Mike let himself into the lab for the last time, noticing everything as if for the first time. The way the key wouldn't fit easily into the lock, but yawed this way and that. The stench of disinfectant. At least the lighting hadn't changed. He glanced down at the scuffed floor, newly cleared of his equipment. Apart from fresh scratches on the grey vinyl, it looked the same. Sterile. Finished with. He stepped inside and pushed the door shut. Even his lab coat was gone from the hook on the back of the door. He wondered if he'd reached a stage beyond anger. Or if resignation had set in.
They'd taken everything down from the walls, too. Not neatly--too much to ask. Diagrams, charts, little "happy notes", all gone.
The door creaked, then opened slowly, as if unsure it should be opening it at all.
"It's okay," he said. "I won't bite." A head came round the door, appearing first as a pointy little nose topped by a pair of glasses. Then adding some close-cropped brown hair. Fitch smiled a little frightened smile, still keeping everything beyond her ears out of sight.
"I'm so sorry," she said, glancing nervously around. Then she stepped into the room. "We'll miss you."
They hugged, an awkward, quiet moment. "It's okay," Mike said. "Now that I'm gone, I wish you the best."
Then the director cut to commercial, and that was the end of Mike's run on the poorly-rated America's Next Top Chemist.
Opening: BuffySquirrel.....Continuation: freddie