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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/campfires/item_id/1792923-Lifes-Complicated-A-Soap-Opera
Rated: 18+ · Campfire Creative · Fiction · Action/Adventure · #1792923
A story about Parallel Worlds, Alien Invasions, Annual Cooking Contests...
[Introduction] *Bigsmile* Welcome!

PLEASE READ before you request a campfire invitation:

*MushroomR* Rules

*MushroomG* Character Development

*MushroomB* Story Development

*MushroomBr* If there are any questions, please send them to the last cicada .






*Vine1**Flowerp**Vine2* Life's Complicated (A Soap Opera) *Vine1**Flowerv**Vine2*






*Male*       *Female*       Characters
Harold

Samantha smashed the fly swatter on the unsuspecting fly. It fell lifeless into the drawer next to the other dead flies. Harold raised his eyebrows. 3… 4… 5… He spotted a sixth fly by the pen cap and even more behind the erasers.

“Don’t you think it’s time to clean out your desk?”

Samantha’s eyes met his gaze and Harold felt a shiver run down his spine.

“I mean, what are all the dead flies doing in your drawer? Not to be mean or anything, but that’s kind of disgusting. You should really clean it out.”

She smiled and said, “Don’t worry. They’re serving a purpose.”

“Oh?” Harold broke eye contact with her. But he found it hard to stop questioning her. She was so thin, and her hair was so blonde and straight. She was beautiful and scary at the same time, and now, for some reason the dead flies made her very, very intriguing.

Samantha’s newest assistant, Olivia, another slim beauty working at the office, laughed and covered her eyes. Harold had the distinct impression that his every action was under a microscope.

The seconds passed as he pondered his next move. Should I ask her out now? Or should I wait until they stop laughing at me? Samantha was really hot and he was really taking too long to make a decision.

“The flies are a warning,” Olivia said.

“Huh?” Harold inwardly winced. Somehow, he’d forgotten that Olivia was still in the room.

“Don’t mess with Samantha,” she said in the squeakiest and most wicked tone she could manage.

“Don’t mess with Samantha,” an inward voice echoed. Okay, now that was creepy, he said to himself as he drifted out of the office. Once more he’d lost his nerve to ask Samantha out.
Olivia

"He's a jerk," Olivia said.

Samantha smiled her mysterious Mona Lisa smile. "I don't think he's a jerk."

"But the flies...?"

"I don't like flies. And when did I say doing psychological interpretations of my behavior was part of your job description?"

Olivia flushed. "Sorry. I didn't tell him that because I was your assistant. I was just doing it as a favor from one person for another. I didn't know you liked him so much."

Samantha looked upward from under her eyebrows. "I don't like him or not like him. He's just there. And it's none of your business whether I like him or not."

Olivia couldn't think of what to say and that made her angry and reckless. "I'll quit if you want me to."

"Oh calm down. I don't think you meant any harm. Why does everybody always make a big deal about the flies anyway? They're so nasty! Who wouldn't kill them? What do you and he expect me to do? Feed them? Make little houses for them to live in?"

Olivia was surprised by Samantha's response. Was she joking? It was impossible to tell. "Um... no. There's nothing wrong with killing flies. It's just that you..." Suddenly she realized the topic might be sensitive. Was she skating on thin ice?

"It's just that I what?" Samantha said.

"Nothing."

"No, you were going to say something, so say it."

"You save them!" Olivia blurted out. "Your drawer is full of dead flies! Why don't you throw them away?"

Samantha got a goofy look on her face and giggled. "That's what's bothering you and Harold? Oh my! That is so funny!"

But Olivia noticed that Samantha didn't answer the question.
Jonah, The Fly

He woke up in the dark. The air was still and he was lying on his back. How strange, he thought. I don't usually sleep on my back. His wings buzzed lightly and he rolled onto his feet.

Ouch. He took a step. Ow. Wow. Ow. Ow. Ow.

Something was wrong with the legs on his right side. The back one felt short.

The floor shook and the air stirred. Light exploded in his eyes and he hopped up. He hit the ceiling and bounced about. His wings buzzed, unable to lift him into the sky.

As the shock passed and the images became clearer, Jonah realized that he'd been flying upside down. No wonder he couldn't go anywhere. For the past few moments, he'd been trying to fly into the floor, not away from it as he'd hoped.

"Oh! Are you still alive?"

Jonah stopped moving.

He sensed rather than saw his attacker sweep him up and drop him into a plastic container of some sort. He could feel a lots of metal beneath his feet, twisting and curving.

Paperclips. She's trapped me with the paperclips. An image of a giant, skinny woman shaking the container of paperclips with his body trapped inside flashed before his eyes. Noooo! I'm too young. Too fragile.

A giant human eye appeared through the tinted pane of his prison.

"I've got you now, Jonah."
Samantha

Samantha paused to cherish the moment. It had taken a long time and a lot of dead flies but finally she had recaptured Jonah, her greatest achievement and her greatest disappointment. "You little devil!" she said. "You turned my life upside down. Do you know what my fellow scientists did at the convention, Jonah? They laughed at me! Laughed! They think I'm a joke. But you'll show them, won't you?"

