“Grief is the agony of an instant, the indulgence of grief the blunder of a life.” – Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881)

The alarm buzzed incessantly. Matt rolled off the bed, slowly turning it off. His eyes were red and baggy from the previous night. His stomach felt both empty, and nauseated. Thoughts of breakfast eluded his mind as he sat at the kitchen table. Matt thought back to the dinner the night before. His voice had been choked with grief during the conversation.

Matt and Veronica had been eating when Matt asked her never to leave him. All of a sudden out of the blue. Veronica had stopped eating to look at him and smiled. She said she would always be there for him no matter what. When the subject came back to her past boyfriends Matt objected to always being the last to know. Veronica asked if he wanted to be the first, and he answered yes. At least she would be upfront about it, he thought to himself and he would have time to accept it.

Matt picked himself off the table and went to the bathroom. He had a visible stubble, and the rest of his face looked disgusting, hair tousled up and his face white as a ghost. For the rest of the day Matt laid around, thinking on how to move on.

The alarm went off again. It was Monday morning. Six int eh morning. Matt rubbed his eyes and felt a dryness in his mouth. He still wasn’t hungry, but he knew he had to go to work. Maybe, he thought, it would get his mind off his life. Slowly he got dressed, and went to his car. Driving in the cool morning air rid him of some of his thoughts, as did the radio music. He pulled up to the security window. and rolled down his car window.

“Dr. Smith for Human Behavior Science.” Matt spoke into the microphone.

“Man, Dr. Smith, its really early, don’t you sleep?” The security guards voice answered concerned.

“Not anymore Enrique.” Matt answered as the gate opened and he drove in. Parking the car, he moved as fast as he could to his lab. He just wanted to rest there, among his work and just relax. Rick wouldn’t be here for at least 2 hours.

The phone rang loudly jerking Matt awake. It was 6:35…he had been asleep 5 minutes. Matt answered the phone. It was from the Human Resources department. It seemed that he was going to be in charge of another intern, because of the exemplary status and achievement Rick was doing. The person was a biology major and coming in the afternoon.

Matt hung up the phone and laid his head back down. When he awoke, Rick was fiddling with files and folders. Seeing Matt wake up he came over to him with a cup of coffee.

“Hey sleeping beauty…actually skip the beauty…you look like hell.” Rick said handing him the coffee.

“Love you too buttercup,” Matt said sipping the drink. He felt it’s blackness seep down his throat waking him up as it met his stomach. Matt quickly got to work arranging the files for his hormone therapy.

“Oh Rick, we got a new intern coming in. A biology major, we are supposed to pick her up…right now? You let me sleep that long?” Matt was flabbergasted looking at his watch.

“You looked pretty rough, and I know you didn’t get much sleep, so I worked as quietly as I could. Look man, this Veronica thing is killing you. I just want…”

“Rick, butt out. I can take care of my own problems. You have enough on your plate as it is. I am going to go down and see if this person is here yet and give her a tour of the facility. Try and get some work done.” Matt picked up his jacket and left, leaving Rick a bit stunned. Something was definitely wrong with Matt.

Matt walked down the halls. The aching feeling in his chest was there, but subsided. That night he felt that pain he knew things were spiraling out of control. Last night he felt it too and it just wouldn’t stop until he fell asleep, and woke up in pain. Seeing the Human Resources door he opened it, and looked around.

“Suzanne Bancroft?” Matt asked the secretary.

“Right here.” a woman stood up from the chair. She had shoulder length brown hair, brown eyes, and was wearing a tucked in button down brown shirt and a black knee length skirt.

“Ok come with me. My name is Doctor Matthew Smith.” Matt said shaking her hand and escorting her out of the office.

“Dr Smith? I read your paper about biological functions of mammals last year. I didn’t realize you were so young.”

“I am a fast learner, its a gift,” Matt smiled.” Come on I can show you our biological exhibit if you like.”

“Sure lead the way.” She smiled at him as they walked down the hall. “So why the long face?” She asked as they passed through the biological testing area.

“What? I don’t have a long face.” Matt said while administering the secure code to get into the Computer Display Area of the biological wing.

“Yes, you do, its ok. We all have problems, its good to talk about them.”

“A little forward aren’t you? Yes, we all have problems, talking about them helps but actually dealing with them is a more appropriate solution.” Matt said while watching the scientists at work behind the glass wall.

“Spoken like a true psychologist, but tell me Doctor…have you dealt with your problem?” Matt looked at her as she held her binder close to her body and stared at him.

“No, my situation has too many unknown factors to be solved so simply. It takes delicate timing.”

“Right, can you show me your computer testing area? I heard they were developing a computer using DNA…is that true?” Suzanne said changing the subject rapidly.

“Yes, it is, DNA is like a number code but more improved then the existing binary system. It could increase performance by a thousand times. By the way Miss. Bancroft, have you dealt with your problems?” Matt asked smiling at the woman.

