Irelia paced the floor of the lab, waiting for the results of the test to come back. She thought she had been making some significant theories, so a little more was all she thought she needed to really show The Company something big. She had quite a lot to prove, being one of the few fresh out of freshed-out-of-college kids that The Company had been hiring as of late. She guessed there was a shortage in a lot of fields, so they would have to do for now. She heard the distant mechanical shriek of the fax machine and rushed over to it; the test result had been a failure.
“Ire, you making any progress yet?” said a voice who had creeped into the room.
“I told you not to call me that, Stan.” said an annoyed Irelia. The guy gave a small chuckle. He was Stanley, from the lab down the hall. He was another one of those freshly graduated kids that the company had been hiring. He had brown hair and blue eyes, dressed in blue jeans and a solid red shirt. Irelia’s job was to experiment with and figure out how to make cryokinesis; Stanley’s job was to make pyrokinesis. He often came down to ask for advice from Irelia. They had known each other since their first year of college, but they were as loosely considered friends as it came.
“Hey, I just think the name fits. If you can call me Stan, I can call you Ire” reasoned Stanley. “Anyway, you got any research I could use today?” Irelia rolled her eyes.
“Well now, if I just gave it to you, it wouldn’t be well earned, now would it?” Stanley shrugged.
“We’re scientists, what’s the big deal? We’re supposed to share our research.” Stanley was a little too laid back for Irelia’s tastes. He’d spent years reading comic books while she had been madly studying. Even then, he was too nice of a guy for her to just tell him to piss off. She gestured to a blue creature in a glass box. It had a big, almost bean bag shaped body, with four tiny spider-like legs. It had big, round eyes and a tiny nub where a tail would grow later in its life. The ecologists say that it’s called a Lurkr, but Irelia didn’t really care to remember.
“That thing right there was retrieved from the arctic. At the age of about 3, it begins to be able to control the ice and snow around it; it’s bites are even enough to cause frostbite that spreads throughout the body, causing death in minutes. Whatever that creature uses to manipulate the cold could be the key to finishing my research.” Stanley gave an exaggerated sigh and took a seat on a table.
“What do you got that will help me though?” he asked. Irelia pushed him off the table and pointed to the exit. She’d had enough of him for today.
“Out of my lab. Go get something that controls fire or something.” she said, still gesturing for him to leave.
“Damn, Ire; do you do this for the paycheck or the thrill of discovery?” Irelia gave him a bored stare.
“That’s for me to know and for you to wonder. Now get out and do your job.”
“Ugh, fine. I’ll go check out that cute redhead down in the entry.” Stanley walked out of the room and shut the door on the way out. Irelia dimmed the lights, closed her eyes, and rubbed her temples. She looked over at the creature in the box.
“If only you’d let me into that little mind of yours.” she whispered. Of course, she’d been filled in enough to know that it wasn’t the brain that made its cryokinesis possible. Its skin controlled the actual movement of ice, its brain just sent the signals to do it; like the brain telling the muscle to tense. She took a bit of its skin cells from a container and put it under the microscope and ran a miniscule electric current through it. She sprinkled the ice crystals on it and watched them dance around the skin. She sat thinking in her seat, trying to think of something that she might have missed.
Irelia woke up in her seat, surprised that she wasn’t in her bed. She didn’t often fall asleep on the job, but it was annoying when she did. She looked at her watch to see it flash 11:47 P.M. She usually went home around 10, so she wasn’t enthused to still be there. Irelia did what she had done every night before walking out: she whipped up a possible serum for the control over ice that she had been assigned for so long. This time through, she used some of the skin and blood of the creature. After putting it into a syringe, she labeled it CY-D12. Irelia took it with her to go home; tomorrow morning was cleaning day and she didn’t want the cleaning crew to mistake it for a failed attempt and throw it away again. She put it in her red backpack and put on her white, blue, and red hoodie; she would finally get to go to her bed.
Irelia walked into her company-paid apartment and gave a loud sigh. She put her backpack on the coat rack and threw her jacket on it. She kicked her shoes off and jumped onto her bed. She probably would have gone to sleep too, if her phone hadn’t rang. She answered it with aggressive drowsiness.
“Irelia here; piss off, I’m tired.”