Olivia appeared at the doorway. "Did you call me?"

Samantha closed the desk drawer. "No, I did not call you."

"I thought I heard you talking to someone."

Samantha looked around. "Do you see anyone here?"

"No," Olivia said.

"Then how could I be talking to anyone?"

Olivia rubbed one hand with the other. "You're here."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Olivia didn't say anything.

"Are you implying I was talking to myself?"

Olivia looked at the ceiling.

"I was not talking to myself! I was talking to Jonah! I mean..."

Olivia was suddenly interested. "Who is Jonah?" Olivia's mouth dropped. "Oh my God! You have an imaginary friend, don't you!"

"Noooo, I don't have an imaginary friend. What an idea! I've never had an imaginary friend. All my friends have always been real." Samantha realized she was protesting too much. "Anyway, as I have had to say to you too many times today --- it's none of your business!"

Olivia folded her arms and smiled a smug smile. "It's none of my business you have an imaginary friend?"

Samantha yanked the desk drawer open, grabbed the container containing Jonah, and tossed it on the desk. "Does that look imaginary?"

Olivia frowned. "It's paperclips."

"And..."

"And a fly?"

"Jonah."

"Jonah?"

"Jonah is the name of the fly," Samantha said.

Olivia looked from the box containing the fly to Samantha. "Jonah is the name of the fly. And you were talking to Jonah. I see. Everything makes perfect sense to me now."

"If you weren't so new here it would make sense. Go pull the file on Project Jonah. Read it. Then we'll talk."

Olivia shrugged. "Okayyyy."
Olivia

Every nibble was another battle lost to the empty calorie. Disgusted at herself, Olivia tossed the hefty sack of gleeful gummies into the waste basket.

Like a horror movie scene, she watched as her left hand opened the bottom filing drawer of her desk, while her right one snagged the evil gummies out of the trash and whisked the bag deep into the furthest reaches of the drawer.

She scowled, but immediately hushed at the faint sound of footsteps.

Leah Ann, her Accountability Buddy in their war against the Evil Gummy Empire, had gone MIA. That absence combined with Samantha's trademark snootiness was almost too much pressure on Olivia. Almost.

"81 days to go, then I'm a free woman."

"Or not," whispered the evil gummies hidden in the deep recesses of her drawer. "Come to us. Feast."

"Shut up."

Focus on the file, Olivia told herself. She called the Filing Department.

"Recordkeeping," a man answered.

"Project Jonah," she said.

"Where to?"

"Here. I mean, Shamantha... offish..." A gummy bear popped into her mouth.

"Ugh!" She got up. "Never mind, I'll pick it up... Now... I'm leaving now..."

The gummies in her hand winked at her. The ones in the sack cried, "Take us with you!"

Her belly grumbled. Leah Ann! Where are you?
Project Jonah Excerpts From Samantha's Daily Journal

Day 2 -- Oh great! Half the batch escaped into the lab while I was moving the cage. Now I have flies everywhere. The heck with them. They will die eventually. I can't use any pesticides or I will endanger the ones that are still in the cage.

Day 7 -- First results are heartening. The DNA transfers seem to be holding steady. Now for the really delicate work.

Day 9 -- What happened? Most of the flies in the cage are dead while the escapees are still buzzing around everywhere! I don't know what's going wrong. Everything on hold until I can figure this out.

Day 10 -- All dead in the cage but one. He still seems healthy.

Day 12 -- One fly still alive. What a little survivor! I've named him Jonah.

Day 13 -- I've decided to go ahead with only one fly. Meanwhile, I've got one of the interns bringing along another batch of flies. I still don't know what killed the first group, but I want to have something in the pipeline to work with.

Day 14 -- Jonah is responding beautifully. Now if I only knew why he is alive and the rest are dead!

Day 15 -- Today was critical. Did the implant operation. Will it hurt Jonah? So delicate. I did the whole thing with the micro-robotic controllers. Programmed everything and just stood by and watched, ready to jump in if anything went wrong.

Day 16 -- Jonah is still alive. Now all I can do is wait until he heals. Hired a new office manager today: Harold. He's pretty hunky for a male secretary. LOL! Or have I just been cooped up in the lab too long? Haha! I think I can resist his charms. There aren't that much of them!

Day 21 -- Jonah is awake and talking! He is a hundred times more intelligent that I expected! This is fabulous! it's like living in a dream world! I have told no one. Would they even believe me? But when the time is right... Wow!

Day 22 -- It was Jonah who killed all the other flies. He says his life is in great danger. Any fly who sees him will kill him on sight. He made me promise to kill the flies that are loose in the lab.

Day 24 -- I've been talking to Jonah every chance I get. He has a sweetness about him that I have never experienced in any human. I think he understands me better than Tom ever did or ever could do. Meanwhile my desk drawer is filling up with dead flies. I'll get all the bastards who wanted to hurt Jonah.

