The Professor


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2. Chapter Two

    Wright leans on the pillar that stands by the large steel door, awaiting the triple knock that would signify the arrival of his henchman. It’s been a good five hours. Where the heck is that dolt?

    He taps a pen at a fast rhythm against the journal that rests against his knee. Tedium, tedium, tedium, tedium

    His pen decides to go rogue, jumping from his fidgety hand to slam against the metal door. It makes a loud clang, and then a quiet click as it falls to the ground.

    Wright just stares at the door, not wanting to move to pick the pen up. He’s such a sloth. Well, kind of. When it comes to just everyday movement he is.

    His eyes study the door as he slips his journal into his pocket. He’d installed it in the old mansion himself. The metal still shines after ten years of hard weather from the outside, mechanical malfunctions and burns, the times that his subjects tried to make an escape, vomit, blood… He’s proud of it. It took him three years to assemble all of the complicated spirals and gears and blinking lights and passcode locks and metal bars to protect it. He had wanted to make sure that there was no way that anyone from the outside or the inside could easily enter or exit— besides himself of course. He sticks his hand in his coat-pocket, rubbing the master lock with his thumb. It’s a small, key-like object with a button at the end. All he has to do is let it read his fingerprint and all of the locks snap to be unlocked, and a chorus of beeps fills the air. There’s a loud, metallic shink as the metal bars slide to the left of the door, un-barricading the door. There’s a puff of air from the compressors and the door slowly slides open.

    He breathes in a deep breath. The smell of fresh compost and dewy blades of grass hits his nose, and he actually kind of smiles.

    Kind of. It’s more of a grimace.

    It’s been a good week since he’s been outside. He doesn’t know why his mind chose this moment to go, but he’s fine with it, he supposes, so he steps out onto the wood of his front porch.

    The front porch is a small thing— it can’t possibly be any bigger than ten feet by ten feet— but it’s comforting, and he sighs nostalgically. This has been his house since his birth, this has been his lab since he was six, but this has been home for only about ten years. Ever since he installed his tech, he’s been happier, so he began to take apart his inherited mansion and replace every slab and every board with steel, or titanium, but something in him didn’t want to get rid of the porch. His smile turned a bit sad. Perhaps the reason why he never got rid of it was because he didn’t want to forget where he started. Perhaps.

    He looks up from the rotting wooden boards of his front porch, not wanting to reminisce anymore. It’s too painful.

    His eyes are met with a view of the beautiful meadows. The wildflowers are in bloom, splatting the green hills with yellow and red and blue and white.

    They bloomed so quickly? It’s only been a week.

    He finds himself smiling. How do flowers know when to bloom? It’s odd, and science can’t explain it. It’s like the flowers have a conscience.

    He laughs at the thought that he could possibly be experimenting on flowers. Nah, that’s not possible. Flowers are alive, but they aren’t alive.

    His eyes spot movement on one of the roads that cut through a meadow— the insanely broken one. He curses under his breath when he sees that it’s Henry, bounding down the road in his yellow Kia Soul. But he can’t help but laugh. He pulls his magnifying glasses out of his pocket and slips them on. He twists the focus bar until he can see the details in his face and almost doubles over laughing.

    Henry’s bouncing all around, his head hitting the roof of the car. Wright can tell by the movements of Henry’s mouth that he’s singing, and it looks like it’s some hit from one-hundred years ago. He seems carelessly happy, despite the peek of a leg of the body that he can see.

    He watches him, laughing, until Henry gets too close for Wright to see with his magnifying glass. Wright snaps on a serious expression and steps back inside, not willing to let Henry see him actually enjoying himself.

    He presses the button on his master lock and the door closes with a puff of air and a chorus of beeps and metallic shrieks.

    Wright doesn’t need to wait very long until he hears three labored knocks on the large steel door. He presses the master lock again, and the door noisily puffs open to the inside as it always does.

    And there’s Henry, the gangly teen, puffing air like he just ran around the world, despite him only having drug a body five feet. He’s got quite a remarkable array of muscles for his wiry frame, which is the main reason why Wright took him in as his henchman— oh, lab assistant— in the first place, but he doesn’t really have the toughness that he expected him to have. He probably just got the muscles from exercise, not from fighting.

    Henry’s shadow falls over Wright as he greets him with a wordless smile, and Wright can’t help but be reminded of just how short he is. Henry’s auburn hair falls in his face as he drags the body in by the leg end of the stretcher, hanging down in a kind of triangle, hiding his green eyes. He has a shadow on his chin. He really needs a good shave and cut. Wright’ll have to talk to him about that. He’s pretty much become Henry’s guardian…

    Wright bats the thought from his mind, giving Henry a small smile of approval. “Welcome back, Henry.” Wright wipes the smile off of his face when he remembers that he was so late. “You’re rather late.”

