Did you hear what happened last chapter???
During the tour of The Company’s facilities, the Professor and Qbit want to talk about their concerns. The Professor has chosen the bathroom for the conversation.
Back to the story…
The professor pushed Qbit through the bathroom door. He looked like a big white marshmallow getting shoved into a child’s mouth.
“Hurry up, get in there.” She hissed.
“What the heck’s going on with you?” he said as his back hit the stall door with a dull thud.
“Shhhhhh!” The Professor turned and waited for the door to close. Rubbing her arm where she had hit it on the door frame, she turned back and said, “I don’t want Starling to hear.” She paused for a second and said, “None of this makes any sense.”
Qbit straightened himself and his ruffled jacket. Watching her rub her arm he said, “Serves you right.” He immediately felt bad for saying that, so he added, in a gentler tone, “Whattayah mean?”
“I’ve been going over everything in my head.”
“I thought I smelled something burning.”
All he got was a blank stare. “Um, when did you find time to do that?”
“During that sham of a presentation.”
“I don’t know. I kinda liked the auto-erotica”, he said with a smile.
If looks could kill he knew that at that very moment, he would have been instantly vaporized. “Sorry Professor… Okay, so what conclusions have you come to?”
She started counting off items with her fingers. “One, nobody else was on the transport or the tram. Two, no animals in the holding areas. Three, no animals of any sort, anywhere. No bugs, birds or bees.” She ticked off each item as she continued. “No one in the waiting area. No one else on the tour. Get the point because I don’t think I have enough fingers.”
“It does seem odd”
He walked over to the mirror to make sure his hair was in place. He put both hands on the counter and leaned in towards the sink and silently stared into the mirror. The Professor waited quietly, her hands on her hips. After a few seconds, he turned his head slightly to the right to look at her reflection and said, “And, what about Chad being a hologram?” He turned completely around. “You’d think he would have been here in person. I mean, you are pretty important to this whole operation. Also, he would have made sure all sorts of important people were here so he could make a show of his involvement with you and your work.”
“Exactly. And what about that presentation? Did you notice all the glitches and jumps? It was as if they had cut it out of some other speech and just pasted our names in afterwards. I think the scariest thing was what sounded like him saying the words ‘bids’ and ‘sold.’”
The Professor paced back and forth in the small bathroom. “And what about smart ass out there? Surely you heard him say to whoever was on the other end of the phone that this was the last tour and they were going to be out of here tomorrow. It doesn’t make sense. This is supposed to be a high-quality lab that produces all the perfect DNA we need. Why does it appear to be everything but that?” She stopped at the stall door, pulled it open, stepped in and latched the door behind her.
“Why don’t you run everything through that computer head of yours and see if you catch anything else.”
Qbit said, “processing” in his best computer voice. He leaned his tall frame back against the counter. His eyes darted back and forth quickly as he concentrated on reviewing the video files that were automatically stored in his quantum memory. Even though he was concentrating, he was still able to hear the Professor say from the stall, “Aaaaah…finally.”
The toilet flushed, and a moment later the door swung open. She walked the few steps to the sink and made a “move over” gesture with her hand. “Excuse me, please.”
Qbit slid over enough to let her get to the sink and watched as she stuck her hands under the faucet, then held them still for a second to allow the sensor time to start the water flowing. She washed them carefully with plenty of soap. He saw her lips move as she silently sang Happy Birthday to herself. It’s something she always did to make sure she washed her hands long enough. It made him smile. She dried them on a single paper towel, ‘in order to save a tree.’
He waited for her to throw the towel into the garbage then said, “I’ve looked at everything and I agree, there are a number of items that require further investigation. However, it all appears to be circumstantial evidence. I wish we had something more to go on.”
The Professor stretched across the sink while looking into the mirror. With one hand she pushed her bangs out of her eyes and said, “I don’t think there’s any doubt Q.”
“I know, but just something more concrete. He let out a gentle sigh. “We still have the tour to go on. Maybe something will show itself then.”
The Professor ran her hands down the front of her slacks to straighten them and felt something in her front left-hand side pocket. She reached in and pulled out the pamphlet from the tram. “I forgot about this.” She unfolded it and slowly read each word…
“Oh my God!” she said. “Look at this! What does he mean ‘designed by the company’s CEO Chad T. Ugly!” She shoved it towards Qbit and said, “Do you think this is concrete enough!? I told you this place is not what it’s supposed to be!”
Qbit took it from her, looked it over and let out a low whistle. “You’d think it would be in color.”
“Q, I’m serious.”
He turned to the other side. “Oh man! Did you see this?” He gave her back the pamphlet. She could see the look of concern in his face as he handed it to her. Afraid of what she might see she gingerly took it from him… her mouth fell open as she read it.
“They didn’t return them to their home planet and their caretakers!” she said as her face turned a deep red. “They’ve sold them! That’s why there’s nothing here. They’ve all been sold to the highest bidder! They’re all gone!”