A kitchen scene, a woman but we can't see her face. An apple pie is cooling on the window sill. On the counter opposite the woman is a painting of apples. Outside the window is an apple orchard and... a wolf, eyeing the pie like he wants to grab it.
Apple Slice

The Gummy Bear Case Study, Part 5

An Apple Slice Short Story by Apple | Content Warnings

Cheery was going to throttle her cousin.

“Hola, prima,” he said when she rolled down the window he’d tapped on. He leaned casually against the hovercraft door, like he hadn’t just scared her half to death. “That was quite the show you put on in there. You have the intel for me?” He leaned down some more to see farther into the car and smiled. “Hello, doctor,” he said, adding a bit of bass to his voice.

Cheery palmed his face and pushed it right back out the window. “Don’t start, Roman.” Roman was short for Romantic, and he lived up to the name in every way possible. Even now, with the pink pupils he’d inherited from his dad, a delivery driver from the planet Yuna that swept her Tía Merry off her feet, Roman was practically shooting little pastel heart eyes at her best friend.

The doc either didn’t notice or didn’t care, her leg still bouncing as she watched her comm screen. “It looks like we were right,” the doc told them. “Envy is heading straight to the CMIIIA headquarters. There’s traffic, so you should be able to beat her there if you take the back roads.”

Roman nodded. “Will do. And maybe we can get dinner afterward? You and I?”

“I already ate,” the doc said without looking up.

Cheery cackled.

The next morning, Cheery sat at the computer in her office, refreshing news websites every two seconds. She pulled out her comm and fired off a message to Roman.

You got the pictures, right?

I got the pics. I sent the pics. Now I’d like to get some sleep. I need at least seven hours to stay this pretty.

Cheery sent him an emoji rolling its eyes and went back to refreshing her screen. It’d be just her luck if the articles came out while she was stuck in a meeting and—there they were! She tapped the holo-screen and speed-read the headlines.

“Doctor Somber has proof CMIIIA made gummies?”

“Envy Cunning spotted meeting director of CMIIIA!”

Cheery grinned as article after article showed pictures from the cafe last night and demanded to know what Envy had done with the proof.

Are you seeing this?? she texted the doc, attaching at least six links.

She waited for the doc’s reply, expecting the usual one-word response to her paragraph long messages, but there was nothing. The doc was typically up this early, and she always replied quickly, even if it was to tell Cheery she was busy—another of her favorite one-word responses.

Cheery eyed the clock, tapping her comm as a funny feeling settled over her.

Her coworker popped her head in the door, the fluorescent lights reflecting off her glasses lenses so Cheery couldn’t quite see her eyes. “You’re gonna be late,” Oracle singsonged, sipping her coffee before continuing down the hall.

Cheery tucked her comm into her pocket, grabbing what she needed for her meeting and following Oracle down the hall.

By lunch time, Cheery was fully worried. She left her beautifully packed meal in the fridge, knowing the guys from the department next door took that as a free invitation to help themselves, like some kind of unsolicited refrigerator rats. She almost wished she’d sneezed over the food before she left, but not hearing from the doc had her rushing out to her hovercraft. The radio turned on as she pulled out of the parking lot, and Cheery recognized Envy’s voice immediately.

“Well, of course I needed to meet with the director. I can’t just cover one side of the news. I wanted to hear their response to Dr. Somber’s accusations. I also want more professional opinions on the proof she gave me.”

Cheery could practically hear the air quotes around “proof,” like the doc hadn’t just given Envy indisputable evidence.

The radio host spoke next. “It’s certainly suspicious that no one has been able to get in contact with Dr. Somber since last night. I hope she didn’t think she could say whatever she wanted and disappear again. This situation is starting to look an awful lot like the last time she made unfounded claims about the gummy monster attacks.”

Cheery clicked off the radio. Their plan was sinking. Fast. But the fact that no one had heard from the doc was even scarier. Cheery had been telling herself all day that the doc must have been caught up in interviews or responding to emails. Now, it looked like the doc was just gone.

The elevator up to the doc’s apartment was so slow as Cheery’s heart sounded in her ears. When she finally reached the doc’s door, using her spare keycard, it took her three tries to get the thing to work.

What she saw as the door opened was the doc’s ransacked apartment. A mess of cables the doc would never allow covered the floor. The computer and lab equipment were completely cleared out.

And the doc was nowhere to be found.

2 thoughts on “The Gummy Bear Case Study, Part 5”

  1. O my goodness where’s the doc??? Love Roman(Romantic) what a cool name. We have refrigerator rats at our house. 🤣


    1. This was a great episode!! I loved the characters that got introduced and the suspense at the end 😱 Apple has done a great job building the world up with the language she uses (“refrigerator rats” included! I love it!!) -🍍


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