When I went back out to work the Monday after our vacation in Granite Falls I learned some upsetting news. Dr Bjergsen passed away over the weekend. It came as such a shock to me. Dr Bjergsen was old but I didn’t think he was that old. He was always so active around the lab. I never saw him sit down not even once because he kept himself so busy and he never complained. He was not just my mentor but he had become a dear friend. There was so much more that I still had to learn from him and I knew I was gonna miss him a lot.
There was a gloomy cloud that hung over the lab. It was to be expected. Everyone loved and admired Dr Bjorn, but we knew him well enough to know that he would not want us to spend the day moping around instead of working. He strongly believed that science could make the world a better place and that it was our responsibility to not waste precious time that could be used to change the world so I kept busy working on the projects he had assigned to me before he died.
He and I were working on a cloning machine together. It had been his side project for over a decade and when he asked me to assist him in developing the prototype I felt honoured. I only wish he could have seen it completed.
It was a success! This device could be life changing! A cloning device such as this one could provide a solution to countries experiencing famine. If it could successfully clone a daisy then it can clone any type of fruit or vegetable. This means all you need is one item of produce and you can make an infinite number of clones of that one item increasing food supply and preventing starvation. Dr Bjergsen was a genius! Sure I helped in some of the calculations and I developed the prototype but this was his brainchild. This was more his work than it was mine even though both of our names ended up on the report that was submitted for review.
Sofia and I never got along but now with Dr Bjergsen gone, she was the most senior person in the lab in terms of experience and qualifications which technically made her my boss now.
“Sofia,” I called out to her the morning she returned to work from her bereavement leave. “I want to offer my condolences to you and your family. Dr Bjorn was a great man and I think I can speak for everyone else when I say that he will be missed. We’ll all miss him a lot.”
She stared at me for a minute and didn’t say anything. Nothing at all until finally, she did something that both surprised and frightened me. She broke down crying!
She always wears this cold demeanour around the lab. Wolf and I constantly joke about her being an ice queen because she’s so stoic and unemotional, well except for when she’s angry or condescending, so for her to cry the way she did was very scary. I didn’t know what to do so I just stood there. If she was anyone else, I would have consoled her, given her a hug or a tissue, but this was Sofia Bjergsen. She wasn’t just anyone else. I felt really bad for her but then she went and did something else that was just as weird. She wiped her eyes and sat by her computer like nothing happened. Like her mood went back to normal in an instant.
“Sloane.” She finally said.
“Yeah Sofia? I’m in charge now so you will show me respect and address me as either ‘Doctor’ or ‘Ma’am’.”
Yep, she was definitely back to normal now. “Yes, Doctor.”
“Good. Now that rocket ship project of yours is cancelled.”
“It’s draining resources, resources that could be better spent on more fruitful projects. You should focus on your mandatory lab work instead of palming it off on Munch.”
“First of all, I don’t palm anything off on Wolfgang. We work on these labs together so we can both focus on our individual projects. Secondly, Dr Bjorn not only gave his blessing for the rocket ship project but he also got board approval for it so you can’t just cancel it just cause you’re on a power trip!”
“Watch your tone Sloane! My father’s not around to coddle you anymore so you better keep your attitude in check otherwise you will no longer have a job here at Future Sim Labs.”
I was so damn mad! Ugh! I wanted to smack her right in the middle of her stupid freckled face! How could she do this to me?! The rocket ship was halfway done and she just cancelled the funding for it. She talked about how it was wasting resources, but she was the one who cancelled a project halfway through completion! The project isn’t wasting resources, she is!
Then when I thought she finished messing with me after getting the rocket ship project cancelled, she basically assigned me to maintenance duty and calling it ‘lab work’. Every time something was broken I was ordered to fix it.
Sure my handiness skill was pretty high but so was that of Mary the lab technician actually assigned to maintain, upgrade and repair all lab equipment. Sofia was just doing this to mess with me. To force me to quit maybe because she knows I’m better than her and more accomplished than she is.
“You look like that sandwich doesn’t taste good.”
