The large metal door swung open, hinges creaking revealing a fully functioning laboratory. I'd neffur been in there before and I padded forward eagerly over the threshold. The sights that greeted me were rather bizarre. Clear glass bottles in many sizes bubbled with brightly coloured liquids and white vapour curled upwards, strange apparatus that I'd neffur encountered before filled the bench tops as many different experiments were being conducted simultaneously.
I edged around the perimeter as I took in a host of strange odours, not foul, but not that nice either. I noticed a figure hunched over a rather odd looking device, he was wearing a white lab coat that I'd seen him in many times before. I inhaled deeply, reaching out fur a familiar scent, I drew it in and let it resonate within me for a few moments, pushing the other scents away.
The figure suddenly straightened up, stepping back blindly and the chair behind him hit the flag-stone floor with a noisy clatter. I jumped back in surprise. "Meeeeeeoooooooow!"
The man turned and saw me there. Fur a moment I thought he was going to be angry, as his face was furry serious but then he spoke.
"Basil my little fruit, what are you doing here?" Mr P. said, his tone surprisingly gentle.
I hesitantly stepped forward, yet my legs felt heavy. Uncertain, I moved closer.
"How did you get in?" he asked again crouching low and offering his hand in a friendly gesture.
I meowed softly and leapt the final distance between us, sniffing his proffered hand with caution before rubbing my chops all over it without a care in the world. My purr started off low and got louder and louder as my ears were tickled with the other hand. I couldn't help myself and began to dribble in delight. I was suddenly scooped up and held to his chest, firmly but furry gently as he spoke again.
"Now then young Basil, this is really no place for a kitten like you!" he chuckled softly, a deep throaty sound that I liked. "It's not really safe in here with all the experiments I'm conducting and I'd hate for you to get into any mischief or hurt."
I purred loudly as I looked around the room from my new lofty position. My eyes darting this way and that as I craned to see more. Shelves piled high with all manner of containers and boxes. Cages and clear perspex cubes were piled high in the back corner and strangely, a set of shiny golf clubs were leaning on them.
He reached down and stood the chair upright, then sitting down he placed me carefully on his lap. I faced him and peered intently into his eyes, giving him my most amenable expression.
He beamed widely and stroked my head. "You know that you’re the first one, other than myself or Huxley of course to see my laboratory," he continued. "If you can be a good boy and sit on the chair, I'll let you stay, ok?"
I blinked slowly at him and mewed softly, agreeing to his terms in my own cattish way.
"Excellent," he said as if understanding me purrfectly and lifted me up, placing me on chair. "I'm working on something rather wonderful right now and I think I've had a breakthrough..."
I sat up straight, my ears twitching as I listened intently as he told me about what he was working on.
"I was just looking through my microscope at a new culture I've been developing for bringing dormant or dead DNA back to life..." as if realising that I had no clue what DNA was, he explained further. "DNA is the genetic code of all life, there are more sequences of it than there are stars in the sky."
I mewed in acknowledgement.
"Every living thing has its own unique signature strand and what I'm working on will hopefully be able to resurrect DNA that's been recovered from skeletons that are millions and millions of years old," he took a breath. "If I infuse dormant DNA with my new super culture, it automatically fills in the missing pieces making the strand whole again."
He beamed excitedly at me as he lifted a small square of glass and tipped it forward, so I could see a small blob of orange goo on it. I blinked slowly showing I was ready fur more.
"This my little fruit could be the catalyst to bring back extinct species of animals that died out eons ago, but rather than bringing them back with modern genetically altered DNA to fill in the blanks, which has been a problem in recent years and has caused quite a few setbacks," he explained. "This will make certain that they are exactly as they would have been when they roamed the earth and were born naturally."
I meowed in awe.
"Precisely!" he concurred. "So no more genetically defected clones, this is the real deal."
He put the glass slide into a small plastic container and sealed the lid firmly. I watched as he placed it in a shiny metal briefcase, sitting it in a small recess of cut foam before gently closing the lid. The lid snapped shut with a firm metallic click.
"I call it the Amaryllis Project and between you and I," he winked at me, I winked back. "I've already managed to grow a baby mammoth from a hair fibre donated to me by the Natural History Institute in Geneva. Obviously this is very top secret and if it fell into the wrong hands it could be disastrous."
I stared questioningly at him, letting my eyes convey that I needed to know more. My bushy tail swished side to side as I waited in much anticipation.
"A few years ago, a group of scientists decided to build a theme park of cloned dinosaurs. The DNA strand was incomplete so they added DNA from modern day reptiles and also added docile genes from sheep," he sighed heavily. "They thought that they had bred controllable carnivorous creatures, sadly they didn't and the whole thing was a total disaster. Many of the scientists were eaten when the dinosaurs broke free of the compounds, their research destroyed and the island habitat they built became a prehistoric war zone. The Navy, Army and Air Force were sent in to clean up the mess, and by all accounts it was a monster one."
My tail swished faster as I listened to the tale.
"Eventually all the creatures were destroyed but the casualty rate was high and the entire incident was swept under the rug," he pushed his hand through his thick dark wavy hair. "While what I'm doing is similar, however I'm not doing it on animals that are a predatory to mankind, it's purely for the study of ones that are manageable and for scientists who want to know more about specific species."
I blinked in reply.
"Such as Dodo's, a flightless bird only found in one country in the entire world, Mauritius. It was about 3 feet tall and was a quite a weighty fellow with a long curved beak," he stated. "To be able to study a live specimen is a dream that an awful lot of modern scientists would do anything for."
I jumped up onto the bench next to the locked briefcase and sniffed it. He tickled my ears again and I purred.
"Well I think that's enough excitement for you today young Basil, it's time for me to take that sample back to Pilkington Industries and lock it up in the vault."
Meowing in agreement I jumped down, landing softly on the cold floor.
Curling around his legs as we left the secret laboratory, he closed the door making sure it was locked before we ascended the worn stone stairs.
We had just reached the top step when the front door bell rang. Mr P. quickly stashed the briefcase behind the coat stand and opened the door. I peered up from between his feet and stared at two burley men dressed in black.
"Mr Pilkington?" the one of the left asked brusquely. His accent was strange, I'd neffur heard anything like it.
Mr P. nodded. "Yes gentlemen, how can I help you?"
"My name is Johan Sveetaman and this is my colleague Enri Jacquard, we are representatives from the Natural History Institute in Geneva."
I felt Mr P. take a step back almost treading on my tail, which was thrashing the rug quite profusely in unconscious agitation. Something was very wrong, their scent was wrong, their expressions were wrong, effurything was wrong. I bristled and before I knew what was happening instinct took over and I launched through the door and headed claws out straight at the two men.