Here's my Friday Flash for this week!
Some Things Are Better Left Buried
The sexy French scientist had the idea in the first place. Paleobotonists are not normally evil characters, but if Martine hadn’t wanted to try to grow the damn seeds in the lab, I wouldn’t have ended up hunched in this closet wishing to hell I’d never joined this project.
Our expedition had been to discover buried secrets in the Russian permafrost, not try to grow them in the goddamn lab, but when we’d found the seeds, Martine had been confident she could get them to sprout.
“Clonal micropropagation has advanced significantly in the past decade, Tabitha. I am certain it can be done.”
I don’t know why she’d picked me to argue with. Perhaps my skeptical expression, but I had been just a little sick and tired of Dr. Martine Robichaux with her blond hair and perky – personality. She wasn’t even very pretty, but the men all but fell over themselves to stand next to her or bring her extra food.
Normally, this wouldn’t have bothered me since geeky scientists aren’t my type – especially since I’m a geeky girl scientist. My taste ranged to guys who worked with their hands, not their brains, and never wore lab coats to dinner.
It had bothered me a lot on this project because, for once, two out of the three guy scientists were more hunky than geeky. Especially Dr. Drew Smithton. He looked like he could model shirtless for one of those paranormal romances that featured werewolves or dragons. Yeah, Drew could be my hunky dragon for sure.
Martine had only to bat those French eyelashes for him to be instantly at her side. The same for the slightly less handsome German scientist, Max Dortmeier. It even worked on the geeky scientist, Tim Patterson, who, until this project, had probably never even noticed women.
To all three of them, I’d been invisible or so it had seemed. I’m not exactly hamburger even if I’m on the short side. So, I’m a bit more plump than curvy and my hair tended to frizz in humidity, but we were in
Siberia for God’s sake. My hair actually had done amazing things. Not that anybody’d noticed with Martine around.
So when she’d singled me out to argue with, I’d been pissed.
“Oh, go ahead and grow the stupid seeds, Martine. Clonal micropropagation only goes so far. This lab isn’t really equipped, but it might work.” Famous last words.
That had been three months ago.
The truly ironic part of this story was that we only had two weeks left on the project and then we all would have gone home. Me to my apartment in
. Martine would have jetted off to New Britain, Connecticut , of course. Drew would have headed back to Paris Philadelphia, Max to and Tim to – wherever he’d lurked and brooded when he wasn’t on a project. His mother’s basement probably. Munich
Thanks to some 30,000 year old squirrel’s cache of seeds, and Martine’s inner clonal warrior, none of us would ever go home again. Except maybe in pieces.
Max was lying in approximately twelve bloody chunks strewn around the lab floor. His surprised expression had been almost comical when Martine had bitten off his nose and spat it on the lab floor.
When she’d ripped out his eyeballs with her fingernails, that was about the time my terrified paralysis had broken and I’d run for the exit.
Only stupid Tim had blocked it. He’d been screaming almost as loudly as poor Max.
“Will you shut up!” Drew had snarled. I’d thought that was particularly unfeeling considering the fact that Tim’s most horrific experience up until that moment had been the untimely cancellation of Firefly.
Drew’s eyes had had the most peculiar red sheen to them. For a split second I’d fantasized he would sprout wings and a massive tail and become a dragon so he could fly me out of danger in his powerful, yet gentle, claws, but no dice.
Instead he’d stalked over to poor Tim and gutted him with a piece of broken beaker – the one Martine had winged at his face twenty seconds before she’d bitten off Max’s nose.
The splat of Tim’s intestines as they’d smacked onto the lab floor had been disgusting. And the stench had been phenomenally revolting. I’d clapped a hand over my mouth in shock as Tim slid to the ground, his mouth gaping like a fish’s.
“Tah—hab—hitha.” He’d choked out my name and reached a bloody hand in my direction as if I could have helped him. His guts were strewn around like pink ropes and he’d thought I could do something about it?
All he’d accomplished was to remind Drew of my existence. He’d turned red-rimmed eyes in my direction.
“Oh, you asshole,” I’d muttered. Then I’d bolted.
Luckily for me, Drew had slipped in Tim’s blood and intestines and had fallen on his butt. Of course, it had made him angrier than he already had been, but by the time he’d scrambled to his feet Martine had finished rampaging over Max’s poor corpse and Drew had made so much goddamn noise roaring, she’d gone after him, not me.
While they’d been busy staging the Geek Scientist Fight of the Century, I’d managed to haul ass into the storage closet where I’d hunkered down and waited to see who won.
It was too much to suppose they’d rip each other to pieces. No, one of them would win the fight and then stomp around in a victory dance which would culminate in the discovery of one, scared, sarcastic girl scientist shivering in the closet with only a pen and a tissue for weapons.
How had it come to this?
No one had known what would grow from the prehistoric seeds. We’d had ideas, of course, because the cellular composition told us they were of the species Sirene Splendophylla but we were not prepared for what it would look like.
“Ugh. That is one fugly plant.” I’d declared. The damn thing had blossomed overnight. Thursday it had been a pale green stalk and Friday morning it had bloomed into something tragically gross.
The flower was a putrid shade of purple with liverish brown spots. They’d combined to look almost sentient, like an old, evil witch.
Drew had suggested we call it Martine Splendophylla and for once Martine hadn’t simpered and batted those goddamn French lashes. She’d looked offended.
“Crone Flower,” I’d said and the name had stuck. You know, for the thirty minutes we’d had until utter chaos had descended and ruined our lives.
Although the Crone Flower was ugly as sin, its scent was irresistible. Or so they’d told me. I’d had a damn cold for what seemed like forever and was so stuffed up I couldn’t smell a thing.
“Like cotton candy laced with coffee,” Drew had mused, a strange expression of ecstasy all over his handsome face.
“More like roses and summer wind,” Martine had said with a sigh of rapture.
“Gluwein and Christmas snow,” Max had decided.
“Pizza and bubblewrap.” Tim’s smile had been wistful.
“Gross,” I’d muttered. I’d been the only one working. The other four had drifted around the lab, transported by the delicious smell of the fugly flower. Irritating as hell.
“Blow your nose, you might smell it better. And you might stop that annoying sniffing,” Martine had suggested. I’d curled my lip and continued to stare into the microscope. I’d sniffed too. Loudly.
Bent over my work as I’d been, I’m not sure who had approached the Crone Flower first, but I’d heard Martine’s nearly orgasmic moan and looked up to see her with her face stuffed into the Crone Flower’s petals.
Nearby, Drew had looked out the window at the frozen tundra and for some reason a prickle of unease had marched down my spine.
When Martine had looked up, her eyes had had a suspicious red sheen I’d thought at first was a trick of the Siberian sunlight.
“This plant is mine. No one shall smell it but me!” She’d shouted and Drew had swung around from the window just in time to knock aside the beaker she’d winged at his head.
Max, the peacekeeper, had tried to intervene.
“Now, now, Martine, whatever is the matter cannot be solved by throwing things, yes?” He’d smiled right up until the second she’d bitten off his nose.
Thirty seconds ago, someone had let out a gurgled scream as if they’d been choking on their own blood. Which, of course, was entirely possible. I couldn’t tell if it was male or female, but after the shriek petered out, there’d been silence.
Then, movement near the hall door. The rattle of the doorknob.
I’d thought, Maybe, just maybe, I might get out of this alive.
That’s when I sneezed.