Her garage was the most up-to-date scientific lab in the city. If the local university had the funding that she did, they would have certainly come up with a cure for cancer in no time at all. For that matter, if her interests had leaned in that direction, even the least little bit, she could have done it herself.
But she was slightly crooked of center.
She stirred the pot and gently sniffed the fumes rising up from the simmering liquid. It’s molten gold! she thought, and reached for a beaker. Grabbing a deep ladle, she very cautiously dipped out a spoonful of the steaming liqueur, and even more carefully poured it into the Erlenmeyer before placing it alone atop a separate stainless steel table to cool off enough for further testing.
That done, she retired to her living room to put her feet up and binge watch another season of Buffy.
So they’re all dry now.
We just have to figure out what to do with them.
She opened her eyes to familiar surroundings: late afternoon in her own bedroom. The light was streaming in through the crack in the blinds; that must have been what woke her. She cocked her head as an unfamiliar sound tickled her eardrums. Some kind of soft whirring, like the air conditioner was on, but this early in the year, the air conditioner wasn’t on. Maybe it was a neighbor doing something weird in his garage.
She flipped the covers to the other side of the bed and swung her legs to the floor. That nap hadn’t been an entirely good idea, she thought. Her head felt logy and somehow swampy. Damp and confusing. She put her elbows on her knees and rested her forehead in her palms for just a moment. Then, taking a deep breath, she rolled her head around on her neck to get the kinks out of try to bring herself to some semblance of life. It worked well enough for her to stand up and walk around the bed.
She rested her hand on the doorknob for a second, feeling something strange. She couldn’t tell if it was in her head or if it was real life. The whirring had turned into a buzzing in the back of her head, and the doorknob seemed to vibrate like some small animal. She loosened her grip enough to pull her fingers away, but they were still cramped into the shape of the handle.
A quick massage brought her fingers back to life, and she tugged the dark and faded blazer from the end of her bed and pulled it on over the tank top she’d fallen asleep wearing. She’d worn the blazer to work for so many years it was a comfort when a day just wasn’t going well. Comfort would be a pretty good thing to have right now.
She thought she felt a presence lurking behind her and slowly turned her head to the left, but nothing unusual was in her field of vision. A shiver racked her body, and goosebumps followed. No; that nap had not been a good idea at all.
She rubbed her face with both hands, squinting her eyes and yawning afterwards. She felt a little more awake now, a little more herself. She shook off the odd sense of…was it doom? She shook her head in denial and reached for the doorknob again.
It wouldn’t turn, wouldn’t even wiggle. The buzzing in her head was louder now, more insistent. Her body felt more awake, but her brain was falling back asleep.
He peered into the monitor and blinked. She wasn’t supposed to be awake yet. He slapped the side of the machine twice, as if that could change the image. She shouldn’t be up and walking around. And yet, somehow, she was. He picked up the phone on the desk next to the computer and dialed his supervisor’s extension.
The doctor answered after half a ring.”What’s wrong?” he demanded.
“She’s awake,” Chuck answered. “Not just awake, but she’s out of bed. She knows she locked in. She’s already tried the door.”
Chuck heard the bang of the handset hitting the doctor’s desk and hung up his out phone gently. This was gonna be bad. The was gonna be real bad.
Thirty seconds later, he heard footsteps pounding out a quick rhythm in the hallway outside his office. He backed out of the way of the monitors just as the doctor slammed the door open and froze.
“She shouldn’t be up and walking around. There’s no way. There’s no way!” he yelled at the innocent monitor before turning to grab Chuck by the lapels of his rumpled lab coat. “What the fuck is going on here?”
Chuck knew better than to offer any kind of answer, knew that this temper tantrum would blow over soon enough, and the doctor would calm down and start taking notes and making phone calls, just as he always did.
She stepped back from the door, shaking her head in denial. The buzzing had mutated again; the humming purr inside her head was even more unsettling that the bees’ nest. She whipped around and something caught her attention. The corner of her Einstein poster was pulled up a bit from the wall. She took the four steps to it and tried to smooth it down, and as she did so, she felt something behind it. Her fingers snaked behind the poster and ripped it in half as she tore at it, only to discover a camera lens staring back at her.
“You bastards,” she whispered. “You dirty, dirty bastards.”
When I woke up this morning I could feel the eyes on my skin, crawling all over me, making sure nothing I did was missed. I don’t like the feeling. I showered as hot as I could stand it to force my body to forget about it, but that didn’t work. I pulled my clothes on my still-damp body and headed for the kitchen for breakfast.
The meatloaf had eyes in it. I decided to pass on breakfast.
I flopped on the couch and dug the remote from under the cushions. I hit he power button and tried to zone out in front of daytime television. It didn’t work. Court shows are only so distracting.
When I signed up to be a guinea pig for this experiment, I didn’t think it through; it just seemed like an easy way to take a year off. I should have read the fine print telling me that I never got a day off.
After nineteen weeks of being watched, I can’t escape it anymore. Cameras and sensors and mics, oh my.
Fiction for Tues Truthiness at TBP
Tonight we went outside to attempt smoking canned tuna. You open a can of tuna in oil, pat three sheets of two-ply toilet paper on top, let them soak up some oil, and light. When it burns out, the tuna is supposed to be beautifully smoky. Supposed to be.
As you can see, our paper did not entirely burn, and our tuna still looks like plain old canned tuna. It might possibly have had a hint of smoke in the taste, but that could have been in our mouths from sitting around the burning centerpiece while bs’ing with our new neighbor.
There’s a little building across the street with two tiny efficiency apartments. We’ve seen a lot of people come and go, some just waiting for a better place, some just here for the horse racing season.
Our latest has been there a couple weeks or so. We’ve seen her sitting in her car a lot. Just sitting. Today she walked over, introduced herself, and sat down at the table with us. When she asked what we were doing, Ian told her a science experiment. She loves science!
We learned a lot about her.
She’s a recently separated dog groomer who has a twenty-four year old cage fighting son. She loves fat people, thinks navy is my color, and believes Ian to be Jewish. She also has a bit of a drinking problem.
She does not, however, have a problem speaking her mind, unless you consider speaking half a sentence and following it up with either ‘you know?’ or half a sentence on a new subject a problem.
Needless to say, a bit awkward.
Still, she’s not a wild partier, which is number one with a bullet on our good neighbor checklist.