National Microbiology Lab, Winnipeg
January 17, 2032,
“Hello, Mr. Bakshi, it’s Rosa Rojas. I’m sorry, but I need to have the lock changed for my apartment again.”
“Oh Rosa, I am so sad. He didn’t work out.”
Mr. Bakshi hears quiet sobbing.
“Rosa, what happened?”
“He hit me last night.”
“I’ll change the lock right now. Anything else you would like me to do before you arrive home from work?”
“No, I just don’t want him to be in my apartment when I get home.”
“You will need to come to our apartment and retrieve a key when you arrive home. It would be an excellent plan if Mrs. Bakshi and I spent the evening with you. When he appears at your residence, he will behave properly if you are not alone.”
“Oh, thank you. I was worried about that. I will see you after work. Goodbye.”
Rosa was suiting up to enter the level 4 containment area when the intercom in the change room ordered her to go to the director’s office.
She entered the suite of offices and stepped past his executive secretary without acknowledging her.
“Wait, you can’t continue into his office until I advise you.”
Too late, Rosa opened his door and marched in.
“What do you want?”
“Miss Rojas, that is no way to speak to me, your boss.”
I’m going back to work if you waste my time.
“I will put this incident in your record along with all the other issues I have recorded and one day I will fire you. I am your boss.”
“You are a political appointee who received your job by kissing the right asses. You will never be my boss. If you want to fire me, just say the words. I would love to visit the press.
“The public will forget your lucky moment when you saw the way to crush the 2028 pandemic. They will forget your grandstanding on the sidewalk out front informing the world, through the press, about your discovery.”
“You self-righteous ass. You and your political masters were seeking to profit on that discovery while the world paid with their lives. Everyone in this building said I did the right thing. Everyone except you. Every scientist in this building contributed to that discovery. Again, everyone except you. What did you add to the solution to the problem?”
“Someday the public will forget about you and your sidewalk announcement, and on that day you will collect unemployment insurance.”
“Quit wasting my time. What do you want?”
“Forget it. I will send you a memo.”
Rosa returned to the level 4 containment area and suited up for her day’s work. She was studying prions, which are insignificant pieces of mis-folded protein that are 100% fatal. Many researchers were trying to learn more about them in case they needed to understand them better.
Before her dramatic personality change, Rosa had been a meek, studious scientist going about her research job. Then a pandemic came along and she, with her colleagues, was studying the virus. Late one night, while working alone, she saw a solution. In great excitement, she reported her finding to her boss first thing in the morning. He told her to keep her mouth shut while “they” figured out how “they” would handle this success.
“People are dying. There is nothing to figure out. Call the press and let them know.
“That is not your decision to make. The world will know when ‘we’ tell them. ‘We’ does not include you. Go back to your work.”
Rosa returned to her lab, sat on a stool, and fumed. After 20 minutes, she picked up the phone and called a local news station and told them who she was and that she had discovered a solution to the pandemic. If they would meet her on the sidewalk in front of her employer’s building, she would reveal it to the world. She expected to lose her job. It didn’t work that way. She told the press everything, including that her boss tried to muzzle her. The press loved the drama and the worldwide public loved the cure. Overnight Rosa became famous as a heroine to the public, and a devilish thorn in the side of her boss and his bosses. They wanted to be rid of her, but knew the public backlash would be severe. They were biding their time. Rosa came to realize the power she had gained. Years of repressing herself disappeared in a flash. She received offers from around the world for higher paying jobs at other level 4 labs. Rosa did not want to leave Canada. She had grown tired of being downtrodden and would tolerate nothing from her boss. But in her heart, she was still a timid person. She was unaware that circumstances were occurring, which would make her job worries appear inconsequential.
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