    “Sorry, Professor. It took absolutely forever to get down that road,” Henry says, breathless.

    Wright holds back laughter as Henry talks. Henry’s voice is as high-pitched as ever, like a female’s, but his Southern accent comes through strong in that sentence. Wright coughs, covering up his snickers. “You’ll have to make it up.” He immediately gives him his sentence: “Three more hours of work per night.”

    “Three more? Come on, Professor. Isn’t that a bit excessive?”

    “You should have considered the consequences when you decided to take a trillion years to get here, Maples.”

    Henry winces at his last name. Wright grins. He knows just how to get to his henchma— uhm, lab assistant. “Ugh. Fine,” he grumbles. He looks back at the body. “Can I at least get your help pulling her along? She’s deadweight.”

    “I’m too old to help,” Wright dismisses.

    “Har-har-har,” Henry laughs sarcastically, then pauses. “Seriously, though, Professor. I need your help.”

    Wright throws his hands up in irritation and grunts, walking over to the side opposite his assistant. Wright puts his hands on the bar above the head of the corpse and nods to Henry. “On three. One…two…thre—!” Wright is cut off by the weight hanging from his arm. He blows a puff of air from his mouth and groans in pain. He grimaces and yanks it up. “Eiig! She’s heavier than I thought she’d be…”

    Henry, on the other hand, doesn’t complain, just looks distressed.

    Wright groans all the way to the table, in pain underneath the weight of the corpse. He’s too short and stocky to be carrying this tall, heavy woman. This is why he always gets his henchme— his assistants to carry the bodies.

    On that subject… “Whhhhere are Victorie and Benjamin?” Wright wheezes.

    Henry leans his hip against the edge of the table for support. “Vic’s doing cleaning in her mother’s house— you know how hard her mother’s death hit her. Ben’s…I dunno what he’s doing. Something, I guess.”

    Obviously Henry. “Ah. So they’re not around to help?”

    “I mean, I could call Benjamin, but I don’t know if he’d be up for it.”

    “Mmph. I see.” Wright sighs. “I suppose we can do it ourselves. But you’ve never assisted me, and I don’t think that it’ll be so simple for you to learn.”

    “I can learn fast, Professor.”

    “Mmph,” he grunts again. “I don't know. I think that it’s best to just wait for Victorie to come. She’s the best at certifying the bodies. Ben can do the testing. Until then, we can…” He looks around, searching for something to do. His eyes fall on the table full of forms and certificates and sighs. Ah, yes. “We can catalog the past experiments.”

    Henry groans. “You can trust me, Professor!” he whines. “I’m not a slow-learner. I’m actually quite a fast one. You took me under your wing to help with the experiments. I shouldn’t just be responsible for the bodies!”

    Wright sighs. His hench— assistant continues to persist, but should he trust him? Sure, he’s taken him in as a son, and he can trust Henry with his life, but can he trust him with his secret? Sure, it’s not actually that much of a secret, it certified by the government and all, but it’s still enough of a secret for him to want to keep it.

    Wright looks at Henry, who’s brushing his auburn hair from his eyes and giving him the puppy look. Urgh, fine. He sighs and stiffens his posture, setting his lip. “Come, then, Henry.” He presses a button on the side of the steel table and the body begins to sink through the table.

    “Thank you! Thank you, thank you, than—“

    “If you’re going to help, shut up.” Wright leads him to the back and stops at the door. He taps a code on the door.

    12345678910?” Henry laughs when he sees the code. “I thought that you would have a more secure password.”

    Wright growls and mutters, “I’ll make you a secure password.” He presses the asterisk and the door beeps. “Step back,” he says, and the door opens with a puff.

    Henry’s eyes immediately light up. “Woooooooooaaahhhh…”

    Wright lets out a laughs. “I’m glad to see that you like it.”

    “It’s sooo coooolll…,” Henry gasps in amazement.

    “I like to think so,” Wright chuckles. He pushes the door shut and types the same passcode into identical code spot. It immediately beeps and clicks, signifying it locking.

    Wright turns to the table where the girl lay. He pulls on blue rubber gloves, letting them go and laughing as they emit a snap. He puts on his magnifying glasses and turns to Henry, grinning like he’s a madman. The glare of the light from the steel table before him reflects off of the glasses, making his eyes glow. He laughs loudly. Each point in the laugh is high-pitched, and every valley is low-pitched. It makes kind of a crow cackle, but Wright thinks of it as more of a truck horn.

    “And now…” He pulls a sharp instrument from his pocket and looks down the girl’s body and controls his laughing. “…the fun begins.”    

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