Hold onto your butts, because the apocalypse is coming. And someone is getting towed outside my window. Oops.
We’ve got two more great entries for your reading pleasure today from the lovely Angie Richmond and Unisse Chua.
As they say in Poland, smacznego!
Alarms started to wail in the empty laboratory at three in the morning. Dr. Levi Jones woke up and shouted, “Where’s the fire?” He fell asleep again while finishing up a report.
“There’s no fire Jones. It’s the greenhouse,” shouted his research partner, Dr. Catherine Lane. He blinked and tried to think of what to do. “Levi! Greenhouse!”
“Oh, right.” He stood up and ran to the greenhouse.
When Levi got to the greenhouse, he heard the computer say, “Attention: Subjects two and fifteen has no pulse.”
“Two more?” asked Cat. “I can’t believe this. Nothing was wrong for a month, and now all our lab animals are dying.”
“Well, not all. The panther’s still –“
Another alarm went off. “Attention: Subject seven in critical condition.”
“You were saying?”
Levi quickly grabbed the protective gear hanged outside the greenhouse and suited up. He opened the door and rushed to find the panther, but when Levi got to her, it was too late.
“No pulse. Pupils dilated…” He trailed off examining the body of the jungle cat.
“What are we going to do Levi?”
The doctor ignored her and continued examining the animal. It was extraordinary. There were no external signs of any sickness hitting the beast and yet it collapsed.
“What were the stats of the subjects before?”
“The only unusual thing about them was that they had a flat line immediately. No spikes or heart attacks. They just dropped dead.”
“That can’t be. It’s too bizarre.” He felt annoyed and helpless. “This can’t be happening now.”
The greenhouse was exposed to a gas they created to help clean the environment. It contains active elements that eat up the pollutants in the air. It was created to only work in air.
“The air,” Cat said. “The gas works in air but when the animals breathe, they take in the air together with the gas.”
“That’s nonsense. We already tested the gas on the animals before but they didn’t drop dead like this!”
“There must be something we’re missing.”
“The gas is to be released tomorrow! We can’t be missing something now.”
“Don’t you think I know that, Levi? If we let that happen, it’s the end of the world!”
He shook his head. “No, that can’t happen.”
She took out her phone. “Wait, what are you doing?”
“I’m calling my dad. He’ll tell them to stop the release tomorrow. We need more time.”
“But there’s no more time Cat! I don’t have time anymore. It has to be done tomorrow.”
“Why?” she asked, puzzled. “We have plenty. We can work on it together.”
He stood there, staring at her. “What?”
“Tomorrow’s my last day. It has to be tomorrow.”
“What do you mean your last day?”
He ignored her and went back to work. It has to be tomorrow, he said to himself. If the gas doesn’t cure the world, the twelve years he gave up to come back in time would be useless. The world will still end.
“It’s so quiet out.” Vaughn whispers.
Kallie raises her cigarette to her lips with one hand while the other transforms the sidewalk surrounding her feet into a pretty piece of art with a chunk of blue chalk she stole from a neighbor kid. Her Perky Pink polish is already chipped in several places revealing her discolored toenails; a reminder that cheap nail polish is never a good idea.
“I know.” She exhales slowly on purpose, like they do in the movies.
Vaughn grabs the smoke from Kallie’s fingertips and takes a quick puff. He’s not a fan of smoking but the silence is creeping up on his nerves. His fingers tap relentlessly on his bent knee.
“Somethin’ gonna happen.”
He passes the smoke back allowing both hands to drum.
“Oh yeah, like what? The end of the world?”
She laughs and stubs out the butt. Normally she has no desire to feed into Vaughn’s paranoid, delusional rants. Worldwide pandemics, flash floods, killer bees; it’s always something with Vaughn.
“I’m serious, Kallie. It just feels – different.”
He stands; the ritual of pacing commences. He kicks up chalk dust from Kallie’s street art.
“Are you sure it’s gonna happen?”
She leans back, stretches out her cramping legs and tries not to trip Vaughn up.
“No. I mean not officially 100% sure, but this feeling…”
He lets his words disappear, unsure how to describe a feeling.
“Can we go look?”
Kallie smiles knowing his answer before he gives it. She’s being an ass but it’s so much fun taking the piss outta him.
He stops pacing and bends down in front of her, grabbing her shoulders and inching his face so close that their noses touch. Kallie thinks of the Eskimo kisses she learned about in grade school.
“You know it’s too dangerous.”
Vaughn’s brows furrow giving the appearance of one large fuzzy caterpillar. She almost chokes on her laugh.
“Oh yeah right…I forgot.”
She wiggles out of his grip and lights another cigarette. Vaughn paces. She wonders if he really knows something the rest of the world doesn’t. Maybe the doctors just need to up his meds again.
“Do you have any regrets? You know, since it’s the end of the world.”
She shouldn’t be encouraging him; it’s no good for anyone to get Vaughn riled up but she’s bored.
“A few,” he sighs, squinting at the sun waiting for some unknown threat. “not much can be done now though.”
“The Europe thing again?”
She asks picking at her toes, only half listening for Vaughn’s response. It’s a tradition between them now; he gets a feeling and she humors him. She knows her part.
“Yeah. I’m sorry.”
This time he sounds genuine. Not just an empty apologize born from a fear of the end.
“Oh. Well….it’s okay.” She means it this time too; surprised by his naked emotions.
He stretches his hand and she mirrors him. Their fingertips brush just for moment before she lets her hand drop.
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