Day 25 -- Jonah is missing! He talked me into letting him have a little more freedom and now he is nowhere to be found. Did he trick me? Was our relationship a lie from the beginning? Is he gone for good? I can't believe I trusted him. What is it with males? Are they all born liars?
Samantha

Samantha was bored. Now that the adrenaline of recapturing Jonah was gone, her mind numbed and she began cutting strands of paper dolls. She considered napping in her "thinking cot"; a velvety, soft couch stored in the laboratory, where all her best ideas came from; including the one about Jonah.

"I'm sorry." The whimper came from a paperclip dispenser on her desk.

"Forgive me?" Jonah peeped beseechingly.

Snip, snip.

"May I come out, please?"

Snip.

"I promise I won't fly away again."

Samantha picked up the swatter. Delivering a quick snap across the desk, another fly found its way to heaven. She brushed the tiny corpse into her drawer.

Snip, snip.

"I know this isn't a good time, but I'm starving. A bit of cake would be nice."

Samanth closed her eyes and counted to 10. Then she speed-dialed for pizza delivery.

"Come on! That's like 20 minutes!"

"You little creep." She bent over to the paperclip dispenser so Jonah could feel her breath shuddering through the pinholes. "I waited 13 days for you. That's over 300 hours. And even then I wasn't sure that we'd ever see you again."

She leaned back into her chair. "You can wait 20 minutes."

She stretched open her paper doll clippings to its full length. Absentmindedly, she twirled them until the pizza came.

20 minutes later, after a tasty meal, Jonah tweeted, "Can I use the potty?"

Samantha glared at the trapped fly.

"Any more words out of you..." she hissed menacingly. And I'll flush Project Jonah down the toilet.

"I never meant to fly away. I got too close to some sort of vacuum and then, whoosh, I was in a new place. I didn't know where you were."

His words sparked a new line of thought within her, one that she never considered. Was it possible that Jonah didn't betray her? We do use mail chutes to speed things along. Could he have gotten sucked into one of those?

Her mind reeled as her to-do list readjusted itself: bills, taxes, grant deadlines. New office manager? Why didn't Harold see a talking fly in our mail?
Harold

Harold reshuffled the papers on his desk and tried to look like he was doing something useful.

I'm just eye candy around here, he thought. Probably Samantha and Olivia hadn't even read his resume because as soon as they saw the photo he had attached they had hired him. That was the trouble with being a babe magnet; nobody respected you for your mind; it was all about your face and body. Harold unconsciously flexed an arm muscle.

But his mind had not been idle and his eyes had not been blind. He suspected something strange was going on here and his suspicions had been rewarded. This place was obviously some kind of clandestine lab for the CIA. He didn't know the details yet, but he would find out. If Samantha thought he was some airhead who would just sit at the front desk looking handsome... well she didn't think enough.

He could have been a successful private investigator if he had chosen that career path. Unfortunately, his good looks made him stand out in a crowd and that made it difficult to follow someone without being spotted. The subject would likely look back and say, "Why do I keep seeing that good-looking dude behind me?" Otherwise, he would already own his own Private Investigator business complete with tiny office, cheap furniture, and a bottle of gin in the file cabinet.

He had the skills for it. You don't read hundreds of detective novels without learning something about being a detective. Already he knew things here at this lab that he was sure they didn't want him to know, things that they didn't know he knew, things that if they knew he knew them then he knew they would try to make him unknow them. He imagined himself standing beside Samantha and saying out the corner of his mouth, "Does the name Jonah mean anything to you?" Ha! Wouldn't that blow her mind? Harold knows about Jonah!

Ah yes, the mysterious "Jonah". Undoubtedly, he was Samantha's contact at the CIA. Harold was sure Jonah had made secret trips to Samantha's office. The guy was good. He was in and out like a shadow, like a wisp of light summer breeze. Jonah left no footprints. But Jonah wasn't perfect. No human was perfect. Jonah would make a mistake. Jonah would leave a clue.

Harold snapped his fingers. Hidden camera! Motion activated! Get video of Jonah. Ha! He imagined himself handing his iPad to Samantha and saying, "Here's a cool video I thought you might like to see. I call it... Jonah." She would be reassessing Harold then, wouldn't she? She would be like, oh no, I thought Harold was just a hunky dummy but he's learned all my secrets!

Samantha's voice came through the open doorway: "Harold! Come here a minute!"

"Coming!" he said and jumped to his feet.

"Harold, where are the lab reports I asked you to collate?"

"Lab reports? Uh... oh yes. I'll have them in a jiffy. I think I left them by the photocopier."

Samantha frowned at him. "Well go get them, please. Do you have a memory problem?"

"There's lots of things to get done. I'm doing the best I can."

"I hope so. Get me those lab reports."
Johnny, Senior Editor of Breakthroughs in Hybrid Entomology Magazine Phone Conversation

Hey Bob,

What do think happens when you play the video game, Plants vs. Zombies, and then read Stephen King's Memoirs on Writing?

