Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta laboratory. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta laboratory. Mostrar todas las entradas

sábado, 15 de octubre de 2016

Change of pace

   Nicole had been watching birds professionally for about five years. Before that, she had been working in some laboratory where she helped create many types of perfume. But after so many years, she had grown very annoyed by the smells and also the tense environment in the workplace. Not many people would think that working creating the world’s most delicious scents would be tense but it was and she wanted out but didn’t know how to do it. She couldn’t just quit because she could lose many benefits but working there longer was not an option.

 As she decided what would be her alternative path, Nicole decided to take advantage of a two week paid vacation leave that she hadn’t used during her time working for the lab. She thought the best place to go was a quiet one, where people would not be all around her asking things and talking all the time. Nicole certainly did not appreciate that at all. She looked it up in the Internet and soon discarded going to a grand European capital or to one of those luxurious seaside hotels. Too many people in both. Instead, she chose a retreat in the forest, more private and adequate to her needs.

 Nicole arrived a Friday afternoon to the retreat and realized she had chosen the right place to go and relax. Even the staff of the hotel was gentle and not scandalous. The man in the hotel’s reception told her that they owned almost thirty cabins all around the forest and that they were all connected through dirt paths. A young man grabbed her suitcase and put it in a golf cart and helped her to her assigned cabin. It was beautiful, very small but very cozy at the same time. She had asked for a one bedroom one and it was just perfect.

 It had a small bedroom, a very modern bathroom and a living room with a small kitchen space, which worked on electricity. There were not television sets, radios, phones or any type of Wi-Fi connection in any of the rooms. The only place from which a person could do any of those things was the reception structure. As the boy left after leaving her suit case in the cabin, Nicole checked and realized she was really disconnected from the world: her cellphone had no signal whatsoever. She finally felt free and seemed very excited for what may happen.

 As she had arrived in the afternoon, it wasn’t a good idea to wander around the forest, as darkness would be upon her soon. Instead, she decided to use the bathtub and enjoy it thoroughly with hot water and the relaxing sound of the wind among the trees. After that bath, it was very easy for Nicole to just get into bed and fall asleep in a very short time. She never did that back home but she felt so tired from the road trip to the hotel that she fell asleep right away. She had a dreamless sleep that lasted for several hours.

 When she woke up, it was ten past ten. When she saw the time in her watch, she got scared for a moment but then remembered she was on a holiday and not working in the laboratory. She could sleep for as many hours as she wanted and waking up at six in the morning was not mandatory anymore. She decided to check out the kitchen and, just as the brochure said, you could pay for it to be fully packed with things from day one of your stay. So she decided to cook herself a scrambled egg breakfast with some orange juice.

 As she ate it all in a small table by a window, she heard the forest: there was no silence but a magnificent amount of sound coming from every direction. She wondered if that would help her think or would come against her at some point. Nicole decided to take a walk after eating and wandered around the paths for several hours until she realized she didn’t quite now where she was. She had not been smart enough to borrow a map from the reception and asking someone for directions didn’t seem to be a real possibility.

 It was just then when she heard a whistle and the distinctive sound of a photography camera. There was someone near her. She walked around trying to identify the source of the sound but she couldn’t find anyone. Growing a bit desperate, she stepped into some rocks and her feet glided over them ass the moss covering them was very slimy. Nicole stumbled to the ground, hitting her behind hard against the ground and one of her legs being seriously hurt. It wasn’t long before a bearded man, about her age, appeared very close.

 He didn’t ask her anything. He just grabbed her as if she was weightless and carried in a jog to the reception, where they had the infirmary. The doctor there told Nicole she had twisted her ankle but that it wasn’t too bad. She could prevent swelling with a special cream and should prevent movement at all costs. He offered her some crutches to use around but she declined, saying she did feel like she needed them. She would rather enjoy the rest of her stay by just being careful and resting a bit for the next couple of days.

 Nicole wanted to thank the man that had carried her to the doctor but he had left in a huff. Apparently there was something much more important he had to do than checking if the person he carried was all right. Nicole tried not to think a lot about that, instead just been taken to her cabin in a golf cart. There, she decided to rest in bed for a while. When she about to fall asleep, she heard something like a whistle again. She hadn’t solved that mystery before and she wanted to know what was it.

 She stepped out of her cabin once again and tried to hear where the sound was coming from again but there was no more whistling. Instead, she could perfectly hear the wind passing through the trees, which was a very soothing sound. Breathing slowly with her eyes closed, Nicole realized how precious it was to be in a place where the sound of the wind could take you to so many places at once. It was the best experience ever. She had never been in any trip where she could actually distance herself from her life but this time it seemed different.

