Chapter i^3

536 Words
Chapter i^3 “What’s done is done,” she replied for the tenth time, while folding the curtains from his office/lab. She had taken out anything untouched by the fire so that it would not absorb the smell. Then her face showed legitimate worry and she asked quietly, “Will Demokritos replace the laser?” Yanni sat down and puffed a few long breaths of air, as if the answer was to be found in the molecules around him. “Nai. Yes, they have to. But it will take forever to do the paperwork and get it approved. It can’t be done in time for the funding review.” Thalia tucked the corners of the curtains as perfectly as she could. This was something she could control and she calmed herself by doing the work flawlessly. “I know the laser is expensive, can’t we get that money from somewhere in the meantime? From Nikos, for example?” Yanni searched for spite in her voice but found none. Her suggestion was cold and logical, not vindictive. And she was right. “We can. Yes. But the problem is not the cost, it’s the availability. The parts are both expensive and not available to private individuals. Having the money is not enough, you also need to be a research centre to even obtain something like it. Or a big corporation’s R&D department, something like that.” “Can’t you explain the setback to the review committee?” Yanni thought about the call earlier, an associate warning him about the new administrator who was determined to cut off his funding. He decided not to tell that to his wife, to leave a shred of hope hanging. She was calm, but she might need nothing more than this new piece of information to tip her over. “Yeah, sure. They are not unapproachable, I’ll call them first thing tomorrow morning.” He forced a smile, kissed her and went upstairs to his office/lab. He sat on his chair as he always did and inspected the damage. It wasn’t much but it could be a lot worse. The laser had a big burn on the top of its case, obviously from overheating. The wiring was burnt and smelling bad, plastic always does that. The edge of the desk was singed, one corner of his chair also, the carpet too. Mr. Andreas really did try to avoid spraying the laser, he managed to foam a circle around and choked off the flame’s oxygen. Practical man, his thinking might had saved tens of thousands of euros in repairs. The carpet was destroyed though. It’s OK. Yanni even entertained the thought of debating his wife and leaving the room exactly like that. Scars of a failure. He thought about turning the laser back on. Maybe that was his lucky accident. Maybe this was to be his Eureka moment, the part where an accident in the lab leads to a new world-changing discovery. It was foolish of him, but the temptation to try was too much. He argued that the laser was already damaged, so he couldn’t make it worse. He brought an old blanket just in case, claiming to Thalia that he was keeping the window open and it was chilly. It was already dark, so that wasn’t far from the truth. He held the blanket in hand in case of another fire and turned the laser on, hoping for the life-altering Eureka moment of his dreams.
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