Well... In my case... I wound up having a nightmare being chased by Zombies trying to fart zombie darts out of their rears (Eula-Beula style). And then they almost trapped me in the castle tower but I got away only because I knew the school so well.

Unfortunately for me, the students who followed me made the mistake of eating a zombie desert.

The dish looked really attractive, very sweet and tasty. There were like 2 blue gumballs or giant berries coated in some kind of syrup. I was going to take a bite too but then I realized that all the other people in the room were watching us like hawks. We were, like, the only ones picking up the bowls on the table, so I thought I'd ask what they were made of.

And good thing I asked too. They came right out and told me they didn't know what was in them but I could see it in their eyes; they were lying. So I made up some excuse to leave the room. Then I ran like Heck all the way to the front door... The entrance front door. And oh my God, the door wouldn't open. I was so pee scared because they were sliding glass doors. I was like, What am I supposed to do? And...

Hold on, have another call. I have another call. My other phone is ringing...

Hey, Samantha!

How are you? Haven't seen you since RE-Con.

Oh?

Oh?

Really?

Aha.

I see.

Okay.

Now?

Well...

Well...

Well...

Um... I'm on another line. Mhm.

I know, but I'm gonna be busy that weekend.

Sounds great.

Good, good. I really look forward to meeting him.

Um, okay. I'll bring my cam kit. No problem. I'll talk to you soon. Thanks. I really appreciate the lead. Bye.

Hey Bob?

You still there?

Oh cool, I was afraid I'd have to call you back.

Mhm. Yea.

But guess what?

Do you remember that lady I told you about? The one with this crazy idea about a talking fly? You know, the one that fired all those people after she couldn't make her fly talk?

Yea, that's the one.

Well, she wants me to come over and make a documentary for her.

An exclusive, as in... I'll probably be wasting my time going there. But, you never know. Maybe some other science geek will be there and I'll get a better lead.

Yea, I'll be seeing her tomorrow. We'll see. I promised her 5 minutes.

Yea, I know.

I know.

And...

Wait.

I forgot about the zombies.

Aw, come on.

That was a great story. How can you be tired?

We make our own hours.

Mhm.

Whatever.

*click*
{/u}Samantha and Jonah{/u}

Samantha was sitting at her desk. Jonah was perched on her stapler.

"Jonah, are you ready to meet the reporter?" Samantha asked.

The plucky fly licked his foot. "What's to get ready? I'm here. Are you going to put little pants on me?"

"That's an idea. Now remember, when you tell your story say that everything has gone smoothly in my lab. There is no need to tell him about our little quarrel."

"Don't worry. I'm not interested in making myself look petty. I shall tell him that I think you are a brilliant experimenter and I owe my existence to you. If it were not for you I would still be eating dog crap and raising my children in the rotting bodies of dead animals."

"No need to lay it on so thick. Just mention that you are better off than any fly in nature. Although, really that should be obvious."

"Speaking of flies in nature," Jonah said. "Are you sure the rest of them from the experiment are dead? I wouldn't want some buzzing barbarian to spoil the interview."

Samantha put her hands behind her head and leaned back in her chair. "Why are you so afraid of natural flies?"

"You don't know what they are like. They can sense the difference in me. All they want to do is kill me."

"No, I don't understand, Jonah. I should think you would be a leader of flies. Why don't they see you as someone who could make their lives better?"

"I really don't know, but they don't. I suppose maybe they like eating dog crap. Perhaps to them it's quite delicious. Maybe they like the rich, earthy aroma, the pleasantly mushy texture, the taste that combines the smokiness of barbecue with the savor of portabello mushrooms and butter and garlic and..."

"Jonah! I can't believe what I am hearing. Do you actually miss eating dog crap?"

"No! I was giving you an interpretation of what I thought the barbarian's inner experience might be. I was play-acting, Samantha. Please don't confuse fiction with reality. I feel I'm more qualified to describe the mind of the primitive fly than any human investigator. Isn't that logical?"

"Quite. But please don't talk down to the reporter."

"Don't worry. I realize he will prefer to talk in street lingo. I can get down with it. I can cut the jive with the common man, the blue collar man, the little man, the man in the street."

Samantha sighed. "Don't get too far down with it, Jonah. Your imagination is... excessive. Just try to be calm and don't say too much."

"What's the point of a talking fly who doesn't say much?"

"Trust me. Just your ability to say one word will be all the excitement that reporter can take. If you launch into a description of Einstein's Theory of Relativity you will make him freak."

"Who is this Einstein person?"

"Good. You don't know. Keep it that way. Just don't say much to the reporter, no more than you absolutely have to."
Bob, owner and manager of Bob's Pest Control Services

Johnny's news of Samantha's upcoming documentary could mean only one thing: the "talking" fly was back.

That was bad for business; the pest control business.

