He stood at the edge of the precipice and looked downward. The pit was as deep as it was wide. The late-day sun cast a shadow into the pit, obscuring its full depths, save for a small piece of rock jutting from the base. He thought it was beautiful.
Peter Izof came here to think sometimes. It was the quietest place he knew. Animals generally avoided the site of the meteor impact, despite the fact it had happened millions of years prior. Perhaps they knew something he didn't.
He wondered what it would be like if he jumped. Would it hurt when he hit the bottom, or would he not even feel it? Pushing away the thought, he pulled back from the drop and carefully sat himself down, dangling his legs from the rock face. In his hand was the tattered notebook that had kept him sane and working throughout the project, filled page after page with his chicken scratch. Unlike his colleagues, he preferred working in pen and paper before transferring the information to the computer systems; it gave him a connection to what he was writing. The ink and the formation of the words were uniquely his, impossible to replicate and generally impossible to read. He removed the pen from the metal spiral and flipped open to the handful of blank pages that remained.
He clicked the top of the pen and wrote at the top of the page, "What about the curl?" He quickly positioned the pen beneath the words to write further, but hesitated, making circles in the air.
At that moment, his pocket vibrated and he jumped a bit, nearly dropping the notebook into the massive hole. He sighed and set it aside before pulling out his cell phone. They must have put in new towers if he was getting a call all the way out here. Dammit.
"Izof," he answered.
"Doctor, hi." His female grad student, Tiffany. He pictured her in his head. She was attractive, in that immature way that most college girls are, with a voice that was a bit too scratchy for her young years.
"Yes, Tiffany, what is it?"
"Dr. Charles is here, wondering where you are. He said that there was a test scheduled for today?" She spoke like a child waiting for her father to slap her, which she only did around Dr. Izof. He was always so terse with people, especially her. Although working with one of the greatest minds of his generation made her nervous, which no doubt contributed to her timidity, she was convinced that his 50-odd years on this planet had hardened him somehow, though she didn't know why.
He sighed. "Tell him I will be there soon," and then, "and for God's sake keep him away from my formulas!" With that he closed the phone and reluctantly pushed himself to a standing position. He grabbed the frayed notebook and walked back the way he came.
The lab was housed in a special section of the Department of Defense's Utah-based facility called "Overdub," which Peter found amusing in a way no one else did.