[Story] A Story a Week 5
February 4, 2016 Leave a comment
[[ Prompt: A story set in London
Okay, so I cheated a little bit, because I’ve never been to London. Well, I was there for one hour in the airport on a layover, but that doesn’t really count. I found the idea of setting a story in a city I’d never been really challenging and I struggled to think of what to write. In the end I opted for another modern werewolf story, set in the same ‘rules’ as the week 3 (fairy tale) story, but I chose London, Ontario because it fit a bit better. Also, there’s already a movie about werewolves in London that you may have heard of… Anyway, I’ve never been to London, Ontario either, but hopefully it works. ]]
Sabine straightened the pile of printouts before tucking them into the safety of her slim black briefcase. Technically speaking, they weren’t to remove anything from the lab, but nearly everyone had left around noon to beat the oncoming snowstorm. That, and her supervisors rarely complained when she completed an analysis over the weekend, days before the expected due date.
“Doing some light reading over the weekend, huh?” Brassel hadn’t left the lab yet. Of course he hadn’t. He leaned against the storage cabinet, blocking the doorway. He smelled of that cheap cologne that he always wore, and he smelled faintly of the bologna he’d eaten for lunch, making Sabine’s stomach flip over. She couldn’t remember his first name, though he’d certainly told her more than once. Like all of the lab personnel, his surname was stitched in neat blue lettering over his front pocket.
Sabine scooped the last of the papers into her briefcase. “I just have some things I want to finish. I don’t expect we’ll be open for the next couple of days.
Brassel made a clucking sound of disappointment. Sabine could feel his eyes on her, but she pretended not to notice. “You work too hard, Rhodes. It’s supposed to be a vacation. You should relax, go out or something.” She knew what came next; the same tired proposal he tried every time he spoke to her.
“I really can’t,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m sorry.” She wasn’t sorry, not at all. She just wanted to get out and on the road before the snow became too heavy. She could already see it falling through the small window, fat flakes brushing the glass.
“Well, if you change your mind,” Brassel said, but Sabine didn’t let him finish. She pushed past him into the hallway, stopping at her locker to collect her coat and boots. She was relieved that he didn’t follow her, perhaps he actually had the sense to want to beat the storm too.
Sabine held the briefcase tight against her chest as she trotted to the parking lot; though the case was leather and water-proof, she didn’t want to risk the pages being damaged. Her little white car already wore a lace of snowflakes, and she brushed them from the windshield with her coat sleeve, and tossed the briefcase onto her passenger seat. The drive took longer than normal; everyone else in the city seemed to have the same idea, and traffic snarled nearly every street. Sabine glanced over to the briefcase, as if to be sure it was still there. She couldn’t be upset at the storm, because it was giving her the chance to work on her side project in peace. The pages contained the printouts of the gene she’d spent the last months decoding, the one she’d nicknamed Sirius. It was still a secret at this point, of course. She hadn’t dared breathe a word about it to anyone at the lab, they’d think she was crazy. Or worse. There were still more tests to be done, more experiments to run — for one, Sabine wanted to compare the gene from a male subject, to see if and how it different from an active gene. She strongly suspected that it acted as a “carrier” in those individuals. She also suspected that certain proteins must be present for the gene to express itself, and those had to be isolated. Perhaps there could even be a test to detect — it sounded crazy just to think it. Sabine shook her head. A year ago, she would have thought so too, but things had changed. A lot.
She’d had difficulty adapting at first, accepting what was happening to her. Four different doctors had no idea what was wrong with her, they all proclaimed her in perfect health. The heightened senses had been the first symptom, being able to hear and smell things she’d never been aware of before. Hours of Googling had not produced any answers there, either. Her first change was much more dramatic, and Sabine was ever grateful that she lived alone and didn’t have to try to explain away her strange behavior. More searching didn’t produce anything useful, though she tried every sort of folk remedy she could find: wolfsbane (ordered dried from a shop on eBay), silver, holy water. She did find an obscure message board, tucked away in the corners of the internet, sorted by geographic region. Sabine spent hours that night, clicking each and every one of the messages on the Eastern Canada sub-section. Maybe they were crazy, maybe they weren’t. Sabine became more convinced that some of them, at least, were telling the truth. After all, if it was happening to her, it was possible that it was happening to others as well. Months of lurking later, Sabine finally registered to the board, and sent a message to another user, calling herself “Lucky”. It turned out that she lived in London as well, and the two had struck up a friendship. Things, as they say, snowballed from there. Lucky assured her that the board was a meeting place for people like them, that they existed all over North America. In fact, they often gathered in Springbank Park due to its size and isolation. And Lucky told her that all of them were women, though nobody knew why. That had begun all of it, launched Sabine’s personal research project. She had been correct in that it was linked to the human X chromosome, but that was all she had learned thus far. She still hadn’t enough data for a formal paper, and she feared the reaction once it was published. It sounded crazy.
When Sabine finally pulled into her driveway, the snow was already about three inches deep. It was coming down fast. She wanted nothing more than to change into a pair of warm pajamas and curl up on the couch with her work. But even as she stood in the entryway, taking off her coat and boots, the telephone rang. It was Lucky.
“Hey, Sabine.” She was as perky as ever. Sabine didn’t know how anyone could be in such a good mood all of the time. But her enthusiasm was contagious. “You want to go get dinner? Waldo’s or something?”
Sabine held back a groan. “It’s awful outside. I bet they’re not even open tonight.”
“Aww,” Lucky sighed, and Sabine could hear her frowning through the telephone. “Well what about take-out, we could watch movies or something.”
Though she would appreciate Lucky’s company on most other evenings, Sabine didn’t want to delay her work any further. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I wish I could. I have a lot of work to do. I brought home the gene.”
Lucky was one of the few people who knew about Sabine’s project. After all, it affected her too, didn’t it? “Oh!” her voice was back to its usual level of enthusiasm. “Okay! Let me know how it goes, okay. And don’t forget there’s a gathering tomorrow.”
Sabine had in fact forgotten. She didn’t enjoy the gatherings particularly, but she still went out of a sense of obligation. And it was interesting to meet all of the others. Sometimes there were new faces, and she was determined to find out how this was so. The typical movie and television websites weren’t any help there. She knew for a fact that she hadn’t been bitten by anything. Sabine set the phone in its cradle and went back to the entryway, where she’d left her briefcase.
It was empty. Muddy tracks, still wet, led out the open front door. There were two sets, one larger and one smaller, and their scent still lingered in the air. Sabine rushed out onto the porch, but the snow was already filling in their tracks, and it would be impossible to follow in the blinding snow. She cursed under her breath, slamming the front door shut and locking the deadbolt. How could this have happened? And who would steal her research? Sabine looked again at the paw prints, a jumble on her formerly clean tile floor. She could only think of one person with tracks that large, an intimidating woman called Tara whom Sabine had never even spoken to. The smaller set had to belong to Daisy, the tiny blonde who followed her around. Sabine was not one for conflict, but she knew she would have to confront them tomorrow at the gathering. Tonight, though, she was angry and frustrated. She dropped to her knees, her fingers lengthening into paws, and she strode out into the swirling snowstorm.