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The Reaction

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

You are in the chemistry lab late at night, working on experiment with your lab partner. When a chemical reaction goes wrong, you appear to be just fine. Your partner on the other hand, he is looking ________. Describe what is happening to him.

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151 Responses to The Reaction

  1. LynsJuno says:

    Your kids love watching CSI, so you buy them a forensic starter’s kit for Christmas. They begin running simple, fake experiments, collecting DNA, and dusting for fingerprints around the house. When you look at all of the powder and prints they pull, you find there are more fingerprints there then just you and your family’s. Whose are they?

    This one by Brian A Klems surprised me – THEN is not interchangeable with THAN !!

  2. Ratboy111 says:

    I was in the chemistry lab late at night, working on experiment with my lab partner, Wesley. When a chemical reaction goes wrong, I appear to be just fine. Wesley, on the other hand, has become a super saiyan. His skin had become buff and his hair was spiked up and longer. There was a glowing aurora around him and his eyes became blue. He flew off through the ceiling searching for competition. He came across an android destroying a city. He used his saiyan powers and defeated the robot.

  3. sammcd says:

    “Holy crap, dude!”
    Anytime Charles (not Chip) becomes nervous or gets excited, he calls people dude, including his own mother.
    “What?!”
    “I have no eyebrows!”
    As I stared at his face I could see that, indeed, his eyebrows, eyelashes, and his bangs had disappeared. I was startled, and trying not to laugh.
    He narrowed his eyes at me and demanded, “What?”
    My lips were twitching as I responded, “This is going to seriously curtail your social life.”
    “No shit.”
    I sauntered over to the Chem Clean! station and retrieved the gloves and wipes to clean up the mess he created. I had warned him not to add yet one more ingredient, but he insisted nothing would happen except maybe some bubbling. Gosh, it was so funny when he was wrong.
    Just as I finished disposing of the mess, he stomped into the locker room to shower. I went over to my desk, logged into my laptop, and filled out the necessary documents (or, failure forms, as I call them) for our supervisor. I’d just emailed those to her inbox when I heard the buzzing of an electric shaver. I smirked to myself.
    I was still sitting at my desk when he approached me. I could smell his cloying cologne. I turned around to survey the hairless one before me. He’d shaved his head and of course, his face looked paler.
    I said, “You clean up nice.”
    He frowned. “Thanks. I just don’t know what to do about my eyebrows.”
    I glanced around at my desk and spotted something I thought could help with his dilemma. I tossed him a brown Sharpie marker and said, “You can draw your eyebrows back on with this.”

  4. frankd1100 says:

    Art wore thick rubber gloves that reached to his elbows, a mask covered his mouth and his eyes, distorted by safety glasses, bulged like a frog’s. He leaned forward studying the bubbling beaker on the bench. I looked on leaning in from the opposite side of the bench, cavalierly free of protective gloves, mask or goggles.

    Art stepped back as the bubbles disappeared and the clear liquid congealed ominously on the bottom. Suddenly, a geyser of blue vapor gushed from the mouth of the beaker and settled over us like a thin, dry cloud. I laughed as Art dashed to the emergency shower to scrub the light blue substance from his hair and clothes.

    Later, after we’d cleaned up and vented the room, he turned to me and said, “I’m concerned Phil. I don’t know what caused that reaction but you might want to monitor any irregularities, particularly with your lungs.”

    He seemed, suddenly, more confident, in charge, superior somehow. I had always been the alpha male but in an instant, Art had become, well … condescending. He seemed unaware of the change and went about reviewing the steps of the experiment. I was feeling edgy and caged in so I told him I was leaving for home. “OK,” he said, without looking up from his notebook.

    As usual, the cat sat on the hood of my car, expecting the snack I frequently saved from lunch. I took the piece of cheeseburger from the brown bag in my hand, but suddenly thought, why should this dirty, stinking cat get my lunch? Stuffing the half cheeseburger into my mouth I downed it in a single gulp and stuck my nose in the bag to sniff out any morsels I might have missed. The cat arched its back and snarled viciously at me, the guy who fed him every night. Just like a cat. God, I hated them I thought as I dove through the air, jaws snapping and landed where the cat had been an instant before.

    The smell of fear in the air was exhilarating and I decided to run home. That way I could sniff for friends, enemies and possible mates along the way. Growing hot I ripped off my shirt. The hair on my chest and back itched like crazy. I reached up with my right hind leg to scratch and found it worked better without the shoes. Next I wriggled free of the oversize belt and baggy trousers bunched about my feet.

    The parking lot ended at a tract of woods that ran on as far as one could see. Gorgeous odors emanated from the dark interior which I sampled with my moist, elongated nose. I leapt from the car and ran, following my nose around brush and trees. Along the way, I stopped at key points to mark my territory, which I had apparently been neglecting.

    I howled once or twice at the moon, joyously free and thought, My God…was this great or what?

  5. msrobin says:

    “What happening to your face? It is morphing. Do you feel all right? I’m calling 911 this looks like an emergency; maybe you should lie down over there and focus on breathing.”
    I reach for the phone, my friend starts to shake all over, it looks like he is turning into something, something is happening with his body, he looks bulkier, and his skin is changing color too. I hang-up the phone and watch the amazing transformation taking place.
    “Wow, you look like you’ve made a complete recovery, what nice firm muscles, say would you like to go somewhere and talk about what just happen?”
    “You look like you’re feeling better, do you think we could do some test?” he shakes his head yes.
    “Can you stand?” I ask wondering if he can speak.
    He stands and raises his arms “Yes Janie, I can stand and I feel just fine, by golly I think we have just discovered the fountain of youth, in fact I feel like a kid again, I bet I could run around the block and not even become winded” he said.
    He poured me a beaker of the red fluid and slid it over to me “Here drink up and we’ll go out on the town and see, if anyone recognizes us.”
    I protest, “I’m not sure that is what we should do, we don’t know if there are any side effects, or if it is reversible or how long does it last?”
    “I feel just fine, stronger than I have in the past twenty years,” he said as he lifted the lab bench with one finger.
    I noticed Ralph’s face taking on the image of a younger man he seemed to be decreasing in age, right before my eyes, all of his wrinkles and age spots just vanished, maybe I will have some of this, it has given him the perfect complexion, maybe it will improve mine.

    “Hey Ralph have you looked in the mirror? You look about twenty years younger; you seem to be still morphing, though.”
    “You got a mirror so I can see for myself?” he asks.
    I hand him a mirror, but not before he has lost five more years, he looks to be a teenager now and his body continues to shrink.
    “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?” he screams watching his body morph.
    “We have to stop this! we have to, waaaaaaaaaaa”
    Ralph has turned into a baby.

  6. PeterW says:

    Lab Partner
    It is late at fucking night in the Chem 101 lab. I want to go home. I want to call my fucking girlfriend and tell her come over and sit on my dick. Sorry, excuse my language; I don’t like my lab partner. We don’t bond. Ha! And btw, I don’t like college. This lab room is a hole on a meteor in cold space.

    Anyhow we’re making salicylic acid which is supposed to smell like mint and fresh, and its late Tuesday night, and we are alone in the lab, because everyone else in the class figured their shit out. Mr. T.A. Gary has left for a “few minutes.” The situation and setting couldn’t be any less sexy. This is really affecting me. And the thing is, the situation should be sexy, because my lab partner is fucking gorgeous, at least in terms of body. I mean, we hit it off right away as lab partners. The first day of lab our eyes met, and I was like, it’s on. I was like “Hey, be my partner,” and she was like “Hey, my name is Marie, I’m from Whoknowswherethefuckwhere, Minnesota.” Then she put on her plastic goggles and tied back her long blonde hair, and I was like having this existential moment, just radiating in her sexiness and the kinkiness of those huge goggles over her already huge glasses; and I was like, damn, I’m going have to call it off with Kenzy—sorry Kenzy-girl, but this Marie…

    But she, Marie, turned out to be a control freak; the fucking perfectionist perfectionist. She’s like a jittery, obnoxious robot— ‘chemistry, chemistry, dilutions, pHs, litmus, moles, stirring rod, I have no life, blah, blah, blah, no, no, let me do this extraction; oh gee we’re .0034013412349041830428401g. off and that’s only an 87.2 percent yield; oh gee, you go out on Fridays, I don’t drink, I study all weekend’. If she got a “B” on her lab report, she would miscarry a baby; sorry, excuse me, that’s not appropriate—I’ve been standing here watching an incredibly sexy girl who doesn’t make me feel sexy for over 4 hours. And Ms. Chemist from Minnesota, here, can’t get the experiment to work. I excuse myself, but she doesn’t seem to notice. I go out to get a drink of water.

    When I come back Marie is passed out on the floor. The fume hoods are whispering. The glassware, the condenser device on ring stands, the plastic tubs, and our notebooks on the lab table look like a miniature power-plant rising out of flat black plain. Water is still running through the vacuum filtration system: nozzle to hose. The run-off follows a black grooved river into the reservoir sink. I smell rotten mint. The lab windows are frosted. Snow falls. My first semester of college is almost done.

    I start to take off Marie’s pants. It feel like it’s some-sort of pay back. And I am sorry.

    • calicocat88 says:

      Wow! Your MC is something else, lol! He’s extremely realistic and I think I knew a girl like Marie when I was in college… What really caught my attention about this guy is that he seems to be self-loathing. He knows what he says and does is horrible, but can’t seem to control himself. I’d like to know more about him. Good story and you made the reader want to pity and slap the MC at the same time, lol!

    • beeswax42 says:

      Wow, you really brought out the self centered misogynist in your main character. The way you see Marie from his point of view- “I’ve been standing here watching an incredibly sexy girl who doesn’t make me feel sexy for over 4 hours” like she’s there for his purposes instead of her own and what he decides to do when he finds her unconscious make him a creeper of the highest grade. As the previous commenter said he “is” realistic. I hated him and anything that provokes that strong a reaction is good writing.

