Going again with Siri words today since British Siri gave me such crazy ones yesterday. I did have an idea to work today’s words into an existing story I started ages ago and never finished, so now my second goal for this month is to break this story into sections, work my word prompts into it and finish it over the course of the month. I’ll intersperse it with my 500+ word short stories.
Something Bad Part 1
(word prompts: carbon-14 dating, tense, carefully)
“Kat, I think you should hurry.” Panic edged Jamie’s voice. “I really think you should hurry … Kat. KAT!”
“I’m trying!” I glanced up and let out a squeak at the sight of two zombies. Cracks in the glass door webbed out each time they pounded their fists.
“For God’s sake, Jamie, I’m trying!” Out of frustration, I smacked the device against my palm. “Crapcrapcrap. It’s not working.”
“Did you repair it correctly?” I paused in my continuation of saying the word ‘crap’, and glared until he held up his hands. “Sheesh. I’m only asking.”
“You aren’t helping.”
I had consulted the manual. Manual. Yeah, right. What constituted for a manual for a top-secret project developed by lab-geeks was a ratty notebook full of sketches and more astro-physics jargon than I had ever seen. I used a soldering iron to repair the broken chip, put the handheld device back together, and … nothing. The sound of cracking glass did nothing to help my nerves. Letting out a scream, I threw the device to the ground. The LED screen lit up. I snatched up the personal time-travel device, grasped Jamie’s wrist, and waited the few seconds for thousands of miniscule wormholes to merge into a bigger wormhole, and we disappeared, accompanied by the ear-puncturing cracking sound.
I’ll freeze here, while my friend and I zoom through space-time. Our goal is four days earlier, well, it’s my goal, but Jamie happens to be along for the ride. I might have asked him to help, since the whole zombie incident is kinda my fault.
My name is Kat Meyers. It’s really Kaitlin, but I’ve always hated that name. Only my parents call me Kaitlin. I have degrees in biology and chemistry, and Kaitlin sounds so unprofessionally high-school. And blonde. The blonde part wouldn’t bother me, but I have that shade of hair that is either light brown or dark blonde, and no one can tell which. My looks are average and I could stand to lose about fifteen pounds, but all-in-all, I’m not bad looking. I once overheard a guy tell his friend I was a six, and honestly, I felt great. I always thought I was a solid five.
I work for a high-end cosmetic and skincare company, developing and testing anti-aging formulas. Jamie, my time-traveling partner, is a co-worker, and gorgeous. I think he’s the best thing since burritos. What’s not to love? They can hold almost any food! They are portable. Portable! Sorry, I get sidetracked by Mexican food. Jamie Spencer is perfect. Perfect skin, shiny brown hair, great body, and a wacky sense of humor. For some reason, he speaks to me and considers us friends. Such good friends that I am the one he calls after his one-night stands go awry. Or well, for that matter. I know more about half the women in our building than I ever cared to learn. So it should be no surprise he was the man I rushed to when everything went to hell.
(the previous day)
“You are getting crumbs on my body.” Helen Thompson, one of my few ( and best) female friends gave me a sideways glance.
“Shit. Sorry.” I reached down, swiped the chip crumbs off the cadaver.
We met in college, during a seminar on molecular structure. Helen came in late, and took a seat near the back, next to me. Something between us clicked and we talked through the entire seminar. Helen was sweet but she had a snarky side, and appreciated the life of a modern, thirty-something, single, professional woman. We couldn’t be more different physically. Where I’m not too remarkable, Helen is. A dark brunette, whose hair is always full and bouncy. Long legs, perfect skin, and makeup that always looks flawless. Helen could get and keep boyfriends. She worked for a genetics company, as their coroner. Why an insanely hot woman wanted to cut up dead bodies was beyond me, but then again I understood her love of science.
Helen leaned down, peering at the section of brain she was about to remove. Even wearing goggles, she looked ridiculously attractive. “Hand me that scalpel.”
I did as asked and resumed eating my bag of salty-goodness, all the while watching her cut into the dead brain.
“Why are you eating those? Aren’t you having lunch in ten minutes?”
I shrugged. “I’m hungry now.”
“You are silly.” She extracted a section of brain matter, put it in a petri dish and straightened. She shook her hair back from her face. “Okay, hand it over.”
“It’s not perfected yet.”
“You said you had it last week!”
I fished a vial from my pocket and held it out at the same time she reached over the body. She hadn’t quite gotten her fingers on the glass before I let go. Thankfully, her reflexes were better than mine and Helen caught it before it hit the metal table. She shot me the look reserved for when I did something clumsy, and put it carefully on the table behind her.
“What’s the secret formula?”
“I heard about the proteins your guys have been using to rebuild damaged tissue cells, and thought if I added some to the formula, it might work.”
“Damaged, ha. Those boys are trying to revive dead cells. Ridiculous concept, but hey, I just cut up the dead bodies.”
Helen liked to get the first of any of my new skincare formulas. Once they were perfected and approved. I’m sure my boss would kick my ass if he knew, but hey, friendship over secure employment.
I pulled at the corners of the chip bag, held it up, and dumped the crumbs into my mouth. Crumpling it up, I peered around for the garbage can and took aim. Helen caught it mid-toss. I had bad aim.
