Friday, June 5, 1987-Evening
The Visitors sudden departure from Earth two years ago came as a surprise to its inhabitants. Resistance groups around the world dispersed, their former members trying to resume somewhat normal lives. But the world they lived in was far from normal. It still bore the scars of battle.
Cities around the globe, including Los Angeles, remained in a constant state of reconstruction. War ravaged buildings were torn down and replaced by modern ones. A biological weapon once used to rid the world of the Visitors continued to reproduce in areas above the frost-belt, wreaking havoc with the lives of people who lived there.
Dr. Juliet Parrish understood the destructive nature of the Red Dust bacteria. Unlocking its mysteries became her life's work. As a dedicated biochemist, she spent long hours in the laboratory studying respiratory samples from human and animal species adversely affected by the toxin. Julie felt a great deal of responsibility for the harm done to Earth's ecology. She and former Resistance member Dr. Robert Maxwell had developed the hybrid Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) based toxin during the first war against the Visitors. While many people considered Julie's actions heroic, others questioned her reasoning behind the endorsement of a biological weapon thats side effects were not completely understood.
Julie shifted uncomfortably on a wooden stool as the small of her back tightened in pain. Drawing away from an electron microscope, she rubbed her eyes. A lanky researcher by the name of Dr. Steve Maitland came into the lab carrying a cup of coffee in each hand.
He placed a cup on the lab counter in front of Julie. "Let me buy you dinner."
"I don't think so."
Since she'd broken off their engagement and moved out of his apartment a few months ago, he'd constantly hounded her for a meeting outside of work. Julie could hardly wait until their project was complete, so she'd never have to deal with Steve again.
"You can't keep evading the subject," he said.
Ignoring him, she hopped off the stool, went over to a bookcase, and clicked on a small television set. The familiar face of another former lover, ex-resistance leader, Mike Donovan, filled the screen. After the war, Donovan returned to Los Angeles' KDHB, taking a position as a field reporter. Julie hadn't seen him in person since their mutual friend Willie's wedding two years ago.
The television image widened revealing Donovan's location, Julie's prior place of employment, Science Frontiers. She turned up the volume.
"This facility, once ran by Nathan Bates," Donovan said, "Is where Scientists like Dr. Pico conducted experiments with the Red Dust."
Pico wasn't involved in that project. Pursing her lips, Julie continued to watch as the angle panned to reveal Dr. William Pico's wrinkled face and beady brown eyes.
Donovan extended his microphone. "Can you tell us about Science Frontiers' involvement in developing a new toxin during the second war?"
"There were no efforts to improve the Red Dust," Pico stated. "Our project leader, Dr. Juliet Parrish, said it wasn't necessary. That the toxin wasn't as harmful as was once believed."
What? Julie wondered.
"That man's lying about-" Steve interrupted her barrage of silent questions.
"Shh!" Julie listened as Pico rattled off more lies about her research.
Damn it, Donovan. Why are you letting him get away with this?
As the interview ended, Julie scrambled to her desk, located a beat up copy of the Pacific Bell Yellow Pages, picked up the phone then jabbed in KDHB's number.
"KDHB News. Jaycee speaking," said a perky female.
"This is Dr. Juliet Parrish, a friend of Mike Donovan's. I need him to call me as soon as he gets this message." Julie could feel her heart pounding in her chest as she gave Jaycee her contact information. Less than a moment later, she hung up.
"Are you going to wait here for Donovan to phone you?" Steve asked.
It was just past six o'clock, the time when they'd normally prepare to leave for the day. Hoping he wouldn't wait for her, she gathered glass slides containing blood and mucosal samples then rinsed each one under a detoxifying solution.
"Will you phone me later and tell me what Donovan said?"
"Maybe." She replied, doubting she would.
Julie didn't wait long before Donovan returned her phone call. Seeming as eager to meet with her as she was with him, Donovan directed her to Kelly's pub in downtown L.A.
The overwhelming stench of stale beer, fish, and cigarette smoke offended Julie's nostrils as she entered the brick building. She spotted Donovan sitting at a glass-accented bar and joined him.
"How've you been, Doc?" Donovan gave her a brief, but awkward hug.
The scent of Aqua Velva aftershave triggered pleasant memories Julie preferred not to have. Dismissing them, she maneuvered her petite frame onto a barstool.
"Good until today," she said. "If you wanted to know about the problems with the Red Dust, why didn't you call me first?"
