My type A personality is screaming that this needs more work, but my Sunday deadline is here. Sooooo… Here ya go.
Word Count: 1095
“It’s on Friday.” Her young assistant stood leaning forward, his hands gripping the countertop of the lab.
“I know, Lucas.” Dr. Patricia Long continued writing in her lab book.
He threw his arms up in the air, exasperated with her inattention. “Dr. Long are you even ready?”
She gave him a measured look.
Undeterred he said, “Can you at least fake it? Because if you can’t you’ll lose your funding.”
She took a deep breath, held it, let it out.
“Our funding,” he corrected. “You’ll lose our funding, Dr. Long. And I’ll lose my job.”
She gritted her teeth and tried to remember what it was like to be a 23 year old grad student. Was she ever this annoying? She supposed that she probably was. “They won’t pull our funding, Lucas. For god’s sake, calm down already. You’re upsetting the spiders.”
“I didn’t want to tell you.”
She looked up sharply at him, pursed her lips.
“I overheard Doc Warren and that other guy–the round one–”
“Yeah, him. They were talking in the hallway. I heard Doc Warren say ‘Long’s gonna lose her funding.’ Apparently they’re going to give it to Doc Warren. He sounded pretty confident.”
Bastards. Old Boy’s Club bastards.
“Dr. Tripp laughed. That’s all I heard.”
That hurt a little. Patricia had always considered Barry Tripp a friend.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said quietly, meaning Tripp but Lucas took it another way.
“You got it to work? You made progress?” He looked so excited she didn’t want to disappoint him–like a little puppy.
“I’ll be ready by Friday.”
And maybe she would be. She’d mixed the sample from spider 183 with spider 501 and it hadn’t died…yet. That was progress, right?
She waved a hand at Lucas. He was on the way out of the lab, and he was smiling broadly. Probably had a date, what did they say–he swiped left? Or something. She allowed herself to smile a little, then it faded.
It was more than just the funding, or even her project and the heart and soul she had put into it. It was not letting that twerp Warren win. The thought of his smug self-satisfied smile turned her stomach. If she didn’t figure this out that’s exactly what would happen, Warren would win. She needed a miracle.
Patricia wiped her arm across her forehead trying to will the blood to her brain. She needed ideas, and fast. Friday was only two days away.
A single hair caught on her sleeve and pulled out of her scalp entirely in tact. It rode for a moment on her sleeve before a slight air current lifted it and it fell into the vial in front of her settling at the bottom, unnoticed.
She glanced at her watch. It was past time to leave, even for her. She needed twelve hours to see if the spider would live. Maybe tomorrow she would introduce the serum to spider–
The door to the lab swung open.
“Warren.” She stepped away from the counter. “What do you want?”
“Dr. Long, how lovely to see you.” Warren stood looking around the room–never once glancing in her direction.
That bastard’s scoping out my lab.
“Can I help you with something?” she said through her teeth.
Finally, he turned to her, smiled his slimy smile. “Oh yes. I just wanted to let you know that they moved your meeting up to tomorrow.”
“I was guaranteed–”
“I know—” he held up a hand, nodded mock apologetically, “couldn’t be helped. The President of the Board has to go out of town. Emergency meeting.”
“Then why don’t they reschedule for next week? Why the hurry?”
“I don’t make the rules, my dear.” She narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m just letting you know. Professional courtesy and all.” He took another long look around the room, appraising.
You dirtbag. You came to gloat.
“You don’t need the extra time anyway, do you? You’re already set to go, yes?”
Patricia kept her mouth shut.
“Well, then. I will see you tomorrow at 2:30. Dr. Long.”
She waited until he was gone then slammed her hand down on the counter. The carefully labelled vials shook in response.
That was barely enough time for the first trial. To maximize results she should set up another experiment.
She lifted the vial, gave it another shake, then grabbed her needle and extracted just enough to inject spider 354 and spider 383.
“Please survive,” she whispered to the spiders.
The next morning she reviewed spider 501, 354, and 383. Two of them were dead, legs up inthe air. Spider 383 sat in its cage, and Patricia could swear it was staring at her.
“Well, hello there,” she said. The spider paced its cage.
The meeting was a disaster. Six serious faces stared her down and she was sure at least two of them weren’t even listening to her presentation. They had already made their decision. This meeting was just a formality.
“Dr. Long, we find your research to have impractical implications for science, and we are voting to end your funding at this time. Feel free to apply again in another year–”
“My lab was guaranteed through the end of–”
He ignored her. “We ask that you vacate Lab B as soon as possible.”
She stood there dumbly looking at the men who were supposed to be her colleagues.
You had all this planned. This was planned. Why?
Her throat tightened, and she turned away before they could see the tears welling in her eyes.
Dr. Warren was already in her lab.
“Tough break, Long,” he said.
Patricia hardly heard him for she was staring at the cage holding spider 383.
The spider, a female, was definitely staring back at her. And it was three times bigger than that morning. The spider scrambled to the edge of the cage, giving Dr Warren the benefit of her attention. Then she slowly returned and looked at Patricia, and grew even larger. Her two front legs rubbed furiously together.
Patricia turned to Dr. Warren. “So, I guess this lab is yours now.”
“Looks like it.”
Patricia sidled up to the cage and quickly lifted the lid off. Then before she could change her mind she grabbed her purse and exited the lab, making sure to pull the door closed tightly behind her. Even so, she could faintly hear the cry of Dr Warren which quickly crescendoed into a shriek.
She smiled, smug and self satisfied.