“Don’t use that yet; I’m not kidding. I’m waiting on one more test result and my boss still has to approve it.”
“Fine. But I’m keeping it in case it turns out to be perfect. No sense in wasting the world’s best anti-aging serum.” She walked across the room to the garbage can and dropped the bag. She glanced at the slim, silver watch on her wrist. “You should scoot. You don’t want to keep Romeo waiting.”
“Shut up. Drinks tonight?”
“Sounds great. Meet you in the lobby.”
I left Helen and the smell of death, made my way to the elevator, trying to think of any excuse not to have lunch. I prayed the elevator would stop, and it did, just not between floors. People got on and off, and on the sixth floor I was as alone as when I’d gotten on the metal deathtrap.
It was a good five minute walk to east wing of the building where my lunch waited. I reached the office door of Douglas Allan. Locked. “Great,” I muttered. “I’m going to get lost in this stupid maze.”
Floors six thru ten housed the government contracted agencies, labs and corporations. Doug, lunch inviter and physicist, worked for one such company. He did government work in the field of, well, I didn’t really know … or care. My company, GeneLabs, was located on the twelfth floor.
One other point of mention—I slept with Doug.
There’s a bar close to the complex where we work. Two nights and four Tom Collins ago, after seeing my lab-partner Jamie leave with another chick, I decided Doug wasn’t the worst-looking guy. He’s nice. Not playfully nice, or nice with a naughty side, just plain nice. So, I invited him back to my place because it had been awhile, and let’s face it, men aren’t busting down the door of a thirty-two year old skincare developer.
He called my office that morning to invite me to lunch. Mexican. He knows it is my favorite. How he knows, I have no clue, but I thought it was a sweet gesture. Though, if I never had to be alone with him again, that’d be okay too.
“Are you looking for Dr. Allan?”
I spun around to see an older gentleman standing behind me, set of keys in hand. “Uh, yea-I mean, yes.”
“Thanks.” I gave him a backwards glance as I headed down the corridor, wondering if that was Doug’s boss. The closer I got to the 622, the more I could smell food, and when I opened the door, enticing scents wafted through the air.
A table was covered with takeout bags on one end, papers and books on the other. Only one metal chair sat at the end. Framed charts and posters lined the walls: periodic table, carbon-14 dating, something about quantum physics and wavelengths, and a myriad of things I did not understand. Doug stood across the room, back to me. One hand rested atop his messy blonde hair; the other held a thick erase board marker in mid-air. I knocked on the wall. He turned slowly, distracted by the giant whiteboard that covered half the wall. But when he saw me, he smiled.
The blue shirt beneath the buttoned lab coat almost matched the color of his tie. His khakis were perfectly pressed, brown shoes free of scuffs. It all gave him an appearance of a nerdy kind on the first day of school.
“Your office was locked,” I stated.
“I’m sorry. I meant to tape a note on the door, but I must have lost track of time.”
We stared at one another in silence for a few minutes, until he pointed to the table. “Hungry?”
Oh, why not. I forced a tense smile. “Sure.”
He pulled out the single chair, pushing it in as I sat. I watched him take out all of the containers. Burritos for me and fajita fixings for him. I recognized the restaurant name on the front of the bag. One of my favorites. Jamie and I frequented the place for lunch.
The next few minutes were filled with the sounds of wrappers and lids being opened, tortilla chips being crunched, and soda sucked through straws. Doug asked me how my day was going, and we made other small talk. I glanced around the room to avoid meeting his nervous eyes when I noticed a strange device sitting on the middle of the table. I stared curiously and then stared at the huge dry erase board. Diagrams in black and red marker were central on the board, with blue lines going in all directions. Complex mathematical equations ran along the top, bottom and side edges. The device resembled the diagram, so I asked about it. Doug, who had been perched on the edge of the table, hopped up, chicken fajita in hand. He launched into an explanation of something I couldn’t comprehend. My thoughts wandered to something funny Jamie said that morning.
“… and I think I can tweak it just enough, so that the noise won’t be so bad. Or maybe I’ll carry earplugs.” Doug Anderson beamed at me. I froze, realizing his full attention was on me. A glob of beans, rice, sour cream and cheese sauce landed on my lab coat, on my left breast. Doug frowned and pointed. “You’ve got, uh, it’s on your, uh …”
“Yeah, I got it,” I said annoyingly. I scooped most of it up with my finger and sucked it down. I glanced around the room but as there was only soda to drink, I had nothing to get the stain out, so I gave up. Something he’d said clicked in my selfish brain and I gaped at him. “Did you say time-travel? Like actual time travel?”
“Yes.” He gave me a funny look. “You do know what a wormhole is, don’t you?”
“The fastest way between two points is a straight line or something, right?”
“Between two places in space, or space-time, as the case may be.” Doug returned to the whiteboard and proceeded to draw a wormhole.
Biology interests me. Cells, organs, chemical reactions. Astronomy, physics, wormholes, space and all that are beyond me. His explanation lasted another fifteen minutes. I guess I looked glassy-eyed or something because he finally stopped and gave me an awkward smile. We finished eating in silence.