The Scientist’s Blood
The Scientist’s Blood
by Jaeden Knight
He contemplated where we went wrong, what step he may have forgotten; perhaps he misplaced a sample. He came up with nothing. All his notes were right, the numbers did not lie, his theory was sound, but still the experiments failed. He refused to believe the myth, that they were a creature borne of evil and darkness. He examined his samples again, they were still warm. Still deliciously red and warm.
He popped the rubber stopper off the tube with his thumb with the ease of decades of practice. He could smell the salty, sweet aroma the instant the stopper made the hollow thwoonk. He opened his mouth and poured a little of the thick liquid on his tongue. Just a little taste. Too much and the lecherous nectar would consume him again, and he would become that raging, bloodthirsty beast of death; the very myth he was trying to dispel.
Another drop went onto a slide, covered with that delicate piece of glass, and under the microscope. A clean slide. A sterile knife. Another drop of blood from his own flesh was covered and put under the microscope. He compared the two, going back and forth, scratching his head and rubbing his temples. No difference, there was no change. His blood was no good anymore, invalidated by too many years of work and too many stolen samples consumed. He needed a fresh specimen.
Shiny black shoes clicked on a stark white floor with a maddeningly steady rhythm. It was interrupted only now and again by a half second of a pause while he looked over his shoulder and then a punctuated return to their monotony. The scientist moved with a determined resolution. His pristine lab coat fell to the floor with the grating tink tshh of his pens spilling out of his pocket and name tag slapping the tile.
Over head the fluorescent lighting buzzed and flickered showing the signs of needing to be replaced in the near future. The emergency door swung open and slammed closed echoing in the empty halls, but the promised alarm did not sound, it never did. On the streets the scientist ran from sidewalk to sidewalk searching through the meager crowd in the dying night for someone willing, someone who would not be noticed if they were to disappear for a while. For a long, long while.
His prayers were answered. Down the street he saw a young girl struggling to keep her bags on her shoulders while maintaining her balance. A runaway. The scientist quickened his pace to catch up to her. She was crying, he noticed as he grew closer. She sounded like she was choking down her sobs with pride.
“Are you okay?” he asked. She jumped and looked at him with streams of wet clearing a path through the dirt on her face. She nodded and started walking again.
“Let me help you with your things,” he took the bags from her hands with ease and slung one of them over his shoulder. She didn’t protest, that was a good sign. “Where are you going?”
“I don’t know,” she said. Her voice was strained and hoarse. She had been crying a long time, or hard. Perhaps both.
“You seem a bit young to be out so late and alone.”
“Its not my choice,” she said coldly.
Good, he thought. “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said instead, “Can I buy you a drink? Something to warm you up.”
She looked at him skeptically, “No, thank you. I don’t drink alcohol.”
“I had meant a coffee, or perhaps a hot tea? It is early enough that the shops should be open still.”
She didn’t say yes, but she didn’t say no either. In fact, she said nothing at all. The scientist seized the opportunity and led her across the street to a small cafe where the booths were tall and the lighting was dim. Perfect for quiet conversation and anonymity. Once inside the girl put down her things and took off her coat. She was a fragile looking little thing. He hadn’t noticed while she was titled over sideways carrying her heavy bags and swallowed whole in her huge coat. She was tall, very tall, which only made her appear more thin and [waifish]. She was quite pretty underneath all that dirt, or perhaps it was the lighting that made her skin seem more alive.
He waited for her to sit down. She watched him curiously before sliding awkwardly into the booth. She had bruises on her legs that her tattered dress could no longer cover. He sat down across from her and ordered a coffee with cream, no sugar. She ordered a hot tea, just tea.
“Are you hungry? I can get you something to eat.”
“No, thank you,” she said in her quiet manner.
“Really? Its no trouble. I live alone and work all the time, I have nothing else to spend the money on.”
“I don’t want any food, but thank you.”
They sat in awkward silence until the waitress came back with their drinks. She was one of those night people, dark hair, black nail polish, heavy make up and circles under her eyes. If she hadn’t been forced to wear that sickly colored mauve outfit, the scientist was certain she’d be clad in black and leather. She had that look about her face. “Is there anything else I can get you?” she asked in a bored tone that implied she’d rather be somewhere else angsting about her miserable life.
The scientist looked at the girl again. She stared into her cup and wrapped her cold fingers around it, sucking in its warmth. “No, thank you,” he said. “She said she’s not hungry.”
The waitress rolled her eyes and went back to the other side of the cafe to wipe down tables.
“She is going to die,” said the girl when the waitress had left.
The scientist looked at the girl in shocked amusement, “How do you know that?”
“I can tell,” she said, “I can always tell. She will go home in the morning and cut her wrists with a broken piece of glass. The only person who will miss her is her boss and they will know she is dead four weeks later from the stench of her corpse.”
“You can tell all of that, just by looking at her?”
“Yes. You are going to die too.”
“We are all going to die eventually.”
“Some of us already are.”
“What do you mean by that?”
She wrapped her hands tighter around the mug and bit her lip. The scientist stirred his cream into his coffee and took a deep, long drink. It was mediocre at best and not warm enough. The silence was awkward. Everything about this girl was awkward. The scientist began to second guess his choice of subjects.
“Do you have somewhere that you can go?” he asked finally.
“No. The shelter kicked me out and I have no money to get a room.”
“I can give you a place to stay for the night. My lab is not too far from here.”
“No, thank you. I haven’t the money to-”
“I will pay you.”
“I beg your pardon?” her head snapped up as if he were suggesting that she perform some unthinkable act.
“I do research on blood. I’ve run out of quality samples. I can test your blood, and if you have the type that I need, I would pay you for your donation. It wouldn’t be much, fifty bucks, but its a place to stay for the night and money to get by on for a couple days at least.”
“All right,” she said grabbing her coat. The scientist was stunned she agreed so easily, and surprised that she was willing to leave now. She scooped up her things and made for the door. The scientist threw a balled up twenty on the table and quickly scrawled a note on a napkin, “Don’t do it,” and hurried after the girl.
The two of them walked quickly through the crisp night towards the lab. He unlocked the doors while she kept looking over her shoulder and shifting her weight from foot to foot impatiently. He held the door open for her, and she just looked back at him like she didn’t know what to do. He motioned for her to go inside and she dashed in as if the hounds of hell were on her heels.
He had her lay down on a table, like the kind that doctors have in their offices, cushion-filled softness coated in uncomfortable leather and prepped her skin to take a sample, inserted the needle and watched as the tube slowly filled with her blood.
“It will only take a moment to test,” he said pulling the needle from her arm and compressing the puncture with a cotton ball and a band-aid. He placed the tube in the machine and turned it on. Its noise was loud in the silent lab, louder than it should have been. He watched the machine work its magic and he felt her cold hands on his neck, gripping tightly, then everything went black.
At the cafe, the waitress read the note and smiled. “Good girl.”
Copyright © 2009 by Jaeden Knight