It’s going to be weird when this is over.
But thanks for reading!
Kiminoki sealed the tiny body in the jar. Its claws curled under its chin and its tail coiled around its hind legs. She gave the jar a loving tap before setting it on the shelf where she could keep an eye on it. There was little hope the experiment would work, but she’d promised she’d try. Trying was her only purpose now.
She headed back to her desk to log the latest step in the procedure and read the next round of reports.
“Doctor Rhyse,” the assistant said. “They’ll be here soon.”
“Good for them,” she replied, sitting down and keeping her focus on the files.
The assistant hesitated. He glanced at the double doors, always locked from the outside, and back over to Kiminoki, who was both his boss and his charge. “They’ll insist you quit for the night.”
Kiminoki picked up her pen. Once she wrote the newest formula in the log book, she’d have to type it into the computer. All information, all activity was recorded twice.
Thoughtfully she write down the numbers. She double checked them, looked back over her shoulder at the creature in the jar, the newest addition to the menagerie, and jotted down a few more observations.
The assistant cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, Doctor Rhyse, but they’ll be here any minute.”
She slammed down her pen which rolled to the edge of her desk, but she didn’t look up. Taking a deep breath, she retrieved the pen. “I’m well aware of their schedule. They’ve kept to it every night for the last seven years.”
“And you know they’ll want you to be done for the night.”
“And you know,” she said, pressing the pen hard into the paper, “that they want the work to go faster.”
“They’re thinking about your well-being,” he said. He’d twisted around in his seat, his hands on the back of his chair. “You need your rest.”
This time she set the pen carefully on the desk and returned his genial smile with a steady stare. “You’re new, so I realize you think I have to follow curfew and the other insane rules, but I don’t. They need me too much, but rest assure, they don’t care for my well being in the least. They don’t care for your well being. They care about the progress we make here and that is all.”
He reddened a bit. “Fine. But you do need rest to do your best work.”
“Today is my daughter’s birthday,” she said. She hadn’t meant to talk about it. Saying it out loud was probably a mistake, but the day was almost over. How could she let it end without telling just one person. Even if it was this latest assistant she barely knew.
“You have a daughter?”
She did break rules, but usually this was one rule she liked to keep. Assistants didn’t need to know she’d ever existed anywhere beyond these walls. Personal revelations lead to problems. For this moment she’d make an exception, even though they ere sure to pay for it somehow. “She’s sixteen.”
His mouth twisted as he thought. “But she’s not here…is she?”
“Of course not.”
“Um…did you send her a present?’”
“What? No. You know that’s impossible.” She closed the log book in front of her. “I wanted to tell someone it was her birthdays, and now I have. You’ve made it clear you know the rules, so don’t ask me about her again.” But his question resonated. A present. One day she’d think of the perfect present. It would have to be spectacular to make up for seven birthdays…well, more than that by the time sending a gift could be possible.
The assistant stared at her, obviously struggling for the right thing to say, and Kiminoki cursed herself for telling him anything. At least, she’d not given him his daughter’s name. She’d take that secret to her grave.
A click at the door rescued them from having to say anything more. They were no longer alone in the room.