I was so lost in thought while I was having my lunch in the rec room that I didn’t realise when Dr Allison Gruber sat down next to me. She was a botanist whose primary responsibility was to maintain the greenhouse and perform analysis on the plant life. She was a really nice woman and a total genius. I always feel honoured whenever she gets some free time to talk with me one on one.
“I keep telling them that they need to check that fridge.” She continued. “It doesn’t keep things as cold as it should. Is it spoiled?”
“No, it’s fine. I’m just in a bad mood. That’s all.”
“Because of the new boss? She was never a friendly girl, didn’t inherit that trait from her father. Makes me miss Bjorn even more.”
“She’s clearly not cut out for any kind of leadership position,” I said. “She’s cancelling projects that are near completion all because she’s holding a grudge against me because I made her look bad by succeeding in an experiment where she failed.”
“You know, when she started working here she was very young.”
“Yeah, I know she’s some kind of prodigy or something.”
“Not a prodigy. She just has an eidetic memory which makes her good at regurgitating knowledge but she doesn’t have a brilliant mind. Bjorn tried to push her. He thought that because of her skill, she could make a good scientist but she’s not. If you ask me, she’s just lazy. Not like you. You are always thinking on your feet and working hard at your breakthroughs while Sofia is just content doing lab work using techniques that other scientists have proven. If she remains in charge, she’ll take this lab to the ground. We’ll lose our private and government funding because she has no vision. In this business you have to be ground-breaking and if you’re not then you’re a joke. Ivy, don’t let us become a joke.”
“What exactly are you trying to tell me?”
“I didn’t devote my last best years working for Future Sim Labs to retire with it being a laughing stock of the scientific community. Sofia Bjergsen is not cut out to run this place, you are!”
“Me?” Was she seriously suggesting what I think she was suggesting?
“Yes, you. The others and I have been talking and we agree that you should be the one running this place as the Laboratory Leader.”
“But I’m not qualified. I don’t even have my PhD as yet.”
“You submitted that cloning machine project with Dr Bjergsen as your thesis. From what my sources told me, the Scientific Council was very impressed with you. It’s only a matter of months before you can add those letters to your name. Plus you have a lot of experience in research and experimentation already as a result of Bjorn’s mentoring.”
My thesis? The Scientific Council was impressed? By me…?
“I don’t know. Sofia already has the position of Laboratory Leader.”
“No, she’s just the Acting Laboratory Leader. Her position is not set in stone. You can apply to the board for it. I will recommend you and so will the others. Sofia has no support here. With so many accomplishments under your belt, you are sure to get it.”
“I don’t know what to say, Dr Gruber. I’m touched that you have so much faith in me. I’ll definitely apply.”
She seemed relieved when I assured her I would take the application seriously. I guess Wolf and I weren’t the only ones who disliked Sofia and her management style.
Speaking of Wolf, after my chat with Dr Gruber, I needed to confront him about something.
“You submitted the cloning machine reports as my thesis?”
He laughed. “How did you find out? Did they contact you?”
“Dr Gruber told me that my thesis has been getting rave reviews and I know for certain I didn’t submit the report as my thesis. That was Dr Bjorn’s work, not mine.”
“Ivy, you contributed at least 50 percent of the work on that thing. He would have wanted you to submit it as your thesis, especially since you rightly deserve the title of Doctor. So I hacked into your profile and submitted it on your behalf.”
“Why would you do this for me?”
“Because you deserve the advancement…and because your sister convinced me it’s what a good brother-in-law would do.” He chuckled.
I was grateful to Wolf for doing something like that for me. He’s always been a good friend to me and is always helping me out with work but for him to hack into my profile and submit the report as my thesis he put himself at risk. Had he been caught the punishment for using someone else’s credentials is severe. He must truly love my sister to put himself at risk of losing his job because she asked him to help me. I wonder how she even knew what was going on. He probably filled her in.
It doesn’t matter now because Wolf and Dr Gruber’s efforts worked.
“What’s going on? You look in a good mood.” Gabe said to me after I arrived home a few days later.
“I got a promotion! I’m officially the new Laboratory Leader!”