If I took anything away from Monday’s dedication of the New England Regional Biosafety Laboratory at Tufts, it’s this: when I get around to writing a murder mystery, I’m setting it inside one of these.
Seriously. If you look at the place through a demented writer’s eye, it’s just chock full of ways to not only off characters but also dispose of their bodies. I haven’t quite figured out how to handle the excess security and I may need to up the biohazard level up to a 4 for more dramatic deaths (Ebola has satisfying organ liquification. West Nile’s a bit more lingering and plot-wise, that’s a problem), but hey, it’s all a work in progress.
If you’ve never been inside during its various stages of construction, sorry guys — Monday was your last chance at a tour. The place is shut tight now in preparation for its opening as a fully contained facility geared toward studying Level 2 and Level 3 organisms — life threatening, nasty buggers that require all kinds of safety gear and prep.
For example, there are showers located outside the labs. Can you imaging having to strip down and scrub — not the before-pool run in and run out, actually scrub — while clocking in and out of the office every day? They didn’t look terribly private, either, and I’m guessing you don’t get to bring in loofahs and body wash to make it more spa-like. I guess scientific knowledge comes with a lack of personal modesty.
But what captured my imagination were the giant autoclaves, which we mistook for elevators, and the biodigester. You could easily dispose of a body in that biodigester because… well, that’s what it’s designed for. The lab animals who enter the biosafety lab aren’t ever going to leave the building alive — too much risk of contamination — and the biodigester is there to make sure no critters are living on the animal even when it’s dead. It’s a mini-crematorium — my group took a peek inside to see the ash and bits of bones left in the aftermath.
Oh, I’m sorry. You’re not eating now, are you?
We need a plot. I’ll set the scene.
It was a dark and stormy night and a sinister presence stalked the mysterious windowless brick building, set high on a hill on land that once housed a hospital for the insane…