A Hiding Place

Submitted into Contest #137 in response to: Write a story about a scientist.... view prompt


Science Fiction Suspense

Journal Entry 517

Time Remaining: 24:16.02 

The Senate moved to launch all nine rescue vessels within the next twelve hours. I will not be on any of them. I could be, of course, but that would require leaving some clueless idiot to acquaint himself with our ever-approaching neighbor. If there is one thing I am sure of, it is that I will not be leaving my life’s work in the hands of an incompetent intern who couldn’t tell the difference between a boson and a fermion if he tried. No. This black hole demands innovation. It demands me - and if I am the only one to discover its majesty, so be it. The dimwits on the vessels won’t know how to interpret my data anyway. Not properly, at least.

“Has anyone been in contact with Dr. Hollow?”

“No, he locked himself in his lab and said that anyone who disturbed him would be ‘so thoroughly obliterated even their atoms would be useless to the universe.’”

“Charming. But this is about his daughter.”

“Evil Einstein has a daughter?”

“Yes. And she’s not on her assigned ship.”

“Kids like to hide. I’m sure she’s fine.”

“She’s not a kid.”

“You’re worried about a grown adult?”


“So that’s why I don’t know her. Figures he would keep something like that hidden.”

“Just shut up and get him on the phone now.”

“He’s not gonna answer.”

“Do it.”

Journal Entry 518

Time Remaining: 20:07.59

My preparations are complete. I have confirmed that comms with the lead vessel are operational, as I knew they would be. I designed the system. I had to give them something. Their egos would simply not accept that my data will forever be over their heads. Well, most of their heads. There is, potentially, one exception. No less than ten clocks have been placed throughout my lab - all within visual range. The time dilution began long ago - but mine will soon be relative to that of the vessels, which will be of minor interest. What is far more intriguing, howev-

“There is absolutely no situation in which you calling me would be permittable.”

“Your daughter is missing.”

“How could you let this happen?”

“She wasn’t my responsibility.”

“She was someone’s. And you’re all the same. Incompetent fools. Can’t even keep track of a twenty-two-year-old girl.”

“Her caretaker says she’s smart. That she can always get away if she wants to.”

“Of course her intelligence baffles your own. That was never the question. Find her.”

Journal Entry 519

Time Remaining: 20:01.36

There has been a wrench in my plans. Human error, as it always is. I eagerly await the day I am rid of them. April, unfortunately, does not have the privilege of abandoning the dimwits. They need her, and, as much as it pains me to admit it, she needs them. She is their only hope in finding a permanent home, although I’m not sure the imbeciles will realize it in time. The vessels will likely run out of fuel before a proper environment is discovered, but it is either that or be swallowed by a black hole. April deserves better. Her mind has so much to give - even if her body prevents its expression.

“That went well.”

“I thought I told you to shut up.”

“What’s wrong with the girl, anyway?”

“No one really knows exactly, and it’s not like he tells me everything.”

“But you’re told a lot more than the rest of us lab goons.”

 “Yes, well, she’s mute. And she has a way with people. It’s almost…manipulative.”

“Sounds like a creepy chick.”

“Doesn’t matter. We need to find her. I’ll send the usual search team. They don’t have long this time.”

Journal Entry 520

Time Remaining: 01:27.32

I have yet to receive word regarding April, and with the seconds ticking by in every corner of my vision, I am beginning to feel like a madman. Perhaps I have already crossed that bridge. Elizabeth would say I have. She is constantly cleaning up my messes. I may have treated her too harshly over the phone. After all, supervising April is not supposed to be among her professional duties. If NGC 4889 consumes me before I discover the status of my daughter’s safety, I could be pondering her whereabouts for eternity. That is something I simply cannot allow. The search team Elizabeth undoubtedly sent for is taking too long. I must take matters into my own hands. 

“Liz, the alarm was tripped in Lab #1. Who would be crazy enough to disturb the doc right now?”

“Old news. How are you on the security team?”

“Not supposed to be - I’m covering for Tanho. You don’t seem very concerned.”

“It wasn’t a breach. Dr. Hollow left.”

“He left. With an hour and a half to go? I don’t think so.”

“He’s looking for April. Says he can’t venture into eternity without knowing she’s safe.”

“Okay, one: that’s really sweet. And two: he doesn’t know he’ll be in there forever. What about his theory of coming out the other end to a universe parallel to our own?”

“It’s just a theory. In either case, I’m sure he just doesn’t want concern for her to be clogging up his mind.”

“That’s less sweet.”

Journal Entry 521

Time Remaining: 00:00:58

I have just made a terrible decision. Although, there wasn’t really anything to decide. I had no choice. April remains missing. I, along with every able-bodied clod among the fleet, scoured all nine vessels, as well as the surrounding five-mile radius, until we were forced to launch just over four minutes ago. I can only watch NGC 4889 engulf my planet from the prison I sentenced myself to. I can almost hear the dark monster’s booming laugh as it sees the state to which I have been reduced. It never demanded me. It hardly recognizes me. I will never know its secrets, and it never feared I would. I can only hope that April is hiding in a vent or neglected corner somewhere on this godforsaken ship. Otherwise, this is all for naught. 

“Doctor, I’m sorry to interrupt your writing, but our scans picked up one life form still on the planet. Did you opt to send someone as your proxy?”

“Dr. Hollow?”

“Who is unaccounted for, Elizabeth?”

“Just your daughter, sir.”

“Get her on comms, dammit!”

“She won’t be able to relay any informa-”

“I don’t care about the goddamn data, woman; I want to speak to my daughter!”

Journal Entry 522

Time Remaining: - 00:02:07

April took my place. No one can tell me how she managed to slip into my lab - no one even knows when it could have happened. All I could say was goodbye, and I will never know if she heard me. 

March 14, 2022 15:53

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Sue Hunter
15:02 Mar 15, 2022

I love how the story was written in logs. Very unique!


Isabela Maher
15:26 Mar 21, 2022

Thanks, Sue! I had fun trying out a new format.


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Michał Przywara
23:43 Mar 20, 2022

This was a fun read. You managed to shove a lot of storyline and world building into a tight space, all while avoiding big exposition -- well done! I like the shift in tone Dr. Hollow undergoes too. He starts off sounding fairly one-dimensional but there's quite a lot of development.


Isabela Maher
03:04 Mar 21, 2022

Thank you for the feedback! I am so glad you enjoyed it - this was an experimental structure for me, so I am happy to hear the character development came through.


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