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The Serpent's Grasp

By C Kevin Thompson

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Wednesday, 12:23 a.m.
National Marine Institute
Miami, Florida

Dr. Evelyn Sims leaned back in her office chair, staring at the computer screen. The words on the monitor were beginning to run together. The whine from the fluorescent lights above her head grated her nerves, so she clicked on the media player. Her classical playlist started again, and strings of Mozart’s “Romanze from Eine Kleine Nachtmuzik” began their melodic march. Evelyn closed her eyes and rested her head on the chair back.

Her most recent article in the Journal of Marine Paleontology—although it garnered ample attention—did not lift her high in the minds of those who walk the hallowed halls of paleontological science. That was all the motivation she needed. Try harder, pursue perfection, write more, she thought.

The negative publicity was a definite impetus to stay up late, which was neither uncommon nor worrisome for Evelyn Sims despite her predilection for sleep. For her, it was the nature of the business. Scientific discovery didn’t wait on the formal or informal plans of a particular scientist. Take your time lounging around the pool deck with an iced tea in your hand, she often said, and another scientist will slither in and steal your thunder.

Evelyn sneaked a peek at her watch. After midnight. I wonder if Dave is still up. She plucked her cell phone from her pocket and dialed.

“Please hold while the subscriber you are trying to reach is located,” the automated voice said.

Evelyn smiled with anticipation. “Of course.”

“You have reached the automated voice messaging system of...David Sims. At the tone, please leave your message.”

Wonder what he’s up to? Evelyn stole another glance at her watch while the automaton gave her the available options. “Hey, Dave, are you up? It’s Wednesday, about 12:30 in the morning. I’m still at work. Call my cell. Talk to ya later. Bye.”

She flipped the phone shut and stared at the computer screen again. He never sleeps when he’s working a big deal. Especially when he’s in Bermuda.

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