Kat slumped forward at her desk in the tiny dorm room; her head planted firmly on the keyboard of her laptop. A dull drone emitted from the computer speakers indicating that there were too many buttons being pressed at once. Were it up to her, she’d likely have stayed that way for hours, however her peaceful sleep was interrupted by the sound of the dorm room lock clicking open as the door knob started to turn.
Kat was startled awake and the moment her head left the space bar the droning error message was replaced with sultry moans from the video she had been watching only a few hours before. She yelped in alarm and muted the computer and frantically began closing tabs hoping she could get them all before the door opened. As she heard the door swing open she settled for slamming the computer shut and spinning in her office chair to face her roommate.
“Hey Steph,” she greeted, her chest rising and falling steadily betraying her anxiety.
“Kat.” Stephanie responded. The hand on her hip and her cocked eyebrow might have indicated disapproval had it not been for the dimpled grin she was wearing. “Fall asleep on your computer?”
“O-oh. Yeah. Thesis.” She insisted. “That MD isn’t going to earn itself, right?” She let out a laugh that was supposed to be nonchalant but came off as just a bit too forced. Steph swung her gym bag up onto one of the two twin sized beds that flanked either side of the room.
“And do you always do your research with your pants around your ankles?” She asked, spinning to meet Kat’s gaze, eager to get her reaction. Kat squeaked in horror and grabbed at her leggings, pulling them back up. Steph just laughed. “Honestly, Kat. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone looks at porn. I’m just glad you have the tact to wait for me to leave first.” She snapped her fingers as a thought occurred to her. “Tell you what. I’ll hit the showers. That’ll give you time to finish up.”
Kat was about to protest, but Steph was already out the door. She groaned as she slowly turned back around in her chair and reopened the laptop. Steph was right of course that porn was nothing to be ashamed of, but somehow she felt that her roommate might be less understanding if she knew what she had been looking at. The screen flashed to life with dozens of pictures of full-figured women. Full-figured might have been an understatement as most of them were proudly showing off fat bellies as well as other equally huge assets.
Kat groaned and closed the final tab to reveal a word document. She had actually been working on her thesis before getting distracted. She lacked the bedside manner (not to mention the stomach) to be the kind of doctor that worked with patients. Her heart was in research and development, and recently she’d had a breakthrough. The problem with surgery is that people’s bodies tended to freak out when cut open. You could get around it with anesthesia, but even the most talented surgeon had to worry about their patient waking up or going into shock. Kat was looking to change that.
She lifted a bottle of purple liquid off her desk and made sure the seal was tight. It was meant to be refrigerated, but a few hours out shouldn’t have done it any harm as long as it was kept air tight. She still needed to test it. Once she had an idea how long the concentrated formula lasted she could water it down to a more manageable duration. She had planned a trip to the research lab to ask her professor if he had any thoughts on her work, but it was already after six and she had missed her window due to her unplanned nap. She threw the bottle in the fridge; cursing under her breath. After several minutes of trying to fit it between two frozen pizzas without success she relented and put it on Steph’s shelf of the mini fridge. There was plenty of room down there with only a salad and a few bottles of water for company. Kat rolled her eyes. Of all the girls at this school she had to be paired with a health nut.
The next morning Kat was stirred awake by a persistent beeping noise. She palmed at her alarm clock for a few minutes before realizing she needed to find her phone.
“Hello?” She asked.
“Hey.” came Steph’s exhausted voice over the phone. “I’m in the infirmary. Could you pick me up?” Kat got dressed, brushed her teeth and made it out to her car in less than ten minutes. She was at the campus infirmary in another fifteen. After being directed to one of the offices she found Steph sitting on a hospital bed having her blood pressure tested by a stout middle aged nurse.
“Now have you been on anything?” The older woman demanded. “If you are you should tell me. Your health is more important than your scholarship eligibility.” Stephanie just ignored her instead looking up to meet Kat’s gaze
“Hey Kat. Thanks for coming.” She smiled weakly.
“Steph what happened?” Kat demanded. The nurse answered before Steph could.
“She passed out this morning on the track. Looked like heat exhaustion even though it was only forty degrees out.” She removed the fabric cuff around Steph’s forearm. “Your blood pressure's fine, just like your blood sugar and your temperature. I don’t get it. You’re in perfect health.”
“And proud of it!” Steph announced. “ Can I go now?” The nurse just shrugged in resignation. Kat thanked the nurse for her time and followed stephanie back out to her car.
“Can we get something to eat?” Stephanie asked as she jumped into the passenger seat. “I skipped breakfast.” Kat dismissed her out of hand.
“I’m late as it is.”
“We’re not going back to the dorm then?”
“Depends.” Kat replied as she started the ignition. “You well enough for a detour?”