"Pico contacted me. How the hell was I supposed to know that guy has some sort of vendetta against you?" Donovan shot back. "Besides, your numbers unpublished."
Letting out a breath, Julie dug through her crocheted handbag for a small paper tablet and slapped it onto the counter. She rummaged through the contents of her purse again coming up empty handed.
"Want this?" Donovan held out a ballpoint pen.
She snatched it away then jotted down her name and number.
Donovan folded the paper in half, and stuffed it into his shirt pocket. "Relax, Julie. I'm on your side. Want a drink?"
He motioned for the waitress.
A young woman sporting a peasant barmaid uniform came over.
"Hi, Michael. Who's your friend?" she asked.
"Becky, I'd like you to meet Julie Parrish."
"Oh." The woman smiled at Julie. "So you're the one he always talks about. What can I get for you, Hon?"
"Rum and Coke." Julie flashed Donovan an accusing look. You always talk about me? Or what might've been between us?
"A Coors for you?" Becky asked Donovan.
"How about a Guinness?"
"A true Irish-American man indeed," Becky uttered, heading toward the tap.
Donovan asked Julie, "Did you have any problems with Pico when you worked with him?"
"He never worked on my team," she said. "You know Bates hired me to oversee the Mother Ship project, and later placed me in charge of Red Dust research as well. If Pico had any animosity toward me then, I never noticed."
"Right. You never said anything to me when we were uh..."
"-Still together?" She wondered how often he'd thought of her these past couple years, or if he'd found someone new.
"Yeah. I guess I was a little concerned about Bates' motives myself then. I mean I can see why Pico would be jealous," he said with a twinkle in his Coke-bottle green eyes. "A beautiful young woman comes along fresh out of school, and she's a war hero to boot." He caught her gaze. "And she had Bates wrapped around her finger."
I thought I had you wrapped around my finger. She smiled.
"I see you still have your charm, Mike. Do you talk to all your female subjects like this, or am I special?"
He blushed. "Uh, maybe we'd better get back to discussing Pico. He said you weren't working on environmentally safe bacteria, but I knew that wasn't true. Shouldn't there be records of your work?"
Becky returned and placed their cold drinks in front of them.
"Thanks." Julie dismissed the girl, wishing Donovan had chosen a more secluded place for them to sit. Once the waitress busied herself with other patrons, Julie answered Donovan's question. "There might be files at Science Frontiers. The building's still vacant."
She'd driven by the modern, five-story structure just the other day, noticing the weathered for sale sign out front.
"I'll call Kyle and see if he'll let me in the building to have a look." Donovan said then sipped his beer.
Julie had meant to call Nathan Bates son who'd also fought with the L.A. Resistance. She needed copies of her old files not only to disprove Pico's false accusations, but to aid her current assignment. She knew Kyle had purposely kept his distance these past couple years, holding a grudge because she'd "let Elizabeth go away with the Visitors," in exchange for peace, in spite of Kyle's great love for Elizabeth. Kyle had stowed away on the Visitor Leader's shuttle, but was later returned to the Resistance base along with Donovan's son Sean who'd been a prisoner.
"Don't you think Kyle's still mad at us?" Julie asked.
"Under the circumstances, I'd say it's irrelevant."
"If you do get in, I want to go with you. I'll help you look."
"Do you still have your gun?"
"Yes. And if I remember correctly, it was a present from you." He'd given her the elaborately engraved pistol in 1983.
"Then I'm glad you kept it." He winked.
Staring at him for a long few seconds, Julie found herself wishing they'd reconnected under different circumstances. Maggie's bringing CJ at eight…, she remembered then glanced at her watch and muttered, "Dammit."
"What?" Donovan asked.
She placed a five-dollar bill on the bar, and grabbed her purse. "I'm going to be late."
"Got a date or something?"
"Or something," she murmured. "See you later, Old Pal."
"You too, Kid."
With a hint of a smile on her face, Julie exited the pub reminiscing about the day she'd met Mike Donovan, after Elias Taylor and a street gang known as the Angels mistook him for a Visitor, offering him to Julie as a scientific guinea pig.
When Donovan asked who was in charge of the group, member Brad McIntire had implicated Julie to which Donovan replied with an incredulous, "Her? That kid?"
Julie had turned twenty-six-years old just before the Visitors arrived, and soon evolved into a woman with knowledge and wisdom far beyond her years…