For one thing, talking bugs could warn each other when he was coming and avoid fumigation. They could sneak into his house and talk all night so he'd slowly go insane from the lack of sleep.

And then there was the movie parallel of Planet of the Apes.

Humans would stupidly begin adding talking flies to the labor pool. They would teach these super flies to use tools and machinery. For a while, life would get all sweet and comfy. And they would let these super flies keep breeding, until...

Bob shuddered at the next thought. Unbeknownst to their human "masters", the flies would quietly spread the word and build alliances with fellow species, until one day, Jonah would lead his kind to victory as they swarmed against humanity.

How far would they go? Would they dare create plague carriers? One touch and the human would die a slow, icky death.

Bob tried to shove the image of Jonah cruising the town for hotties out of his mind. One night of "Oh come on, baby, it's not like that," and there'd be millions of newborn talking maggots roaming in and out of dumpsters all around town. One talking fly would be easy to dispose of, but millions?

How did Jonah escape death? Or is this a different fly?

His mind raced back to the night he vanquished Jonah. He would have preferred to use chemicals but the traces would have pointed straight to Bob and given Samantha good cause to sue him out of business. Instead he used the vaccuum. The hose was right there, stretching out from the wall. Jonah was inches away, resting on the coffee table. One flick of the switch and Jonah was no more.

After Jonah's disappearance, all Samantha could do was throw a fit and fire everyone. When she threw him out of her office, the way he saw it, he'd done himself a service: Bob may have lost a customer account, but, in the end, he saved his business.

Now he had to find a way to get back into the lab.
Johnny, Senior Editor of Breakthroughs in Hybrid Entomology Magazine

"You don't look much like a scientist," Johnny said.

Samantha lifted her eyebrows. "Really? How about now?" She put on her heavy black-framed eyeglasses.

"That's more like it," Johnny said. Her straight blonde hair was shiny as silk and long enough to drape over the shoulders of her white lab coat. Nice trim body too. He tried to remember why he was there.

"Do you want to see Jonah now?" Samantha said.

"Oh yeah, the talking fly. Is it some kind of joke?"

"No, it's the real deal." She reached into her pocket and pulled out the pill bottle that contained Jonah. The top of the bottle was full of holes so he could breathe. "Fortunately he has a loud voice. Jonah, this is Johnny Blackfinger from the bug magazine."

"Hello," Jonah said.

"Amazing," Johnny said. "You can throw your voice so it sounds like it came from that pill bottle."

"I didn't throw my voice!" Samantha protested. "Jonah, let's say our poem together."

Johnny's mouth fell open when he heard the two voices recite:

I'm a little insect, short and fat
I like to feed on garbage, carrion, and fat
When my legs are dirty I wash them with my tongue
When I reproduce I have lots of young
My best friend is a human, she taught me how to talk
She keeps me in her pocket and takes me for a walk...


"It goes on for another 100 verses or so," Samantha said. "But you get the idea."

"Wow!" Johnny said. "The freakin fly can really talk. Isn't this some kind of scientific breakthrough?"

"I like to think so," Samantha said. "Maybe one day all animals will have the gift of speech."

"Hmmmm, is that a good thing? Won't a lot of farm animals be begging, 'Please don't eat me'?"

"Possibly," Samantha said, "but I'm a vegetarian."

"I can promise you a cover story about Jonah. Maybe we can glue a CD recording into the cover of the magazine. No, that would be difficult. But it will take more than a magazine story. People will want to hear Jonah talk."

"Don't worry," Samantha said. "I've scheduled appearances on TV and radio, but I wanted you to be the first to see Jonah."

"I appreciate it," Johnny said. "I want to take you to dinner tonight. Both of you."

"I would have said yes if you hadn't included Jonah."

"Ok, forget the fly. Just you and me."

"I'll be ready," Samantha said.
Jonah, The Fly

Jonah's ears perked up at the words, "scheduled appearances on TV and radio". He thought, I'll be famous.

Emily, his "babysitter", was flipping through magazines. I bet you don't know who you're sitting next to. I just happen to be the most important fly in the universe, he mused.

Emily said, "I bet you don't know how loud you are. You've got to be the noisiest fly in the universe. Here. Have a gummy bear." She popped off the lid to Jonah's pill bottle and dropped in a tiny piece.

Jonah buzzed his wings happily. She knew he was special too. He could get used to this VIP treatment. Now if only there was a way to make himself the last fly on Earth. Then he'd feel safer outside of a pill bottle.

"What do you think they'll ask me when I go on TV?"

"Besides your name, rank and serial number? I don't know. Like maybe what your favorite foods are, favorite color, etc."

"Wouldn't it be cool if you could come on the show with me? You could be like the Gal with the Talking Fly."

"Aww, that would be Samantha. I'm just her assistant. I doubt she'll take me to the interviews."

"Why not? You could be my body guard when she's not around." He surveyed the room 360 degrees. "She's not here now is she?"

