Osco

“What did you do to Osco?”

Hansen is lazing in the lounge, his feet across the couch, shoes kicked off, revealing the holes in his socks. He yawns, and opens his eyes.

“Just gave him a bit of the serum I’m working on.”

“What the fuck is the matter with you? He’s not yours to experiment on. You’ve just invalidated all of my data. And he’s a living creature, you can’t just feed it whatever crap you’re working on.”

“It’s a guinea pig. If I see a guinea pig, I’m going to experiment.”

“You are such an asshole.”

“It’s not like you were doing real science with him anyway. If you did, you wouldn’t have named him.”

“Real science involves process and control. It doesn’t mean you just dose an animal that you know nothing about. I’ve been injecting him with my own formulas. Carefully, slowly. Now, my data is fucked, and you don’t have anything useful, because you’re not starting with a clean subject.”

Also, Osco is my favorite. I would have taken him home, but my roommate objects to any type of rodent. Some sort of childhood rat trauma. I like having him in the lab, though. When I’m number crunching, he makes little chirruping noises, and it always makes me smile.

Hansen stretches, and then makes a big show of putting on his shoes. Finally, he heaves himself up, and declares, “Well, let’s see what happened?”

I grumble, but the two of us walk back to the lab. When we arrive there, Osco is sitting in the middle of the lab. A container of food pellets had been knocked over next to him, and he’s contentedly having a snack. When I’d left the lab, he’d been in his cage.

“Hey buddy,” Hansen says, “What have you gotten into?”

He kneels on the floor and reaches his hand towards Osco. I don’t even see the guinea pig move, but Hansen screams, and clutches his hand, blood spurting out. I’ve been nipped by my share of guinea pigs, I’ve never bled from it. I turn back to Osco, but he’s no longer on the floor. He chirrups and I realize he’s now on a shelf behind me.

“Hey Osco, are you ok?” I also reach my hand towards him, but he just nuzzles it. “Can I pick you up?”

He lets me pick him up. I cradle him in my arms, scratch his chin. He feels different than other times I’ve held him. Less fragile.

“Just put the rat down, and get me a bandage.”

“Oh, you want my help?”

“Could you not be a bitch for a single minute?”

Osco growls. I look at him and his eyes are glowing?

“I think we all need to calm down…”

Hansen is about to say something but looks at me, and sees Osco and his glowing eyes in my arms.

“Yeah, let’s be calm, I just got a little heated. My hand does hurt.”

“And?”

“And I’m really sorry about what I called you.”

“And?”

“And, I shouldn’t have given Osco my serum or messed with your experiment.”

I place Osco in his cage. It’s clear that it won’t be able to contain him if he chooses to escape, but I just have to hope that he’s ok for now.

“Let’s see what we have in the first aid kit.”

On the plus side, Hansen was moved out of my lab. On the negative, all of my work, including Osco was confiscated. My advisor recommended new paths of research for me, and I’m making good progress, but it’s a setback.

The organization that took custody of Osco are at least decent. For a while, they’d allow a weekly video call where I could talk to him, and he’d make contented noises in response. He looked healthy, and if I asked him how he was, he always reassured me in his guinea pig-type way. The calls are less frequent now, but that’s because he’s busy. I get alerts every time he makes the news.

“Hero Guinea Pig Saves 5 from Fire.”

“Fuzzball Saves the Day, Thwarts Bank Robbery.”

I’m glad he’s doing well. But I miss him.

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