“How do you know I even have problems?” she smiled back walking past.

“My photographic memory where you said that everyone has problems. Care to admit yours?”

“My boyfriend is my problem,” Suzanne said stopping. Matt stopped as well. An uncomfortable subject to say the least.”He ignores me for days but when I meet a guy or talk to one he gets angry and yells at me and…it just is frustrating.”

“So why don’t you break it off with him?”

“Because he supports me being a scientist and puts up with my weird quirks…”

“…And you don’t like change. You like the stability of the relationship no matter how bad it gets.” Matt finished for her. Suzanne looked surprised.

“You are a smart no wonder you are a doctor. Sometimes when he treats me like that…I just feel an ache in my chest and sometimes it explodes and I just lay their in bed wishing it would stop,” she looked down embarrassed. Matt lifted her head up with his hand.

“Believe me, other people go through that every day, it takes time to deal with it but the first step is getting rid of the problem.” Matt said. Suzanne looked int his eyes and smiled as she turned away.

“What about you doctor? What problems plague you?” Matt looked at her as she asked…and he asked himself if he should open up to a stranger. With her it seemed so much easier. No back history, no drama…she seemed to care what he thought.

“I had girlfriends that haven’t worked out for the best and friends that I am not sure I can trust, or even if they care about me anymore. One of them I have been in love with for 2 years, and she went out with one of my friends.” Matt remembered what he felt like when Lisa told him about Robert and Veronica.

“Ouch, are they still your friends?”

“Much like you I stay with them because I always have, though I am not the guy that they were friends with. I used to simply sit around and be bored. They enjoyed me just being there like a lump on a log, but recently I snapped out of it and I spend less and less time with them. I think to myself why I should feel that way when they dot care how I feel,” Matt shook his head. “Come on, its time to go to the Genetics lab.

As they both entered the elevator Suzanne looked at Matt. He seemed closed off, even when describing the situation he was in. It was like he was a distant observer of his own life. The elevator opened and Rick was there.

“Where the hell have you been?” Matt smiled and looked to Suzanne.

“Hi Rick, good to see you to. This is Suzanne Bancroft, the biology student. I was showing her around the facility. Do you have those tests ready.

“Oh yeah, Matt sorry to say but we wont be able to run the test today. The lab is being cleaned up and renovated with state of the art room making stuff.”

“You mean they are replacing our floors and walls with stuff that is more durable.” Matt smiled at Rick as he shrugged and nodded his head. As Rick and Suzanne shook hands, Matt went to collect his notes.

“Dr. Smith?”

“Suzanne its ok to call me Matt. We are going to be working together. Besides I hate being called Doctor Smith, makes me sound evil. Like some kind of mad scientist.” All three laughed as they walked together down the hall.

“Ok Suzanne, since we cant go into the testing room I can show you where my hormone experiment is located.” Rick rolled his eyes as Suzanne smiled.

They entered the room filled with metal. A control panel was on the right side, a door leading inside. The main lab area was relatively empty. There was a chair with restraints on it, a head piece for holding the head still, three radiation emitters, and the computers that calculated and maintained the emitters.

Matt showed Suzanne around detailing how the experiment would be performed on a human. Using the voice commands he activated the restraints, to which Rick commented on how it made a great bondage chair.
Matt smiled as Suzanne just shook her head. Underneath the chair he showed her where the two hormone injections were.

“Where is the actual serum?” Suzanne asked looking around.

“Oh in the back there is a fridge that keeps the hormones static until time of release.”

“Talk about PMS.” Rick said winking at Suzanne. Matt gave Rick a look and Rick looked down as Suzanne laughed. Soon it was night time, as Suzanne looked at her watch.

“Listen guys I have to run, but I will be ready for work tomorrow Doctor…Matt.” Suzanne smiled at Matt and Rick as she left through the main security door. Rick lightly tapped Matt on the arm.

“Dude she totally digs you.” Rick said smiling at Matt. Matt shook his head.

“Come on Rick, I’m her boss and like 4 years older…besides I am hung up on Veronica, last thing I need is to find a Betty.” Matt said picking up his briefcase.

“I have to say Matt, I haven’t seen you smile like that before.” Rick said serious in tone.

“I dot know Rick, it was so easy to talk to her and she seemed to understand or at least try to. Just like you kind of, I think its why I am having the trouble with my friends, they don’t seem to understand how I feel.

“Have you ever talked to them?”

“Yeah, Veronica, and we saw how well that went. I’m going home man.” Matt said waving.

“Matt?” Rick said as Matt stopped and turned. “If you need to talk you know I am here, and so is Suzanne I think. If the others cant talk to you, at least we can.”

“I know Rick, thanks.” Matt smiled and walked out the door. Rick smiled back and turned off the lights to the lab…watching that chair that Matt had created turn to darkness, Rick felt a cold shiver run up his spine. Shaking it off he walked off down the hall.

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” – Sam Ewing

The Monster Within Us All – Chapter 5

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