He thought he’d have more time, but the voice called again, “Mr. Culverton, are you down there? Mr. Culverton!”
He gave the green monitor a sickly scowl and then turned his head to the opening high above from which he climbed. The daylight was eaten by the irradiated gleam bounding from the metallic surface of pipes and hulls. He could not see the hatch anymore.
"Oi, is that you Chapman?" Culverton bellowed cheerfully, "Just doin’ a little maintenance ‘ere. Tryin ta take care of our problem."
His fingers flew from key to key, frantic now. The thought that Captain Chapman was just crazy enough to brave the sick and fel effects of radiation, just to haul his scrawny ass out of the machine, did not escape Culverton’s consideration. The poor old bastard might not make it down, but he would try. He had to work faster. No pressure, Cully. No pressure at all!
The Captain shouted from the opening, “No, Mr. Culverton. Sir, I think you need to get out of there right now. Come on!”
"You know, I’m actually sorta busy!"
Culverton turned from the console to address a series of levers to his left. One after another he released the pressure from each, and then redirected it. On the screen, a number glowed, piercing through the dim operating nook like green eyes of a ghastly creature.
25…24…23… It was taking too long.
If he could only stall Chapman a moment longer. If the old man would just be too sick to get closer. If he could only find a short fuse somewhere…
The panel was behind him.
"Now, Mr. Culverton!"
Cully smiled. His eyes gleamed with grim satisfaction and he wrenched open the metal casing.
"Culverton! Get up here!"
Oh it’s always the red wire, innit? He grinned, grasping death by the tail, “Hang on a tic, I’m almost done!”
He pulled, and the world shook.