“I’m fine!” the athlete scoffed. “I just over exerted myself.”
“How many laps did you run?”
Stephanie didn’t answer. She just stared out the window as they drove through the campus.
They reached the lab building later than Kat would have liked. They would have gotten there sooner had they not stopped at Mcdonalds after much begging from Steph.
They walked down the halls of the medical wing with Steph munching on a McMuffin the whole way. Kat finally found the right room and burst in, much to the surprise of the old man sitting behind the cluttered desk. He’d been reading when they came inside, and there was a plate of cookies at his elbow.
“Sorry for being late, Dr. Brown. There were... extenuating circumstances.”
“It’s quite alright, Kat” he held out the plate to her. “Cookie?” Kat declined but Steph accepted eagerly. “I’m just glad you made it. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your new anesthetic. There are some problems. ” Kat’s hands grabbed at the hem of her hoodie betraying her anxiety.
“It doesn’t work?” She asked.
“Far from it!” The doctor insisted. “It works perfectly. The formula puts the patient into a state of stasis stopping all neural stimuli and maintaining the current messages sent by the nervous system. In short, the patient will keep feeling exactly the same way until the effects wear off.”
“So… What’s the problem?” Kat asked.
“Well that’s exactly it. Lord knows when it’ll wear off. Your formula is far too concentrated. We’ll have to test it, see how long it lasts and then dilute it accordingly.” Kat’s heart sank. She knew how long it could take to arrange a medical test. The professor seemed to notice her disappointment. “I’m sorry, Kat. But this is a big school. Maybe you can find a student willing to test out your formula for you, otherwise we’ll have to put development on hold.” Kat looked over to see Stephanie now licking the crumbs off an empty plate of cookies.
“I’ll keep that in mind...”
When they finally arrived back at their dorm room Stephanie jumped up onto her bed and sprawled out in an attempt to get comfortable. Kat made her way straight to the mini fridge.
“If you’re getting food, do you mind if I have one of your pizzas?” Steph asked.
“What happened to that healthy diet you’re always raving about?” Kat asked as she rummaged through the fridge.
“It’s my cheat day.”
“Since I passed out on the track today. Gimmee!” She demanded playfully. Kat sighed as she realized that the bottle of anesthetic was nowhere to be found.
“Steph,” She started, already guessing at the answer. “Did you take a bottle out of here?”
“The purple stuff?” She sat up. “Was that yours? I thought it was a sports drink.” Kat slapped a hand to her forehead letting it slide down her face slowly.
“Can I have it back?” She asked coldly.
“I drank it.” Steph responded, flatly. “I can buy you another.” Her nervousness was betrayed in her voice and Kat could tell stephanie was worried about more than just owning her a soda.
“Steph… That was my project.” The color drained from Steph’s face.
“So that explains why I passed out. I’m in stasis right?” She asked quietly. “My body didn’t know I was working out so it didn’t try to keep up.” kat raised an eyebrow. So she had been paying attention. “What do we do?”
“I’ll work on a counter formula.” Kat slumped into the office chair. “But that could take weeks and we have no way of knowing if I’ll be able to make one before it wears off naturally.” Steph groaned and lay flat on the bed. “God, I’m so hungry. I knew I should have gotten breakfast before I went jogging.”
“You’re lucky you didn’t.” Kat remarked. “Otherwise you’d be in danger of starving to death and not even noticing.”
“You have no idea how hungry I am.” She insisted. She jumped up and grabbed a bag of pizza rolls from the mini fridge and threw it into the microwave. “I’ve gotta get a handle on this. If I put on any weight I could lose my football scholarship.” Kat winced. As Steph pulled the pizza rolls out of the microwave and shoved three into her mouth.
“You do realize that you can’t play football anymore, right?” Steph’s eyes leapt up at her. She didn’t respond due to the mouthful of food. She swallowed painfully and thought for a moment.
“I’m gonna get kicked out of school.”
“Not necessarily.” Kat assured her. “You know, our school offers financial aid to people who agree to participate in medical testing.” Steph cocked her head and shot Kat a look of disapproval while downing another handful of pizza rolls. “Hear me out. It’ll take too long to find a cure and you’ve already been to the infirmary so you know you’re not in any danger. This way you get to stay in school and all you have to do is let me take a few physicals and let me know when you feel like yourself again.” Steph sighed and looked down at her belly. Even though it was full of fast food, cookies and a full bag of pizza rolls it let out a dissatisfied gurgle, demanding more.
“You’re sure they’ll pay for my classes?” She asked. Kat just nodded. “And after this is all over I can go back to football?”
“Promise.” Kat insisted. Steph just rolled her eyes.“Fine. but you’ve got to help keep me on my diet. I can’t go back to playing if I’m a fatty.” Kat nodded and did her best to hide the burning in her cheeks.