  7. dearlybeloved says:

    The Professor had kept his wife, kept her from the monsters. Day after day they threw themselves at the entrance, snarling and drooling and lunging at the door. Keeping her was safety. Keeping her was his greatest form of love. He had so little love to offer. In the midst of an unstable winter, when the harsh times battered their home, the monsters tore through the doorway. I watched with insatiable ecstasy as they tore her from his broken figure. Throat blackened with words unsaid, the wife’s eyes spoke for her. Therein lay the dilated remnants of the monster her paragon had feared. Shoulders hunched, form lifeless; the monsters carried their ilk away.

    The Professor refused the seasons. Frozen was the body of a man abandoned by love and plagued by yearning; thus, winter became his dearest companion. Escaping the brimstone above, he found solace in the lab deep under the ground. Suspended in a state of emotion somewhere between profligacy and sterility, he searched for the cure to his existence.

    I whispered of a magical crystal, grown from carcinogens in the womb of glass vials and tubing. I guided a patriotic process of red, white, and blue, performed with tender affection. I watched his dealings with ravenous eyes, tongue swollen with longing. He wallowed in the vapors that writhed their way out of the flasks and machines, tangling his insides with forgotten euphoria. On one experimental occasion, the placation of rapture evaded me. I watched with unbridled vehemence as the Professor’s eyes glazed over in a cloud of euphoric understanding.

    “Dear God, what have I done?” The question resurrected clarity in the vessel from which it escaped. Those words hung in my ears, buzzing like roaches festering in putridity. Dark frenzy hung in a cloud over the Professor. Grasping for something far greater than humanity had to offer a monster such as him, the Professor curled into himself. Labored breathing and passionate, grinding motions told the end of a man who had finally seen in himself what he saw in all others. Release exploded through his monstrous husk and it fell to the floor. The usual sanctimonious flood of self-satisfaction evaded my grasp. Cloaked in the sin of mankind, I melted away in the face of an opiate experiment gone so rightly wrong. The soul of a monster, my monster, now lingered in the depths of redemption. His fragile human mind had convinced him of figments, figments that elucidated the frigidity of woman and the fury of man. He fought these figments with the vehemence that, inevitably, broke him. Yet repentance saved the creature that lurked inside the Professor; the creature that lurks inside all of mankind.

    • calicocat88 says:

      This is good. Really, really good! So poetic with the symbolism stranded throughout every sentence–it’s beautiful. I think of Shelly’s Frankenstein the way the narrator almost sounds like he’s a creator of these “monsters” or perhaps it could be God looking down at human beings and the monsters they become. I am blown away by this story! I want to know more and at the same time I don’t think you could add to this because it is, in my opinion, complete. So many things I could say about it–I could write an essay! Love it! Wonderful description. You sucked in the reader at the first glimpse, making us think. Great job!

      • dearlybeloved says:

        Thank you very much for your constructive comment! I had wondered if the symbolism was too unrecognizable, but reading your comment assured me that I managed to convey what I had intended. Again, thank you.

        • jhowe says:

          What a great story. I wish it were earlier in the submittal process so we would get more comments. Maybe we still will. I’d like to hear a discussion on this. I ilked Calicocat’s comment and the mention of God. I thought of Satin when the mention of, “Dear God, what have I done,” caused the narrator’s ears to buzz like festering roaches. I see you posted this at 1:54 am. How did you sleep afterwards?

          • dearlybeloved says:

            Thank you for the feedback! I’m quite glad that Satan had popped into your head, as that was my original intention for the narrator. But I did like Calico’s interpretation of it being God. God is often a figure we use to reach our own gains, so I like the idea of “Him” being something far more twisted than mankind would care to imagine. In response to your question, like a baby. I had just found this website by complete chance and – when I saw the prompt – I felt an overwhelming need to write. It took me three hours, give or take. Well worth it, in my opinion.

  8. NotBrunette says:

    I looked up from my iPhone at Bob. It looked like he’d spilled whatever he was working on. He was whistling as he cleaned up the spilled liquid. No biggie, no need to do anything besides grab paper towels and a little bleach. It had been in a test tube, so not like it was even that large an amount.

    He told me that he’d just been looking in a microscope and recording the reactions of different proportions of already known chemicals. His professor probably knew the answers and just wanted them triple checked so that he could put his name on a scientific paper and keep his tenure.

    I never got into science, I’m not that patient. I hoped Bob wasn’t delayed much longer. My stomach was growling!

    I glanced over at him again.

    He sprayed bleach on the counter.

    I could barely make out the edge of the countertop thru his wrist.

    I cleared my throat as he threw the paper towel in the trashcan and carried the notebook back to the counter. I could barely make out the edges of his pencil thru his fingertips.

    “Hey, Bob.”

    “Ya?”

    “What’s with your hands? They’re looking kinda like a frosted window… or have I been surfing FaceBook too long?”

    He held up his hands in front of him.

    “Yup! Looks like I can kinda see thru my hands!” At least he wasn’t the type to panic easily.

    “Should I call 911?” If it’s not hurting anyone else, I really hate to intrude on anyones’ personal problems, especially on a second date.

    “Nah, it’s ok.” He looked at me thru the palm of his hand, and winked. A website designer would describe the transparency at about .4 or 40%.

    I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to giggle.

    “Are you sure you’re okay?” I couldn’t conceal a grin. He was making stupid faces at me thru his semi-translucent hands.

    “Ya. I’m fine.” He rummaged thru his backpack. I wanted to laugh because I could kinda see his backpack thru his hands up to just passed his wrists. “Hey, do you have any foundation or powder?”

    “Ya, but it’s probably too pale for your complexion.” So, dating him was out. I’m not into trannies. He should have had written about that in his online profile, or told me after coffee the other day… how rude to spring the girly makeup thing on me before dinner like this!

    “Well, I don’t want to go out looking like this.”

    “You’re fine, you might want to do something about your hands though.”

    Oh duh. Total blonde moment.

    I handed him my compact and he dusted his hands with my face powder. Now it looked like he had tanned with gloves on, but at least you couldn’t semi-see thru his hands anymore.

    He borrowed my compact again on the drive, and again while we were waiting to be seated. I finally just gave it to him. He had an obnoxious habit of looking at himself in every reflective surface he walked passed, including table tops. He even looked in the mirror of my compact every so often. What a narcissistic weirdo. Why hadn’t I noticed this when we broke the Internet barrier and met in person over coffee last week?

    I didn’t order beer with my pizza.

    He had to tell me in chronological order about every stupid vacation he’d ever been on with his stupid family. I didn’t quite hate him enough to walk out on him, but after his 8th grade Disneyland story, I abruptly changed the subject with my one burning question about earlier: “Were you working with latex?”

    He looked startled. “It’s similar to rubber, but more like polyurethane… why?”

    “I have the biggest allergy to latex and anything with latex in it. I’m to latex how some people with peanuts.”

    “Oh. I’m sorry.”

    “The condition with your hands….?”

    “It’s actually splotches all over my body. I don’t know why I’m mostly 60% transparent and not all the way one way or another. It’s kinda fucked and my dermatologist never really fully explained it to me. So, I was really mixing my medication earlier. I’d wrapped up work before you got there and thought that I had time.”

    “Your medication involves latex?”

    “No, but I have to paint myself with a base of exterior house paint twice a month, sometimes more, especially if I’m handling rubbing alcohol and other chemicals.” He looked at his hands, and pulled out my compact again. He had oregano stuck in his teeth but he was obsessed with his hands. The powder was starting to sweat off and I could begin to see the outline of my compact. Approximately .8 transparency.

    “I don’t think we’re compatible.”

    The waiter took forever to get back with the stupid check. I didn’t even offer to pay for the tip.

    There are some details that people should tell you before you go on a second date with them, and this is the last time I go out with any guy who doesn’t have his own car!

  9. JustAPerson says:

    “How are you holding up?” I ask.
    “Fine.”
    I stop what I’m doing and face my lab partner, “Are you sure you’re all right?”
    He doesn’t look me in the eyes, “I said I’m fine.”
    I start to say something, but stop and go back to working on the experiment. We decided to stay the night working on a project that could hopefully modify pesticides so that they don’t harm the environment. It’s 10 o’clock right now and we’ve barely said a word all night. My lab partner’s been distant ever since the incident a month ago, right now I’m hoping I can coax him into talking about it, unfortunately it’s such a sensitive subject that I doubt I can get him to talk about it. Still…
    “She was a wonderful woman,” I say without looking up from my work.
    He pauses for a second before continuing his work, “Stop.”
    “I know you loved her-”
    “I said stop.”
    “And you were going to marry her.”
    “I said STOP!” he turns toward me and knocks over all the vials on his table.
    “I’m sorry, but it’s been a month and you-”
    “Oh,” he sneers at me and jabs his finger right in my face, “I never knew my LIFE WAS YOUR BUSINESS!”
    I realized the mistake I made, “I said I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to overstep it’s just-”
    I stop talking and look over his shoulder and see the spilled chemicals starting to bubble.
    “Just what? Hey look at me when I’m-”
    “Get away!” I yell. but it was too late. The substance suddenly exploded into vapor. I retreated from the gas, then the emergency sprinklers came on and cleared away the gas. I gasp as the cold water pounded on my face. I look down and see my partner.
    I kneel down and examined him, “Oh god…”
    His face was paler than any human being I ever saw dead or alive and he was struggling to breathe.
    “Can you hear me?”
    “I see her,” he said.
    “See who?”
    “Her,” he pointed at empty air.
    I look back at him, “We need to get you to a hospital, come on.”
    “I missed you honey,” he says
    I almost cry; He sees his fiance.
    “Please don’t leave me again,”
    He reached out and tried to grasp for something that wasn’t there. He smiled and his arm fell to his side.
    “No,no,no you can’t die. God no.”
    He closed his eyes. I tried to listen for a heartbeat that wasn’t there.
    If only the sprinklers could wash away this night away too.

  10. Carlos Cabrera says:

    “Keep it together, David. This is what I explained; it’s a harmless cloud. Keep adding the nitrogen.”

    Layla was too afraid to be hesitant. There wasn’t time for that. Katie was here, and they needed to find her.

