It’d only been a couple of weeks since Matt’s departure. Alice missed him and worried about him a lot, but she’d managed to divert her attention and concentrate fully on perfecting the serum. She spent most of her time in the lab, spending sleepless nights to figure out what was going wrong.
Martin had been given the task of labelling the specimen jars. “What’s porcupine bezoar? ” he asked, staring curiously at a jar filled with what looked like powdered stones. “Exactly what we need for our serum to work! Where’d ya find this, my boy? ” Dr. Wartenberg replied. “I was snoopin around the Do not open drawer.” Martin confessed, with an impish grin. “So….what is it? ” he repeated his question. “It’s a stone found in the stomachs of porcupines. It’s a miraculous cure. It’s believed to have medicinal properties an’ it helps fight off toxins an’ promotes muscle growth. Just what we need to improve our serum! ” a knowledgeable Alice explained on Dr. Wartenberg’s behalf. “Miraculous, eh? Any miraculous stuff’s always got side effects.” a suspicious Martin muttered to himself, while Alice prepared a new batch of serum with the new ingredient. “Leave that to the actual scientists, young man! ” Dr. Wartenberg scoffed. “Careful there, ol man! Yer talkin to the genius who might’ve discovered the solution to yer problematic serum.” Martin retorted, finding an excuse to boast. “I wouldn’t go that far. Yer merely a snooper! ” the elderly scientist corrected, mockingly. “Eureka! Shut up, the both of ya! Come take a look!” they were interrupted by an ecstatic cry from Alice, once she’d finished injecting the rat with the improved serum. “If it explodes, it’s on you!” Martin warned Dr. Wartenberg. “Look! It’s doin much better than the previous lab rats. It’s scampering about, clawing at the glass enclosure…..and no signs of an explosion yet! Gentlemen, I think we’ve got ourselves a winner! ” she declared. They kept the active rat under observation, till Dr. Wartenberg decided it was time to declare their test a success, happily jotting down the results in his diary. “This calls for a celebration! ” Martin exclaimed, enthusiastically. Dr. Wartenberg (who wasn’t much of a drinker) decided to head home for some well deserved rest, while Martin and Alice headed for the nearest bar.
“Me an’ my pals at MIT used to vape in the school library .” she reminisced, as they randomly talked about the craziest stuff they’d ever done. “Wait a min…Ya used to what?! ” he asked in disbelief, mishearing her. “Vape. Ya know, smoke e-cigs? ” she replied. “Oh! Vape! I thought ya said the other thing. Ya know, the thing that’s covered in every episode o’ Jessica Jones that I’ve ever watched! ” he exclaimed, louder than he’d meant to. “Oh…My…God! You have such a dirty mind, dude! Get it outta the guttter…Oh, my god! Ugh! ” she cried out, widening her eyes in disbelief before playfully swatting at him with her napkin. “Sorry.” he muttered, apologetically and embarrassingly. “Seriously! ” she mumbled. “Me an’ my mates used to play this drinkin game called Hijinks in the army. An’ this girl, Kelly Rowling, she had…wow! Such a rockin body! Anyway, Kelly beat all us blokes at it! She was a real tomboy! I mean we both had more in common than I had with any o’ the blokes. Anyway, long story short…we got pissed as newts one night an’ snogged in a BAE Hawk! ” he bragged. “Did you really? ” she asked.” Actually, we had the hottest sex in a BAE Hawk! An’ I’m not exaggeratin! Remember the scene in Titanic where Rose’s hand slides down the steamy car window? Well, in this case, it was the steamy aircraft canopy! ” he bragged. “Bro, too much info! ” she gagged. He let out a wicked chuckle. “Sorry…that’s me.” she whispered, fidgeting about in her bag as her phone rang. He raised an eyebrow on hearing her Doctor Who theme ringtone. “Don’t judge me. I’ve heard your All about that bass ringtone, skinny boy! You’re probably thinking of calling me a geek, aren’t ya? ” she retorted, noticing his expression. “I wasn’t. I think bein a geek is sexy. Never strive to be the cool kid- it’s bloody boring! ” he quipped, before sipping his drink. She seemed impressed by his take on geekiness. “Hello?” she answered her phone. “Hey, love! How’re ya doin? ” came his voice. “It’s Matt! ” she exclaimed gleefully, putting him on speaker so Martin could hear as well. “We’re fine. We had a major breakthrough in the lab today, so we’re treatin ourselves to drinks.” Martin explained. “Well, he had a major breakthrough.” she corrected, giving him due credit with a friendly smile. “So, what’re ya up to? ” he asked. “Well, the boys are playin drinkin games. We’re bravin a sandstorm ere. Seems like it’s gonna subside though.” he replied loudly, trying to make himself heard over the noise of drunk uncontrollable laughter and table drumming from his colleagues. David’s gonna hurl! Make way, boys! She heard someone yell in the background. “Sounds fun! Martin an’ I were gonna do the same, but given David’s predicament, I think I’ve changed my mind! ” she decided with a nervous chuckle, while Martin teasingly mouthed coward. “Sounds like someone’s chicken, eh, mate? ” he asked Matt over the phone for confirmation. “Oi! She’s no chicken….she just can’t handle her drink! ” Matt teased, just to annoy her. She was just about to argue with him over the matter of holding drinks, when she was interrupted by a loud explosive noise and screams from the other end. “Matt?! Are you ok? Matt?! ” she called out frantically, startling everyone at the bar. There was no reply from the other end.