I work at a large biotechnology firm in San Diego. This alone was pretty cool to me when I first got the job; but over time familiarity bred--well, not contempt, but complacency. In other words, working here is no longer a big deal.

Except, that is, during the few times that my work takes me away from my desk and into another part of the building. Because then I have to take out my security badge, swipe it past a sensor, and enter a series of sealed corridors that look exactly like the ones at the Black Mesa research facility in Sierra's first-person shooter game Half Life.

My path takes me past windows looking in on laboratories with large signs warning of RADIATION and BIOHAZARD. Scientists in white coats peer into eerily lit test chambers. Wooden packing crates are stacked against the corridor walls, just waiting for someone to dive behind them for cover or smash them open to get weapons or supplies.

If my errand takes me to the warehouse, a huge metal door slides up at my approach to reveal a huge, echoing space the size of an airplane hangar. Workers on foot and in whirring forklifts wend their way through towering canyons of stacked boxes and metal fences with padlocked gates.

So sue me if I can't help imagining that one day when I'm off in search of toner cartidges or something equally mundane, one of the labs will suddenly fill with otherworldly light. Hideous monsters will come pouring out of one of those test chambers and run amok along these corridors.

All I'm saying is, it had better happen on one of the days I'm working. I don't know if any my co-workers have even heard of Half Life, much less played it. So who will stop the aliens then? Only my hours spent gaming will stand between our world and total destruction on that day.

Did I mention the giant sliding metal door? Dude.

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