This story is by Amber Meyer and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
They pulled the hood from her head and the first thing she noticed was the smell. She’d been in dozens of laboratories. Hell, she’d practically lived in one since high school. The incongruity of it made her heart pound. It wasn’t sulfur. It was spicy. Like something out of the restaurant kitchens, her brother worked in.
“You’ll get used to it after awhile,” the guard said. She nodded.
“You’ll need to turn it around,” he said.
They passed through a hall, and she heard the hiss of an airlock, and the floor began to move, throwing her off balance. She looked up. Glowing blue mist rained down.
“Sit down inside,” he said pulling back the curtain. “And then put on the helmet thing.”
“Try not to blink,” said the voice in her ears.
After a series of flashing lights the voice said, “Scan complete.”
The door slid open. On the other side stood a man in an identical lab coat. There were others walking about, and her shoulders relaxed at the sight of more people.
“Hello Mrs. Pruitt. I’m Edward Harrison, but you can call me Dr. Ed. Everyone does,” he said with a forced smile. Dr. Ed’s eyes were a soft blue, but his skin was the most startling thing about him. It was incredibly pale. At least, he didn’t remind her of Eric. Eric always had a nice tan from hours spent biking. “I might as well show you the nursery first,” he said, with a dismissive wave at the guard.
“The nursery? Will I be working with plants? I’m not a botanist,” she said. Her palms broke into a sweat.
“Oh no,” Dr. Ed replied. “You’ll see. As a fellow scientist, you’re certain to be impressed with our work here.” His lips curled into a genuine smile as he began to speak about genetic re-engineering. This was clearly more his element. He took her into a tiny room and pulled clean scrubs from a closet. “Changing room’s over there.”
She stepped inside and locked the door. Her brain swirled with questions? She knew the government needed to keep certain things private. That was reasonable, but this was too much.
“I want to go home,” she said, voice quivering.
“I’m afraid that’s impossible. Your death has already been staged. The affair with the good professor and loss of your credibility was more than you could handle. You jumped off a building.”
“My nephew needs…” she choked.
“Don’t worry. We’ll take care of everything as long as you cooperate.”