Nothing woke Nathan. He simply sat up, alert, sweating, and alone. He was in the lab. The lights were back on, but the room itself was in disarray. Tables were turned over, stools. Instruments were scattered across the floor. One of the overheard lights hung loose, swinging like a decayed tooth.
Searching his mind, Nathan realized he had no idea how he had gotten here. His palms stung. When he sat up to take the pressure off them he realized so did the rest of his body. Back, shoulders, stomach. Everything screamed in pain. Without the benefit of his strength, Nathan had to roll over onto his stomach before attempting to get up. He only made it to his knees before collapsing again.
Bent over, his weight back on his palms, he tried angling his hand up to see if the bases of his wrists could sustain his weight. They could. Despite the pain. Sweating dripped from his face. They hit the floor like tiny, silent bombs. Whenever he let out a breath, the force of his breathing would send them off course, careening toward some unintended target. He had a sudden urge to find Rob. If he world was going to continue to fall apart. If more bombs were going to fly off course, crashing into schools and hospitals and beyond, he couldn't live with himself if he had any part in it.
Crawling, he made it across the floor to an overturned table. If he could right use it to right himself, coast along it like a toddler, then maybe he could regain some strength and begin a search. Pencils, pens, notebooks. He tried avoiding them as he made his way toward the table, but one escaped him and he kneeled directly on it. When it rolled under his weight it felt like a bullet to the knee and he collapsed. He reached out with his hand to balance himself, but that too landed on something. A pen, he decided. It pressed against the bone in his wrist and with no more moves left to make, he crumbled.
He lay there for a moment. Breathing heavy. Hoping for the pain to subside.
How the hell did he allow this to happen? When penicillin was invented, did Alexander Fleming spend the night crawling around on his laboratory floor? What other great breakthroughs resulted in the complete destruction of everything. He knew the answer to that. He didn't want to think about it anymore.
Hoisting himself back up with a determined grunt, Nathan put his right wrist forward, then his left knee, then his left wrist. By the time his right knee made contact his body was already on fire again.
Forearms, he thought, and he lowered himself onto them hoping the extra surface area would mean less pain. His knees continued to grind against the ground but all that disappeared when, after another painful two steps, he found himself hovering over a checkbook. It belonged to Rob.
Nathan lowered himself to he floor with a grunt. the puff of air sent a rogue pencil rolling away. He ignored it and opened the book. It had been used and more importantly, had the [copies of the checks]
Why the hell would Rob use checks? Mr. The Man of the Future scoffed at anything that wasn't invented yesterday. The copies told him nothing other than each check was made out for an extraordinary amount of money. But the recipients were a mystery to him. He had never heard of any of the people, or the few names that he assumed were companies.
Something red caught the edge of Nathan's eye. A package of crisps. A draw had been thrown open when the table was overturned and the crisps were lying there, glistening. Nathan snatched them up and started eating. All at once he realized he hadn't eaten anything in hours.
He made short work of the bag.
When he got to the end of the checkbook, he hadn't learned anything new, but decided that a mysterious paper trail was better than nothing at all and so he stuffed the book in is back pocket. High off the energy from the crisps, Nathan pushed himself the extra few inches to get within grabbing distance of the table then pulled himself up.
The table lurched forward, but not enough to throw him off balance this time. Despite the amount of energy he had spent crossing the