Dr. Ambrose White scratched his head as he stared at the large dry erase board hung on the wall. That didn’t look right. If he increased the protein enzymes by a factor of six, it would… Ambrose’s shoulders slumped.
It would be mud.
In a fit of frustration, Ambrose threw his dry erase marker at the board. This was getting him nowhere. He had worked and reworked that formula so many times he was seeing it in his dreams.
It just wasn’t coming out right.
As a lifetime of small mutations in the genetic code built up, cells began to die. These deaths lead to such things as graying hair and weight changes, hearing and vision impairment, loss of muscle and weakened bones.
Ambrose knew that the key to what happened in the older stages of aging was that as genetic mutations or DNA damage accumulated, critical cells began die. If he could just isolate the cells that repaired mitochondrial DNA and figure a way for them not to die out, then maybe he could find a cure for aging.
If his formula panned out, he could begin to think about pharmaceutical interventions to retard aging by preserving mitochondrial function. So many lives could be saved or extended. So many people could be helped.
He just had to get the formula to work.
“Dr. White, did you hear me?”
“Huh?” Ambrose swung around to stare at his assistant. He had forgotten that the intern was even there. He wished he wasn’t. Ambrose always worked better alone. He hated having people in the lab with him. “What did you say, Craig?”
The man’s jaw clenched. “My name is Carl.”
“Carl. Right. I knew that.” Ambrose started to turn back to his notes when the man snapped his fingers. Ambrose frowned at the disruption as he swung back around, glaring at the man that so rudely interrupted him. “What?”
“Your brother is on line three.”
“Take a message.”
The man’s dark face set in a viscous expression, his jaw clenching. “I’ve already taken a message, Dr. White, three times. Your brother threatened to fire me if I didn’t get you on the phone this time.”
“Oh.” Ambrose twisted his lips together as he lifted books and papers out of the way, searching around his desk for the phone. Maybe he needed to straighten up a little. His lab was kind of a mess. “Carter, do you see—”
“Carl,” the man snarled as he held the phone out. “My name is Carl.”
“Carl, right. I knew that.” Ambrose blinked at the man as he took the phone, wondering why the intern was so damn upset. It wasn’t like Charles had some formula that wasn’t working out. Ambrose wasn’t exactly sure what the man did in the lab other than bother him and apparently answer the phone. Finding the phone under a pile of files, Ambrose turned his back on Chris and said, “Hello?”
“Ambrose, did you forget our lunch meeting?”
“Lunch?” He had a lunch meeting with his brother? Ambrose glanced over at the calendar on the wall near the door. His step-brother had insisted that he put one up with big bold letters so he could read it from anywhere in the lab.
He did have a lunch meeting with his brother—twenty minutes ago. Ambrose’s stomach clenched with dread. Stefan was going to be upset with him. “I’m sorry, Stefan. I got carried away on this formula and—”
“Ambrose, just get here.”
Ambrose winced at the resignation in his step-brother’s voice. “Here?”
Stefan sighed. “Upstairs in the conference room, Ambrose. I’m having lunch catered.”
“Oh. Okay.” Upstairs was good. He could go grab a bite with his brother then come right back down to his lab. Maybe he could just grab something and come back. That would be even better. He could get back to his formula. “I’ll be right up.”
“Take off the lab coat, Ambrose.”
“Lab coat?” Ambrose glanced down at the white coat he wore. “Right. I knew that.”
“Just hurry up. We’ve been waiting long enough, Ambrose.”
Ambrose stared at the phone after his step-brother hung up. We who? He quickly glanced at the calendar board once more. Nope, it just said that he had lunch date with Stefan. No one else was mentioned.
“Caleb, have you seen my—”
“Carl!” Ambrose reared back when the dark-haired man began ranting and raving, waving his hands in the air like a madman. “My name is Carl, damn it. Carl!” he shouted as he stomped his foot against the white tile floor.
“Right.” Ambrose edged back from the crazy man as he nodded. “I knew that.”
“Then why won’t you fucking say it?” the man shouted as he turned on Ambrose, moving closer, one menacing step at a time. “You never use my name. Never. I’m always Craig or Cecil or some other stupid name beginning with a C. I’m never just Carl.”
Ambrose blinked. “Do you want to be Just Carl?”
Carl’s brown eyes seemed to bulge out of their eye sockets for a moment then glazed over as if the man had mentally left the building. Ambrose was pretty sure that wasn’t a good thing. He glanced toward the door out of the corner of his eye, wondering if he had enough time to get there before Chester reached him.
It wasn’t looking good.