Emily laughed. Jonah liked the way her high pitched voice squeaked. It sounded like fairy wings whistling in the wind. Not that he'd ever met a fairy but that would be the sound that fairy wings would make.

"You have a funny imagination," Emily told him. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were a fairy."

"A fairy god mother. A fairy gad fly. Let's make Samantha laugh. We could make a few jokes and she'll publish them and then we'll be rich and we'll tour the world and I'll be the most famous fly in the universe." Jonah's wings were buzzing nonstop causing all the words to spill shakily off his tongue.

"Are you alright?" Emily asked. "Your voice is breaking up."

"I'm fine," he told her.

"What did you say?"

"I'm fine," he told her again after he stopped his wings.

"Jonah, are you there?" Emily sounded concerned.

"Umm..." Jonah croaked. Oh no. What happened to my voice? Samantha will kill me.

"Jonah? Jonah? Are you there?"

Emily popped the top off the pill bottle and peeked inside.
Emily

"What are you doing in there?" Emily said.

Jonah looked up at her with pitiful puppydog eyes. He wanted to say he'd lost his voice, but of course he couldn't say it because he had lost his voice.

Emily was a young graduate student and in addition to having intellectual ability she also had a good intuition, so she immediately grasped the situation. "Oh my God! You've lost your voice, haven't you? Nod left and right to say No and nod up and down to say Yes."

Jonah nodded Yes.

Emily felt like she was going to faint. Was it the Gummy Bear? Nobody had warned her not to feed him Gummy Bears. Samantha was going to kill her. This was awful! All those hopes and dreams suddenly crushed by a stupid girl's candy preferences. Emily began to cry.

Jonah wanted to say, "Please don't cry, I don't think it was the Gummy Bear," but he couldn't say that because he couldn't say anything anymore. If she would only ask some more questions!

But Emily fastened the top on the pill bottle and slipped it into her pocket. She couldn't let Samantha discover how badly she had screwed up. An idea formed in her head, not a good idea, but an idea. She found a notepad and a pencil and began to write...

If you ever want to see your precious talking fly again and the cute woman who was watching it...

Emily debated crossing out "cute" but probably anyone mean enough to kidnap a talking fly would surely be male and probably from the criminal class so a young attractive woman like herself would surely look cute to him. Maybe she should put "sexy" but that seemed too vulgar even for a kidnapper to write. "Cute" hit the right note.

...then you better not call the police. I have both the talking fly and the cute woman in my secret hideout. Do nothing until you receive another note from me. I repeat. Do not call the police! Do not put the life of the fly and the woman in jeopardy. I will get in touch with you again soon.

Emily wondered if a kidnapper would use the word "jeopardy" but it wasn't exactly an obscure word, was it? Everybody knew the TV show with that name. And criminal types probably watched as least as much television as anyone else, probably more. She read over the note one last time, then carefully placed it on the desk where it was sure to be noticed.

She patted the pill bottle in her pocket. "Jonah, we're going on a little vacation. I hope you get your voice back soon. Because if you don't..." A wave of sadness swept over Emily and there was a little catch in her voice. "...because if you don't..." And she knew she was about to cry again. "Just get your voice back, Jonah," she whispered as she turned out the lights and left the laboratory.
Harold

Nothing beats the stuffing out of him like surviving another long day in Samantha’s r & d facility. Harold could feel the fog thickening in his skull, crying for a cat nap, a quick nap, a do nothing but lay down for a little while nap. He paused outside of the darkened room, briefly debating the merits of giving in to his fatigue. Aside from the usual rubbish such as glass beakers, test tubes and all manners of extremely dull looking machinery of indiscernible purposes, this particular lab possessed a thick, comfy rug to lie on. By moving one of the mobile shelf units, Harold could hide himself from view and slumber relatively undisturbed until somebody else had the same idea.

Samantha was an awesome boss in this particular way. She never minded that her employees napped during the slow hours. However, she didn’t encourage them either. There was a noticeable dearth of horizontal rest furnishings. Harold could always donate a couch but then he’d risk being dubbed the workplace chump; better to be regarded as the incurable mooch. He’d contend with lower expectations. He'd be richer too.

He was ready to sink into the thick pile beneath the circular table when he noticed a black handbag leaning against one of the table legs. “Oh come on”, he muttered. It was only a matter of time before someone would come looking for the black bag. As he bent over to pick up the bag, a note fluttered off the table. “What’s this?” he wondered.

His jaw dropped. He read the note again and sat down on one of the stools. The detective in him woke up. “Someone’s kidnapped the cute owner of this handbag,” he exclaimed. “I wonder… Who is this cute woman?”

He poured out the contents of the handbag. None of the receipts, makeup, candy wrappers and cookie crumbs would reveal the name of the cute owner.

Olivia walked in at that moment. One glance and her eyes narrowed. “Harold, what are you doing with Emily’s bag?”

Ah, Emily, the intern. He recalled a dame with long legs, short mini skirt, and hair that bounced with every step. Snap out of it. This is serious. But already he was well on his way to solving the mystery. For starters, he knew the bag belonged to the cute woman.