“IRE, YOU THERE?” shouted a voice through the phone. She was only a second from designating him as one of her test subjects.
“Stanley, if you call me again at night, I’m blocking you. Also, lower your voice, you sound like a damn megaphone.” she grumbled.
“Okay, okay. But your suggestion of using a creature, I think you were right!” Irelia raised an eyebrow.
“Really?” she asked, yawning.
“Yeah,” Stany said. “I haven’t confirmed it yet, but I’m pretty sure your method was right! I just need to make su-” Stanley’s call suddenly cut out without warning. Irelia didn’t think much of it though; his phone was in pretty rough shape after how he’d dropped it so many times. She assumed it had finally croaked from its painful existence. After the day she’d had, she deserved the sleep that she had been craving for.
She woke up refreshed and happy for a change. She styled up her brown hair and slipped into her jeans and t-shirt before she put on her jacket. She put on her black sneakers and ran out into the streets before advancing to the nearest convenience store. She picked up her usual breakfast sandwich and tea before going in to work. She shivered as she walked down the street; winter wasn’t far, being the end of autumn, and she wanted to test the serum before the end of the week.
She walked into work and waved to the lady at the front desk. Irelia felt pretty bad for her because everyone pretty much took her for granted.
“Morning, Mason.” Irelia chirped.
“Morning.” the secretary sheepishly said. After Irelia walked by and bounded to an open elevator, the secretary gave a tired sigh. “My name’s Marion...” she pouted.
Irelia ran up to her lab. Today was the day that she’d finally finish the project that she’d been assigned; or at least she would have if there were any subjects to test on that day. Getting volunteers for experimental science is harder than it sounds, which is saying something. If Irelia knew anything though, it was that there was always a starving college student in need of the money; she had been one herself. She sat in her lab for hours before getting too bored. Her phone rang, echoing the sound of a pop song.
“Irelia here; who’s there?”
“It’s me, Stanley.”
“Oh. What’s up, Stan? Why’re you calling me if we literally work in the same building?”
“I wanna test my new phone. Anyways, you got enough time to be let down?” Irelia raised an eyebrow.
“Lay it on me.”
“The test I did? It didn’t cause pyrokinesis.”
“Well that’s great.” said Irelia, disappointed.
“It did cause him to spontaneously combust though.” Irelia sighed.
“I didn’t need to know that, but thanks.”
“You got any plans for the next hour?” asked Stanley.
“Yes; more testing.”
“If you ever want to test with-” Stanley started before Irelia hung up. Eventually, the office phone would ring and she’d be given another subject; until then, she just needed to wait. Irelia undid the lid on the creature and started to pet it.
“I’ll name you… Flake.” she said. Flake purred under her hand, which Irelia thought was pretty weird. “I didn’t know you purred.” she said. Eventually, she started to wonder what it really was under that monster skin.
“Prrrrrrrr” Flake said. Irelia thought he sounded kind of like a motorcycle’s engine. All of a sudden, the office phone started to ring.
“Irelia here; what do you need?”
“Lockdown 7D” said an automated voice through the phone. Irelia hung up and snached the handbook from beside the phone. She leafed through all the codes until she came to the Lockdowns. Lockdown 7D: Armed Robbery.
“That doesn’t sound good.” Irelia whispered. She went to pet Flake before she closed its container again, but while she was petting, the booming alarm on the wall went off. The sound was so loud and sudden that it made Irelia jump, and it made Flake bite Irelia right in the middle of her hand.
“Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!” Boomed the alarm.
“You little shit!” shouted Irelia. She slammed the lid and ran over to the sink. She wasn’t dumb enough to run hot water on frostbite, so she turned some cool water on instead. It didn’t matter too much at this point though; she couldn’t really feel her hand much anymore, and her arm was turning colder by the second. She really didn’t think that her situation could get much worse.
“Don’t move!” said a voice as the door was busted open. Three people came in, armed with various spells. “Just hand over all the research and nobody gets hurt!” Irelia was shaking pretty badly, which the robbers mistook for fear.
“Are you kidding me?!” she shouted. She held up her now blue hand. “I’m already dying! How much worse do you think it gets?!” The robbers stood for a second, dumbfounded. “Who the hell even steals the research?” she shouted.
