When the harsh sun set, they came out in droves–the good, the ugly and the just plain weird. She watched them come, her hands in her skirt pockets, her back to a wall. Carnival lights drew them, and they broke like waves against the gates.
“Shall I open the gates?” he asked, but she shook her head.
Her eyes stayed locked not on the crowd waiting to enter but on the ember burning on the horizon. Sinking into purple dusk, she watched the swollen sun’s final rays claw the sky. Its bright hands tugged a cloud blanket over the baked earth, trapping its heat. Once it was down, it would stop cooking her, and the show could go on for another night.
Maybe tonight she’d find the answer. Maybe but she doubted it as she turned without saying a word. He didn’t ask again. Instead, he nodded to two shadows by the gate, and they unlocked it. But she’d already left the area, heading for the park’s star attraction–the Ferris wheel.
Standing by it, bathed in its otherworldly glow, she felt its attraction but resisted its lure. She had work to do. So she stalked to the control booth and readied the first experiment. Riders queued up, and a chubby boy hand picked for his keen eyes, unhooked the rope to allow them to board the ride.
She waited for the wheel to fill, her hands gliding over the controls. Keys clicked as she engaged a preset program. Tapping a microphone, she spoke into the recorder. “Commencing test number 454, stand by for results.”
She grasped a red lever and hit a green button to start the ride. Slow at first the wheel turned as she pushed the lever. Nozzles secreted in each of the twenty-four passenger capsules misted the riders. Millimetric needles extruded from the seats and handrails. Each came tipped with a mild numbing agent to prevent discomfort during drug delivery. The wheel spun faster and its lights blurred.
Centrifugal force shook up the riders, mixing the drugs in their systems. She hit a toggle with her knuckle to set the clock. Round and round the wheel whirled as she willed the experiment to succeed. They couldn’t survive as a species if it didn’t. Not with the sun putting enough radiation to make its touch deadly. Oh not immediately, no but the malignant melanoma it caused did kill in the end. But the end came in a matter of weeks and sometimes days as tumors metastasized at an increased rate. And there was no cure.
You couldn’t fight this with chemo. Not when the suffering soul also had radiation sickness. It was a mild form of it, yes, but she couldn’t condone using more radiation.
Screams issued from the ride, but she ignored them. They were the soundtrack of the amusement park, and she’d grown used to hearing them. A door to her left swung in, and the chubby ride operator poked his flushed face inside.
“Stop the ride Doctor. I think something’s gone wrong.”
Startled out of her musing, she pulled back on the lever and hit the red button. The Ferris wheel lost its momentum and began to wind down. Each revolution took longer to complete until it came to a gentle halt. By that time, she stood on the platform ready to scrutinize the people exiting the ride.
Had she succeeded finally or had this version of the serum proven as deadly as the last one? She held her breath as the first passenger capsule slid open.
to be continued…?
I have no idea where this is going or why this story wrote itself from one glance at that image. But I love Twitter for its #writingprompts 🙂