 The next day, she was lucky enough to stumble upon the man with the beard. She found him reorganizing some things by the main path. Nicole thanked him for his help and tried to shake his hand but he didn’t even look at her. He seemed immersed in something she couldn’t understand. When he finished whatever he was doing, he left the path immediately and started walking towards the deepness of the forest. Not really understanding why, Nicole decided to go after him, almost having to run in order to not to miss him among the trees.

 She finally reached him in a clearing where he sat down on the floor and, with a gesture, asked Nicole to be quiet. He grabbed a camera from his backpack and waited, apparently only hearing the sound of the woods. She heard them too, trying not to make a sound. Then, the man whistled in a very specific manner. When he did, it seemed to be very precise. And it was. Out of nowhere, a flock of small birds flew over the clearing, some of them landing among the dried leaves. The man took several pictures before the birds left.

 When she realized she could speak again, Nicole asked the man how he knew what sound to make in order for them to come and what was he doing in that place. He told her he was a ornithologist, a bird expert and that he was creating a complete catalogue of every bird in the forest. He told Nicole that it was a very difficult job but that it was very rewarding as birds weren’t as selfish and evil as men. He confessed he didn’t really like people. After he said that, he looked Nicole straight in the eye and stretched her hand to hear. His name was Quentin.

 That day, and all the following days in which Nicole had decided to remain in the woods, Quentin would tell her all the tricks to get the best pictures of the birds. He would also take pictures of other animals and of the trees. He found nature fascinating at it most simple. Nicole was so enthralled by all of this that she decided it was time to make her next move. When she came back to the city she quit her job and applied to one in the university to be Quentin’s assistant. The pay was better making perfume but her life felt so much lighter and improved in the forest, in peace.

martes, 6 de septiembre de 2016

Who Dunnit?

   There was a little bit of cold chicken in a bag and some old bread around the second big bin. The trick was to clean it all real good, being careful none of the filth of the rest of the thing inside the containers could harm the good things that were waiting for anyone to grab. Viv had been doing I for five years and now she knew how to look for the best in the best parts of town. Of course, she had to go at night, but not loo late or the guys of the garbage trucks would throw it all away.

 One day, she was even lucky enough to find half a pizza. And I was very good, made out of a lot of vegetables. The only bad thing was that it was cold but to that she was already used to and she didn’t care at all. In other places it was very hard to get any of that but that neighborhood, called Spring Heights, had the best meals for any person that happened to live on the streets. The problem was the security crews and the police who loved to fuck anyone who entered those communities.

 Every time Viv was caught there, she reminded the police that she wasn’t doing anything wrong and that no one could get harmed by her feeding herself with things no one even wanted anymore. It wasn’t like she grabbed clothes or real expensive things from he garbage. She could’ve but people in that area seemed to be very careful not to throw away things that were very valuable, except when it was about food. Then they didn’t care at all about the treasures that they gave away.

 One day she was even able to eat three sushi rolls. Viv was scared about that food because she knew it was raw fish and that, if old, she may have been in for some serious stomachache, but nothing happened and she realized how overrated that kind of food was.

 But her moment happened the day she found something very different in the garbage. She had managed to avoid the private security, again, and was checking on some boxes by a big house on the hill, when she was almost paralyzed with fear. When she took out a plastic bag filled with lots of crap, there was something in there she knew wasn’t very common to see in the trash: it was a human ear.

 It was the first time Viv ran to the police. At first, they didn’t want to talk to her because they knew her really well but after some serious consideration, they heard what she had to say. The consideration was basically when she three the bag with the ear on the chief of police’s desk and was almost tackled to the ground by two male officers. Her move had been very bold but effective, as the police sent several of their own to check the rest of the boxes she had been going through.

 They found the other ear and also a couple of fingers. When they rang the bell at the mansion the bins belonged to, they didn’t get any answer. The cops seriously had no interest in talking to anyone in that house but it was a formality that they had to proceed with. The house was better known as Montecarlo, the preferred mansion in the city of one of the richest men alive. Or maybe it was fairer to say he was barely alive, as he neared ninety years old. That and his unlimited power were the reasons cops didn’t really want to bother him.

 But in any case, no one answered the door. They tried multiple times for months and no one answered. Even when contacted through the main offices of the conglomerate the man was president of, no one would say a thing. It was very uncommon and mysterious but also predictable as no well known person would even think about being caught in a scandal such as that one that not only involved body parts found in the trash, but also a homeless woman and the police.

 The ears were sent to a laboratory for exams and the results were very interesting: apparently, they had been removed fairly recently, not even a month ago. The studies also said the owner of those ears was probably younger than forty years old but older than twenty-five years old, according to the cartilage and general shape of them. They also concluded that the ears had been sawed from the body they had been attached to, which indicated the police that they may have been dealing with the case in the wrong way.