“Don’t pull any-” started one of the robbers. Irelia ran towards him and gave him a big winding kick to the stomach, which sent him backwards, knocking over a table and the various assortment of items upon it.
“No, I’d advise all of you not to make a move.” Irelia said menacingly. Another robber tried to cast an ice wind, which Irelia shielded with her frostbitten arm; the immediately countered with a punch to his face. Irelia turned to face the last robber.
“I-I want to-to s-stop!” he said, shaking in his boots. Irelia took a step forward, but stopped when she felt a piercing pain in her left leg. She looked down to see the first robber, who had stabbed her in the calf in a feeble attempt to stop her. She kicked him in the face and picked up what he’d stabbed her with. It was a syringe that read CY-D12 in bold letters.
“Oh, well shit.” she said. She knew what usually happened to the test subjects next. Irelia took a tumble to the ground and hit her head on a chair, knocking her out cold.
Irelia would wake up to a lot of surprises the following day. Her first surprise is that she woke up at all. She blinked hard as she came to; she was in the hospital ward of the building. She saw herself hooked up to all sorts of medical equipment as well. As she looked around, she saw her second surprise that day: Stanley and some redhead girl sat in a couple chairs beside her bed; they were both sleeping. She took out her hand and saw the bite mark, but the frostbite had faded, leaving her hand as it was before. She turned back to face Stanley and the others.
“Stanley. Stanley!” Irelia called, trying to shake his leg. Stanley woke with a startled jump and looked at Irelia.
“Ire? You’re up!” Irelia rubbed her hand.
“Yeah, how long have I been out?” she asked. Stanley yawned.
“About a day. Your pulse has been pretty stable since last night, so we’ve just been waiting for you to wake up.”
“Oh. Can I go home then?” she said as she started getting up.
“Wait a minute!” Stanley said. He nudged the girl beside him, waking her up. “Can you go get the doctor?” he asked.
“Sure.” she said sleepily as she walked away. Soon after, a doctor came over, but she looked pretty out of it too, like she hadn’t slept in days.
“Can I go home?” asked Irelia. The doctor sighed and rubbed her eyes.
“Do you have a pulse?” she asked.
“Um, yeah.” Irelia responded.
“Then go. The Company’s giving you a few days off to fully recover anyway. Consider yourself lucky.” After that, the doctor rushed away.
“What happened?” Irelia asked. Stanley helped her up.
“Well, people robbed the place, but you slowed them down quite a bit. They would have gotten away if you didn’t kick their asses.” Irelia smiled.
“Oh. That’s actually pretty cool.”
“Are you alright going to your apartment by yourself?” Stanley asked.
“Yeah, I’m cool.” she said. “I’m a big girl and everything.”
“Alright, then.” Stanley said, skeptically.
Irelia walked into her apartment, ready to crash. She threw her backpack and jacket onto the coat rack and jumped onto her bed again. After a while, she felt oddly cold; she normally felt fairly warm in her tiny little apartment. She got up, put her coat back on, and opened a window, looking out onto the grass lot below her.
“Man, I’ve gotta find somewhere else to live.” she reflected. Irelia turned around and unexpectedly slipped, catching herself on the window’s frame. She looked down to see a small sheet of ice beneath her feet. When she tried to stand up again, she tripped again, this time backwards and out the third story window.
“Aaaah!” she screamed. It was a short one though, as her body stopped falling about halfway when she found out her hands were glued to the brick wall. They had a solid layer of ice connecting her to the building.
“Okay, not what I expected.” Irelia said, questioningly. When trying to get a closer look at the ice, it started to crack, and her hands started to slip. She fell to the ground, but it wasn’t something that would give a lasting injury. She coughed as she got up, looking at the tiny ice crystals that flew out her mouth. She took out her phone and dialed.
“Stanley, are you there?!” shouted Irelia over the phone. She was running down the street, leaving footprints of ice in her wake.
“Ire? Are you alright?” asked Stanley, concerned. “What’s wrong?”
“Do you have some time to talk? Preferably in private.”
“Um… Yeah, I have a place…”
“Cool,” Irelia said. “Text me the directions and meet me there in 10 minutes.”
“Okay, then.” said Stanley, unable to shake his worry. Irelia clicked her phone off and frighteningly didn’t recognise the person in the reflection, who sported eerie azure blue hair.