Olivia

Olivia strode quickly across the room. She didn't trust Harold and now he was acting more weird than ever. "Why did you dump out Emily's handbag? Where is Emily?"

Harold held out the note and she snatched it from him and read it. "Oh my God! They got Jonah!" Then she turned on Harold with narrowed eyes. "What's your part in this?"

"My part?" Harold squeaked. "I don't have a part. I just noticed the handbag and-"

"And dumped it out on the desk to make sure there was no incriminating evidence against you in it."

"No! I just wanted to see who it belonged to."

Olivia put her hands on her hips. "I don't believe you, Harold. You were the inside man on this caper. You were the one who tipped off the kidnappers that Jonah was alone. Then you let them get away with this. You're going down, Harold. I'm calling the police right now."

Harold had his hands out palms up. "You've got it all wrong! This is as much of a surprise to me as to you."

Olivia paused with her cell phone open. "I'll make a deal with you. You get Jonah back today and I'll pretend this never happened. Otherwise, it's the slammer for you."

"The slammer? Olivia, I do not know anything about this. Please!"

"Oh, so you want to be the tough guy, huh? You want to stonewall me. You'll end up being the fall guy for your gang. You don't see that?"

Harold flapped his hands. "What gang? There is no gang! I mean, maybe there is a gang but I am not in it if there is!"

Olivia shook her head sadly and dialed 9-1-1. "Hello? There has been a kidnapping..."
Harold

Harold stared at Olivia, disbelief written all over his face.

"Hold on, Missy," Harold said. "I had nothing to do with the kidnapping and you know it."

He took a step towards her.

Olivia hissed, "Touch me and you die." Then she spoke to her phone, "No, not you. The kidnapper. He's here."

"Stop calling me that. I'm not the kidnapper and you know it."

"(Harold) I'm not talking to you. (9-1-1) I'm talking to you, yes. Yes. Sorry, he's still talking to me."

"What are you going to tell them? That I kidnapped Emily and a talking fly?"

Violet daggers flew out of Olivia's eyes. "He kidnapped a woman and stole a very valuable specimen we call Project Jonah."

Harold's armpits grew sweaty. "Okay, I get it. You're going to pin a robbery on me too. Well, I've got news for you."

He pulled out his cell phone and dialed Olivia's number.

Olivia glared at Harold when she heard the call waiting signal. She mouthed, "You bastard."

Pick up, he willed. His mind raced. An epiphany struck him like a bolt of lightning. How could he have been so blind? He blurted, "It's obvious to me you were in on this caper the whole time."

"Come quickly," Olivia told 9-1-1 and hung up. "You may as well 'fess up. The police are on their way."

"Good, because I think they'll be interested to know who the kidnapper is," Harold snorted.

"You, of course," she snapped.

"You, that's who." Harold smiled as Olivia's eyes widened. "I was wondering why you were so gung ho with the accusations. Then I realized... Bam! You're one of the kidnappers. You have to be. How else would you know that this was Emily's bag?"

Olivia began counting her fingers. "For one, we eat lunch together. Two, I gave her that bag. It used to be mine. She needed one so I gave her one."

"How convenient. Is that how you got her to follow you to your lair? By winning her trust with paltry gifts?"

"Paltry? That's a limited edition Gucci. From 1999."

"No wonder she fell for your tricks. Is that why you returned to the scene of the crime? To remove the evidence? Steal back a bag you loved?"

"Harold, you are an idiot."

"Oh, am I? Now that the shoe's on the other foot, I'd say you're just as guilty as I am. Except I'm innocent because I had nothing to do with the kidnapping."

"No one's ever going to believe that," Olivia said hotly. She didn't look so sure of herself anymore.

Harold plunged on. "You were good. Very convincing. But then you went too far." He paused for dramatic effect. "You tried to frame me. When you walked into this room, you didn't expect to find me going through Emily's bag. So you panicked and tried to make me look like the guilty one. That was brilliant. Too bad I know all about your type."

"My type? Harold, I'm the one who called the police. What did you do? Oops, I dropped the bag on the table. Oh look, I found a candy wrapper. Oh yummy. There's a lollipop too."

Harold nodded his head. That's exactly what your type would do, he told himself. Make others think you're the upstanding citizen by casting aspersions on my seemingly dubious actions. "Of course you'd call the police. You had to, else it would look suspicious."

Olivia rolled her eyes. "Are you saying it wouldn't look suspicious not to call the police? There's a note on the table telling us that a woman's been kidnapped."

Harold was flabbergasted. She was one tough lady. Was she too tough to crack? Surely she knew he was on to her and once the police heard his side of the story, they'd see things his way too.
Detective Mike Sledge

Detective Mike Sledge strolled into the room. The fingerprint man was already dusting, the photographer was snapping pictures of everything, the DNA girl had her swabs out swabbing the desktops, and the two victims were standing off to one side looking forlorn.

