"The project is still in its early stages, Victor," Lori said as she tore down the busy highway. "I don't care what Tom is saying... no, listen... yes, I'm dropping Olivia off at her soccer game and then I'll be there... twenty minutes."
Lori shook her head and then ended the call. Victor had been pressuring her to pull the trigger on their new project, cDNA, wherein they were trying to clone limbs for amputees. Apparently, the volunteers were getting very impatient with all the waiting around. Of course they are, Lori thought, the molecular structure of the COS serum isn't stable yet.
As much as she wanted to get the experiments underway, she had gotten emotionally attached to the test subjects and didn't want to risk something awful happening to them. If they got their hopes up and the serum didn't work properly, there might be devastating consequences.
In the passenger seat, Olivia was spinning a ball in her hands and humming to herself. It was her first game of the season and she was itching to get on the field. At just seven years old she was already excellent at the sport, and couldn't wait to see all her friends again.
"Your phone is buzzing, mommy," she said in her sweet little voice.
Lori sighed and then glanced at her phone where a text from Victor was waiting. Connor dropped out. A headache was quickly growing from the left side of her head and radiating out to the farthest reaches of her brain. She picked up the phone, unlocked it, and then began clicking the letters one by one. Almost there-
When Lori looked up she had drifted into the middle of the road. Olivia screamed as her mother jerked the wheel, sending them off the shoulder and down into a muddy ditch.
But the airbags didn't deploy, and Olivia's head ricocheted off the dashboard.
Lori woke up as the firefighters were prying open her door with the jaws of life. She looked into the passenger seat, but Olivia was nowhere to be found. "Where's my daughter?" she mumbled, still dazed from the accident.
"She's in the ambulance, ma'am."
She was inside... but her body had been covered with a long, white sheet.
For weeks Lori was plagued by gruesome nightmares fueled by excruciating guilt. She couldn't tell the police the accident had been caused by texting because she would have lost her job.
And she needed her job because, as she was staring down at her daughter's lifeless body in the felt-lined coffin, Lori suddenly had an idea.
The serum was nearly complete, so all she had to do was get some of Olivia's DNA and run it through the tests. Simple, Lori thought as she took the toothbrush and spliced her daughter's genetics with the dark blue liquid.
And then she waited.
It took just three days for Olivia to grow to full size. She was walking, talking, acting just like she did before. Lori was ecstatic to have her daughter back again...
Well, for a little while.
Olivia wouldn't eat, and she became more reserved. Of course, she couldn't leave the house, or everyone would know what Lori did. What would the neighbours say? She had played God and soon found herself stuck with the consequences.
The dark, terrifying consequences.
A shiver woke her up one cold night in February. Olivia had been sleeping in a small cot beside her mother's bed, but now she was nowhere to be found. Lori got up, put on her slippers, and then checked the house.
Nothing. Olivia was gone.
Lori ran outside and onto the deck. Her daughter had been complaining about not being able to play outside, so it was no surprise when Lori found the garage door open. She went inside, expecting to see Olivia playing with her soccer ball, but what she found was something much, much worse.
Olivia was holding something, gnawing on it with a wild look in her eyes. It wasn't until Lori switched on the lights that she saw all the blood. Mrs. Davis from next door was lying on the cold, concrete floor.
Well, most of her. Olivia had already eaten her legs.