The van delivered the shipment to the lab as scheduled. Lev checked his watch. 20:00.
“The usual, Lev,” hollered Steve as he drove off. Lev carried the boxes inside. Carefully, so as to not disturb the contents. Lev’s laboratory offered state-of-the-art embryo storage and testing facilities.
He checked the list, ticked the items one by one. The IVF Clinic at Jersey City was a long-standing customer.
He took one last look at the boxes, making sure the seals were in place. Kim would take over at 04:00 sharp. He texted Kim, locked the lab securely and headed home.
Early Wednesday morning. Kim had set the alarm to 02:30. She quickly showered, changed and drove to the lab. She arrived at sharp 03:30 and unlocked the doors.
She took a look at the labelled blue boxes. Neatly arranged, in the order of time stamps.
She plugged in her iPod and got to work, setting up the equipment.
She looked at her watch. 04:00.
She opened the first box. Gently uncapped the vial, pouring all contents into the petri dish. She added the cryoprotectant, loaded the embryos into mini-straws, sealed and plunged them into liquid nitrogen. The freezing was complete. She did the same with all vials from each box. Ready for storage.
It was nearing 06:00. She had about an hour before she could leave the lab. The log book had to be updated once she had run a second check.
She decided to take a breather. She made some strong black coffee and sat on a chair. The lab had an eerie green glow. She looked outside. Still dark. The storm was ruthless. The wind howled. Trees cast strange shadows on the porch. She rubbed her eyes tiredly. The lack of sleep was taking its toll.
That’s when she first saw it. The straw moved. Impossible!
It climbed out. Tiny legs and a head. With eyes that blinked.
She got up to take a closer look, certain she was hallucinating. She saw the other straws. They were all moving.
The coroner was called the next morning. He examined the mutilated body. There were thousands of puncture wounds all over her skin.
He found hundreds of embryos embedded on the endometrium of her uterus. And on other vital organs of her body. Her carotid arteries were choked with embryos. There were embryos even in her lungs.
“It’s weird. Almost like an invasion,” he thought.
The liquid nitrogen was undisturbed. They examined the mini-straws. They were empty, seals intact.
They brought Lev in for questioning.
Lev confirmed he had checked the boxes the day before. His alibi was solid. He had visited an ailing uncle with his Mom.
They brought in Steve, the van driver. His story was accounted for. He had been to the movies with his girlfriend.
They called the IVF clinic, asked for donor lists for the batch. “Sorry, Zeus-69 is jinxed. The storm messed our electrical wiring. There was a fire. All forms destroyed even before we could input them on our systems,” they said.
Finally, the IVF clinic managed to locate a sperm-donor for Zeus-69. It said, ‘Joseph Cavanagh, #204, 22 River Drive South.’
The cop who visited the address was in for a shock. Joseph Cavanagh lived alone. He had been dead for at least three weeks. That’s what the coroner said, based on his findings. Strangely, the body wasn’t decomposed. It looked, well, “icy cold and freshly dead,” he said.
Both bodies lay on metal tables. Joseph blinked. Kim blinked back.
“They think I am dead, I felt unusually sleepy one afternoon. I woke up the next morning, but they don’t see that,” his helpless thoughts transmitted clearly to Kim.
“Embryos can’t walk or blink. I know this is a nightmare. This will soon be over,“ Kim’s thoughts transmitted to Joseph.
Kim lay in the morgue. Lev and Mom came to visit. Mom burst into tears, “Oh Kim, my angel,” she wept.
“Mom, don’t cry. I am fine. See? I’m not dead, take me home with you, please,” her thoughts spoke.
The funeral was held the next morning. All of Kim’s cousins and friends were present.
“Guys, stop it! The prank’s gone too far. I don’t like it anymore. Let’s go home. I need that drink,” Kim blinked furiously.
No one saw. Nor heard anything. The coffin was lowered into the ground.
Lev later thought it had been a strange night. He hadn’t mentioned the weird scratching he’d heard while checking the inventory.
Participating Entry – YeahWrite #211 Fiction|Poetry Challenge
Genre: Science Fiction
Answer this question in <= 1000 words
“Why Are You Still Awake?”