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by Triv
Rated: E · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2221723
Flash Fiction with the words 'I just wish I could remember'
The lab lies deep in the recesses of the gray building towering over the city like a mountain. Every aspect of her demeanor shows that Khazima has no wish to work today. She drags her feet and aches for some calamity, so she does not have to go in. Anything will do, even the fire sprinklers dispersing water in that irritating spray.

No such luck. Outside, it is bright and cheerful, contrasting Khazima’s dark mood. Manish nods to her from behind the granite-topped counter. She acknowledges with a reluctant smile.

A long walk along the plush corridors leads her to the array of elevators. Her mind is in a whirl, filled with the events of the day before. She gives in to the playback, hoping to glean insights for today.

It was the seven thousandth experiment yesterday. Khazima never failed to number them, and each failed outcome sat in its receptacle churning in distaste of its condition. However, until seven thousand, incremental progress kept her going.

As she leaves the cavernous entrance with its bright lights, she resigns herself to the impending reboot. Only one elevator leads to her lab. And she has the only key. The dimly-lit interior of the elevator matches her mood, and that lifts her spirits.

It takes a full three minutes to make the journey to the depths of her sanctum. She sighs and realizes that is all she has done since morning.

The tell-tale ding concludes her travel to innards of the building. Khazima suppresses another sigh and steps out. Green hues illuminate her path to the lab, which shares a wall with the elevator housing.

Familiar gases, plasma plumes, and dark matter greet her entry. Neatly labeled compartments, numbering in the thousands adorn all the walls of the lab.

Khazima surveys her fiefdom. ‘How much longer?’ she wonders. Will the breakthrough ever come?

The multiple systems emanate a dull hum hinting at their immense power. Khazima’s eyes unlock the array of screens ensconced between the two walls in the square lab. The door shuts behind her, and she is in her element.

In quick succession, Khazima opens numerous windows that display complex visuals of past experiments. From the fiftieth trial, steady progress ensured renewed vigor daily. However, none of them produced life in any sense. Nevertheless, she knew she was getting close - until seven thousand happened.

The seven thousandth experiment set her back to she didn’t know when. The mass of particles, atoms, and matter failed to coalesce into anything meaningful. Eons of painstaking efforts came to naught. What made it worse was that it felt like she was so close.

Now to re-evaluate the failed trial. Each simulation needs a physical creation, and that is non-negotiable. After that, the potpourri of matter goes into the numbered receptacles. Khazima knows that he hopes that leaving them out may produce the desired outcome. But, a lot of these trials have been sitting idle for time immemorial. Unreactive and unresponsive.
Routine demands she generates the failed trial. Buttons appear on the screen, and she is all efficiency for the next few hours.

And then she is done. The result is a spiral arrangement of gases with an opaque center—nothing new here. Khazima frowns and goes back to the simulation. It does not match the output. Randomness and lack of cohesiveness still abound on the screen.

On the receptacle, a different story unfolds. Tiny bursts of flame and impacts commence accompanied by sounds indicating births and emerging patterns.

At the tail of the fast forming spiral, one fiery ball takes shape. It attracts in nine pieces of debris and matter, and the ball’s intense pull molds the fragments into smaller balls that revolve around the glowing mass.

Khazima stares in fascination as more substances hit the third ball and create a primordial stew. In a daze, she hits the button she has never touched before. The man upstairs needs to see this with his own eyes.

He appears instantly and does not need to ask. The visual is self-explanatory. There is already a sense of order in that small system at the edge of the spiral. Khazima says nothing but points to the ball.

The man peers in and magnifies the area Khazima’s unsteady finger indicates.

Life!

He staggers back, and a rare expression of confusion mixed with joy fills his face.

“What did you change this time, Khazima?” His voice washes over her like a warm blanket.

Khazima shakes her head, still in awe of the evolving system in front of her.

I just wish I could remember,” she whispers.

“I thought I had failed completely,” she continues.

He smiles the all-knowing smile.

“Well, it doesn’t matter. What is important is that you did succeed.”

She regains her voice.

“I will recheck all the calculations, sir. I can’t understand how this can happen by chance.”

A pat on her head rewards her words.

“Don’t worry about it. Let us observe how life plays out on this: what do you call it - a planet?”

“Yes sir, that’s what the category is.”

“Good, what do you want to call it?”

Khazima thinks for a few seconds, and then, with vigor and confidence, she responds.

“Earth.”
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