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The Strand (standard:other, 1837 words)
Author: A.M. SneadAdded: Oct 06 2002Views/Reads: 1929/1234Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Brian O'Connell never believes the source of life would be discovered in his lifetime, let alone by Brian himself.

The Strand A.M. Snead 

Brian O'Connell never really believed the true source of life on earth
would be discovered in his lifetime, let alone by Brian himself. 

When the artifact mysteriously arrived at his motel room during his
first real field assignment, Brian had viewed it skeptically.  The 
scrawled note that accompanied it, insisting that this piece of...what? 
 Fossil?  Petrified wood?... contained within in its ancient bowels the 
truth that the scientific world had been searching for since man began 
searching, was even less impressive.  It was out of sheer curiosity 
alone that Brian put it under the lens at all. 

However, a single curious look turned into a thousand excited ones. 
Actually, excited didn't describe it for Brian O'Connell.  Even 
ecstatic was a bit mild for what this geneticist was experiencing.  So 
naturally, he found it rather irritating, even frustrating, when his 
colleague and boss took it with a grain of salt. 

"What is it?"  Jerry asked. 

Brian shrugged.  "Not sure."  He turned the object over in his hands as
if looking at it for the first time, when in reality he had studied it 
until his eyes began to throb.  But this time he was appearing to 
think, when he was actually struggling to keep from shouting at the 
other man for his dismissive attitude.  But to avoid being unfair to 
Saunders, Brian assured himself that Jerry's perception would change- 
and change drastically- once he inspected this thing under the 
microscope and saw what Brian had been certain couldn't really be 
there...but somehow had been.  "What does it look like to you?" 

"I don't know."  Jerry took the object from Brian and glanced over it
with a less than attentive look.  "A fossil maybe.  Or piece of 
petrified wood." 

"It's wood."  Brian said.  His pulse raced and he wanted to blurt out
everything he had discovered in this little piece of ancient tree, but 
he held back.  It was clear that Saunders wasn't interested, and any 
information divulged at this moment would be met with skepticism.  So 
it was best to let the man see it all for himself. 

"Okay."  Leaning back in his chair, Jerry Saunders laid the artifact on
the table in front of him and looked up at the younger man.  "So what's 
it doing in the lab?" 

"I really think you should take a closer look at it."  Brian said. 


"Just trust me."  Brian produced a prepared slide and handed it to

"Don't waste my time, O'Connell."  Leaving the slide in Brian's
outstretched hand, Jerry leaned forward and pushed the piece of wood 
aside.  "You know I have work to do.  You have work to do.  So I 
suggest you get to it." 


"But nothing.  I didn't hire you so you could bring in each and every
nondescript object you could find and waste the lab's time and money 
studying it."  Saunders sighed.  "It probably came off the beach or 
something.  Nothing spectacular." 

Brian shook his head slowly.  "It didn't come off any beach, I guarantee
you that.  Now I know you're my boss and all, but I have to insist you 
take a look at this."  Brian thrust the slide towards him a second 
time.  "And if you refuse, I will be forced to take it elsewhere.  And 
believe me, you don't want that." 

The compressing silence squeezed at Brian as he waited for Saunders'
response.  Of course Brian would not take his findings elsewhere.  It 
would be career suicide to do so.  The information would be studied and 
then confiscated by more respected and well known scientists, and 
Brian's discovery of a lifetime would quickly become someone else's 

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