Writing Prompt: Cleaning the Lab

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Cleaning the lab”

Ash scowled at the mess sitting in front of her. What a mess decades of research could produce. Now, as the last student, it was her job to clean all of it, whether she knew what it was or not. What a graduation present!

She started with the stack of archaic computers. No one even knew the passwords to operate them anymore, not that anyone should care to. Top of the line, decades ago. If you need to make a killer cassette recording, this is your machine! She loaded them onto a cart, bringing them batch by batch to the electronic reclamation center. Their problem now. Three cartloads later, and at least that batch of junk was gone. The dust under the pile was incredible. While it wasn’t her job to clean the dirt of the lab, something was too disgusting about this dust not to try to improve. She didn’t have any cleaning implements. She wetted a rag and wiped the worst of it away. Three lines of the dirt remained, sinking into the painted cinderblock walls. They almost looked like a door…

She looked closer, and the cracks were the dirt had stuck seemed to penetrate into the concrete. She thought of the floor plan for the building—was there anything on the other side of this wall? There was an office next door, but it seemed like there was a dead space in between. She would have assumed it was for ventilation, if she’d ever thought of it before, but now she was looking at a tiny, bizarre door, about 2 feet high and 2 feet across. She got a crow bar from across the room and wedged it into the crack. She pulled, and the door yielded. Inside were thousands of tiny sprites, chained to tiny desks, in a room no more than 4 feet by 4 feet.

“What on earth is this?” She exclaimed, more to herself than them.

“We make the science,” one of them said, forlornly, before returning its hands to its intricate task at hand.


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