I mentioned in my last update that a tour was going to be coming through the lab. I confess, I’m not a big fan of tour days. As much as I love educating people about science, and showing off my work, it really gets in the way of getting anything done.
This particular group was a bunch of people from out of town, as they often are. I couldn’t tell you exactly how far out of town they were from; my questions about that were met with some pretty vague answers. “It’s really far away,” they said. “You probably haven’t heard of it.” Great. I’m opening up the secrets of the universe to these people, and they won’t even tell me where they live. Whatever.
One thing they did let on, though, is that they were really curious about what everything we do at the lab. Most tour groups have questions, but these guys had a million of them.
“Have you found any evidence of alien life on other planets?”
“Do you ever experiment on human subjects? Like, with probes and stuff?”
“What exactly do you plan to do with that space ship you’re building?”
“Have you built any superweapons capable of eliminating all human life on Earth?”
My entire day was an exercise in cat herding. As soon as I’d get one of them to stop fiddling with the analysis equipment, I’d get a text from one of my co-workers that another was accessing the power junction for the satellite dishes. I was constantly running from one end of the lab to another trying to stop these tourists from getting themselves killed, or worse, breaking some really expensive stuff.
At one point I found one of them, whose name I never caught, trying to access our top secret files on alien contact reports. While I appreciated his curiosity, I’d just seen him eating a doughnut in the break room and he was probably getting the keyboard all sticky.
I needed some kind of distraction, and I just happened to have one: the cloned energy drink I created yesterday.
He seemed really interested.
“Has this been designed with non-human species in mind?” he asked.
“Umm… sure.” I told him. “I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s pet-safe, but we don’t do animal testing at the lab, so it’s all very theoretical at this point.”
He looked agitated. “No, I mean is it toxic to lead-based… oh, never mind.”
He sniffed the beaker, dipped a finger in to test it, then chugged the contents. A few minutes later he was still alive, and he didn’t touch any more doughnuts for the rest of the day. I’m calling the testing phase a success.
They eventually all filed out, with a minimum of damage done. I hear there was a small explosion over in the rocket fuel lab, but they have those all the time so it could have been anything.
As I was getting ready to head home, Mr. Seymour — I mean Hugh — stopped me in the hall. He seemed troubled.
“Did they seem at all strange to you?”
“Not really,” I shrugged. “Just another tour group.”