 Those techniques to remove body parts were primarily used by men in the mob or in any other organizations that dedicated themselves to using violent methods. The cops went through every single mobster they had arrested recently in order to get a confession that they had done it but none of them seemed to understand what he was talking about. They were even so bold to say they hadn’t done that in a while.

 But how to believe a mobster when he was arrested for reckless driving and attempted murder of their own wife? Others had even had their closest enemies killed and had no problem at all talking about it. But they’d rather be damned than accept they had cut off those ears. They didn’t insisted on the subject but most of them were consistently positive they had nothing to do with it.

 That was not good news for the police that had been investigating for more than six months and nothing had come up: the mobsters said they weren’t the ones, the owner of the bins was a no show and even Viv had stopped helping them because she thought the police was only good for taking her away of all the street’s great prizes.

  Almost a year would pass until another body part was found in a garbage bin; very close to the ones that Viv ad been going threw. The foot was from a male body and it wasn’t especially big. The scientists at the police were able to confirm with a high degree of certainty that the foot and the ears came from the same person. The police couldn’t ignore this anymore, so they ordered a sweep of every trashcan in the hill. Groups of people would go through every single garbage container in order to look for the rest of the body.

 The cops were smart enough to get Viv to help them, as she was the one that knew perfectly about every single spot to throw food and possibly body parts. They started on the bottom of the hill and worked their way up. They didn’t find anything near the first houses but as time passed, other parts were discovered: a nose, a finger, and a toe. They kept appearing as the police worked their way up to the top of the hill, where the wealthiest people lived.

 Of course, the whole thing was an epic scandal and many rich people thought the police should stop targeting their neighborhood as if they were the ones to blame for whatever had happened. They insisted no one from the hill would even think about killing, simply because they were all so rich they didn’t need to do it. Their reasoning was easy to understand but simply not good enough.

 After several weeks of research, they had collected enough body parts to do a proper examination and attempt to reconstruct the whole person or at least what was his or hers most likely appearance. When Viv found a penis by a fence, they knew it was a male. All the parts were dry some that’s why blood testing was impossible and only reconstruction of the whole body was the only real solution to the problem.

 Searches on the garbage bins ended soon and the police dedicated themselves for a week to reconstructing the body, part by part. There were still some large parts missing but most small pieces were there. It was one of the female cops that dropped her coffee when she entered the room to deliver a letter to the chief of the scientific staff. She knew whom the body had belonged to.

 This time, they didn’t ask to be invited in. The doors of the mansion were toppled down and every corner of the premises searched. The head was found on a pike, in the living room, by the fireplace. Someone really hated the richest man in the city, to the point of killing him in his own house and dividing his body all over the hill. Who had done it?

jueves, 3 de septiembre de 2015

Mutant mountain

   The arrow pierced exactly between its two eyes. The creature shrieked in the most awful way and then it collapsed, making the ground beneath it tremble. It tried to breath for a few seconds, but then it all stopped, his belly going still fast. Archer came down and checked the body. He was dead. Gunman approached too and congratulated Archer for his handling of the situation. The creature had come out of nowhere but they had been prepared. Doctor arrived with Bio, both women, and as one checked the state of the humans, the other checked the body of the collapses animal. It wasn’t uncommon for them to wander out of the highlands that were their home but this one had seemed particularly vicious. He had been drooling ever since they had seen him come into their lands and his eyes were red.

 The four of them decided to go back to the research facility to change clothes and have some food. In the facility there were only five people, all identifiable by their profession and not by their real name. This was because the agency that hired them didn’t wanted them to risk their personal lives for any task at hand so they call themselves whatever they were. Archer was an archer and gunman a very skilled shooter. Those two were the security team in the group. Then there was Bio, who was a biologist dedicated to preserve the last few animals that lived in this region. And there was Doctor, who tended the wounded people. The fifth one, and the one that hadn’t come out when the gigantic boar attacked, was Vet. He was key but was very strange.

 When they came back to base, a rather small house with a lab on its basement, they noticed Vet wasn’t there. He normally took long strolls all over the place but as his destination always changed, it was impossible to know where he was. Any way, the team went back to pick up the body of the big boar but found out there were only bones there and they also seemed to be decaying. It was very strange and uncommon for this to happen. Coming back again to the base, they found Vet and had a very heated discussion about how he was never there when needed. The women demanded for him to be always available but the men had decided not to say a word.

 Vet apologized and explained to them why he had left. He wasn’t walking around or anything. He had actually stayed behind because he had seen a group of birds flying in an uncommon pattern. He knew it was strange so he tried to follow them with his binoculars but it wasn’t necessary. The birds landed not very far and as fast as he saw them, he realized something wasn’t right. The birds were bigger than normal, even surpassing the height of Pet’s knees. They had red-blooded eyes and very black feathers that appeared to shine with every move they made. And then they heard him coming and two of them attempted to attack. Vet ran like crazy and found shelter in the forest where he stayed until they had left.