"Which one of you is Olivia?" Mike asked.

Harold squinted in disbelief. This was a detective? "Uh... she is," he said and pointed at Olivia.

Olivia handed detective Mike the kidnap note. "We found this on the desk."

Sledge studied the note. "I see... This part where it says a talking fly. What does that mean?"

"Project Jonah," Olivia said. "It's our talking fly project."

"A fly that talks? Is that possible?"

She scowled at him. "Do you think the kidnapper would have mentioned a talking fly if it wasn't possible?"

"Amazing," he said. "Who would think a little bug could talk?"

"Samantha thought it and did it and now her Jonah's been kidnapped! What are you going to do about it?"

Sledge put his hand up. "Relax, young lady. We are just getting started on the investigation. At least give us time to discover what we're dealing with. Now I believe you told the dispatcher on the phone that this gentleman was part of the plot."

"I had nothing to do with it!" Harold protested.

Olivia hung her head. "I may have exaggerated. We've had a little talk and now I don't think he's part of anything."

Detective Sledge folded his arms across his chest. "So let me sum it up in a nutshell. Samantha is a scientist who created a talking fly, Emily works for her, and now both Emily and the fly have been kidnapped. Is that right?"

"Yes!" Olivia said. "Now find them!"

"And where is Samantha?"

"Good question," Harold said. "I left a message on her voice mail."

"Oh my God!" Olivia said. "You didn't tell her Jonah is gone?"

"No, I just said there has been a break-in at the lab and we've called the police."

Olivia nodded her head. "That ought to bring her running when she gets the message. I wonder where she is?"
Samantha

Samantha found herself falling for Johnny's easy ways. Aware of her special dietary requirements, he suggested that she pick out their restaurant. After dinner, they strolled aimlessly about, taking in the town and the park.

"I should have called you ages ago," Samantha whispered into Johnny's ear. "I had no idea we had so much in common."

He responded by nuzzling her ear with his hot breath. "Ah well, maybe I should introduce you to the family then."

She raised an eyebrow. "Oh? So soon."

"Come on. They don't bite."

Johnny took them to a four family brownstone. Samantha eyed the blooming sidewalk garden appreciatively. The building's dainty shallow steps, delicately twisting railings and the overhead porchlight beckoned her inside.

Samantha half expected Johnny's mother and father to tumble out the front door and greet them with open arms at the steps. I wonder what they look like?

Instead, he turned his key in the lock and held the door open for her. "I'm on the top floor," he said.

The narrow staircase with hundreds of shallow steps seemed to stop time. Eventually they reached his floor. At his doorstep, she stood a few feet away from the welcome mat, poised to bolt down the stairs.

"You're not having second thoughts, are you?" Johnny asked. "Trust me, they don't bite."

Samantha cocked her head to the left and followed Johnny into his apartment. "So where is everyone?" and walked into a web underneath the potted palm tree.

"Oops! I think you just met Arnold."

"Arnold?" She spat, rubbing the tacky, elastic film off her lips.

"Yes, I'd say you just woke him up." Johnny's hand swept Samantha on the shoulder. Extending his cupped hands inches from her nose, Samantha glimpsed a large furry spider with long delicate legs doing pushups.

Carefully placing the pale yellow puff of fur back onto his mangled web, Arnold scuttled out of sight, hidden beneath one of the long palmy fronds.

Samantha laughed. "So that's your family."

"Who else were you expecting? Mom and Dad? Maybe when I'm ready to pop the question."
Johnny

So far the seduction was going remarkably well, Johnny thought. "Isn't it ironic that your love pet is a fly and mine is a spider?"

Samantha looked at him with puzzlement in her face. "Love pet? I don't think I would phrase it quite like that."

Johnny chuckled deep in his throat. "You know what I mean."

"Jonah is a scientific project," Samantha answered primly. "It isn't appropriate to apply terms like 'love pet' to what is essentially a search for truth, not a hunt for lewd thrills."

Johnny gasped and grabbed his belly. "Lewd thrills! Oh my God, you completely misunderstood what I meant. I meant love like loyalty and affection. Arnold is like a dog to me. He's my friend. Didn't you say you had long meaningful conversations with Jonah?"

But now she was on her guard. "Meaningful only in the sense of providing useful data. Really, Johnny, Jonah is not my confidante or my bosom buddy or anything like that. He's just a fly."

Samantha's cell buzzed and she said "Excuse me," as she flipped it open. "Hmmm, someone's attempting to contact me on my emergency override. I'll have to take this call, Johnny."

Johnny watched her turn away and hunch her shoulder to listen to her phone. Good time to pour the wine, he thought, and went to the kitchen.

She burst in right behind him. "Jonah is missing! I have to go now!"

"Huh? what?" Johnny said.

"I'm going to the lab. Jonah has been kidnapped."

Johnny hurried after her. "Then I'm going with you!"

© Copyright 2011 the last cicada, Steev the Friction Wizurd, (known as GROUP).
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