    “David, listen to me. Keep doing what you’re doing and the cloud will get big enough that alarms will sound. When that happens you hide, doesn’t matter where, just hide. I’ll call you.”

    Layla put down the flasks and removed her mask, knowing the air wasn’t toxic. She knew David was startled by the reaction, but she hoped he trusted her now more than ever.

    He didn’t a few days ago, she thought as she raced past the locked doors covered in warning signs and banners.

    “You have a great job here, Layla. I just don’t see why they need you over in Atlanta when they don’t even tell you what you’re going to be doing,” he had said to her when she first brought the idea up.

    “It’s the CDC, David. It’s researching mutated viruses, that’s what it always is. It’ll be fine.”

    Layla reached the elevator and hesitated. She couldn’t use her own entry code, they would’ve blocked it by now. Seconds later she remembered her former partner’s entry code.

    22132.

    The familiar buzzing came to life; she was in.

    Katie would be in one of these rooms, she knew this.

    She passed door after door, peeking inside, hoping to find her daughter.

    She felt a knot just remembering the moment David said he had taken her to the CDC after they asked him to.

    “They called and said there was a spill in your lab,” he had said, “something went wrong and since you came home yesterday, they wanted to make sure Katie was ok. What’s going on?”

    He was confused and couldn’t have known.

    I should’ve told him about the research.

    Layla continued passing empty rooms, wondering if there was anything else she could’ve done. When she found out it was weaponry they were manufacturing, using mutated west nile virus strains, she decided to look into it, and told no one.

    They were watching me, she accepted as she almost reached the end of the hall.

    They were watching and knew that I wasn’t on board. They needed leverage, and that’s when they went behind my back. I didn’t get a chance to tell David before they reached out to him and asked him to bring Katie in.

    Katie.

    Her thoughts were elsewhere when the alarm began blaring. Quickly she opened a door and jumped in. Seconds later a group of armed men left the last room on the right.

    She waited, and in moments she was making her way into that last room.

    Her heart dropped when she saw Katie laying on a bed, restraints holding her down and IV needles running through both arms.

    But nothing prepared her for the cold look Katie gave her, right before she heard her scream “Mommy! Behind you!”

  11. Observer Tim says:

    At first I thought I’d totally lost my mind. I mean, in second year university they don’t let you play with anything too dangerous. Steve and I had both been sick, so Doc Sebastian had allowed us to come back and do a make-up after the last lab. The instructions were pretty straightforward: identify the unknown sample.

    We did the usual tests: it was organic, neither acid nor base. It didn’t match any known toxins, and it hadn’t been stored under the fume hood or in the radiation safe so it couldn’t be that hazardous. In fact, it looked like sugar. Green and red sugar.

    Steve wet his finger and put it in the sample. He was that sort of guy. That was why he was on a first-name basis with the school nurse. That and what he did next; he touched it to the tip of his tongue.

    “Steve! What the hell are you … doing?”

    I had to pause. Steve is normally a slightly chunky guy, on the short side with curly black hair that really wants to form an afro. He’s white, and usually wears baggy jeans and an oversized t-shirt with a rude slogan. Today’s was ‘suck on this’. But that wasn’t him any more.

    Steve’s body flowed to a new shape, like in one of those morphing computer programs. Now he was a good four inches taller and skinny as a rail; his hair had gone carrot red and he had freckles. His tee hung like a tent and his baggy jeans were now around his ankles. His skivvies were hanging on his waist for dear life. He also had breasts.

    “Well that felt weird.”

    “Steve! You’re a girl! In fact, you’re Jennifer Nelson!”

    “What? No way!” He promptly stared down his shirt. “Hey, Jenny’s got cute boobs.”

    “Steve! That’s sick!”

    “Hey, they’re my boobs!”

    “No they’re not! They’re Jenny’s!” He reached down and his underwear went into free fall. Luckily the tee hung down enough that he didn’t flash me. “Yup, I’m definitely a girl.”

    “Okay, something is definitely wrong. There is no effing way this is what Doc would leave us to test.”

    “Hey Tim, you should try this!”

    “No! There is no way I’m going to …”

    He flicked a pinch of the powder in my face. My center of balance shifted and Steve got an inch or so shorter. It was no surprise at all when I looked down and saw Jenny’s hands. I checked myself over and it was pretty certain that now I was Jennifer Nelson too. At least my build is thin enough that my pants didn’t fall down, but my shirt was squeezing a bit due to the ‘growth’.

    “Thanks, Steve. Now that you’ve screwed us both over, do you have any idea (a) what this crap is, and (b) how we’re supposed to change back?”

    “Change back? I’m going back to my room for some serious hand action!”

    “Steve! That’s gross! We have a real problem here!”

    “Think of it as an opportunity, Tim. If you weren’t a girl now I’d get you to …”

    “No! That’s even more gross!”

    Just then there was a loud high-pitched buzz, like a bumblebee crossed with an electric drill. Jennifer flew in; well, it kind of looked like her. Only she was maybe nine inches tall and had antennae and wings that were the source of the buzzing. We both just stared.

    “Hi boys! I see you found my Jenny dust.” She landed by the sample bottle and dipped a finger in it. A few seconds later she was sitting on the lab bench, naked as the day she was born.

    “Tim, could you be a dear and fetch me one of those lab coats? Steve is too busy playing with himself.”

    I deliberately didn’t look at Steve while I got the coat for her. She hopped off the table and put it on, then capped the sample bottle and dropped it in her pocket.

    “Jennifer, what the hell is that?”

    “Oh, that’s my make-up kit. Does it all at once. Your sample’s on the prof’s desk. It’s calcium chloride.”

    “Um …”

    “Oh, it’ll wear off in about 24 hours. Come on Tim, I’ve got nachos in my dorm room; wanna come see a movie? We should let Steve play with his new best friends.”

    So we did. And that was how I started dating Jennifer Nelson.

  12. GRACE UNDER FIRE
    =================

    Grace raced to the emergency pull station on the other side of the room. There wasn’t much room for debate and doubt on this one. They fucked up. The quarantine alarm blasted its clarion as the medical grade doors sealed them into the research bay.

    “Michael!” she yelled over the din. He stood looking at his hands in front of him, dumbfounded in disbelief. Oxygen rescue masks dropped from the ceiling. The countdown started. Shit. There’d only be a few seconds before the halide gas filled the room, displacing the oxygen. She started waving her arms. “Michael!” He looked up to see Grace put on the mask. He understood and followed suit. They both dropped and tucked their exposed skin as best they could. The gas burns would heal and scar, but the numbness of the nerve damage would never leave.

    Grace waited. The alarm continued its assault. She tried to quiet her mind by running though the shanties her grandfather used to sing when she was young. Curled up on his lap with her ear pressed to his chest, she could feel the music and be lost to the calm. With an ‘I’se the b’y’ and a ‘where’s your troosers’, Grace weathered the storm.

    With a loud mechanical clunk followed by a whoosh of moving air, the chemical fog lifted. Her ears popped and rung with the change in pressure and relief from the siren. The emergency light still flashed its notice. They were still on isolated aux power. Quarantine was still in effect.

    When the heavy fans shut off, Grace stood up and tested the air with her nose. It smelled okay, if that meant anything. Her face and hands tingled. She examined her palms and winced, happy for the moment that a mirror was not nearby.

    Grace made her way over to where Michael lay. He wasn’t moving. She turned his head towards her. His lifeless blue eyes stared back at her. She grabbed his wrist, lowered her ear to his face and took stock. No breath, no chest motion, no pulse. No Michael. Gramps didn’t have a sailor song in his repertoire to make this scene any better. Grace turned quickly and vomited on the floor. Blackish blood curdled in her rejected lunch.

    Despite her dizziness, Grace rose and steadied herself on the steel counter top. The dozen paces to the open centrifuge might as well have been miles. She made her way hand-over-hand from table to bench, from scan table to eyewash station. Her peripheral vision left her. Grace knew that wasn’t just a stress response. They saw the same thing in the rats. The limbic system and optic nerve were a part of the prognosis. She’d be blind in minutes, babbling like an idiot not long after. She thought back on her partner. There wasn’t much time to shut this down.

    The centrifuge was cracked from the violent reaction. There wasn’t any compound left in the canisters. She imagined it seeping and slithering just out of sight. It would be hiding from her, plotting its next move.

    She knew the risks when they brought that sample back from Marianas Trench. It wasn’t really alive, but it wasn’t quite not, was it? Little difference, it killed whatever came in contact with it. Motive didn’t matter. Survival did.

    The intercom buzzed overhead. “Grace.” The voice was grim, yet familiar and welcome.

    She turned towards the main glass doors. The illusion of freedom taunted her. Doctor Mintz and some five-star jarhead stared at her. Grace stumbled to the control panel beside the door. Hovering over the useless ‘open’ button, she pressed the ‘two-way’ instead.

    “Hey, boss,” she said quietly. Her voice was thick as her tongue struggled to work. “Our goose is cooked. This facility is compromised. It’s just me and “The Sludge” here now. I authorize you to scrub. Torch and salt.”

    Mintz’ face blanched and his lips formed a tight line. “I’m sorry, Grace. For both of you.” He nodded to the soldier. The man silently retreated to make his preparations. She waved weakly to her mentor as the metal blast door came down. Grace was all alone now. Well, mostly. The sense of ‘otherness’ played with her crumbling mind.

    The fans spun up again. Grace smelled the mixture of ether and propellant fill the room. She didn’t bother with the mask this time. The anesthetic was preferable to the flame.

    • don potter says:

      This is old-time scifi horror. Great job.

    • calicocat88 says:

      Great job on suck the reader in here. I felt like this was all happening to me! Goosebumps the whole way. Poor Grace! This story is wonderful beginning to something big. You should add to this, in my opinion. It could go backwards or forwards.

      … … … I keep thinking I’m smelling this stuff now, lol! You did your job right!

    • beeswax42 says:

      Wow. That was amazing. I felt like I was right in the room with Grace, that’s how good your imagery was. This would make a great longer story!

