The permanent temp

Chapter 2

Professor Lazarus strode towards his latest invention, Rose stood back out of the way next to Lady Thaw, who was positively glowing at the thought of it succeeding and making a heavy profit once approved and also the thought of being young again. The lab assistants were making their final checks as the older man opened the door to the capsule.

John could only stand and stare as the consoles lit up and spying a big red button, he could never resist a big red button, wondered if it was the emergency stop. The lead technician closed the door behind the professor and flipped a bank of switches. Everyone shielded their eyes as a bright white light filled the room and let out cries of surprise as the device began to spin on it’s cradle of four extended arms. A few minutes went by and everyone was silent until suddenly, an alarm sounded and sparks began to fly from the bank of switches.

The technicians were flipping switches in vain, the device itself almost spinning out of control. John of course was the first to react, getting his sonic screwdriver out of his pocket, he knew it would come in useful one of these days. He dashed over to the console and began flipping more switches as the assistants could only stand and watch him take over, trying different settings on his screwdriver.

“Somebody stop him!” Lady Thaw cried out, covering her mouth in horror. Rose was trying to hold her back.

“If it blows up, it will kill everyone in this room, is that what you want?” John yelled back, grabbing a handful of wires and trying to yank them out. “Martha, press the big red button when I say so.”

Martha just stood there like everyone else but Rose was the nearest and went to stand by it.

“You press that young lady and you are finished here,” Lady Thaw protested.

“If it means not dying tonight, I don’t really care, your Ladyship,” Rose answered defiantly, getting her a massive grin from John. Rose was his kind of person.

John was still trying to slow the device when he suddenly shouted, “STOP!” pulling the thickest of the cables out and Rose put her hand on the red button. Martha broke out of her stare and rushed over to the capsule door as Rose and John arrived at the same time, looking at each other and grinning.

As the sealed door hissed, they all stood back to muffled cries from those gathered, expecting to see an old man either stagger out or fall out. Instead, there in the old professor’s place stood a much younger man with blonde hair. Lady Thaw could only gasp in delight, thinking it would be worth going through the mangle to end up young again with this very handsome man now running his hands over his face.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am Richard Lazarus, I am 76 years old and I am reborn!”

Rose, Martha and John stared as everyone gathered around to get a closer look. John snapped out of it first and took Rose to one side.

“Well done. It’s Rose isn’t it?”

“Yeah and that was not meant to happen, thanks for saving us.”

“It was nothing, I didn’t fancy getting blown to bits either.”

Rose smiled at him but he was out of bounds, her best friend fancied him but he hadn’t been paying Martha that much attention since they’d arrived a short time ago, maybe it was one-sided on Martha’s side.

Lady Thaw was still recovering. “He actually did it! Rose, you are dismissed, you could have killed him.”

John leapt to her defence.

“In all fairness, she saved him, don’t be so hasty.”

“Do you know who I am?”

“Nope, except if I’d taken any notice of you we wouldn’t all be standing here.” He took Rose by the arm. “Sorry I got you fired Rose.”

“Aw, it’s ok, it’s not the first time I’ve been fired, thanks for sticking up for me though. You’re a friend of Martha’s then?”

“Well, not friend exactly, we work in the same hospital, I think she fancies me.” He pulled a face at the thought.

“So it’s not mutual then?” she dared to ask him, watching Martha seeing the professor was ok and no worse for wear as the women all gathered around him, admiring him unlike they had done earlier.

The press were now all over him as were the women and he was posing until Lady Thaw took him to one side.

“We have things to discuss Richard, in your office.”

“Excuse me everyone, I’ll be right back. Where’s Rose got to?”

“I fired her, she almost got you killed.”

“I think you are out of order my dear. I’ll find her later, what did you want to discuss?”

The two of them went off and Rose stopped staring at John and went to find Martha. Did her friend realise John didn’t fancy her back?

“What just happened there?” Martha asked her.

John had caught up, having stopped to grab another handful of nibbles.

“I think he just changed the meaning of being human,” he mused as he caught the professor before he left the room.

“Look at you Richard, it’s astonishing,” Lady Thaw was just saying to him.

“I’m famished,” Richard declared, grabbing the full tray from a passing waiter and stuffing the tiny delicacies into his mouth.

“This is just the beginning my dear and we are not just making history, we are changing it.”

“Energy deficit,” John declared as Richard finished the last of the food while everyone stared.

“You’ve seen this before? Who are you?”

