Short Story Exercise: Who Needs Peer Review?

(pulled six random Rory’s Story Cubes, shook ’em up, dropped on table, arranged in order they fell top to bottom, wrote short story)

Bobbie rotated the brown hulk in her gloved hands, searching for the optimal place to extract her sample. If her theory was correct, it wouldn’t matter which part of the fossilized dinosaur bone she took, but she didn’t want to destroy too much of the university’s sample.

She was also keenly aware of Peter standing behind her chair. He remained silent as she ground off bits of bone with the drill and swept the powder into a yellow liquid. Bobbie had spent the last eight months perfecting the formula and it was time to see if her hard work would pay off. Trace amounts of smoke hissed from the liquid as Bobbie gently mixed in the powder.

“Here you are,” Peter said with a flourish as he placed a teflon coated glass tray in front of her.

“Oh,” Bobbie smiled at him quickly, “thank you.”

Peter leaned casually against the table, arms folded. “You don’t really think this is going to work, do you?”

She shrugged and carefully poured the yellow goo onto the tray. “Either it will, or I will have proven that it won’t.” When the last bit fell onto the tray Bobbie’s eyes widened as the mixture spread itself evenly across the smooth surface. She felt heat rising from it immediately. Tingling with excitement she stood to prep the oven. Once her back was turned the terrible noise of breaking glass stopped her in her tracks.

A large piece of coprolite had miraculously appeared in the middle of the newly smashed tray. Yellow gel splattered the walls and still more was actively flowing onto the floor. Bobbie glared at Peter.

He smirked. “Shit, as they say, happens, sweetheart.”

“Why did you do that?!” she roared. “It was working! It was already reacting, and now I have to start all over–“

“Listen, Babs, what do you think you’re doing? You think you can remake a movie or something? You think that little rich guy with his frozen amber mosquito cane is going to come sweep you off your feet?”

“As it happens,” Bobbie replied coldly, “I’ve already had offers for patents and licensing rights. Not from Richard Attenborough’s ghost, but real people who could actually afford their own island stocked with extinct animals.”

Peter shoved the rest of the tray to the ground and jabbed his finger on Bobbie’s shoulder. “Don’t you do it. Dinosaurs are extinct for a reason. They can’t survive here. Their climate was as inhospitable as they were. I’m talking awful, smelly swamps.”

Bobbie took a moment to consider that. Then she said, “But what if they tasted super good? A T-rex would feed a lot of people.”

“Excuse me,” a timid voice called from the doorway.

The grad students turned to see their professor’s wife standing in the doorway of the lab. It was obvious she had been crying. She was clutching a baseball bat.

“Hey, Mrs. Torrance,” Peter said easily. “What’cha got there?”

She looked at the wooden bat in her hand and whispered, “I was just looking for my husband.” Her bloodshot eyes fixed on Bobbie. “He works too hard, you know. I was just thinking,” she sniffed, “he could play baseball with me.”

rory-peer-review