Professor Hunter growled and snapped his jaws within inches of the reporter’s face. She gaped, pulling away swiftly, as only a manine could. Police soon grabbed hold of her arms and led her away.
Staring down his snout, Professor Hunter’s eyes took on a mournful quality, perhaps in apology for his angry outburst. Lisa gripped him affectionately. Although, she had never witnessed his temper before, she always felt safe in his presence.
“We’d better get inside, away from this,” he said.
They walked up the museum entrance steps and entered the sliding doors to the foyer. Ken, the security officer stood by the lift doors with his hands behind his back. Manog too, covered in black fur, he stood a couple of inches taller than Professor Hunter. His frame broad, he looked athletic, but didn’t quite compare to the muscular bulk of her mentor.
“Hi, Ken,” Lisa said cheerfully.
“Hello, Professor Gudgeon.”
She assumed he didn’t like her. His tone seemed distant, almost distasteful, yet could instantly become brighter when speaking to a merge mutation.
Professor Hunter hugged Lisa again and sniffed the top of her head as he lacked the lips to kiss her.
“Well, I’ve got to leave you at this point,” he said. “I’ve got work that’ll tie me up in the office for two or three hours. Can I see you in your lab for a coffee when I’m finished?”
“You know you can drop in anytime you like.”
He laughed. “Yeah, I know. It’s just a bit of professional courtesy.”
His lip curled back, exposing a few of his jagged teeth. Anyone else might have taken it as a sign of aggression. Lisa understood the gesture as Professor Hunter’s closest approximation of a smile. He tromped up the steps beside the foyer desk as Lisa pressed the lift button. It’s bell chimed, the doors opened to receive her then closed after she got inside.
When they reopened, she entered a completely white corridor illumined by a line of fluorescent tubes on the ceiling. Doors lined either side at regular intervals. She walked down the corridor and stopped at the seventh steel door on the left.
“Lisa Gudegeon,” she said.
“Accepted,” said a tinny voice.
She stepped through the Henderson door as if wading into a mist. It got its name after the inventor, Steven Henderson, a marvel of security for the past 200 years. Its voice receptor only admitted entrance to those with clearance.
The lights of her central computer illumined as she wondered over to a gurney in the corner of the room.
“Good morning, Professor Gudgeon,” the computer said.
Lisa ignored the words. It only spoke them as per its programming. Her dusty lab coat dangled from a handstand near the door. She never wore it, preferring instead to work unhindered in her jeans and checkered shirt. The sheet covering the gurney obviously obscured a skeleton. Pulling it back, she took her first look at the object of the world’s interest. Against its rib cage, rested a folded newspaper.
Its headline read – BIGGEST FIND OF THE DECADE, with the word decade circled in red. She imagined Professor Hunter did that.