The Turn: Chapter Two

tthccoverChapter Two for you today! If you missed the first one it can be found here

The Turn
Kim Harrison

Chapter Two

    Stifling a yawn, Trisk confidently made her way deeper into the underground labs of Global Genetics. It was nearing noon, and she could feel her body slowing down, forced to stay awake to hold to a human schedule. After three years, she no longer nodded off over lunch, but it was hard to fight the urge for a four-hour nap when the sun was at its highest. Elves were most alert at sunrise and sunset, but it had been ages since she’d allowed herself the luxury of her natural inclination to sleep at noon and midnight.
Her low-heeled baby-doll shoes were eerily silent on the polished floor, and the faint smell of antiseptic was a familiar balm, pricking the back of her nose. After noticing a few high eyebrows this morning, she’d closed her lab coat to hide her short, bright yellow skirt, but the matching hose still made a colorful statement. Her lab assistant, Angie, said the outfit was fine, but getting the new look past the stuffier old men she worked with was proving to be difficult.

“Hi, George,” she said to the man at the glass double doors, and he rose from his desk to open them for her. There was no need to show her ID, and she didn’t even bring it out from behind her lab coat.

“Good afternoon, Dr. Cambri. Save me a piece of cake?”

His smile was infectious, and her mood brightened. “One with a rose on it. You got it,” she said as she crossed into the restricted zone.

Immediately the drier air and tang of ozone from the massive com- puters under her feet made her long hair float, and she impatiently tried to corral the strands that had escaped her hair clip at the back of her neck. If she were at the elf-run NASA facility, the computer needed to comprehend the genetic code of just one organism would fit into a room. Here, with human-only equipment, it took an entire floor—at least until someone leaked the technology and humankind took another leap forward.

Trisk heard the building’s head secretary before she saw her, the woman’s trendy thigh-high vinyl boots clicking on the hard floor. “Hi, Trisk,” the bubbly older woman said as she turned a corner and came into sight. “Are you getting him now?”

“Right this minute,” Trisk said, and Barbara beamed, her eyes alight as she took Trisk’s hands for a quick second.

“Outta sight! I’ll make sure everyone is in the lunchroom,” she said, the click-clack of her boots quickening as she ran in prissy, mincing steps to the security door and the elevators beyond. Her colorful dress rode high, and her hair was tall, but the day planner tucked under her arm had everyone’s schedule in it, and the self-appointed mother of them all knew more than anyone about how to keep the small facility working, even if she did look and act like an aged stand-in on American Bandstand—which raised the question: If Barbara could get away with flaunting the new styles exploding into the shops this summer, why couldn’t Trisk?
     Because Barbara isn’t helping design tactical biological weapons, Trisk thought as she passed her lab, still proud of her name on the door. 

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