 The team was amazed by the story but the women were still upset that he had missed the opportunity to check the boar’s body in order to know what was happening to him. Vet told them that it appeared to be a contagious disease but it was strange that it passed from one species to the next, with the same results: the infected animal seemed to be bigger, with red-blooded eyes and very aggressive. He suggested that they needed a live specimen or at least to have a well preserved body at hand. But then they explained to him what had happened to the boar they had left in the hills. Vet had no idea what to do or how to proceed. He told the team that they had to really think their plan through, as they had no idea if humans could be infected by whatever the animals had.

 After agreeing they needed rest in order to think straight in the morning, the team decided to have the rest of the day off. The men were really happy about it and the women realized they could use some rest after a very strenuous day. The man took off their shoes and jackets and decided to repair their weapons and clean them. Arrow by arrow, bullet by bullet. The truth was that the security team consisted of very efficient guys but that were not really useful for much else. They were big and muscular and tall but they didn’t have much in their heads. Maybe they were a stereotype but at least they could be funny when they wanted, telling jokes and anecdotes about their lives.

 The girls decided to do different things: Doctor decided to clean her equipment and then have a shower with hot water, which they had to heat themselves in the kitchen. It had come as not surprise to them as the base was very far from any trace of civilization. On the other hand, Bio decided to check on a small fragment of bone she had been able to take from the decaying corpse of the boar. The fragment was now bone but she was confident she could achieve something by testing it with everything she had at hand. Bio was a very skillful woman and loved a good challenge when it presented itself to her.

 Vet just took off his clothes and tried to get some sleep. It was the afternoon but he wanted to rest. He had various reasons for this but mainly because he felt that, in the next few days, he wouldn’t be able to relax as much as he was in that moment. And also because he had been having problems sleeping. He had always had those problems but now they seemed to be getting worse. For the last two nights, he hadn’t been able to sleep at all, instead guarding the base and letting Arrow or Gunman sleep. He would often use this wasted time to think about his mission there and about his decisions in life. He had been wrong to take the job. But there’s was nothing he could do now. It was too late.

 Somehow, Vet fell asleep pretty fast and had a nice dreamless nap for several hours until someone woke him up very late at night. It was Doctor and she seemed very scared. He sat on his bed and realized they were all there, in the bedroom. True, they all shared the space but it was a weird scene because they all stare at the stairs and no one was asleep. He stood up and realized that they had put some sort of big plank on the space of the stairs. And that something was pushing from downstairs. The banging was scary but whatever was downstairs was not strong enough. Vet turned around and looked through the window and saw nothing, except the blackness of the night.

 He told everyone that maybe they could escape jumping from the window. It wasn’t that high and it was better than staying there and wait for death or whatever was going to happen. They agreed, so the girls went through the window first. Bio fell landed nicely but Doctor apparently smashed her ankles against the ground and had serious problems walking. Bio helped her up and they waited for Gunman to jump and join them. Arrow, who had foot on the plank in order to prevent the beast from entering the floor, told Vet that he had to go first and that he would run just after him. They needed to be ready down there in order to catch him to avoid hitting his face against the ground. Vet nodded and jumped, landing in a rather weird way but with no injuries.

 They only had a minute to organize in order to catch Arrow, who landed almost perfectly flat on their hands. They saw the room fill up with noises and shadows but the men pressed on in order to run downhill, towards the river. For transport, they had a small boat there that could take them downstream to the house of the forest ranger that had a car to take them to civilization. The walk, or rather run, towards the boat was very erratic and difficult, as two people helped Doctor walk and then Gunman decided to take her on his back. They run without rest and without looking back until they finally reached the small pier.

 The river was enraged and the boat wasn’t there. There was only a piece of rope hanging from the pier. Then, it seconds, Vet told them they should keep running downhill until they were able to escape or loose them. But the sound of the animals, a combination of buzzing and shrieking and growling, was nearer and neared. It didn’t seem to them that the animals got tired, different to them who were already having difficulties breathing. After a long run, they arrived to a point where they could see big rocks on the river. They could jump on them to go across and then run downhill to the ranger. Arrow jumped first. The rocks were slippery but he made it. Bio went second and then Vet.

 But when the turn came for Gunman and Doctor, the man slipped and hit his behind against the rocks. The women stood up on the big rock as she could and helped the man up but it was too late. The animals were there and the members of the team on the other side of the river saw their companions being attacked by pecks and feet and paws. They decided to keep on running and not to watch. They ran for several hours until they reached the small house were the park ranger lived. But he wasn’t there. He was behind his cabin, dead on the ground. The body had no eyes and had been bitten all over.

They had no way out…