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Fiction

Sci Idol

Tania Hershman 8 May 2006

www.lablit.com/article/110

The fans were screaming so loudly and waving lab coats for me to autograph that I couldn't hear my manager.

"What?" I shouted as we struggled into the lobby. The doors closed behind us. Suddenly, silence.

"I said I think you stand a really good chance tonight," she said. "Especially with the speed of light experiment."

"Look," I said, "Let's not talk about it. I mean, just being in the final four is great. Even if I don't win."

"Don't talk like that," said Marianne.

"Excuse me," said a girl in a short red skirt, "You're Andrew Klein, aren't you?"

I was used to this sort of thing. After ten weeks of being on TV on Sci Idol, I got recognised everywhere.

"Hi," I said, holding out my hand. "Nice to meet you."

"You bastard," she said. "You don't recognise me, do you?"

I stared at her. She was pretty, blond-ish, early twenties, the kind that hang around laboratories hoping we'll say, Come in and hold my test tube. She didn't look like someone I had actually, well... groupies are so tempting, I'd be lying if I said I'd never…but I didn't remember her.

"I'm so sorry," I said. "No, I don’t."

She started crying. Marianne rolled her eyes.

"It was at the 250th Physics Symposium in Hawaii," sniffled the girl. "It was just one night, but you said that I…You promised that I could help with your revising of Young's double slit experiment."

She stopped, overcome, it seemed, with my despicable nature.

"Oh gosh," I said, as bits of this started coming back to me. "I did, didn’t I?"

"We haven't got time for this," Marianne hissed.

"Listen, um," I said to the girl, who was blowing into a large handkerchief.

"Christine," she said sulkily.

"Christine, can we talk about this afterwards? I have to be in the studio in two minutes. I really am sorry."

She stared at me, her face damp and pink.

"Whatever," she said. She shot me a look of undistilled hatred, turned and strutted off.

That really ruined everything for me. I was so distracted that I got flustered describing my special relativity thought experiment, and kept stopping. The others were totally cool and composed. Giles was brilliant, he wowed the studio audience with his new carbon compounds; someone even threw their underwear at him.

I got voted off.

It really wasn't a surprise.

Marianne took me out the back way.

"Never mind," she said, trying to sound positive although I knew she wanted to slap me. "I'm sure the merchandise will keep selling."

"Yeah," I said, not really caring anymore. You know what they say about fame, that even the most dedicated and focused scientist gets corrupted by it eventually. With everyone adoring you, it’s hard to resist. I just wanted to get back into the lab, put on my white coat and deal with subatomic particles again. Despite the Uncertainty Principle, they're so much easier to work with than humans.

© 2006 Tania Hershman

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