    • lailakuz says:

      Wow, and I mean wow! The prose is terrific and the descriptions make sure to entrance the reader all throughout the piece. Splendidly done!

    • smallster21 says:

      How horrifying! And, you made me like your MC. You developed her personality with the flashbacks, showing what’s important to her, and her strength in the face of death. All these things made me wish she wasn’t about to die. Great story :( Sad face, because I’m sad for the MC.

  13. calicocat88 says:

    More than halfway over the limit :( Sorry y’all.

    Will slipped into the basement window, his lanky body sliding silently to the floor. He needed the fix before the memories took over again and Mark’s “lab” was the only place he could go to find his…solace before he freaked out and killed someone. Again.

    “Where the hell have you been?” Mark was beside the Ping-Pong table, tossing powders and ground up leaves into a glass measuring cup. He didn’t know what he was doing, but Will didn’t give a damn as long as he got what he wanted. Now.

    “My grandmother,” Will muttered. “She had her church group come over and pray for me.”

    “Adults think religion is the cure for everything,” Mark said.

    Will laughed without humor. “If there is a god, he couldn’t save me. Not from this.”

    “Does it ever go away? That weird pressure you talk about?” Mark nodded to a small packet of white dust. “Toss that in here.”

    Will shrugged. “Not really. It’s not the pressure anyway. It’s when I lose control.”

    Mark laughed loud and obnoxiously.

    “You know how dangerous I am, asshole,” Will picked up the packet of power and dumped it into the cup. “Last night I woke up and my mirror was broken.”

    “Okay,” Mark made a face. “Now you have bad luck. Who cares?”

    “The pieces of glass were stuck in the walls,” Will said.

    “Like in cartoons when one guy goes through a door and the other guy shoots something at him just as the door’s closing and it sticks all in the wood?” Mark said.

    Will narrowed his eyes. “Yeah, I guess.”

    “Oh, that’s right,” Mark grimaced. “You wouldn’t know, home schooled boy. Granny doesn’t let you watch television. How’d you get past her this late, anyway?”

    “I told her I was going to a friend’s house.”

    “At three in the morning?” Mark looked at Will with disgust. “What, did you brainwash her or something?”

    “You know it doesn’t work that way,” Will could feel his temper beginning to blaze. “Is the stuff finished or what?”

    “Easy, man,” Mark stirred the contents and poured a thin liquid into two syringes. “It’s something new I’m trying. I made enough for both of us. This shit should knock you out cold.”

    “I doubt it,” Will said. “Give it to me.”

    Mark hesitated. “Now don’t get pissed if it doesn’t work.”

    “I’m angry now. Give it to me!”

    A small shudder went throughout the house making the lights flicker. Sheetrock dust fell from the ceiling like dried up snowflakes on the boys’ blond heads. Mark stared white faced. “Man, you really are a freak.”

    “Mark,” Will took a slow, even breath. “I need the drugs now before something bad happens. That isn’t bullshit.”

    “I don’t know…”

    Will released a tiny strip of pressure from his brain and willed the syringe into his hand.

    Mark staggered back in shock. “Take it and get out of my house.”

    Will ignored him and stuck the needle into his arm without a flinch. Hot liquid seared up his arm into his shoulders and down his back. He let out a sigh of pure ecstasy as the thoughts of his father and demented childhood drained away leaving his mind at peace. The pressure in his head slowly dissipated. He heard a choking noise and opened his eyes.

    Mark was on his knees, the empty syringe a pile of shattered glass on the floor. He was hunched over and coughing violently into his hands, blood spraying out of the spaces between his fingers. Will ran to his side and helped him down on the floor.

    “You got this from someone new, didn’t you? Where did you get this?” Will demanded.

    Mark tried to speak, but made a gurgling sound instead. A mixture of blood and spit trickled out of the corners of his mouth.

    Will shook him hard. “Tell me now!”

    “A man,” Mark gasped for a breath. Blood was draining from his ears, his eyes.

    “A man,” Will repeated mostly to himself. “What was his name? Did he tell you his name?”

    Mark was fading fast. Whatever cocktail of drugs he had been given it wasn’t working on Will. The effects were falling away, all of Will’s demons returning and gnawing away his peace. The pressure returned to his brain and He jerked Mark up so that he could hear his strangled whispers.

    “He said he was a researcher,” Mark strained. “I told him about you, asked if he could cure you—“

    “You weren’t supposed to tell anyone!” Will said and the house began to shudder again. “He’s after me, Mark! He’s wants me, he wants to use me, to pick me apart like a dead frog! He knows what I am and he wants to torture answers out of me that I don’t have. And you just gave me to him.”

    Will dropped Mark’s lifeless body to the floor. The effects of the drugs had worn off completely—he didn’t expect them to work. He was weak and out of his weakness he slipped up and now the man that had been haunting his dreams knew where to find him. He knew where his family lived, slept. His grandmother was alone right now, helpless.

    Jumping through the basement window, Will ran a few yards until he was hidden in the woods. He let loose the boiling pressure in the back of his head and released it onto Mark’s house. The sides, the roof, all shook until like a gigantic balloon it exploded sending debris and blood all over the street. More people, dead.

    The sirens came quicker than what Will expected. The police would never accuse him. There was no evidence. Besides, who would believe any witnesses that said a boy blew up a house with his mind?

    Will turned and ran through the woods until he came to the familiar street where his grandmother’s tiny white house sat beside the homes of his best friends’—his last reasons for living. He trotted up the porch steps and was greeted by the sweet arms of his grandmother.

    “Was that you making all that noise down the road?” she pulled him inside, brushing at his face like always. The old woman never slept. He often wondered if she was a little crazy. “You need to learn to control yourself, William. You’re not a monster.”

    Will kissed his grandmother’s head knowing that a monster was exactly what he would always be.

    • don potter says:

      Scary story. Good dialogue. Liked the ending.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Excellent descriptive language of the turmoil and torment that coursed through Will’s mind. I had the feeling his grandmother realized what her grandson’s torment was all about; his relationship with his father, and what would cause the father to be that way?

        Perhaps the grandmother had a demonized son and stood back when he either mentally or physically abused her grandson. She then, became responsible for the monster, she home-schooled. Chilling thoughts.

        • calicocat88 says:

          Kerry, thank you :) As the writer you know you’ve got these images and scenes playing out in your mind but painting them out in words for another person to see what’s going on is nerve-racking! Glad you got it though :)

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks Don :) The dialogue always makes me nervous. Glad you liked it.

    • Great story, Calico. I really got pulled in to Will’s world. The dialog was particularly good.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Doug, it makes my heart happy that you were able to get into Will’s “head” a little bit. He’s a character that’s been in my life for a long time and I’m partial to him and a little sensitive about how people perceive him. He’s misunderstood, definitely. Of course, the dialogue I want to come naturally from the characters and not me so that you enjoyed that bit makes me rest at ease as well. Thanks :)

    • JRSimmang says:

      I have to agree with the previous opinions. Excellent story. Nice pacing. Likeable and relatable characters. There’s a little carrot at the other end of this story, propelling me into wanting to read more.

  14. jen says:

    16 Aug 2013-08-16

    Dear Laurie,

    If you’re reading this I’m either in hospital recovering or you’ve no idea who I am.

    Two weeks ago Mark and I were in the lab testing our compound. One of the tests reacted. It knocked me cold and I came to being dragged out. The guy left me lying at the door to go back into the lab. Thick smoke belched out on top of me as I lay on the pavement. I tried to shout for him but the back of my throat was raw with pain. The guy came back by himself and I screamed at him to go back in for Mark. He stayed with me until the ambulance came and he kept saying ‘You were alone, man. You were alone’.

    At the hospital I kept expecting him to turn up, all sheepish telling me he’d run out for help and that’s why they’d missed him. The more I talked to people the more I knew Mark had disappeared; he was gone. In fact it was more like he had been erased, no one remembered him; even you Laurie, his fiancée.

    I drove out to his parent’s place, you didn’t know that but it’s where I went after I discharged myself from the hospital. They handled it well considering some guy with a hospital wrist band had turned up and started asking them questions about a son they never had. I’d known them since Mark and I went to Kindergarten together, but they didn’t recognise me either. I started telling his parents things, personal things about pets and their other kids – that’s when they asked me to leave.

    I went back to the flat then, that’s where you caught up with me. I remember pushing you away when you tried to comfort me, and how scared you looked when I told you about Mark. I got to know that look; I saw it on everyone’s face when I told my story. It was a mix of concern, pity and fear – people were sorry that my bright future would be cut short but more concerned that my insanity might be catching.

    That college shrink you got me to go to wanted to fill me full of drugs and persuade me that this episode – lovely clinical euphemism – was all down to guilt. He said I had created Mark as a more worthy recipient of my beautiful fiancée and academic success.

    This last week, I’ve tried Laurie, I really have. I tried to let go of Mark. I tried to be the fiancé I know you deserve. And I love you, I always have but I can shake the feeling I’ve taken what belongs to Mark. That’s where tonight’s experiment comes in. I’m going to recreate our last test. I’m standing where Mark was and I’ll leave the letter where I was. I hope I’m crazy.

    All our love

  15. la vie en rouge says:

    ‘Are you sure it’s is safe for human use?’

    ‘Er… yeah.’ I sound more confident than I feel. ‘I’ll try it first if you want.’

    ‘I think I do want. Do you even remember what we put in here?’

    Chris yawns like a sea lion and rubs his eyes with the stained cuff of his lab coat.

    To be honest, we’ve been holed up in here so long I don’t even know what day it is anymore, never mind what we’ve thrown in the beaker. I grunt something about how we’ve written it all down and wave the clipboard under his nose.

    ‘Yeah, but I’m worried we might have forgotten something. Man, I’m tired… I swear my blood group’s turned into coffee.’

    ‘Oh give it here.’ My hand shakes a bit as I suck the mixture up into the syringe and stick it in my arm. ‘Nobel prize, here we come.’

    We time out five minutes on the stopwatch. My pulse and breathing are fine. Finally Chris decides it’s safe and fills up a new syringe for his own arm.

