The Freelancer

The Scientist’s Assistant (Pt. 1)

Mark J. Lewis, Contributor

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Stubborn Rain, Stubborn Thoughts

Clouds dark as charcoal covered the starless sky, making the forest below seem like nothing more than an ominous shadow. Wild and angry, the clouds thrust down torrents of dark pearls onto the dense greenery below, each one splitting smaller and smaller as it tumbled gradually to the swampy surface. The dark trees, slick and damp like the ground beneath them, towered above the Earth, and swayed like frenzied dancers from the powerful gales. Wind tossed the rain across the dense forest of green and black, leaving no life, no individual shrub untouched by its cold, wet finger.  The clouds, not yet content with the mayhem, sent forth bursts of  white-hot, crackling rage, which illuminated the sky as if they were trying to imitate the Sun itself. The following booms of thunder would echo across the forest, fusing with the chorus of rain to create a perfect symphony of natural chaos.  

Something was frustrating the storm, however.

A pale-white building, surrounded by the seemingly endless sea of trees, towered above the forest, seeming to be challenged only by the sky above it. The rain beat against the building, sending wave after wave of liquid rage crashing against its walls and windows, desperately trying to penetrate its smooth exterior. The walls, however, held firm, and adamantly protected its contents from the fury of the elements. The storm matched this stubbornness and continued to shower down its black rain and white firebolts across the forest, unrelenting and unforgiving.

Ignorant to the chaos, the building remained as calm as the activity within it, which might have convinced anyone that it was empty. A singular, dim light, however, could be seen peeking through a window on the farthest side of the building, casting the rain around it in a soft yellow. Behind the polished, dripping glass, a silhouette could be seen, moving back and forth across the room in somewhat of a hurry. The small ceiling light was not much, but it illuminated the room well, making clear what appeared to be a small kitchen. Coffee could be heard dripping into a mug on the gray counter, during which the figure shuffled between the cupboards, fumbling amidst various jars and vials until she finally came across the one labeled “C12H22O11”.

Common sugar.

It took her a moment to recognize it, but she soon remembered what the formula meant, grabbed the jar, and nimbly made her way back to the coffee mug, which was now almost full to the brim. The Assistant began to prepare it, recalling how the Scientist always preferred his coffee black with “only 1.25 metric tablespoons of sucrose and nothing more” added to it. She did the measurement in her head (as she was used to such things by now) and placed the steaming mug on a tray. As she began to pick it up, however, she hesitated.

Three days…” the Assistant thought. “He’s been going at it for three days now… this can’t be healthy, can it..?

Her hazel eyes softened a bit, and she fervently fingered the end of her white lab coat, which reached just below her skinny-jean pockets. Possibly noticing her worried mood, a sudden flash of lightning made the girl jump, startling her out of her trance. She quickly composed herself and sheepishly pushed her glasses up, trying her best to drown out the unease festering within her mind. The Assistant then picked up the tray and, after taking one last anxious look outside the stormy window, hurried down the dim hallway of the research facility.

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The Scientist’s Assistant (Pt. 1)