“Doctor John Smith and yes, I’ve had some experience, it always happens with this kind of process.”

“How could you know that?”

John didn’t want to go into the details. “You were using ultrasonic sound waves to create a state of resonance,” he beamed, trying now to impress Rose as much as anyone else and never bothering Martha was now standing next to him, trying to pull him away.

“You understand what I was trying to achieve then?”

“Enough to know you can’t have allowed for all the variables.”

“You are not qualified to comment,” Lady Thaw huffed, scowling because Rose was still there and it was preventing her making plans to split the profits.

“It would have exploded.”

“And I thank you for that Doctor Smith but it would have been properly tested before we went commercial.”

“Commercial?” Martha questioned. “You are joking?”

“Now, now Martha, I’m sure they will get closed down before that happens,” John insisted, turning back to Rose. “Did you know about this?”

“No, if I had, I would have been out of here.”

John was liking her more and more but felt sorry he had been responsible for getting her fired. Maybe she worked for his cousin’s agency, this sort of job was right up Donna’s street.

“Come along Richard, we have much to discuss, our friends will be wanting news as to it’s success,” Lady Thaw insisted.

“I hope you know what you’re doing professor?” John called after him.

Martha took him to one side but he saw Rose leaving to clear her office and get changed.

“Rose, are you leaving so soon?”

“Yeah, in case you hadn’t noticed, she just fired me.”

“I’m sorry about that. You never gave me your surname.”

“It’s Tyler, Rose Tyler. I have to go now before she gets me thrown out.”

John watched her walk off but before he could go after her, Martha finally cornered him.

“You should have stayed out of it John, you got Rose fired with that stunt you pulled.”

“Excuse me, so you agree with what’s going on here then?”

“Well not exactly but you could have done more damage. Come on, let’s get out of here.”

“You go if you want, I’m staying for a while, I feel bad about Rose.”

“Why? She’ll just get another job, it’s what she does John, she’s just a temp.”

“That’s not fair Martha, she’s your friend.”

With that he walked off and approached the still device, walking around it, the technicians trying to reset the switches and smoke still coming from some of the wires he’d pulled out. He was watching the stairs where Rose had gone up a few minutes ago, he felt like he had to say something to her but what?

He was about to give up when he saw her with a holdall, she had changed back into her skirt and blouse.

“Rose, are you ok?” he asked, reaching to take the holdall.

“I’m fine, has Martha gone?”

“Yeah, I think she was a bit annoyed with me,” he grinned as Rose wouldn’t let go of the holdall handle.

“Do ya think? She talks about you all the time you know?”

“Really? I can’t think why?”

“You’re such a dunce John, she fancies you.”

He looked down at his black and white converse shoes. “I know and I don’t know how to tell her I don’t feel the same.”

“You should break it to her gently. So, what exactly are you a doctor of then?”

“Psychology, mainly but I have doctorates in other fields, I find the mind fascinating but I have one in physics and one in science.”

“So what was that device you used?”

John liked nothing better than showing off to young blondes.

“Sonic screwdriver,” he beamed proudly.

“Be serious,” Rose laughed back.

“I am being serious, I was never more serious.”

“Yeah, if you say so. I should get out of here, I guess I’ll be taking a trip to the agency, they are so gonna be annoyed with me.”

John wondered if he should mention Donna but thought he would leave it and ask Donna in the morning to go easy on her if she was one of her temps.

Rose spied the professor and Lady Thaw coming back and went to stand behind John. She was too late as the professor spotted her.

“Are you still here?” Lady Thaw asked her.

“Now, now my dear, it’s Rose isn’t it?” the professor asked, trying to grab her hand again.

“Yeah and I was just leaving but what happened wasn’t my fault.”

“I never said it was my dear. There’s no need to leave just yet, is there?”

Rose knew he’d been trying to corner her since her arrival. Even though he looked younger, she knew what he really looked like. John was the one to rescue her, taking her arm.

“Come along Rose, you still have to show me around.”

“Well I just fired her,” Lady Thaw insisted.

“Don’t be so hasty,” the professor replied.

“It doesn’t matter – I quit, I’m not staying around you lot, you’re crazy. So you get to live a little longer?” Rose retaliated.

“It’s not about living a little longer, it’s about how much money they can make,” John assured her.

“Yes but we can improve the quality of life,” Lazarus told him.

“Its not the time a person has to live but what they do with it,” John replied.

They were interrupted as the professor showed signs of cramp and pulled on his collar.

