Author: Rick Tobin

“Get out of here, now!” Telerman yelled into his beleaguered colleagues’ faces over blaring dance music inside Omnia, as lights flashed around them, from above, over a vast dance floor of writhing partygoers.

“Chill pill, Telerman,” Sheila Barsted interrupted, pointing red fingernails onto Telerman’s nose, over his beard.

“Screw that!” Telerman screamed, grabbing her wrist.

“Hey, buddy,” slurred Roscoe Peterson, as he rose to defend his companion. “We got our first R&R in five years from the Ranch and terrific comps for rooms, food and alcohol from that tight-ass Project Manager. What the hell’s wrong with you? You got number crunching eating your butt, or what? Ain’t Caesars great?” Roscoe swirled his hand at its ambiance.

“Roscoe, get your shit together. There a black light room in here?” Telerman’s powerful grip pulled his smaller laboratory companions upright.

“What the hell? You crazy? Yeah, back behind us on the left. Hey, you can’t grab us like this, asshole!”
Josh Telerman ignored their antics. He dragged both Barsted, a top zoologist, and Roscoe, a talented microbiologist, out from their booth and into the Zoom Room, where swirling colors from semi-pornographic paintings glowed around them. Telerman’s captives stopped struggling after he pointed out yellow splotches covering their bodies. Telerman ignored yellow handprints over Sheila’s front and Roscoe’s crotch.

“Remember when we added fluorescence to scorpions for our cancer tests? That’s their damn sex pheromones all over us. Worse, I was responsible for not only increasing their size, but increasing metal concentrations in their aculeus.”

Roscoe’s shock cleared away his first two drinks. “Accu what?”

“Their stinger, putz. Scorpions use metal. You never asked questions about what we’re doing. Didn’t you wonder why we’re supposed to develop huge blue scorpions?”

“Geez, Telerman,” Barsted interrupted, “they just want to get more venom for cancer trials. They can’t synthesize it yet. Wrangling small herds is a hassle. We quadruple their size and drug tests get cheaper. So, what…and what is their crap doing all over us? How the hell did you know?”
“So there, smart ass,” Roscoe slurred. “Old Mr. DNA, always asking questions. The Ranch doesn’t like that. Didn’t you learn anything at Lawrence Livermore?”

Telerman pulled them both close to his face. “I should leave you both, but I can’t. We’re expendable. I smelled a rat when we got this free ride. Do you remember anything after we got off the bus and hit our rooms?”

“Who cares?” Roscoe complained, trying to push away from Telerman’s bear grip. “Fell asleep. Guess all those uppers we took to meet schedules for months must have worn off.”

“Yeah, me, too,” Sheila piped in, her long blonde hair draping back over her slinky dress as she looked up at Telerman’s growl.

“Probably only thing that saved us. We weren’t supposed to wake up after those free bus drinks.”
Telerman yanked them toward an exit door. Roscoe pulled away, sitting down. “Where the hell is Cynthia? She’ll fire your ass for this. You aren’t team lead.” Roscoe pointed both middle fingers at Telerman.

“She’s dead, you jerk. Go ahead, sit there, and they’ll find you torn to shreds and desiccated like her. I was just at her room. Cops found a foot-long stinger that went right through that bull-rider belt buckle she always wore. That’s what we developed, you saps. Somebody else was using our research. They made gigantic assassin weapons that make no sound and leave no prints. ”

Three terrified researchers rushed in drunken haste to find a cab as small arms fire echoed through Omnia.