to begin. The process would take several hours as the computer ran repeated gamma beam emission sequences and the analyser calculated the accuracy margins necessary to check its calibration. Even the most infinitesimal error in the gamma emission cycle would create anomalous genetic modifications with potentially disastrous consequences. Tom set the calibration computer to run and the automated systems started up one by one. He sat down at his desk and reviewed the process from his work station. The computer screen image displayed graphs and emitter array grid references along with the receiver statistics. Fortunately, the monitoring systems were all showing up green with high concordance between the predicted computer model and the receiver characteristics. So far so good he thought, breathing a small sigh of relief. The calibration would run in an automated fashion unless there was an error and confirmation was required, pausing the system and alerting him with an alarm. Toms concentration slowly drifted off as the programme ran. After only ten minutes he was fast asleep, snoring quietly in his chair. An irritating and persistent sound woke Tom from his sleep with a sudden start. The calibration programme was still running but several amber alarms, and one red, were flashing on his work station monitor. A large text box with the word MALFUNCTION had appeared in the centre of the screen. Despite this, Tom could tell that the calibration programme was still running. As he watched, more and more of the alert systems flashed to yellow, then to red. Shit! A feedback malfunction was in effect Tom realised and he stood up to run over to the override control panel beside the central testing chamber. As he neared the chamber he realised he could smell a faint smell of burning. After a while he realised that the receiver grid was gently smouldering from one of its corners. The rest of the rig was intact but several of the wires seemed to have burnt out. What could have gone wrong? Tom wondered. There was no time to dwell on such thoughts though, and he flipped the override panel cover up, inserted his master key into the terminal and turned it clockwise until it clicked. As he reached up and started to flick each of the switches off one by one there was a sudden flash and burst of flame from the receiver grid. Oh shit! Tom cried out, and ran over to the fire extinguisher in the corner of the lab. He ran back and tried to open the door to the chamber but realised that both the safety system was active, therefore the door would be locked, but also the override hadnt been completed and the emitter would still be running. Further flashes of flame pulsed from the receiver grid and the resulting smoke set off the main fire alarms. Warning klaxons sounded and a computerised voice came over the intercom warning Fire in Main Labs. Repeat Fire in Main Labs. Personnel are to evacuate to their predetermined evacuation areas. Tom quickly flicked through the remaining override switches, removed his key and pushed it into the safety system control terminal, turning it clockwise he heard the click and wrenched the chamber door open quickly. Before thinking he ran into the chamber to reach the receiver grid and attempt to extinguish the flames before the whole unit was destroyed, setting the research back by weeks if not months. If he could repair the small number of receiver arrays damaged it would only take a few days to get back online.