    Within seconds his face has gone as white as the sheets in a detergent commercial. Funnily enough, it has the opposite effect on his neck, which has gone a violent shade of puce. He stares at me, bug-eyed and tries to say something through his constricted throat.

    He grips the bench and takes a deep breath.

    ‘Crap, Ben… You didn’t put potassium hydrobromate in there, did you?’

    I check the clipboard.

    ‘Well… I don’t think so… But just out of interest, what would happen if I did?’

    ‘I’ll start telling the truth – the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God.’

    He’s rubs at his neck again. I straighten up. Suddenly I don’t feel so tired anymore.

    ‘Oh really… so… what happened to my bar of caramel ripple chocolate?’

    ‘Stole it. The half that I haven’t eaten yet is in my desk drawer.’

    I knew it! Bloody cheek. Next…

    ‘Did you really kiss Jenny Simpkins at the Christmas party?’

    ‘Nah. The rumours of my animal magnetism have been greatly exaggerated.’

    I thought as much. Anyway, onto important matters.

    ‘Have we made a Nobel prize-winning truth serum?’

    ‘Doubt it. On my own I’m probably smart enough to win the Nobel, but the trouble is that I have an idiot for a lab partner.’

    • don potter says:

      I expected something terrible to happen once the fluid was injected into the veins, but it turned out to be a fun read. The sea lion yawn and the use of the color puce should have signaled this tale was going to be a bit quirky.

    • DMelde says:

      Cute story. I enjoyed this lighter take on the prompt.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Fun read here. Too much truth serum is bound to get everybody in trouble. You better tell them they look good when they’re not, laugh at stale jokes and smile when you hurt. Otherwise, you will have to tell them what’s on your mind.

    • calicocat88 says:

      I love these characters :) They sound fun and spontaneous and a little careless, lol! It’s great how you took the prompt and instead of using the stereotypical scientist/researcher characters you made them so normal that it’s hilarious and very relatable. I would have liked to have seen some more description, but your characters made this story with out it and it’s a very good one :)

    • Cheeky and fun read, Red. Nicely done.

    • Carlos Cabrera says:

      love it. simple, funny, quick. great read.

  16. JR MacBeth says:

    Abhorrent beyond my ability to comprehend was the monstrous change, nay, the hideous transmogrification, that had taken place in my wretched apprentice. I had not seen him since that fateful night, because, in my cowardice, I ran, and God help me, I could not turn back. His family inquired of course, but I kept my piece.

    Alas, today one of the slaves found him, or rather, poor Linus had found Old Samuel, who had gone to his caves to sing, as usual. All day I prayed, and trembled at Samuel’s shocking report.

    “First, I sees a big shadow…an’ den! I hears somfin’. Somfin’ like thunder. Was so loud! But, it was behin’ me, so I’s couldn’t run, Has me trapped! Was all I could do gittin’ on my knees, prayin’: Sweet Jesus save me!”

    What he went on to describe still paled in comparison to what I now found. Linus was still in the caves, or rather, had become part of them. Even as I looked down at my feet, I could see that he was there. He was everywhere! And then there was the stench. I held my kerchief to my face, but it took considerable effort to hold back the vomit. With the other hand I held up the lantern.

    His head, if you could call it that, was now ten times as large. But there was not really a face anymore. It had become a ghastly hive of many miniature insect-like faces who peaked out from a thousand holes. Yet, the largest hole remained, the one that had once been a mouth. I could see foul blackness still issuing forth, as it had done that calamitous evening in the laboratory.

    “My God Linus! Can you hear me!”

    An answer belched forth, hitting me with a wall of putrid fumes that forced me to step back to the entrance. I could not hold it anymore, and spewed forth my own miasma, tinged with the whiskey I had consumed for courage.

    “Yes! I hear! Magister, help me!”

    I froze in horror as the grotesque utterance reverberated through the cavern, somehow instantly knowing that the poor lad was beyond all hope. This cave would soon be his crypt, and how soon depended only upon me.

    “Linus! Oh, poor Linus! Forgive me!”

    “Help. Me.”

    Never had I heard anything so horrifying, and yet so heart-rending. Here was once a strapping lad who had his whole life to look forward to. And now…

    “Do not fear Linus! I have the remedy! I shall not tarry!”

    I left him, the miserable wretch, running away, again, my lantern throwing fearsome shadows, only stopping once to wash myself in the brook. Of truth, I tarried little, but wept much.

    Next day, I did return, but found that I could not face him. Four slaves laid the charges. From a safe distance, I heard the blast, but not before a bone-chilling scream that I hear even today, all these years later.

  17. DMelde says:

    The safety technician lay dead in a corner of the control room.

    Tango, sheathing his knife, sat down at the safety console.

    “Ready. All systems go.” Tango said.

    “Hold your position.” Lima commanded.

    Lima looked out from the safety control room and into the sterile lab at the Center for Disease Control. Two military scientists were working in the lab. They hadn’t noticed the change of command in the adjacent room.

    The scientists were combining the CDC’s hemorrhagic smallpox virus with a chemical/biological accelerant for possible military use. Smallpox, although deadly, didn’t kill fast enough for the brass responsible for dreaming up this nightmare, and against the CDC’s vehement objections, they were proceeding as planned. The CDC couldn’t object too loudly, because they weren’t supposed to have the virus anyway.

    One scientist added the smallpox to the mix chamber, while the other scientist used robotics to add the accelerant.

    “Negative pressure reading?” Lima asked.

    “Twenty.” Tango responded.

    “Drop to negative forty and hold the position.” Lima commanded. The lower negative pressure wouldn’t be noticed, and it would add more bang to the upcoming explosion. Lima regretted the deaths of his fellow soldiers, but he had his orders.

    Someone very high up had wanted to stop this nightmare, so they sent a full bird to handle it.

    “Sometimes,” the higher-up told Lima, “you have to fight crazy with crazy.”

    They would blow the lab, and they would send a powerful message to the brass who thought up this nightmare, “Don’t try this shit again.”

    The scientists were done. The smallpox and the accelerant were mixed and ready for use.

    “Lower negative pressure to eighty and increase maximum positive pressure inside of the mix chamber.” Lima commanded.

    Tango followed orders, and the mix chamber exploded. Contaminated glass shards flew everywhere, ripping jagged holes in the scientists’ hazmat suits. Stunned, the scientists looked at each other. Both had deep skin cuts and each watched as the other succumbed to the virus.

    They started sweating profusely as their body temperatures rose. Their skin, already cherry red from fever, turned deep burgundy from interior hemorrhaging. They tried screaming, but their tongues were bloated from the bleeding scabs that erupted everywhere.

    Lima watched as the men died.

    “Is the lab secure?” Lima asked.

    “Lab is secure.” Tango replied. “No contaminants escaped.”

    “Maintain negative pressure. Lock down the lab.” Lima commanded.

    “Negative pressure constant. Lab is locked.” Tango reported.

    Lima drew his sidearm and shot Tango.

    “I’m sorry son, but no witnesses. You were a good soldier.”

    Lima pressed the alarm button and he settled in to wait for the CDC to arrive. He had to tell them what was in the lab. They had to know so they could contain it. He guessed it would be a kill zone for many years to come. After he told them, he knew he had just one duty left to perform.

    “No witnesses, understand?” the higher-up had said.

    Lima understood. He still had one bullet left for himself.

  18. don potter says:

    Was this story written by someone in high school? If so, nice job. If the author is older, you captured the high school feeling.

  19. don potter says:

    “Okay, Brian, let’s do one last experiment before we call it a day,” Austin said.
    “I’m wiped-out, can’t it wait?” I replied.
    “Come on, there’s nobody here to get in our way. You’ve got all weekend to sleep.”
    ”You never told me being your lab assistant would require so much unpaid overtime. My social life has gone to hell since I started working with you.”
    “One more test tonight, and I promise no late nights next week.”
    “All right you sweet talker. What concoction are we about to cook up and why?
    “Nothing to do except drink this.” Austin handed me a half full beaker of a purplish liquid. He took one for himself and downed it before I started.
    “How’s it taste?” I asked.
    “Kool Aid it’s not.”
    “Tell my family I made the ultimate sacrifice for science.” I drank the potion and asked, “Is this how Dr. Jekyll got started?”
    For what seemed like an eternity, Austin and I sat at the lab table. He turned on a tape recorder and had his notebook ready to record any reactions. I was about to ask him what I was supposed to observe, when Austin started to change right in front of my eyes. This was weird, scary weird. He was becoming a woman, a beautiful woman. Yet he acted as if nothing was happening.
    “You feeling anything?” I asked and got up from my stool and moved toward him. The closer I got the more pronounced her, I mean his, perfume became. Oh how beautiful she was: radiant red hair, silky skin and luscious lips. How could such a transformation be taking place?
    I felt my heart pounding as I watched her breasts rise and fall with each breath. The desire to rip open her lab coat was hard to resist. Never before had I felt this kind of animal magnetism to a woman. But it wasn’t a woman; it was my boss, Austin. What caused him to change? Why didn’t he acknowledge what was happening? Will this gorgeous creature turn back into old Austin?
    “Do you know how beautiful you are?” I asked. The compulsion to have her consumed me. I tried to kiss her.
    She drew back and held up a hand to avoid my advances.
    “That’s enough, Brian. Drink this. You’ll feel better.”
    Ashamed of my behavior, I swallowed the yellow liquid in one desperate gulp.
    Soon, the enchanting female in front of me began to change form. And then, all that was left of her was a memory. In her place was tall, lanky, bearded Austin.
    “What caused you to change?”
    “I didn’t change. It was all in your mind. The drink I gave you alters perceptions.”
    “Did it alter your perceptions too?”
    “You were the experiment, not me. I drank the placebo.”
    “Austin, all I can say is I’ll never look at you the same way again.” Judging from the look on his face, he won’t be asking me to work late in the near future.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Oh, that is a funny story. Quite imaginative and the dialogue was right on course. Poor Brian almost went over to the other side and didn’t know it. Very clever and I enjoyed the read.

