Slap! Slap!
I’m going to get every last one of those vermin.
He stalked around his office, stepping as softly as he could. Listening. He had to remind himself to breathe every few seconds. The tension was starting to get to him.
These damn insects. They’re all going to die!
Slap! The tall man held his breath. He slowly opened his hands and thoroughly inspected them. A wave of relief washed over him as he wiped his soiled hands on his Khaki trousers. There was silence for the first time in days. Or was it hours? He’d been slapping these flies for so long; he’d lost track of how long he’d been slapping. His scarred hand was sore from the percussion and his neck itched from the sweat. His stomach gurgled with hunger.
I should go get something to eat. I’m liable to pass out any moment. Should I risk it with 261? I’m not really in the mood for pizza again, but I also don’t want to risk something bizarre.
He walked out of his office in a daze. The bright florescent lights of the hallway shocked his eyes.
I never have liked those damn strobes. Hurt my eyes. Rather stick with my trusty incandescents.
“Doctor! May I have a moment?” A young lady was rushing toward him, clipboard and papers tucked tightly to her chest. “I have some questions about the recent experiments preformed on-”
The young doctor spun around quickly and silenced her with a glance. His eyes were stern, despite his exhaustion. “What do you think you're doing?” His voice was soft. “Were you about to divulge classified information in the middle of a hallway? That could get you fired, you know. And we all know what it means when you are fired from the Foundation.” His eyes narrowed as he leaned forward.
The blonde was shaking in her pant suit. “I-I’m sorry, D-Doctor. I was just trying to sort out this problem.”
The man laughed loudly, catching her by surprise. “I’m only joking! Haven’t you been to my seminars? But really, it is important that you not shout about such things in the middle of public areas. Tell you what, if you come back in, say, 20 minutes, I'd be happy to answer any questions you have. In my office. Where there is sound proofing. Ok?”
“Yeah, O.K. Thanks.” She seemed to melt into her shoes. “I’m Rebecca, by the way. I’m kinda new-”
She faded off when she realized the doctor wasn’t paying attention to her anymore. He seemed to be entranced. His gaze darted back and forth, tracking some unseen target. His arms cocked back at the elbows as he assumed a slapping stance. He slowly started walking away from the new employee. As he jumped through the air around a corner, clapping his hands as he went, she turned to leave, confused as to what just happened. She spotted another new recruit she had gone through orientation with just one month ago.
“Drew! Hey! Long time no see!”
“Oh hey! Becky, right? How have you been?”
“I’ve been ok. Just working on the data expunged so it won't go redacted. How about you?”
“A lot of the same. You know. Notes to take, reports to write, containment procedures to adjust. But its good honest work and my family thinks I'm developing the newest spaceships. I can’t complain. And from what I just saw, neither can you. Was that Dr. Cimmerian I saw you chatting with just there?”
“Yeah. I had some ethical questions about the latest tests I took part in, and I figured who else would be better to go to than the site Ethics Committee Liaison. But he got kinda weird and just… wandered off.”
“Well, are you surprised? He's senior staff. They're all weird. I mean, sure, he’s not Dr. Bright, or Dr. Clef. Hell, even Dr. Kondraki makes him look normal. But he is senior staff, and I don’t think that you can get there without being a least a little weird. He’s on the Ethics Committee and that doesn’t just happen. Plus, have you seen those scars? Do you know how he got them?”
“No. Do you?”
“I heard it was a bad accident involving 682 breaching containment. They keep him in acid, after all. And with his incredible knowledge on basically everything, I'd be surprised if he’s not an anomaly himself. Like Dr. Bright. Have you been to any of his seminars? He always starts by saying something like, ‘My name is Dr. Cimmerian and today I'd like to talk about how you are wrong about blah blah blah…’ They’re amazing.”
Becky shook her head. Drew clicked his tongue.
“But anyway. I gotta get back to work. Gotta finish up this report before someone else loses a hand. It was good seeing you.” Drew reached over and gave her arm a squeeze. It felt nice. She’d have to look for Drew again sometime soon. Maybe invite him for a piece of pizza.
• • •
Cimmerian clapped, over and over. He ran down the hall chasing the insect fanatically. His eyes were fixed on his prey, never straying. He pursued the pest through winding halls, open doors, and into the break room. His tunnel vision prevented him from seeing the havoc left in his wake. Overturned chairs, disheveled coworkers, and smashed food trailed behind him.
“Doctor, what are you doing?”
“Jerimiah? Are you ok?”
“What the hell are you thinking, man?”
It was no use. The doctor continued his pursuit; out the back door and into the hall. He ran through the door ahead of him, shouldering the woman passing through the door out of the way.
“Wait, Mister! Are you authorized—”
Onward he pushed, undeterred by the bellows of surrounding people. Onward he strode, determined to end this war. Onward he advanced, laser focused on his goal. He watched as the bug landed. He slowly and silently crept towards its perch, inching ever nearer. Cimmerian didn’t notice the blue glow of the palm scanner illuminating the creature from underneath.
“This is the end for you and your kind, you useless insect.” Cimmerian lunged toward his prey. He swung his palm down on the fly with as much strength as he could muster, feeling the satisfying squish under his fingers. The palm scanner turned green and the door slid open next to him. The hiss as it settled into place brought him out of his trance.
Where am I? How in the world did I get here?
He scanned the area for another researcher, trying to figure out where he had ended up.
All these damn soft white halls look the same! Has no one here ever heard of signage? And why am I so damn hungry?
As he looked around, he noticed a trail of something leading from where he stood back through the halls.
Ah… I must have come from that direction.
He followed the trail of powdered donut, coffee, and other assorted food stuffs back to the cafeteria where he met with a number of angry and slightly worried faces.
"Uh, hi everyone. Good to see you."
He quickly left the room and made his way back to his office. He sat down behind his desk and held his head in his hands. There was a gentle knock on the door.
"Dr. Cimmerian? Are you available for our meeting?" A timid young woman poked her head into his office.
"Meeting? I'm sorry I don't remember… Oh that's right. R… Rebecca, correct?"
"Yes sir. That is correct."
"Ok, then, let's get to business shall we? What was it that you needed to talk about?"
The young lady started talking. Dr. Cimmerian could only see her lips moving, and all he could hear

was buzzing.