The walls of the lab were white. They were always white, and it was so boring. Of course, being white meant any time they got dirty at all it was immediately obvious. Not that Erkan would have noticed at the moment.
He was staring at the wall just because it happened to be in front of him. He didn’t even see the wall, but just whatever he was thinking about at the moment, if it could even be visually represented. For example, he could picture the beaches he might go to on vacation… and then picture them once again in the dark, at night. There was nothing wrong with nighttime beaches, but also nothing right about them. What Erkan couldn’t picture was why he would need to go to a beach. It wasn’t a physical thing… and frankly, he also didn’t need to. That didn’t mean he didn’t need something, but it wasn’t a vacation. It wasn’t that he didn’t have time off. He took weekends off like normal people.
The real issue was that, while he wasn’t necessarily overworked… he also didn’t really do much in the way of leisure activities. Sure, he browsed the internet and watched shows, but those were just ways to waste time. He wasn’t really that invested in any of it. Maybe he needed to-
“-kan! Erkan Kasabian!” Erkan only took note of Akio once he actually poked him in the head.
“Hmm? What? Is breaktime over already?”
“Are you okay man?” Akio gestured toward his face.
“I’m fine.” Erkan also touched his face… and found his hand came away sticky. “Oh.”
“Should I call an ambulance? That’s a lot of blood.”
“Ummm…” Erkan looked around the break room, snatching up the nearest napkin. He pressed it up against his face then pulled it away to look at it. “Nah. It’s not that bad.”
“Are you kidding? You’ve been staring off into space almost catatonic, bleeding from your nose… how is that ‘not that bad’? Especially since you have hemophilia.”
“That’s why it’s not that bad. This is pretty common… and it’s not too much blood. I just didn’t notice.” Erkan walked over to the sink and wet a paper towel, wiping off his face. Then he took another paper towel and stuffed some bits of it into his nose.
“Are you sure you aren’t about to pass out?”
Erkan tilted his head to the left and the right. “Nope, this is fine. I was just thinking.”
“About what? It must have been pretty serious. Family problems? The deep mystery of the universe? Women?”
“What? One of those… doesn’t really seem that serious.”
Akio narrowed his eyes, “I thought you cared about family?”
“The other thing!”
“The universe is-”
“You knew what I meant,” Erkan rolled his eyes.
“So women aren’t a serious issue in your life?”
“That’s not what I meant either.”
“I know.” Akio nodded, “Then what would you say if I mentioned it was about time for the coffee run?”
Apparently, the answer to that question was that Erkan would say he was going. Akio gave him a bad time for that, but Erkan was out the door before he could even really think about what he was doing. In fact, he didn’t really register what he was doing until he found himself at the front of the line looking down at the drink order list. He wouldn’t have needed it but some people didn’t get the same thing every time. He read off the order and got rang up.
“So, when are you going to ask her out?” one of the usual baristas, Kate, asked.
“Savina, obviously. Unless you just randomly started showing up every day she had a shift and leaving the other couple of days to your lab buddies?”
“Oh hi Erkan!” the black haired Savina came out of the back room, “What’s up?”
“Oh not much.” Erkan shrugged, “I was just talking with Kate and she said I should ask you out. So you want to go out sometime?”
Savina blinked. “Umm… sure! What did you have in mind?”
“I figured we might want to discuss that, given our schedules might not completely coincide. Why don’t we exchange numbers?”
Erkan found himself outside the door of Hot Beans, holding two coffee carriers. He just stared at them, and at his hands. Or rather, the fact that his hands were full. He still had paper towel in his nose, and he wanted to throw it in the trash… but it was a bit late to be embarrassed about that. He hadn’t even remembered it, or even considered that something might go wrong. He had just been so full of confidence upon seeing her that there was only one thing he could do. It had worked, though. She’d sent him a text to confirm there were no mistakes in their numbers, the coffee order was finished, and he was out the door.
He almost wanted to take out his phone to check, once again. However, he still didn’t have any free hands. The easiest solution to that problem was to put something down, but there wasn’t a good spot for that until he got back to the lab. So he started walking.
His route back to the lab was pretty practiced. Besides a couple years of walking it once a week, the past few weeks it had been three times per week. There were only a few turns on major streets.
Then he heard a scream. At two in the morning, any loud sound was startling… much more a scream like that, short as it was. So, of course, Erkan walked toward it. It didn’t make any sense, but he couldn’t stop his body… and it was only a few steps to see around the next corner.
Then he saw it. A person… no, a body. People had heads. In a way, it could be said that this body had a head… but only in the same way that someone would say a pile of beef was a cow. If he looked carefully he could make out all of the parts that had probably worked together to be a head at one point.
Erkan was used to blood… and he wasn’t squeamish with gore in movies. However, seeing it in person was different. He managed to keep down his lunch… but he couldn’t control himself enough to keep from dropping all of the coffees. They puddled together on the ground… but now Erkan’s hands were free. As he opened his phone he briefly registered the open “(^..^)” text, then proceeded to call 911.