by Wallace W. Cass, Jr.
The next morning she was awakened by the sound of loud pounding on her apartment door. It must have been a dream, she thought as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes and got out of bed. The brown carpeting was soft against her feet as she stumbled out of her bedroom and made her way downstairs.
She skidded to a halt as she saw the specimen case sitting on the brown wooden dining table. She grabbed the case and stuffed it into a nearby closet as the pounding on her front door grew louder.
“Just a moment,” she said, slipping on a dark blue robe and tying it around herself. She went to the door and looked through the peephole.
Two men wearing gray collarless suits with white shirts underneath were standing in her doorway. Their white head fur marked them as members of the DEC’s Investigation Branch.
She opened the door a crack. “Yes?”
The taller of the two put on a set of spectacles. His face was seasoned and full of jagged angles that made him look grim. He pulled out an ID and held it up. “My name is Inspector Sa-Ten of the Department for Event Control. You are Eventologist Initiate Ko-Sha, are you not?”
“Y-yes.” She stammered. “Is there something that I can do for you gentlemen?”
The inspector motioned for his companion to leave. “Ma’am, I regret to inform you that your cousin, Ko-Ren has been the victim of an accident. I am afraid that he is dead.”
She steadied herself against the doorjamb. “Oh no.” She gasped. “H-how?”
“We do not know. His body and that of his crawler were found in the area called Event Hill. It would appear that he was caught in an Event last night and was incinerated.” He looked down at her. “I am truly sorry, Ma’am.”
This is not a dream, she thought, it is a nightmare. She fought to keep the tears from falling. It is all my fault. Her composure slipped and a stray tear fell. She wiped it away as fast as she could. “T-thank you, sir.” She choked out. “I just spoke with him earlier yesterday and he was in good spirits.”
Sa-Ten filled the doorway. “Ko-Sha, do you have any idea why your cousin would be at Event Hill at that time of night?”
“No, sir,” she lied, hoping to be convincing. “I do not know much about that place. I believe it is restricted.”
“Hmm, yes it is.” Sa-Ten handed her a small calling chip. “If you remember anything else helpful, please give me a call. Good day.”
She closed the door and let the tears fall. Ko-Ren liquefied by exposure to Event radiation, but not her? Why? She heard her apartment’s communication crystal chirp and picked it up.
It was Na-Den. “Ko-Sha, are you coming in today? You are going to be late for your own apprenticeship ceremony.”
She fought to make a sound. “I am sorry, Na-Den, but I have just had a death in the family. I am sorry.”
Na-Den’s voice was comforting. “I understand, my dear. I will have your certificate sent over by messenger. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do.”
She turned off the crystal and sat down on the floor for a long time. Her eyes strayed to the closet where she had hidden the specimen case.
“I made a terrible mistake,” she muttered. “But I know how to make up for it.” She walked over to the closet and took out the case. She opened the case and stared at the contents. There were answers in the specimen jars and crystal recording buffers, but she would need help in deciphering them. She placed the specimens into a small metal box and set out in search of answers.
Ra-Tor looked up from her test tubes, beakers and computer analyzers to regard her with a cynical eye. The diminutive researcher was not fond of visitors, especially ones named Ko-Sha. Her coloring changed to green and she made no secret that she was not pleased. “Ko-Sha, I have no time for your foolishness right now. The stunt with the Inertron was the last straw. I almost lost my job over that.”
Ko-Sha put her hands up in a gesture of apology. “Ra-Tor, I did not know that injecting neurium isotope would make Inertron unstable. I did not think that anything could make Inertron unstable.”
Ra-Tor raised a latex covered hand as she meted out her strongest glare. “That is your problem, young one. You never think.” The glare was not working and in spite of herself, the researcher allowed a small grin to appear. “Very well, Ko-Sha, what do you need?”
Ko-Sha opened her carrying box and took out four small specimen jars filled with soil and mineral samples, setting them on the laboratory counter’s black marble. “Can you do a quick analysis of these samples and get me the results?”
Ra-Tor stared at the neat row of glass jars. “Anything in particular that you are looking for?”
Ko-Sha scratched her chin. “EM distortions, unusual virii, I really am not sure.”
“That does not help.”
“If I told you any more, I might be putting us both in trouble. Will you do it for me, please?”
Ra-Tor frowned as she eyed the specimens, then the younger woman in front of her. “I heard about Ko-Ren.” She said, her voice soft as feathers. “He was a good boy.”
“Yes, he was.” Ko-Sha began watching people passing by the door to the lab with increasing frequency. “I know I am not your favorite niece, Ra-Tor, but for once could you please help me without an interrogation?”
Ra-Tor took the specimen jars and put them in an analyzer. “You take all the fun out of being family, Child. Very well, I will run some tests when I get a chance and send you the results. Happy?”
Ko-Sha reached over and kissed her on the cheek. “Thank you.”
“Now get out of here before I change my mind.” Ra-Tor grumbled. “Kids.”
Copyright © 2012 by Wallace W. Cass, Jr.