…A Break?

a break?

From now through mid day Thursday, August 6th, I have a Prompt Call running here – anyone can prompt and please do!

Jess, below, is from Quick Thinking, in the Science! setting. Cara is from almost all the Science stories except that one… But her first appearance was here.


“Just four of them, Jess?  Dr. Adpirn was supposed to take them on the annual research vacation, but I’m sure you’ve heard what happened-”

“Was that the one that the thing down in the basement levels got?”

“No, that was Doctor Waspue.  Dr. Adpirn was the one that got a little too involved in the testing of a new miracle drug.  The problem was, of course, the side effects…”

Jess winced.  She tried to stay away from the biological sciences as much as she could, although, as Chief of Security for her division, she ended up spending a lot of time in every department,including the icky ones.

“I’m not taking four bio-science interns anyway, especially not on my vacation.  Look, Cara, I know that someone needs to baby-sit them, but-”

She’d known Cara a long time; Cara had known her just as long.  Which mean that they both knew they were negotiating.

Jess liked interns the best of anyone at her job except a couple of the old-timer security guards.  She’d end up taking at least one with her, especially if they’d been working with one of the doctors who had had an unfortunate failure, probably due to ignoring protocol, from the sounds of it.

Interns needed time away from the lab and air that wasn’t filtered and recycled almost as much as security guards did.

“Two then.  I know you’re looking forward to the time away from everything, so I already authorized Nanny Services – the good ones – to take your kids on a little overnight trip to Albian Lake.”

“They’ll love that.”  Jess felt a twinge of guilt.  She’d been promising the kids a trip to the local theme park since the first warm day, but there’d been a lot of overtime lately at the Facility, and she wouldn’t ask anyone below her in the hierarchy to take any more time than she did. “Cara, you’re bribing me.”

“Look, these kids were traumatized – the interns, not your kids.  You’ve got good kids.  But the interns, they – one of them’s talking about quitting science altogether.  Becoming a short-order chef or travelling the world with nothing but a backpack.”

“Sometimes they do that, don’t they?”  That’d been Jess’ impression, at least.  “I thought part of the internship was weeding out the ones that couldn’t hack what we do here, the weird stuff, the, uh-”

“You can say it.  When it’s just me, at least.  The mad science.”

“That.”  Jess huffed.  She tried not to even think it when she was on the clock.  Not that Cara, or the people up at the top with her, objected – clearly – but you never know when you’d run into someone with less seniority but a stronger sense of propriety.

(The madder they were, the less they liked being called on it.)

“Usually we like screening them out, but I think – well, we’ve got four, and I think that they really could be great for the Facility.  Great in the actually good way, Jess, like save-the-world great, not like… ‘did you just attempt to mind control a giant squid’ sort of way.”

Jess winced.  The giant squid thing had been a mess.  She actually had a patch of ink over her left breast that she’d ended up having tattooed into , well, a squid, because the ink just did not come out.  She hadn’t asked how they’d cleaned up the 8th floor.

“I – well.”  She could already see her three days of quiet on the top of the mountain slipping away.

There was always next year.

“Two of them,” she offered.  “I’ll take two of them.  And they need to understand that this is a vacation trip, not a sample-gathering run or a ‘learning expedition’ or anything like that.  It’s vacation.”

“I’ll make sure they get it.”  The hug Cara gave her was so out of in keeping with her public persona, Jess thought it might make some people in the Facility check to see if she was a clone – or being mind-controlled.  Maybe under the effects of pheromones?  Then again, Jess wasn’t known as a huggy-feely sort, either.

…Which clearly, nobody had told the interns.  Two days later, Jess found herself on the top of a mountain, being snuffled on by a red-eyed intern while she tried to teach the two of them how to fish.

“So here you go, there’s the bait-”

“Just like Dr. Adpirn was!” one of the two wailed.

Cara was going to owe her a lot more than sending the kids to Albian Lake.

“The thing is,” she tried.  “If Dr. Adpirn was the bait… he put himself on the hook, knowing the policy is to not put sentient beings on hooks.  It’s not science that failed here…  aw, forget it.  Have another beer, and I’ll show you how to look for the edible wild mushrooms.”

At least the kids hadn’t been working in mycology.


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Comments: 8!


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16 thoughts on “…A Break?

  1. Oh dear, poor Jess. That is *way* beyond the call of duty, and Cara is not bribing her nearly enough. (I did not mean to torment her quite so much.)

    … I would ask what Dr. Adpirn did to make himself the bait, but I probably really don’t want to know. The interns certainly didn’t.

    • (That’s all right, I think if we write more on this one, Jess will end up coming to an understanding with these not-really-kids.)

      Don’t ask, I’d have to come up with something 😀

      • Not asking!

        Jess does seem to be good at wrangling mad scientists and proto-scientists. She’ll find a way. I might ask about *that* sometime.

        It occurs to me that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen on-so-cynical Cara thinking about saving the world. I find myself wondering again about the institution’s charter. http://www.lynthornealder.com/2016/06/28/sciencing/

        • Clearly it’s a load of carefully-worded bullshit. 😀

          Probably something about knowledge staying clear of state or religious lines.

          • Alex seems to agree. Cara seems to think it’s grounds for attempting to defend the local area from an alien invasion. Or maybe she’d do that anyway, and anything the charter says is just cover.

  2. @kelkyag – ha, I fail reading comprehension on my own stuff 😀 😀

    *thinks some more*

    Probably a line about protecting the grounds and environs and surrounds.

  3. Dear Jess: Cara owes you big time for this. The bribe for your kids is a fine start, but you should not have to play trauma counselor for interns when you are at least theoretically on vacation. Make sure you collect before Cara finagles you into this again.

    Meanwhile, if you help them find the right mushrooms, maybe they’ll be able to forget about what Dr. Adpirn did.

    (And why do I think the repairs to the 8th floor involved excising that part of the building and constructing a new 8th floor?)

    • Heh, I was thinking the edible mushrooms, not the… “edibles” mushrooms. But that might help them indeed.

      I was thinking – paint, then tile over the paint, and then install a super good air filtration system and leave it empty for a year while it cleans the stuff out of the air.

      I wonder if there are parts of the Facility which are notably narrower than other parts, from paint-and-tile.

      Picturing something like this – https://www.usg.com/content/usgcom/en.html – the home page picture, and I get a kick out of the fact that it’s USG, for the walls. And now I see it’s a changing home image, so the one for COVID19, weirdly, and that concrete one is totally going on the Patreon Reminds Me Of tag

      And yes. I imagine Cara does this. But I imagine Cara also 1) got Jess the job, and 2) does things that are considerably above getting “the GOOD nanny service” to look after Jess’ kids.

      Jess’ kids are going to be able to have any job they want, I do believe.

      • Jess’ kids are going to be able to have any job they want, I do believe.

        Some jobs take WORK, to get and to keep. (And to survive, in this ‘verse.) They’ll have the opportunity to (learn to, attempt to) do the work, but that’s not a guarantee. If any of them want a sinecure, sure, that’s easy. 🙂

  4. I would like to see more of this.

    As a side effect of reading various pieces of fiction, I’m gradually coming to understand what trauma is and looks like for different people. It’s interesting. I feel like this would contribute further to my understanding.

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