“Something wrong professor?” John asked, bringing a pair of specs out of his pocket.

“It’s nothing, probably cramp.”

John wasn’t so sure as the professor showed signs of discomfort and suddenly arched his back and his arms flew up in front of him in a claw-like movement.

“Ah, Rose, it might be best if you stand back,” John warned her, just in time as Lazarus fell to the floor.

“Someone help him, he’s having a seizure,” Lady Thaw cried out as everyone watched in horror.

“Too late for that,” John noted as the professor crawled on the floor and everyone stood back.

He suddenly seemed to change in front of them, everyone standing back but before Lady Thaw could step away, the monster that had emerged attacked her. Everyone went screaming in different directions, John pulling Rose behind him.

“Get out of here Rose.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Stop him. Lazarus, you’re a joke, look at you.”

The monster turned around as people fled for the exit. John headed for the stairs, the monster following. Rose shook her head and instead of getting out, decided to follow but was stopped by a returned Martha, who had seen people running out onto the steps.

“Rose, what’s going on?”

“It’s the professor, he’s changed into something, some kind of monster.”

“What? How’s that possible?”

“Well I don’t know, John’s leading it away. We have to find him and help him.”

“What can we do Rose? He’s giving us time to get away, we should take it.”

“Then why did you come back Martha?”

“I wish I hadn’t now, I came back because, well I felt bad about leaving him when I invited him, then I saw everyone running out. I might have known he’d get involved. I really like him Rose but he hardly knows I exist.”

“I’m sorry Martha, some things aren’t meant to be.”

“Yeah, like you keeping a job. Come on then, let’s go find him.”

John was leading the monster through the labs, trying to come up with a plan as it was on his heels. He suddenly had an idea as he climbed up to change the current on the light switch on the wall. Then he hid behind a desk as he was being taunted.

“A game of hide and seek Doctor Smith, how disappointing. Why don’t you come out and face me?” Lazarus asked as John was opening all the gas outlets.

John broke cover. “Have you looked in the mirror lately? Why would I want to face that?”

He sprung up and headed for the door, flicking the light switch on the way out, causing an explosion. He dived to the floor.

Rose and Martha heard the noise.

“That has to be him,” Martha mused, running after Rose.

They went around the corner and Rose collided with him.

“What are you two doing here?” John asked, looking at Rose and holding onto her.

“Thought you might need some help,” Rose grinned. “Did you get it?”

“I hope so,” Martha answered for him.

Suddenly there was a crash behind them.

“Maybe not?” John offered and grabbed Rose’s hand, getting a scowl from Martha, who ran after them.

“So what now?” Rose puffed, trying to keep up with John.

Martha saw her chance and headed for the door, thinking they would eventually get away. Before John or Rose knew it, they had reached the professor’s device.

“Quick Rose, inside.”

“What? Are you serious?”

“Yes, I’m betting he wouldn’t destroy his own work.”

“Yeah, then what?”

“I think I understand how it works, I might be able to reconfigure it to throw out the waves rather than absorb them.”

“Great, you’d better not put us through the blender.”

John closed the door behind them, leaving Rose pressed up against the wall as John took the control panel off beneath their feet.

“Ok, you have some explaining to do, where did that thing come from?”

“It was buried inside him, some kind of throwback.”

“Its human?”

“Well yes, some long forgotten dormant genes from long ago, his machine must have stirred them.”

“What’s he doing out there?” Rose wondered.

“Best not find out.”

Suddenly, the machine began to move.

“You’d better hurry up and do something or we’re gonna end up just like him.”

“Don’t worry, I’m almost done.”

“In your own time then. I’m so gonna kill Donna for getting me into this.”

John thought he’d been right, she did work for Donna’s agency and now he owed Rose big time. The device was going faster but suddenly, John reached his goal and the device sent out a pulse, bringing it to a standstill. He opened the door to see the professor lying on the floor.

Rose went over. “Is he dead?”

John crouched down just as Martha came back in, followed by an ambulance crew.

“What happened?” she asked.

“The device was set in motion but it went out of control, we couldn’t stop it in time.”

“Where were you two then?”

“Inside?” John offered.

Martha looked at them both as the professor was taken away. John unfastened his tie and saw Rose’s holdall.

“Come on Rose, let’s get you out of here.”

“Oh, never mind me then?” Martha huffed as she followed them.

“Martha, Rose has just been in that device, you ran off. Come on Rose, I’ll take you home, it’s the least I can do.”

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