Nadene Goodwell pushed herself off the floor, her eyes adjusting to the light. The last memory in her head was as she was bringing the petri dish from containment to the microscope. The specimen she had discovered within the meteorite was displaying erratic behavior and growth, and she wanted to find the source of the irregularity. Her new assistants were sanitizing and preparing her set-up. Usually Dr. Brown and Dr. Hadid would be preparing the station, but for some reason neither had shown up to work. Instead, she had been saddled with a crew of interns, much to her consternation. She was about to chew the new guy Zachary out for using the wrong cleaner when she started feeling dizzy.
“Dr. Goodwell! The dish!”
The words sounded vaguely as though they came from the mouth of Ms. Hernietta Smith, who had been brought over from another department to help out. Though in her slightly addled mind-set, it was hard for Nadene to tell. Her finger had accidentally dipped into the petri dish and went numb. And soon her whole body followed.
Now upright, she squinted around the barren landscape. It didn’t take long before she heard the first familiar voice in this barren waste.
“There you are! You’re alright! You disappeared from the lab and nobody knew where you were. Are you hurt? Where are we?”
Of all the wastes of oxygen to be stranded in an unknown world with, Nadene shuddered to find herself stuck with Zachary Young. The imcompetent college grunt was unhelpful in even basic tasks. The good doctor figured that if she had to rely on him for survival, she was as good as dead. Zachary tried to grab her hand to steady her, but she yanked it away,
“I’m fine! Get your grubby mitts off of me!”
Dr. Goodwell looked far from fine, but Zach knew better than to provoke her. He had been on the receiving end of her ire more than enough for one lifetime. Thankfully for the both of them, they weren’t the only ones in this plane of nothing. Otherwise, they may have been each other’s downfall.
“Zach! Dr. Goodwell! I found you! Thank goodness you two are alright.”
“Ah, you’re here too then? I suppose it’s about time you showed up, Ms. Smith. Did you see what happened in the lab?”
Fortunately for the two confused survivors, and unfortunately for Hernietta’s psyche, Hernietta had remained conscious during her transformation. As she explained to the group, as soon as she reached out for the petri dish, her body began to numb. She fought to stay awake and warn Zach to stay away. She felt her body implode in on itself. Her hand dwindled rapidly, and the rest of her body followed rapidly. It was almost too quick to see, but hard to avoid feeling. He watched as the ever expanding Zach approached the dish to see what had happened to his labmates. She tried to yell to stay away, but her voice failed to carry and she watched as Zach shrank with her.
“So we’re in-” Zach said confused before Dr. Goodwell interjected.
“…the petri dish?”
“It seems like it”
Nadene gazed around her new surroundings in awe. All her life, the world beneath her gaze had always fascinated her. An entire ecosystem full of life and mystery. All smaller than the tip of her nail. She had dedicated her life to such studies. Never had she imagined she would be able to see it up close. She stepped forward to see the wondrous sights her new size would grant her. The interns followed behind her, confused. They didn’t understand what had come over her, but they were alone in a strange land. They walked lockstep with the only person with any chance of saving them from this odd experience, even if she seemed lost in her own thoughts.
BOOOM BOOOM BOOOM
The crew didn’t know what to make of the strange sound until a shape emerged over the horizon lumbering towards them. Dr. Goodwell snapped out of her trance and quickly stepped behind Zach and Hernietta, who had frozen in place like dust settled on an unused shelf.
The newly minted explorers of this microscopic world stared in awe at the vaguely humanoid yet vaguely amorphous shape in front of them. It was like a twenty foot display mannequin, but with every recognizable feature sanded off of it. A generally human shape warped into a clean slate was all that gazed back at them, if it even could gaze without even the remotest hint of an eye.
The cell walls held the giant gooey mess into its shape. It was almost like an aqueous skin around the monstrous, unsettling cell. Against her better judgment, Henrietta reached out to feel the walls of the cell. To her surprise, the cell wall was like goop in her hands. Her palm passed through the exterior of the giant cell, allowing her to reach inside the Incorperant. Dr. Goodwell immediately started shouting at her.
“Ms. Smith! What are you doing?!?! Stop playing with that this instant! We have no idea what that thing is capable of!”
Henrietta tried to pull her arm back, but found herself stuck in place. No matter how hard she tugged, her arm was buried elbow-deep inside the Incorperant, unable to free itself. That’s when she felt a sharp tug. She screamed for help as the other assistants rushed to her side, trying as they might to pull her away. But the pull of the odd organism was too much for her. Soon her shoulder was embedded in the gelatinous creature, then her torso. Zach held onto Henrietta the longest, collapsing her hand in his until even that was wrenched away and absorbed. Dr. Goodwell, meanwhile, kept her distance. Fear gripped at her, like an ominous premonition of danger.
For a moment, Henrietta was simply suspended inside the cell. The miniaturized humans could see her through the translucent green membrane. At first, she struggled with all her might for air. But the panic quickly gave way to an unsettling calm. Her face appeared as though she were sleeping on a bed of clouds, rather than floating within goo with no air to breathe. That’s when her hands and feet began to disappear. Her flesh didn’t so much peel or burn away, so much as merge itself with the ooze within the Incorperant and simply wash away. With her hands and feet gone, soon her head, arms and legs became the same watery consistency. As they mixed into the concoction brewing within the inside of the cell, her chest finally spread and thinned like paint dripping into the ocean. The hapless scientists could only watch as the space that was once occupied by their coworker was now indistinguishable from anything else. The remaining pair stood motionless, unable to process what happened.
The two looked at each other. One thing was clear. Those words didn’t come from either of them.
What does the strange bacteria have in store for our hero and heroine? Can they escape their mysterious captor? Or will they succumb to…
THE EMERGENCE OF THE INCORPERANTS
Find out next time in Emergence of the Incorperants Chapter 2: What You Eat