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.
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?”
“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—”
“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?”
“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.”