His employer demanded that Crenshaw do whatever needed done which Crenshaw knew he owed the man. Indeed he owed him more than that. He owed him his life. As a young researcher Oliver Crenshaw spent most of his time in a makeshift lab working on his post doctoral work. He was exploring how best to use the quirky phenomenon of quantum entanglement to revolutionize computer science. His daughter Iris often accompanied him to his work. He needed her and she him because his truest love, Iris’s mother died as a result of horrific complications from an emergency cesarean section. Young Oliver hadn’t even been there to see the love of his life pass away. A love that surpassed any passion he had for science. She had opened his eyes to that fact and he wasn’t even there to close hers, or hold her delicate ivory hands and say goodbye. A fact that ate at his soul. He worked all the harder in science fighting the corrosive bitterness that threatened to rust away his heart. The love of his daughter Iris kept him plodding on. As she learned to walk he would take her to his lab and share that love of science to try and put behind the painful past. One shrouded, sunless day Iris having mastered the walk came with Oliver to another day at the lab. A shipment of phosphorus had been dropped off for his quantum computing experiments. He began the day by scrubbing beakers having set the powdered phosphorus off to the side in piles waiting to be measured and stored. Iris meanwhile played with her large toy ball. An overhead lightbulb dangled, rocking slowly from side to side casting irregular shadows from its pendulous swing. It hung from the end of a long wire that stretched high up into the rafters and out of sight. Iris looked up wondering if she could bounce her ball that high, to reach the ceiling. She figured her bouncy ball could reach the moon. If was after all called a moonball which was a recent gift for the newly minted four year old. She called out look daddy as she jumped up and threw the moonball straight down as her father had taught her to do in his weekly mini lesson to impart knowledge of physics to his wonderfully astute young child. Oliver looked over his shoulder right as the ball hit the floor zooming straight up, right into the lightbulb which burst in a shower of sparks deflecting the toy ball off to the side and raining down bits of glass and fiery particles. Time seemed to slow for Crenshaw looking on in horror as a few sparks landed right on a mound of phosphorus. A huge explosion knocked Oliver from his feet. An intense conflagration of fire enveloped everything with the hunger of a starving wolf. Iris was swallowed whole as flames licked at the beams holding the roof in place. Oliver dazed shook off the cobwebs fogging his mind and started to pull himself to his feet when he screamed out in pain. He saw a piece of glass protruding from his bleeding leg. He forgot the pain as his thoughts turned to Iris. A quick scan of his surroundings brought nothing but a vision of a fiery hell so bright that it seared his eyes. Iris! He screamed at the roaring flames. Iris! He yelled again in desperation his only response, the howling blaze. Crenshaw ripped the shard from his leg biting down so hard he drew blood from his lips in order to halt a scream of agony trying to claw its way into speech. He knew he had only seconds to get out. His lab could cave in at any moment but he still didn’t know of Iris. Maybe she got out he prayed. Sirens shrieked in the distance as he braced himself to stand. Grabbing the ledge from his workstation he yanked himself up pulling along a smoldering piece of wood to steady himself. Still no sign of Iris. He pulled himself along the work counter but stopped when he heard a loud crash. He frantically searched for the source as three heavily clothed men in reflective yellow garb rushed to his side. One held him steady asking a series of questions which Oliver couldn’t begin to process. The other two had laid out a red stretcher board. The one holding Oliver steady put a mask over Crenshaw’s mouth. The other two gingerly laid Oliver on the hard backed board a brace placed to secure his head and neck. Now fully strapped in, a cloth was quickly tied around his bloody leg while Oliver tried in vain to tell them of Iris. In less than a minute, the three rescuers rushed from the blazing building into a haze of smoke pouring out of Oliver’s destroyed lab. One of the rescuers stepped away to allow the two stretcher bearers to slide Oliver into the back of a waiting ambulance. Crenshaw tried to claw his way free from the restraints. He kept screaming, Iris, but the name never escaped his lips. An IV had been started which unleashed tranquility into his bloodstream. Oliver to tried to pull free until he felt his strength fade. He couldn’t fight the feeling of fear and medically induced fatigue as he faded into unconsciousness, his last thoughts of his beautiful girl, Iris.
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