Six Months Earlier
Patricia sat back in her chair and tucked her auburn hair behind her ears.
“I have your itinerary for your trip to Chicago.” Patricia eagerly took the paperwork from her assistant.
“Well, this is it. After four long years, my time here is coming to an end. Can you believe it?” Her assistant looked at the floor. “Nope.”
Patricia looked around her small but cozy office. Hideous blue checkered wallpaper. Large wooden desk that’s heavy and worn. Piles and piles of logbooks. “I’m going to miss this place.”
“Me too,” her assistant responded softly.
For the past four years Dr. Gorman had been studying the reproductive and migration habits of birds in Kandahar and Southern Afghanistan, something there was surprisingly little data on before. Her research was extensive and she developed the groundwork for local scientists to continue the studies. The local scientists were friendly, ambitious, and eager to get started. Simply put, Dr. Gorman’s work there was done.
Patricia placed a few personal items in her tote bag, said her farewells, and hugged her assistant. She took one last look around the office and turned out the light.
After two short days of packing and tying up loose ends, Patricia boarded a plane for the US.
The flight was long and Patricia was exhausted when she finally entered her apartment. “Looks just like I left it,” she murmured to herself. “Tomorrow the job search begins,” Patricia ordered take-out since her fridge was empty and headed off to bed just before 9 pm.
The bright morning sun and rush hour traffic woke Dr. Gorman. She pulled out her fully charged laptop. After many years of research, Patricia wanted to focus on teaching. She was looking for a place to settle down. Tenure would be nice. Patricia updated her resume and emailed all her contacts. She was surprised when she got a quick reply from the Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Toronto.
She was to meet with Dr. Emily Kimura in just a few days’ time to discuss a possible teaching position in the Biology Department. They needed some help covering undergrad ecology and evolution courses.
That night Patricia packed. Her flight was in the morning. She decided to spend the week in Toronto. It’s been a while since she had visited the city and she deserved a fun little excursion.
“Dr. Gorman?” Emily asked sweetly with a brilliant toothy smile. It was something electric. Patricia froze a moment as this beautiful creature called out her name. She had untamed curly hair, piercing green eyes, and a pencil skirt that perfectly hugged her voluptuous hips.
“Uh yes, hello, please call me Patricia.” She caught her breath and smiled. Emily led Patricia down a brightly lit hallway to a small meeting room where the Dean, Dr. Coleman, was waiting. Dr. Coleman quickly jumped to his feet, smiled, and shook Patricia’s hand. “It’s so nice to meet you.”
The pleasantries ended quickly as Patricia dove right into describing her work experience and goals. The meeting lasted about an hour and she left feeling confident.
As she packed up her stuff and began to exit the room, Emily lightly touched Patricia’s arm and asked her if she had plans for dinner. Patricia smiled. “No, no plans. You?” Emily asked if she would like to go to Luigi’s, a little hole-in-the-wall Italian place a couple of blocks away. “Yes! I would love to!” Patricia quickly felt embarrassed by her eagerness.
Luigi’s was small, dark, and romantic. You could smell the restaurant half a block away and it smelled wonderful. Emily was waiting by the front door and waved excitedly when she saw Patricia. The two sat down and talked about their work and university studies.
“I was in your interview and heard all about the amazing work you had been doing in Afghanistan, but what about your internship with the climate scientist? You didn’t say much about that,” Emily said.
“Oh, it was really interesting. I spent six months studying polar bears in Canada. I’m sure you know with climate change their habitat is in great danger,” Patricia answered nervously. She remembered how demanding and intimidating Big Thinker was.
Emily smiled that brilliant toothy smile, reached across the table, and put her hand on Patricia’s arm. “I’d love to show you around town this week.” Patricia smiled and froze. “What do you think?” insisted Emily.
“I would love that,” Patricia responded.
The rest of the week was magic. Patricia really enjoyed Emily’s company. She was fun and her energy was contagious.
The night before Patricia was to leave and go back to Chicago, there was a knock at the door of her hotel room. It was Emily. Patricia knew why she was there. She felt it, too.
Patricia reached up and brushed back Emily’s wild curls then cradled her face in her hands. The two kissed passionately. Patricia’s hands dropped to Emily’s waist. She pulled her close and Emily inhaled sharply. Her skin was so soft.
Emily spent the night at the hotel with Patricia, and as amazing as it was, nothing could prevent the morning from coming and Patricia going back to Chicago.
Toronto was fun, but Patricia did not respond to Emily’s calls and texts once returning to Chicago. It was a fling and nothing else. Patricia did not get the job. Now she really had to focus on finding work and did not need any distractions.
“There’s always the Orange Corporation,” thought Patricia. “I really enjoyed my internship with the polar bears despite my boss.” She sent an email with an attached resume to BT. She might be a good fit for some of his newer projects. “I hope he remembers me,” thought Dr. Gorman.
Six Months Later
The science team sat stunned.
“One of them is heading toward us?!” Patricia panicked. She wasn’t alone. Fear spread through the room and the next logical thought was security.
“What kind of protection do we have?” Dr. Stokes asked. “Are there weapons for all of us?”
Emily tried to calm the team down but really she didn’t know any more information than they did.
“Let’s collect as much data as we can. We can analyze the video and listen to the audio file again. Who here speaks French?” The team began to work but there was so little information.
After a couple of frustrating hours, the wary scientists were shown to their living quarters — rustic but acceptable. They had a chance to catch their breath and get their wits about them, but they were all tired from their travels. Patricia began to unpack with shaky hands when gunshots rang out across the camp. Her stomach dropped to her feet. She didn’t know what to do. Do you stay in the cabin hoping to be safe inside or do you go out and see what the commotion is? She chose to go out. What if someone needed help?
Security personnel were scrambling to the east perimeter of the camp. More gunshots.
Just then, Patricia saw Paul run past. “Paul!” she shouted.
“Go back to your cabin and lock the door!” he instructed and kept running.
Patricia did as she was told and the other scientists followed.
Suddenly the gunshots stopped and there was a lot of yelling. Patricia swore she heard some French.
Part 1 is at The Bolingbrook Babbler
Part 2 is at From the Ashes of Faith
Part 3 is at Death to Squirrels
Part 4 will be at Impossible Me
Part 5 will be at Pharyngula
Part 6 will be at Pervert Justice