Tag Archives: science fiction

Story A Day May #9 – Something Bad Part 3

Parts 1 & 2 were published on May 2 & 6, for any that need a quick catch-up. Sad to say that the third word prompt given to me by my husband for today did not quite make it in, but I’ll work it into part 4. I had a moment of doubt in which I told him that I could not work the words into my time-travel zombie tale because “they’re trapped in a building!”, to which he said, “Uh-uh. You have to. You’re writing the story.” (If anyone is curious, the third prompt is black cat, but the cocktails are piling up on my end, sooooo, no black cat of any kind to be found today in mah zombie story.) Hope everyone enjoys installment three, and comments and feedback are always welcome!

May 9, 2015

Word prompts: dead battery, gin

Something Bad (Part 3)

I could barely register the absence of light and sound, the frigid temperature, before I found myself standing in Room 622. In the same spot. I looked around, confused, terrified, not noticing the faint shimmering space where the wormhole had opened seconds ago. I stared at the device in my hand. No lights blinked. The middle section had gone dark, and it was though I had dreamed the event. Maybe I had. Maybe I let all the time-travel nonsense go to my head and I imagined the whole thing. I looked around for the case, but didn’t see it. Everything else appeared normal. Glancing at my watch, I noticed it had stopped. I brought it up to my ear, shaking my wrist like an idiot in an attempt to get it to work. “Must be a dead battery,” I muttered. “Great.”

I started to put the whatwhozit device on the table, but figured leaving it where anyone could pick it up might not be the best idea. I could go find Doug, give it to him, perhaps get a laugh out of my embarrassing tale. Not that Doug ever seemed the laughing type, but there’s a first time for everything.

I passed a few other people. The thing about government contracted employees was they always tended to look a little suspicious of the people they didn’t know. I could get onto most floors of the building, and I could enter someone’s office if they were present, but that was about as far as my clearance would get me. Thankfully, Doug did not work on the ninth or tenth floor. Most of the doorways on those floors, elevators included, were guarded by men with guns. Like, serious men with serious gun. And serious uniforms. I got off on the ninth floor by mistake during my first week at GeneLabs. I’d been talking to Helen, who helped get me my job, and followed her off the elevator. I almost peed my pants when two soldiers asked for my badge, then pointed guns in my face when I failed to produce one. They not-so-politely suggested that I was on the wrong floor. I’d never been back, not that I could seeing as how the people with clearance had special elevator keys to get them onto those floors.

Doug wasn’t in his office. I figured he’d left early, so I headed down to the basement to find Helen. I knew she’d still be cleaning up, despite our plans to meet in the lobby in a few minutes. She might be unbelievably hot, but she wasn’t punctual.

I hummed on the elevator ride to the basement, willing the metal contraption to stop, as always, where I needed it to. One would think that a person with such an aversion to elevators would rather take the stairs, but stairs were so … active? I’d rather spend less than a minute praying for my life than arrive sweaty and out of breath.

The B button lit up. The doors opened with a ding and the digital voice saying, ‘Basement 1, South Wing’. I stepped off, letting out the breath I’d been holding, and passed one of Helen’s new interns. The young woman stared at me in such a shocked way that I almost ran into a metal bench as I turned my head to stare back. She got onto the elevator, expression of extreme confusion on her face. I rolled my eyes and kept going.

Pushing open the wide, double doors at the end of the hallway, I went into the viewing room, and up to the large glass window.

That expression, white as a ghost? I felt it happen. I felt the color leave my face. I thought I would faint, and I’ve never in my life felt that sensation. I stood in the next room, talking to Helen. Stuffing my face with chips, and … holy crap, did I really eat like such a pig? Who eats chips like that? WHO??

I shook my head, rubbed my eyes, and smacked a hand across my face. What was going on? At that moment, I felt my left pocket vibrate.

The device.

Gingerly, I pulled on the fabric of my blue lab-coat and peered into the deep pocket. Lights above the buttons blinked, and it vibrated a second time. “Ooooooooohhhh. Crap.” I took a step back, knocking over a metal stand. My eyes flew to the viewing window at the same moment my earlier self was handing the serum to my friend. She (or me?) half-turned. Distracted by the loud noise, I (she?) dropped the glass vial. I crouched beneath the window. I could hear the vial hit the metal autopsy table and break. I heard Helen’s curse followed by a pleading apology in my voice. Familiar yet foreign. Like how listening to yourself on a recording never quite sounds like you.

For the longest stretch of time in my life, I stayed hiding beneath the window, convinced that either I’d really gone back in time, or I was hallucinating. Maybe the sour cream from lunch had been rancid. Would rancid dairy cause a person to hallucinate? I kept trying to think of that answer, despite the painful position my legs were in. I couldn’t think of anything! I am a damned scientist! Advanced degrees in biology and chemistry and here I was, hiding like a teenager afraid to get caught, pondering if a spoiled dairy product would cause me to go insane.

