A scary Halloween lab story

It was a dark and stormy night, probably. Joe was working in a basement lab with zero windows and hadn’t been outside since he went out for a Halloween themed doughnut at coffee break. But it was October the 31st and it was gone eight o’clock, so if it wasn’t dark and stormy then the weather really wasn’t keeping up with the narrative.

Joe had been working feverishly on one last experiment all day. This one last experiment was very similar to the last experiment he’d run the day before and the day before that. But he had his 2 year PhD meeting tomorrow, so this really was the last experiment. And he was really hoping that this one was going to actually work.

The labs had long since emptied of everyone else. Normally, they’d be a few late night researchers working away with him, but today the lab was quiet save for the sound of sighing as Joe waited for yet another scan to complete. He’d been running scans all day except for a brief break when he left for coffee and returned to find his power cable missing.

Power cable theft in labs is such a common occurrence that it didn’t even elicit a sigh. A quick scrabble around some other kit produced a suitable power cable and back to scanning Joe could get.

*Click, bewoooop* The scanner cut out.

This did elicit a sigh. Having your experiment turn off mid experiment is very much sigh worthy and not something Joe wanted to be dealing with late in the day.

Joe pressed the various buttons on the scanned, all of which responded with mechanical noises but no accompanying electronic noises. Like everyone in that situation, Joe pressed the buttons faster just in case the electrons needed ‘pumping’ along the cables. Unsurprisingly this did nothing.

Joe peered round the back of the scanner at the cables. All were still in the places they should be. There was a spider that was seasonally making an appearance and hanging of the data cable, but otherwise all seemed fine. As he leaned over the back of the machine a slight smell of burnt electronics wafted.

Several sniffs later Joe had tracked the smell back to the power cable – the plug had blow a fuse. Joe had heard of electric blowing fuses before, but mostly from old lecturers. It wasn’t something that he’d every actually had happen before!

Joe took out the power cable and scrounged another from one of the other pieces of equipment in the lab. Like magic, the mechanical buttons suddenly found their accompany electronic noise and the scanner buzzed into life… while sort of coughed and clicked in to life. If Frankenstein’s monster had some to life with the same noises then he would have been immediately turned off as an act of mercy.

Showing no mercy whatsoever, Joe sat listening to the wails of the scanner as it booted up. Somewhere above the lab there was the sound of closing doors and more people heading home.

Once it had started Joe checked the data from the pervious run, it was somewhat predictably not there. Joe began to start a new scan frowning with annoyance.

*Click, bewoooop* The scanner cut out, again.

Joe blinked, he was now pasted sighs. This was serious.

A quick wave to the spider and. a sniff of the power cable indicated that the fuse had blown again. The scanner wasn’t just having a blip it was not actively sabotaging itself rather than get these last results! Joe looked scoured the lab again for a new power cable, this time selecting a cable with a fuse showing more amps on it than before. Physics was a long time ago but more amps sounded better.

Again, Joe sat in his almost silent lab watching the tourtured scanner go through its start up routine. Had Joe had an Igor assistant, he’d have been pleading with Joe to please stop this madness and let the scanner die. With a beep the scanner came to life again.

With the clock showing midnight, Joe pushed the pile of power cables to the floor and set up the final scan. This time he had the data stream to the network. Even if it died, he was going to get that data. He clicked “scan” and waited on the edge of his seat as the clunking scanner made evil sounding noises and the data was slowly written to the file. Then as just as “scan complete” appeared on the screen the scanner made a *POP* noise and the room was plunged into darkness.

Joe breathed a sigh of relief in the dark – it might have taken 5 long hours and he may have possibly blown the entire lab’s elections but at least he had his data. His last data set was complete, so he could go home ready for his review tomorrow.

Joe flinched as his phone buzzed and glowed on the bench in front of him. Picking it up, Joe could see the first few lines of an e-mail from his supervisor: “BTW the scanner is giving faulty data, I took the power cable to stop it being using till it can be fixed. TTYL :)”

Joe’s screams echoed throughout the building.

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