    • jhowe says:

      Fun read. Well told. I liked the unpaid overtime comment. I hate unpaid overtime.

    • JR MacBeth says:

      Don, another funny one! Great ending. You have the reader smiling, and then, your last line goes in for the big laugh! Getting humor right isn’t easy, my hat is off to you.

    • DMelde says:

      That’s quite the potion they’ve got there. Good, funny story.

    • calicocat88 says:

      Wow! This had me laughing the whole way. I was not expecting Austin to turn into a woman. You took me by surprise. Great job! Really good dialogue. Sounded completely natural :) I bet that will be one uncomfortable work atmosphere from now on, lol!

    • This was hilarious, Don. I liked your pacing and dialog. It didn’t over do the funny.

    • smallster21 says:

      Haha, this was funny! Two questions, did Austin know that he drank the placebo? And, what would the purpose of a placebo be in this type of experiment? Just two things that stood out to me. Loved the story, made me giggle :)

      • don potter says:

        Austin said, “I drank the placebo.” This line was the next to last one. Austin drank first to indicate it was no big deal to drink the potion. That’s when he delivered the Kool Aid remark. The only reason for the placebo was to get Brian to down his drink. It was the best way I could think of to incorporate a funny line, advance the story and still get the job done in 500 words.

  20. slayerdan says:

    “Davis!” Mavra screamed. It was all she had time to utter before there was a sizzling, popping sound like a firecracker followed by a bug zapper going off. A second later she felt the air rush from her lungs as she slammed against the wall, followed by a burst of heat. She could not see Davis for all the smoke as she drifted into unconsciousness.

    Mavra opened her eyes. She was in pain from the impact with the wall, and she had some minor burns from the explosion. Dazed, she looked around the room where she and Davis had been working when she recalled what had happened. Something had gone wrong. There had been an explosion and she was thrown back. There was smoke. Then there was darkness.

    Mavra rolled herself forward away from the wall when the initial burst of fear and anxiety hit her, her heart pounding like a caged gorilla and her brain burning with confusion as the full realization of what had happened gripped her. A thousand thoughts surfed by but she was only able to focus on one.

    “Davis!,” she screamed in desperation, louder than she had prior to the blast. She pulled herself up and made her way over to where he had been, shards of glass breaking with her every step as the remaining thin layer of smoke bothered her eyes. There were safety protocols she needed to engage, but she the need to find Davis pushed those concerns away.

    She rounded the table where Davis had mixed the chemicals. He was there, on the floor, some burn marks to his face and clothes. He was unmoving. Mavra dropped to the floor next to him and gently put her hand behind his head, lifted and turned it to her. His green eyes still open, she looked into them and called his name again.

    “Davis,” she said, much more subdued now. She gazed into his eyes for several moments before she placed her fingers on the side of his neck to feel for a pulse. She felt none. “Davis, I am so sorry, it wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

    Davis looked back at Mavra, relieved she was still alive after the blast. He had been there, dazed and confused, with no recollection of the explosion until shortly before Mavra appeared.

    “At least we are alive,” he said to her. Or at least tried to say to her. Davis was aware that although he heard his words, his mouth wasn’t moving. He then realized that he couldn’t move anything. His arms and legs were not responding. Even his eyes, the eyes he could see Mavra, were unmoving.

    “Mavra!,” he screamed, all but an unheard echo in his own brain. Fear and dread overwhelmed him as Mavra let his head go, it dropping to the floor with a thud. He could no longer see her, but could hear her voice.

    “Hello,” he heard her say,” well it’s done. Poor bastard did all the work for me too.” There was a pause before she continued,” but he’s definitely dead. Now my love, it’s just the two of us.”

    ‘MAVRA!” Davis screamed again, with the same outcome as before.

    “Ok let me go, I need to get a Haz Mat team out here and call EMS,” he heard her say,” but I will see you tonight. I love you too.”

    Davis, unmoving, listened as she walked away as the horror of his situation began its assault.

  21. smallster21 says:

    Egan and Lori, his research assistant, stood still as black liquid dripped off the edges of the lab table. Moments earlier, Egan had dropped a beaker of Potion Bx, spraying the liquid onto the sleeve of Lori’s lab coat.

    Egan emerged from the shock and rushed to the sink. “Get over here and wash that off! Potion Bx isn’t ready for a trial phase on humans.”

    Lori didn’t move. Her eyes were transfixed on the black web spreading through the fibers of her lab coat.

    Egan clicked his fingers at her. “Now!”

    Ignoring him, Lori pulled off her coat, revealing small bubbles popping on her forearm, emitting the scent of a Japanese sushi-steakhouse. Egan grabbed her shoulders, but she dug her feet into the ground.

    “Dammit,” Egan exasperated. She wasn’t always levelheaded, but her accomplishments already surpassed other researchers in their field.

    “Oh,” Lori squeaked, then spun around and squealed, “Look!” The skin on her arm was no longer sizzling. It was smooth, pale, flawless.

    “It removed your scars?” He said, bringing her arm to eye-level, measuring the variations in color. There was none. Lori was free of the scars. She was bouncing up and down on her heels until she threw herself into his arms, thanking him.

    “For what?” he chuckled. “Spilling chemicals on you?” He wished he could feel just as elated, but he had no idea what the side effects would be on a human.

    George, the rat, lay in an induced coma at the bottom of his cage. Last week, Potion Bx removed a freckle, but a day later, boils covered his face, distorting it beyond recognition—only his whiskers poked through the lumps. Potion Bx had also mutated George’s blood cells and made his blood infectious.

    Lori tapped a finger on Egan’s lips, and said, “Wanna try it on that?”

    Egan frowned as she rubbed his hair-lip. The doctors had fixed it, but the disfiguring scar still existed.

    “Go home,” Egan sighed. “Call me if anything happens.”

    Lori rolled her eyes and left, whistling as she skipped up the stairs out of the laboratory.

    Egan stayed in the lab and fell asleep upon his stool, bent over a microscope. He woke the next morning to Lori’s sobs. She wasn’t in her lab coat, but a jean jacket, holding her arm against her chest.

    “What’s wrong?” He said, jumping off his chair.

    “It’s bad,” she sobbed.

    He gently pulled her arm toward him. The denim was soaked. Red blood coated his palm. He gasped as he slowly revealed the skin underneath. The jacket’s buttons caught on a razored, fleshy edge of one laceration, making her wince. Deep gashes ran up her forearm, disappearing under her jacket, where Egan suspected were more wounds.

    Before he could stop himself, he blurted, “Lori, did you do this yourself?”

    She scoffed, “Why would I do that?! The effects not only reversed, Potion Bx worsened the prior condition. Did George give himself boils?” She flung an arm out to point to the rat, flinging blood across Egan’s face…

    …right onto the scars of his hair-lip.

    Lori’s eyes grew large as Egan held his hand over his mouth. Between his fingers, skin started to ooze out as if a butcher was shoving turkey through a meat grinder.

  22. Layne says:

    I lit a joint on the bunsen burner, took a drag.

    “Don’t do that in here,” Carol said, then reached across the lab table and took the joint from me. She pulled a drag, choked, then bent into a coughing fit.

    “Just breath,” I laughed. “And you told me there weren’t any volatile chemicals in here. Your words.”

    “Oh fuck you,” she said between coughs.

    She straightened from the fit, wiped her eyes and handed the joint back. “That was a mistake.”

    “You say that now, wait a couple minutes and you’ll thank me for bringing it.”

    “Or I might accidentally blow us up.” She glanced down at the glass beaker quietly vibrating atop a magnetic stirrer. She swiped up her clip board, eyes bouncing over the detailed report she had meticulously penned throughout the night, her nose crinkled with worry. “Number twenty-three,” she said.

    “Problem?”

    She shook her head. “I just thought,” she paused, then waved her hand. “Nevermind. All is right with the world and I probably won’t blow us up.”

    “Meth-head.”

    “What time is it,” Carol yawned the words, stretching her arms over her head.

    “Nuh uh, rules are rules,” I said, pointing to a paper sign taped to the wall with the word ‘Time’ printed in black inside a red circle with a slice through the middle. “Time does not exist in The Sanctuary. Only Discovery! Invention! And Science!” I repeated her words from two days ago, flourishing my arms then breaking into a little robot dance. We really had been in here too long.

    “I hate you,” but she smiled when she said it. “Grab number twenty-three.”

    “Queenie? Oh I love Miss Queenie.”

    “Queenie? I thought I told you not to name the droids.”

    “Yeah but Queenie is different. Her little bunny butt has, like, five tumors growing out of it. That girl’s got ass.”

    Carol’s expression could not have been more confused, so I tried to explain. “Queenie, like the band. Queen, that song ‘Fat Bottom Girls’, you know?” She didn’t know, so I started singing until a pencil hit my forehead. “Alright, alright. Listen, my brain is on random shuffle right now. Until I get greasy food and some sleep, that’s what you have to deal with.” I headed to the droid cages. Queenie was looking sweet and fluffy and perfect, her bunny nose twitching. I unlatched her cage and pulled her out as gently as I could.

    “They’re droids, Baron. Not animals.”

    “I know, but they still have hearts. Gotta be gentle,” I said, rubbing my thumb over Queenie’s ears.

    “Whatever,” Carol said, drawing liquid from the beaker into a large needle. “Sit her here,” she pointed. I sat Queenie in front of her, cupping her tiny head in my hands, and Carol injected the chemicals into one of the larger tumors.

    There was a ‘POP’ and a ‘SIZZLE’. Queenie’s ears were smoking. A bunny eyeball popped out, landing with a squelch on my sneaker. I laughed, couldn’t help it. I looked up at Carol.

    Carol’s face was covered in a spongy brown substance and she curled over and wretched on the floor. Queenie’s nose twitched.

    “Jesus goddamn,” I said, kicking the eyeball off my shoe, ready to help Carol, but she was already sitting with the clipboard, scribbling a report, and humming ‘Fat Bottom Girls’.

