“Why do the men outside have guns?” she asked Yvonne. They were always quite friendly, smiling at her in the car when she and her father passed through the gate; one of them gave her chocolate once, but as she was not here that often she had not seen him a second time.
Yvonne replied tactfully, “Because your father needs to be left alone while he does his work.”
“Why? What is Daddy making? Will they really shoot people? Who wants to speak to him?” Alison asked all at once.
“Other people who want his help,” Yvonne decided to answer. She swung around on her workstation chair and called out, “Dr. Cohen, are you ready? Your daughter is getting restless.”
“From my experience, I’m afraid that’s really quite dangerous,” a voice shouted back. “You’ll have to tie her up.”
“But I don’t want to be tied up!” Alison protested.
“Then keep quiet and keep still, young missy,” Yvonne chided.
As with Alison’s previous visits, the lab was a hubbub of activity, everyone busy on a handpad, looking like they were doing something important. Not a single person in the so-called “lab” wore a white coat, much to Alison’s consternation. Some of them did not even wear glasses, but she was able to put that down to contact lenses.
Alison’s father came over and said to Yvonne in an official tone, “Good to go.” Yvonne grinned in response, rather too much Alison thought, but her father glanced away sharply, turning his focus to his daughter with a wide smile.
“Well, Alison, we’re ready for your contribution today. You’re going to be our new recruit. How does it feel to be a scientist?” he asked Alison.
“What can I do?” she asked with glee. She watched her father write down on a notepad beside the computer, “Configuration 16-1-12-13. Sunday, April 14, 2013. 14:03. Press Return.”
“Go ahead,” he prompted, “press the Return key and the experiment will begin!”
Alison reached over from the desk chair to the keyboard with an excited finger seeking its target. She depressed the Return key.