Random words: council, cruise, balance, details, decay, hideout, super, probe, elsewhere, dread.
Details were still a little hazy. Memories started to pop up through the miasma of my hangover like bubbles coming to the surface of a tar pit. I remember the probe crashing to earth after successfully reaching cruise altitude. What happened? The monkey inside obviously died. Nothing could have survived that crash. I stood up but couldn’t maintain my balance. Where was I? I heaved back down onto the cot. That’s right, I remember. After the council had met and decided to close down the program, I went to my own personal hideout, the lab’s coat closet. It was just large enough to fit a cot and I had the only key. With a bucket and a fifth of gin, I could shack up in there indefinitely, or until I couldn’t tolerate the stink anymore. The hangover was just hitting an uncomfortable level of pain, when I lurched to open the door and walked right into Dave. He was about to say something when the stench hit him. He grimaced almost imperceptibly and motioned for me to join him in his office at the other end of the lab. I smoothed back my hair with my hands, ineffectually licked the dried up flecks of drool around my mouth, and walked with him to his office. Dread filled my belly where moments before there was only bile. Elsewhere, my state of deshabille would have drawn audible gasps, but here, well, let’s just say my hideout is not so secret. Walking past my fellow scientists, I gave the appearance of nonchalance while inside the decay that lay in my bowels started to churn.
I spoke before he had even closed the door behind me, “Dave, look, I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened. We were absolutely positive all our calculations were rock solid.”
Dave sat down behind his desk while I remained standing. Movement downward at that moment didn’t really seem like a super idea. I swallowed back my wave of nausea. Dave waited calmly.
“Dave, I, uh. Look, it won’t happen again. You can have the key. I’ll go to AA. Just let me stay on the project. You know how hard I’ve worked on this. Convince the council to send up another probe. Please! You’ve got to. I know it will work this time.”
Dave remained silent.
Panicking, I searched through the fog in my mind for something to say but I found nothing. Nothing could repair what I had done. My shoulders slumped as I took off my lab badge and placed it on his desk.
Straightening up, I pulled myself together just enough to make my final walk through the lab. As I pass each station, everyone avoids my eyes. Walking out the door, my heart sinking, I know I will never work in that lab again.