  23. tmcasler says:

    What sounds more fun for a science elective than a mixed course of demonology and diabology? How very Supernatural the course description sounded. Of course I signed up. Besides, it had to be easier than all that biology or chemistry crap. The only downside so far had been the fact that I ended up being the only girl, and all the guys looked like they grew up on fantasy and comic books. Whatever, it was interesting as hell. No seriously, we learned about hell too.
    The final for the class was a project for which we were assigned partners. I got the joy of being paired with the greasiest of the bunch. The project had few parameters and we decided to test different practices of connecting and communicated with otherworldly, or supernatural, beings and phenomena. There was no way I was going to be in a dorm room with the guy, so we decided to meet in the science lab after dinner. The night passed away without any significant happenings. We tested a wigi board, tarot cards, random spells and intonations. We drew symbols on the white board, we burned certain herbs, and even held hands for a certain chant.
    We were about to call it night when my pimply partner remembered one last book, stuffed in the bottom of his Yoda backpack. He drew it out, and it exactly resembled the type of book you would expect to find in a movie on our studies. The pages were yellowed and scribbled on with a fountain pen. He turned to a bookmarked page, slapped the book down and began bustling about the room. I inquired as to his intentions, but was ignored.
    I resigned to watch as he assembled a collection of herbs and threw them into a mortar, grinding them with the pestle. He then grabbed a piece of chalk and began drawing symbols on the very walls and floor. My surprise and protests were also ignored. He turned on one of the Bunsen burners set the mortar ground herbs on top and a handful of something from his pocket. Next he began to utter a strange guttural chat.
    The word fire does not seem to fit the thing that suddenly blazed to life in the room. It was so much more than simply fire, and I found I had to shield my face. There seemed to be a life to the thing, or rather something alive within it. I did not run or scream, I simply cowered. I then remembered my partner and strained to see him through the, well the blazing thingy. I saw him there, eyes squeezed shut and mouth open wide, yes mouth open wide like a baby bird. Then suddenly the living heat that had filled the room starting being pulled into his mouth, as if from a vacuum. Once it had all been consumed, he wiped and licked his lips as if it were delicious. Finally he opened his eyes, looking directly at me. I was horrified. My partner on the other hand, he was looking famished.

  24. jhowe says:

    All he had to do was isolate the nucleic acid, that’s it. The profiling was up to me, the senior member of the team, but did he do as I asked? No. He didn’t do as I asked. Maurice was neck deep in profiling DNA samples for the toxicogenomics project that was nowhere near the stage where this profiling should be attempted. We were weeks from doing this profiling and he knew it.

    “What the heck Maurice.” I came to his station and was astonished to see the limited samples we had to work with spread out on the counter in various stages of experimentation.

    “Not now Fredrick,” Maurice said. “I’m a little busy at the moment.”

    Maurice was definitely out of line, working hard perhaps, maybe even working above his pay scale, but nonetheless, he was not following protocol and this behavior could not be tolerated. Peter was going to have his head in the morning. Oh yes, Peter would not be pleased. I returned to my station and began to fill out my report.

    I looked at the digital clock readout at the bottom of my screen. 7:32 AM. Peter would be here soon. My report was nearly finished and so too would Maurice be finished when I got through with him. He would crumble like cheap cake. For the last two hours I had struggled to ignore the strange sounds and odors coming from the other end of the lab, the end where only the assistants worked, the end that I seldom frequented. Oh yes, Peter would be here soon.

    At ten minutes to eight, Peter walked into the climate controlled room and donned his white lab coat. “Oh Peter,” I called. “Do you have a minute?”

    “Not now Fredrick,” Peter said. “I’m a little busy at the moment.” He strolled over to where Maurice was stationed and looked at the experiments strewn around the surface of the counter. The two men discussed something for several minutes and I smiled to myself, adding more details to my report, emphasizing Maurice’s incompetence.

    At five after nine Peter came to my station, presumably to collect my report and take action against Maurice. “Fredrick, I’ve decided to make Maurice the new lab manager for the toxicogenomics project starting immediately.” My mouth went dry. “Please,” Peter continued, “pack up your things and move to station 16. I want that nucleic acid isolated from Maurice’s samples as soon as you can get to it.”

    As Peter waked away, I took off my glasses, wiped my eyes with the tail of my lab coat and started moving my things to the other end of the lab.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      My God, this hurts to read it. The realism is so accurate and true to life here. I’ve been through this and it still hurts. You must be in trama yourself from writing it. Those who have been there, will certainly relate to your story. 100% on track with your story. Great job.

    • don potter says:

      Is the message here that in order to get ahead one should spend more time concentrating on doing their best rather than worrying about what the other person is doing? I liked ‘crumbled like cheap cake’ to describe the fate awaiting Maurice.

      • smallster21 says:

        I agree with don potter. Also, the first paragraph is a little wordy, and I think eliminating unnecessary words, repetitive statements, and tightening it up would increase its effect as a good opening. I thought this was well-paced, good story.

  25. Kerry Charlton says:

    THE FOUNTAIN

    Dr. Bentley Harrison, Dean Of Medicine At The University Of Texas Medical Center, had only one thought; ‘How can I save Rebecca?’ A chemical spill across her forearm, had stopped her heart. He punched the stat button and started pushing the palm of his hand forcibly to her chest at 90 per minute.

    A minute and a half had elapsed and Ben increased his tempo to 120. Her heart began beating as a team from cardiology entered the science lab. Rebecca was his associate dean and had been teaching at the university for thirty years.

    “She’s stabilized doctor,” the chief cardiologist said. “What caused this?”

    “A chemical spill from the flask on the table.”

    “Do you know what’s in it?”

    “I thought I did,” Ben said. “It’s an engineered concentrate designed to enhance telomerase.”

    “Okay doctor we need to take it with us.”

    Ben followed the gurney as they ran to ICU. ‘I can’t believe I put her to risk,’ he thought. He had replaced Rebecca Johnson as Dean and she stepped down in order to work with him.. They had meshed together as an unseparable team. At forty seven, he had achieved a lifetime of success by chasing the ‘Fountain Of Youth.’ But at this cost, he was destitute.

    Ben pulled a chair up to Rebecca’s bed in ICU, holding her hand through the night while her vital signs climbed to normal.

    “Wake up Ben,” Rebecca whispered.

    “I can’t believe how well you look,” he said.

    “While you slept, ICU told me how you saved my life.”

    “I’m so sorry about the accident,” Ben said.

    “It wasn’t an accident,” she said. “I wanted to pioneer your new formula so I decided to be the first experiment.”

    “You might as well know everything,” Rebecca continued. “When I first saw you, I knew.”

    “Knew what?” he asked.

    “Working by your side every day and with your gentle nature, I realized I might fall in love with you.”

    Ben leaned over her bed and gently kissed her. “Did you really think the twenty years would have made any difference?’ he said. “And have you seen your face today?”

    Rebecca reached for her purse, opened her compact and stared at it.

    “Oh,” she said “It’s working, isn’t it?”

    “It is, but we have no antidote to comtrol it.”

    Ben asked for the isolation suite on the eighth floor, and made a hurried phone call. The following day, a world prominent research team from The University Of Copenhagen had arrived and a large lab was installed for their use.

    Days had turned into weeks as the team under Ben’s guidance searced for the formula needed. Rebecca patiently endured exams and tests done on her. Her eyes followed Ben’s movements as he worked around the clock for an inhibition formula.

    One afternoon, Rebecca started to cry. Salty tears splashed on her blouse.

    “Would you like to go for some ice cream,” Ben asked.

    Her tears stopped and a smile crossed her face. Ben offered his hand to her. Her bright eyes showed her adoration for him, as the two of them, Dr Bentley Harrison and Dr. Rebecca Johnson, a girl of eleven walked toward the elevator.

    • jhowe says:

      Wow. Great material. You could write a novel about such a thing. Good job getting your point across with so few words.

    • don potter says:

      The question is will Rebecca eventually become a baby or will Ben try to go back in age as well? Whatever they do it will be difficult to reach a balance. Proving once more, live the life given to you instead of trying to play God.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I had the same feeling mysef Don, so I left it hanging. Too many doctors doing research and they’re not trying just to cure cancer, but all kinds of scary stuff.

    • JR MacBeth says:

      Ah, l’amour! What is twenty, thirty years between immortal souls?

      Couple nit-picks: Inseparable vs. “unseparable”.

      And this line, “But at this cost, he was destitute.” Destitute. I think you might have done better using something else. Maybe you intended the juxtaposition, using the word “cost” with a word that generally means penniless? But penniless doesn’t really work. IMO, you needed something closer to “desolate”, or “devastated” there (although you would probably then need to change the whole thing around somewhat). What do you think?

      Kerry, I agree with other comments, this could turn into a full blown romance novel. Keep up the good work!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you, JR. “, but at this cost he was overwhelmed with grief and despair.” [would fit better.] I do want to expand on this story to show the mindset that Ben lives with. It’s not glory, fame and riches he’s after but rather a crusade to develop new preventive medical practices. And my own crusade, is to learn how to spell!

        • JR MacBeth says:

          Spelling dogs many of us, I think. If I didn’t have spellcheck, I might be forced to learn to spell, but fortunately, I get to be lazy in this cyber-age we live in.

          When you type in the reply box, don’t misspelled words appear with the red underline? That’s what I see on my computer anyway.

          I like your rewrite of that little line, feels better to me.

          Hope you get a chance to expand on this great story.

    • There is a lot of story here, Kerry. You really need to take this bigger.

    • smallster21 says:

      I like how you start in the middle of the action. It immediately drew me in, because I wanted to know what had happened. Great technique.

      One note on the line: “I thought I did,” Ben said…” I understand he might just be saying that because of what he expected to happen with the formula and what had actually happened, but it just stuck out to me as not fitting. Instead, I felt like he might explain the components of the formula and what it’s supposed to do to help the ETs assess her situation, unless there’s more to the story, and there are ingredients he wasn’t aware of for some reason…I might be overanalyzing lol, sorry, I’m an accountant and I can’t help but think too much.

