“Elliot, I need you back at the lab.”
Two days had passed since Elliot and Ava arrived at the facility. Having safely delivered the inventions from under the fume hood, Elliot now served no purpose at the facility other than startling researchers deep in work by peering excitedly over their shoulders.
Elliot was in his element. Never before had he seen so many scientists working so swiftly in coordination. They wielded their microscopes and stress testers and materials analysers with greater precision than he thought humanly possible.
When Elliot was in middle school, he read a lot of biographies. Every night when he came home from school, he would sit on his bed and read about about marine biologists who dove into the deep sea and uncovered secrets about fish they had never seen. He would read about physicist-turned-astronauts who explored the moon and deployed autonomous robots on Mars. He would read about brilliant inventors who took apart their very first smartphone and put it back together at the age of 5, and about expert hackers who somehow had started coding at the age of 3.
Elliot enjoyed losing himself in their stories. But before long, he had had enough. Elliot wanted to be just like these people, but he realised that sitting and reading about them all day wasn’t going to get him there. And neither would his autonomous, self-driving Hot Wheels. He tossed them.
The metal door clanged shut as Ava staggered out from the cold, cold room.
“Here,” she said, shoving the bottle and sheets into the bag they came in. “I’ve got it, let’s go.”
“Got what?” demanded Elliot. “What was so important that you had to risk your life?”
“I risked my life for my life’s work,” Ava retorted. “Now let’s go. I’ll explain on the way.”
“This way,” Ava muttered, hearing footsteps outside the laboratory.
She strode over to the ceiling-to-floor whiteboard, reached up to the top left corner where the manufacturers had left a little logo, and pushed down on the metal. For a second nothing happened, and then with a click and a swoosh the whiteboard slid to the right, revealing a large, unmarked, metal door.