Right about the moment I figured smacking myself would be a great solution, I heard a yelp from the next room. An ear-hurting crash of metal prodded me to peek.

The horrors happening inside that room froze my body until a few minutes later when I ran for my very life.

Outside Jamie’s office door, I tried to compose myself. I could hear our department director speaking with my friend, and I couldn’t appear completely train-wrecked in front of the man. He was the picture of scientific professionalism, and didn’t much care for us ‘young ‘uns’ going out drinking after work, fraternizing. It just wasn’t done in his day, I once overheard him saying to a colleague. As the doorknob turned, I snatched the mail from the box mounted on the wall, and turned to the side, putting my back to the director. Once his footsteps faded around the corner, I threw open Jamie’s door, and dashed inside, slamming it shut.

He raised one eyebrow, gave me an amused look. “You all right?”

I shook my head.

“You’re not all right?”

Again, a vigorous head shake.

“Kat, you gonna tell me what the hell is going on? And would you move away from the door?”

“I did something,” I hissed. “Something bad. So, so, very bad. Jamie … it’s bad.”

He laughed. “Calm down, sweetie.”

I started with lunch and Doug, and his time-travel device. Jamie interrupted me. “You had Mexican and didn’t invite me? Asshole.”

“Doug brought me lunch.”

“Why would Doug bring you—hold up.” He slapped me on the arm. “Did you sleep with Doug Allan?”

“Focus, Jamie!”

“Ha! You did! Grats, man. You should sleep with Doug; he’s awesome.”

“This is not impor—how would you know if he’s awesome?”

“We play racquetball on Thursdays.”

I gawked at him. Gorgeous, funny, perfect hair, perfect body plays racquetball with a physics geek? I began picturing Jamie: gym shorts, shirtless, glistening with a light sheen of sweat, running back and forth, smacking a ball. The image of Doug interrupted that thought, albeit in a less fashionable way, still wearing his slightly rumpled lab coat, drenched in sweat and asthmatic. He’s not asthmatic, at least I don’t think he is, but he looks like he was one of those kids who always carried an inhaler and got out of gym class.

“Focus, Kat,” he said in a mocking tone.

I resumed the tale. From his expression, he didn’t believe me one iota. I fell silent, waiting. It was a full minute before he spoke.

“Let me get this right—you went back in time, after stealing—”

“Borrowing.”

“Stealing Douglas Allen’s time-travel machine, showed yourself to yourself, causing past you, which apparently is the you of this time right now, to drop a vial of your new skin-rejuvenating formula onto an autopsy table, which caused it to break, and whamo, zombie? Are you drunk?”

“Jamie, I swear it’s the truth.”

He crossed his arms. “What happened to Helen?”

“Uuuh, the zombie kind of bit me, and it looked liked I was having a seizure or something, and I fell on the floor. Helen stabbing the corpse with her scalpel when I got up, and, um, I sort of started eating her.”

“You ate your best friend?”

I nodded.

“Okay. I—” His mouth hung open. Jamie closed it after a second and bent down. I heard the screech of his bottom desk drawer, and he produced a bottle of gin and two glasses. “I think we need this. One of us does, anyway.”


Story A Day May 2!

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.

“Hurry!”

“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?”

“Sure. Six?”

“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.”

“Room 622.”

“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.


Branching Out

For those of you who know me well, you know I am a picky eater. There are foods I do not like, foods I’ve never liked, certain foods I am unwilling to try, and the list of foods I used to eat but no longer.
Gravy has long been on the list of foods I hate. It’s infectious, spreading all over the plate. And, it’s peppery. I could live my life without pepper. But a curious thing happened on our last trip to Lexington.
We had a turkey dinner while staying with our friends. It was like a toned-down Thanksgiving in January and it was great. Turkey, mashed potatoes, a loaf of French bread and, of course, gravy. It was being passed around and my friend Sherri mentioned that it was not her best and that it contained no pepper, since she makes it that way for another family member. The gravy captured my attention. After a bit of deliberation, I decide to try it, tipping a little onto my plate. (I should probably mention that my food aversions are so strong that I’m usually not even offered the things I don’t like, which does not offend me in the slightest.) Oh. My. Goodness. What I ate was so positively delicious that I promptly poured some more on both my turkey and potatoes. Not drowning them, but giving them a little dressing up.
If that gravy was what my friend considered to be sub-par, then I can’t imagine how yummy her on-par gravy is.
In the spirit of branching out, I’m stepping sideways in my writing and tackling a science fiction short story. It’s about a woman who develops anti-aging products for a skincare company and accidentally creates a zombie, and now must figure out a way to stop the zombies by way of help from her dreamy lab partner and a stolen (borrowed) personal time-travel device. It’s meant to be as goofy as it sounds, which I think is why I’m having so much fun writing it. Hopefully I can translate that humor to the page and off into a reader’s mind.
I’ve concentrated on fantasy for so long that it’s challenging to get into the mindset of not just another genre, but a different tone and tense of writing.
Challenging, but unexpectedly good.


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