Tobias sighed, and paced around the suspension tank, away from the kill switch, which he was just forced to flip. The tank had overheated again—his prototype had yet again failed the mental heuristics test. He’d have to retrain the neural net… again; It would be another month of work before he could try another boot. He was beginning to think that it would never work; that she would never wake up. He checked his pocket watch.

Quarter to seven.

Another sigh escaped him as his hands met his weary face. Rubbing the lines out of his forehead, he walked over to the door, his hard shoes tapping against the white, sterile floor of the lab. He made a gesture at the door, and a holographic panel flickered to life just above the thick steel, displaying a number pad.


The heavy door slid aside, into the wall, and the weary scientist walked through. The steel door slid shut behind him, and the light in the narrow airlock cut off, leaving only the red light bulb above the next sliding door. The darkness was pierced by a harsh decontamination light. Beams of it formed from the walls, and he raised his arms as they washed over him. After a few seconds of this, the waves stopped. The red bulb above the exit clicked to green, and the exit slid open. Tobias took his lab shoes off and trudged out, his feet dragging, now, his socks picking up all the dusty grit that the machine shop could offer. He got to his desk, and collapsed into his chair. He leaned back, and the old leather computer chair squeaked in response, easing back to accept its tired friend. He kicked up his feet and they fell hard on the desk. “Another night wasted…” he said quietly. He reached over to the desk and grabbed his alarm clock. He turned it around and cranked it a few times, then turned it back and set it for eight. An hour would suffice.

He leaned back, chair squeaking the whole way, and ran his fingers through his dirty, ruffled gray hair. He was getting too old for this, he thought.

A deep sigh escaped his lips as his eyes closed. He was too tired to notice the distant creak of the front door, or even the dull thud of it closing.