      I loveeeeee how you transitioned to the ending with Rebecca crying and Ben asking if she wanted to go for ice cream. I immediately knew something was amiss, and then found out she had become younger. Well-played! :)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        As always Smallster, I appreciate your critique. I’m glad you liked the story and that line “I thought I did,” is completely inept for a brilliant researcher to utter. I will expand this story and change that line, but I won’t touch the opening or the ending.

        As you know, scientists are working on this. Come to think of it, I could use a good ‘belt’ of the formula.

  26. kkerber says:

    The monitor beeped loudly, “GNRGGG!!!” I snorted as I looked frantically around for the source of the noise. Right. Midnight. The lab. I am supposed to be watching the samples, that is, Sarah and I. I nudge her chair as I walk over to the machine. I am sure that Professor Longwater told us what it was supposed to do, but at that moment, I was too sleep deprived to really care.
    “SARAH!” I shout irritably. We have been at this for the past four nights. Every two hours, we wake up, switch the plates, add the chemical and put them back in the oven.
    “Go to hell!” Sarah grumbled, “I don’t see why you can’t do this by yourself, anyway.”
    The lights flickered on, finally recognizing that we were in the lab.
    “What happened to ‘you’ll hog all the credit’,” I snapped back, “Now… open the freaking door and we can get this OVER with.”
    Sarah groaned and put on the kitty oven mitts Professor Longwater had given us for the job.
    “They were on clearance!” he had said. You could tell why. They were an eyesore in florescent green and pink. On the plus-side, however, they double as puppets, their little mouths opening and closing around whatever you grabbed. It made me giggle.
    “Stop it,” Sarah grumbled, “They’re oven mitts for Christ’s sake.”
    “Sorry,” I said, “Look, pretty soon, this will all be over and we can actually get a full night sleep.”
    “Tell me about it,” Sarah said, opening the door, “You know what I was dreaming about just now?”
    “No,” I said, gripping a little glass tube with the tongs, “What were you dreaming about.”
    “Getting up,” Sarah said, “After a full night sleep. I dreamt that I slept all night, isn’t that pathetic.”
    “I dreamed that I had a real job,” I replied, “Instead of a post-doc.”
    She snickered, “Now that is pathetic.”
    She gasped, remembering the stopwatch that was sitting on the counter. She pressed the buttons and then the timer started to count down.
    “One minute,” she said.
    “I know,” I said, grabbing a squeeze bottle off of the counter.
    “Three drops,” she said.
    “One,” I said, “Two- Shit-“
    I had squeezed the bottle too hard.
    “What, what happened?” she asked, but it was too late. The bottle started to fizz. I shoved the tongs into the oven, dropping the vial into an empty hole.
    “That’s not the right hole!” Sarah said.
    “Leave it, Sarah!” I shouted, diving under a desk. Poof. The oven coughed out a large puff of black smoke.
    There was no shattered glass on the floor. My hands were fine and I could only guess about my face. I stood up fast, nearly smacking my head against the black lab table.
    “Sarah?” I called through the settling fog.
    “I’m going to kill you,” she hissed.
    “What? What did I do?” I asked.
    “It’s the kittens!” she screamed, “They’re stuck to my hands!”

  27. JRSimmang says:

    FROM OUTSIDE, THE RAIN ISN’T FALLING
    JR Simmang

    For once, it was raining. Large, splattering drops were slamming into the window as I was slamming my head into the desk.

    “Forster, we have got to nail this compound!” I couldn’t help but shout. I was getting frustrated.

    Forster, Grant Forster, stepped out from his tiny lab office. ” ‘Nail this compound?’ Listen to yourself, Trey. You sound like one of the blood guys.”

    I looked up at him, cruller in his left hand, coffee in his right, and sighed. “You’re right. Sorry.” He walked over to my shoulder and stared down at the vial of stone-colored mixture in the Erlenmeyer. In the time that it took Forster to swallow, the reaction occurred, and blew up.

    What was left was a smoking lump of something. And Forster.

    I rushed over to the eye wash, thinking that was going to clear whatever schmutz was all over me, and Forster started wheezing heavily. I wiped my eyes with my hands and scrambled over to his side. He looked green, not Hulk green, sickly green, where the green is mixed with yellow and red. He was trying to mouth something to me when he grasped my shirt.

    “What? Forster, God! What the hell? I’m so sorry.” I grabbed him and dragged him to the shower. He was getting worse, veins were starting to pop out of his head, his eyes a bloodshot mess. I couldn’t tell where the whites of his eyes were and his pupils had completely enveloped his irises.

    Had he not been my best friend, and had he not been dying, I would be fascinated that his trachea would swell when he tried to swallow. That I could see the perfect outline of his coronal suture. I would marvel in the bluish tint of his blood as it coursed imperfectly through his carotid artery.

    “Forster?”

    He stopped breathing.

    And then, just like that, he vaporized.

    It worked. The compound worked, albeit a tad painfully.

  28. Mr. Marvel says:

    THE KISS

    Starring at Mandy across a table ridden with broken glass, I scramble for words.
    “A tad peekish maybe?”
    “Peekish?” She says.
    I’d learned the word in English class. “Yah, you know; you look a little pale.”
    The prettiest girl in North High looked down with concern. “Jason, I’m purple…”
    “Really,” I feign surprise. “Maybe it’s the light?”
    “I don’t think so, besides, you look all right.”
    Frowning, I pick up another flask. The buzz of florescent lighting fills the awkward silence. The words on the label look mighty important. “I think its sugar water.”
    “Sugar water!” her voice trills painfully. “You haven’t the slightest idea do you?” She glances around the lab, and I take the chance to admire her lips. A look of horror crosses her face. “We… I mean… Are we even supposed to be here?”
    I roll my eyes. It was obvious, wasn’t it; the empty halls, the back door entry… Of course, this was his thing, Mandy wouldn’t dare sneeze without asking permission. A tear bridged, and ran down her face. Dang-it-all, now she was crying! No kiss was worth this. He didn’t care how red her lipstick was, how cute the nose. “Look, I’m sorry alright. Please stop crying.”
    She sniffs. “I’m scared Jason.” That stops me short.
    “Huh?”
    “I can’t be expelled.”
    I look from the purple hands to the cherry lips and back again. “That’s not going to happen.”
    “You can’t know that, and why are we even here?”
    “I told you, I need help with chemistry.”
    “You’ve never cared about your grades before.”
    I grit my teeth and go looking for some rags. Just like a girl to be talking when she should be working; or kissing, one of the two – just not talking. I keep searching until she corners me between two tables.
    “Why Jason?” She steps closer, fists clenched.
    “Look, it’s no big deal.”
    “Jason!”
    “A peck alright, sheesh, lay off.”
    “A peck?”
    I run a hand through my hair. “Yah, you know, a kiss?”
    She’s surprised, which keeps her silent. I scoot around.
    A moment later and the door shuts; I’m alone now – go figure.
    I clean up the mess. If she kept silent, they could prove nothing. She’d talk though, I knew, sing like a bird. And she still owed me that kiss.

    ***

    Sauntering into class the next day, I see Mandy already in front of the teacher. They turn, the whole class, and boy do the jaws hit the floor. Colored like a rainbow I was, head-to-toe, and wearing but a swim suit. “Teacher,” I wink at Mandy, “there’s been an accident!”
    The look on Mandy’s face is worth it all.
    Standing outside the principal’s office an hour later, I watch as Mandy runs back to class. There’s a goofy grin on my face, and just a bit more red on the cheek… cherry red. To think, all that and only a week’s suspension; Mandy was worth twice that, easy, tears and all.

  29. Abby says:

    THE LAB CURSE

    “Jacob! What’s happening to you?” I screamed. Jacob’s head suddenly snapped back and he fell to the floor.

    A few minutes ago Jacob was absentmindedly playing with an empty glass tube that we needed. He was not taking our upcoming lab final seriously. I was furious.

    Why did I have to end up with this guy as my lab partner, I thought. All he cares about is the upcoming football game and who he’s going to seduce, with those big blue eyes, into going to the dance with him. Ughh!!!

    I was quickly jolted back to reality when I saw that Jacob was now doubled over holding onto his stomach; he was barely breathing. I went over to him. His face was swollen and had turned green. His eyes, now bloodshot, had yellow slits staring back at me.

    “Help me!” he squeaked.

    I was frozen. The laboratory suddenly grew dark and a gray fog filled the air. The laughter in the corner of the room broke the eerie silence. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at.

    “Amber? Is that you?” I asked the damp air.

    She ignored me, looking straight ahead at Jacob who was now coughing uncontrollably. Her hands were cupped together; a fluorescent green mist hovered over them. Then she pulled out a lock of her hair and placed it into the small, swirling mist.

    “Now Jacob. How many times have I you that it’s not nice to make fun of people, even if they are different?” Her voice was calm. Amber was indeed different. Her black clothing, high-heeled boots, spiked hair, multiple piercings and pale green eyes made her look like she belonged in a hard rock video, not our high school.

    Then her sweet, melancholy voice filled the air:
    “I give you this mirror, look at who you are.
    People like you will never go far.
    Tomorrow morning you will wake up and see.
    That you have fallen in love with me.
    This is the spell that I’ve cast upon you.
    Although I may be different, I’m better than you.”

    While she chanted, she bent over and blew a lock of her hair into Jacob’s face. He collapsed.

    The room became bright again. I looked to where Amber had been a few seconds ago but there was no one there.

    A few days later I ran into Amber in the hallway.

    “Hey Amber. Are you going to the dance this Friday?”

    “Nah. Jacob has asked me repeatedly to the dance but of course I’ve refused. I have better things to do.” She chuckled.

    “Yes, rumor has it that he is in love with you and he claims to be your Knight in Shining Armor. Rumor also has it that every time he looks into a mirror, he screams and runs the other way.”

    “Really? Now that’s odd.” she replied.

    “So what are you doing Friday night if you’re not going to the dance?”

    “Oh, my boyfriend and I are going to be in a rock video.” She winked, smiled at me and walked away.

    Abigail Rivera
    Port Clinton, Ohio

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