Friday, May 23, 2014

Prompt: Sometimes you can’t hide the pain, Part 1

Garduth leaned over the metal counter, left hand bracing his right forearm for steadiness as he piped drops of virus serum into the array of one hundred vials. One to ten across, with ten different antidote bases. He paused after the fifth row and leaned the pipette into its stand, stretching his arms overhead, rotating his wrists and flexing his fingers.

Ghods, I hope one of these works, he thought.

“Halfway done,” he said aloud to Sheria, sitting at her own station across the lab. Even though she had been promoted to lab chief, she didn’t slack off her own research, spending more time in the lab than any of the others. Garduth had never had a boss who worked harder than he did.

“Good,” she said, in a deeper voice than usual. Something in her tone made Garduth look closer. She had already been sitting there when he arrived five hours ago. He didn’t think she’d taken a break in all that time. Her walking staff leaned against the tables edge, and she sat on a custom-cushioned high stool that no one ever usurped from her.

Her black hair was neatly braided to the small of her back. Watching her now, Garuth realized it was coiled around her head at least twice before the base of the braid. He wondered how long it really was, and what it would look like swinging free. Shaking his head, he smiled to himself. Sheria was friendly, polite—and distant to everyone. Best not to start fantasizing about the boss, he chided himself.

Would he have noticed if he hadn’t been watching her so closely? He didn’t think she made a sound, but her back suddenly curved and her head dropped down onto her forearms, then she slumped onto the counter. Gareth jumped from his stool and ran to her side.

“Sheria, are you okay?” He put a hand on her shoulder and jerked it away. He could feel her temperature spiking through her clothes and lab coat. This could be bad. They dealt with so many dangerous viruses and microbes. The Tandemkopf biofilters were legendary, but what if hers had failed?

He was about to hit the emergency alarm, when she shook her head slightly and stretched out her right hand toward him, still resting against the table. Her voice had a rough, gravelly edge as she whispered, “No, it’s nothing new. I’m sorry. You’re not in any danger. I’m sorry…”

Sorry for what? He wondered as he put his hand back on her shoulder, stunned at the heat pouring from her skin. This was a dangerous temperature spike—

Dogs in House

Earl Klugh, Hand Picked

Time writing
~80 minutes

May word count

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