The Reaction – Prompt

I lit a joint on the bunsen burner, took a drag.

“Don’t do that in here,” Carol said, then reached across the lab table and took the joint from me. She pulled a drag, choked, then bent into a coughing fit.

“Just breathe,” I laughed. “And you told me there weren’t any volatile chemicals in here. Your words.”

“Oh fuck you,” she said between coughs.

She straightened from the fit, wiped her eyes and handed the joint back. “That was a mistake.”

“You say that now, wait a couple minutes and you’ll thank me for bringing it.”

“Or I might accidentally blow us up.” She glanced down at the glass beaker quietly vibrating atop a magnetic stirrer. She swiped up her clip board, eyes bouncing over the detailed report she had meticulously penned throughout the night, her nose crinkled with worry. “Number twenty-three,” she said.


She shook her head. “I just thought,” she paused, then waved her hand. “Nevermind. All is right with the world and I probably won’t blow us up.”


“What time is it,” Carol yawned the words, stretching her arms over her head.

“Nuh uh, rules are rules,” I said, pointing to a paper sign taped to the wall with the word ‘Time’ printed in black inside a red circle with a slice through the middle. “Time does not exist in The Sanctuary. Only Discovery! Invention! And Science!” I repeated her words from two days ago, flourishing my arms then breaking into a little robot dance. We really had been in here too long.

“I hate you,” but she smiled when she said it. “Grab number twenty-three.”

“Queenie? Oh I love Miss Queenie.”

“Queenie? I thought I told you not to name the droids.”

“Yeah but Queenie is different. Her little bunny butt has, like, five tumors growing out of it. That girl’s got ass.”

Carol’s expression could not have been more confused, so I tried to explain. “Queenie, like the band. Queen, that song ‘Fat Bottom Girls’, you know?” She didn’t know, so I started singing until a pencil hit my forehead. “Alright, alright. Listen, my brain is on random shuffle right now. Until I get greasy food and some sleep, that’s what you have to deal with.” I headed to the droid cages. Queenie was looking sweet and fluffy and perfect, her bunny nose twitching. I unlatched her cage and pulled her out as gently as I could.

“They’re droids, Baron. Not animals.”

“I know, but they still have hearts. Gotta be gentle,” I said, rubbing my thumb over Queenie’s ears.

“Whatever,” Carol said, drawing liquid from the beaker into a large needle. “Sit her here,” she pointed. I sat Queenie in front of her, cupping her tiny head in my hands, and Carol injected the chemicals into one of the larger tumors.

There was a ‘POP’ and a ‘SIZZLE’. Queenie’s ears were smoking. A bunny eyeball popped out, landing with a squelch on my sneaker. I laughed, couldn’t help it. I looked up at Carol.

Carol’s face was covered in a spongy brown substance and she curled over and wretched on the floor. Queenie’s nose twitched.

“Jesus goddamn,” I said, kicking the eyeball off my shoe, ready to help Carol, but she was already sitting with the clipboard, scribbling a report, and humming ‘Fat Bottom Girls’.


About Layne Tanner

Layne is a writer based in Austin, TX.
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