Gotham University loomed like a dark avian upon the bleak horizon, its gothic spires reaching up to claw at the pitch sky like the limbs of the damned. Pamela guided the car onto an access road and killed the engine, awaiting further instruction from her dour passenger. Jason Woodrue had remained suspiciously silent during the entire journey, occasionally sweeping his fingers to the underside of his nose as if he were battling a wet cold. The sudden silence descended upon the small interior like a thunderclap, and Pamela wondered for the upteenth time why she hadn't utilized the canister of mace in her clutch purse -- though the small pistol that Jason had keep decorously trained upon her should have been reason enough.
The man leaned back against the headrest, pinching a spiderclutch of pale fingers to the bridge of his nose. Pam felt a strange kindling of pity for her former mentor: he was obviously out of sorts. Nevertheless she kept her guard cautiously erected, eyeing him with a shrewd expression that brooked no mistaking her feelings at this slaphanded "abduction". After a moment Woodrue gestured with the gun, laying his fingers to the door handle and extricating himself out of the passenger seat with a little groan of effort. Pamela followed suit, the beaded brocade of her dress rattling upon the dank pavement, her eyes cautiously pinned to each movement on the other side of he vehicle. Woodrue led her into the dark Sciences building and waited for her to remove her keycard and slide it through the card reader, all the while keeping the muzzle of he gun trained at her lower back.
"You really don't need to do this, Jason," Pam began quietly, palms spread open at her sides, "we can talk this out. Just you and me." Jason grunted noncommittedly and dug the small firearm into her spine, guiding her to the series of small laboratories in the bowels of the building. Pam had to slide her keycard once more for admission -- the tiny reader giving a petulant beep when she swiped too fast -- and felt the sweat pooling at her lower back as she sensed the tethers of Jason's patience with her begin to loosen. With a hydraulic whir the door slid open, revealing Pamela's verdant laboratory. Stock shelves lined every wall, piled with various flora and testing equipment, the low hum of heating lamps providing a biologic counterpoint to the buzz of computer systems.
"Sit down," came the gruff voice from behind her, and Pamela lowered herself carefully into a lab chair, hoping against hope that the man couldn't hear the fierce tattoo of her heart. She kept her face carefully neutral: a bland, quiet expression that she utilized in faculty meetings and sessions with Dean Hargrove. Woodrue paced the linolium for a few moments, the pistol still gripped tightly in his narrow hand. "I tried to play nice with you, Pamela," he said, his voice adopting a child's weary complaint, "but you wouldn't listen. You never listened."
"Jason, I'm so--"
He cut her off by raising the pistol to her vision. "You see this, Pammy? When I hold this I have the floor. I have the power." He pulled a lab stool from the corner and sank down onto it, his lanky frame fairly melting around the hard angles of his perch. He looked like a poor sapling to Pamela: bent by some harsh wind, his branches stripped bare of verdency. He leaned forward, elbows resting on knobbed knees, and adopted a tone of confidance: "I want to repeat my earlier offer to you. I daresay you were quite rude in your stubborn refusal to listen to it earlier this afternoon." He worked his mouth into a snide little crescent. "You know how I feel about rude people, Pamela. It simply won't do." Pamela felt the quills of fear begin to prickle up and down her spine. She managed a weak, placatory smile: "I'm all ears, Jason." Fine. Just keep him talking. She nervously licked her lips, again tasting that eucalyptus tang.
Jason continued, heedless of her guile -- disguised or not. "You're very special Pamela; but you knew that, didn't you? And not 'special' in that patrician sort of way that keeps most of this city disillusioned about itself. You're advanced. You're the...exception to the rule. To the scientific law." And suddenly Pamela understood. Woodrue's haggard features, his hoarse voice, the pain lingering behind his once vibrant gray eyes.
"My god," she whispered, "you were experimenting on yourself."
Woodrue's brow furrowed, momentary surprise marring the leoline contours of his face. "Once again, Pamela, your deductive skills prove effective." He reached up and ran a hand through his thinning gray hair, great clumps coming away between his fingertips. Pamela had to bite the inside of her cheek to supress a gasp. Jason looked to her ruefully, the corners of his mouth pulled back into a cadaverous smile. The matted gray hair fell from his fingertips and bounced lightly upon the linolium. "Surprised, Pammy? I must admit, I was rather upset when the gene cocktail I created for you didn't replicate itself in my own humble helixes. I tried dilluting the mixture; tried amplifying it by nuclear bombardment." He spread his hands in a gesture of ill-timed defeat. "But you know what they say...an experiment cannot be proven true if it cannot be repeated." His dead eyes rode the contours of her face; the faint sparkling of moisture upon her lips. "You were my greatest success, Pamela. My unwilling mealticket to the Nobel Prize that should have been mine. I want that mealticket back. I want what's mine."
This time Pam didn't play to his vanities. Her lips curled upward in a mockery of his own sneer, a fissure of consternation indenting her brow. "You simpering, sorry excuse for a scientist. I'm not giving you anything."
Jason stood and heaved a sigh of the accutely victimized, his rheumy eyes lingering long upon her face. "Than I suppose I'll have to kill you," he admitted flippantly, raising the silver pistol to take aim at her brow. Pamela lunged from her chair, heels skidding upon the tiles as she landed a hard blow against the man's abdomen, knocking him off balance. Woodrue let out a startled cry and dropped the gun, the firearm skittering helplessly beneath a lab table. He caught himself on his elbow and whipped a fist to the side of Pamela's head, sending a sea of stars swimming in front of her eyes. She retalliated by aiming a stiletto to his groin, rewarded with the shrill shriek that accompanied such maneuvers. She threw herself across the floor in search of the gun, gasping when Jason's fingers snared her long red hair and jerked her backward into his lap.
"THINK IT OVER, PAMELA!" He giggled madly, sputtering around a mouthful of blood and spittle, his teeth hideously stained with the pabulum of pain. Pam wrenched himself from his grip, shrieking when her scalp screamed protest. Jason, dazed as he was, still managed to drag her backward, slamming the back of her head against the stolid tiles.
That hurt, and for a thousandth of a second, Pamela was sure that she passed out. When she came to her senses, Jason had recovered the gun and was digging it -- painfully -- into her temple. He had one knee on either side of her, his elbow leveled heavily to her chest. "You always said that you wanted to donate your body to science," he hissed, "time to pay the piper!" He cocked back the hammer of the gun, his finger hesitating -- hesitating? -- on the trigger as he looked down upon his helpless quarry. Pamela's breathing was heavy, her eyes rimmed with vitriol. She felt the roped fingers in her hair lift for a moment, those unspeakably long digits tracing a path along her bruised cheekbone.
"Though it seems such a waste to let something so pretty go for naught," he whispered, bringing his face close with her own, "I think I'll have a parting triffle." With the gun still poised to her head, Jason aligned his mouth with her own and dispensed a long, lingering kiss to her slightly parted lips. Bile pooled in Pamela's throat as that pink muscle swiped along her mouth, tasting faintly of dead vegetation. Jason pulled away, a small little sigh expelled from his lungs. "Are you ready for your final examination, Miss Isley?" He renegotiated his grip on the pistol's trigger, his finger inflicting the faintest bit of pressure there.
...and suddenly he froze.
His jaw dropped open, eyes rolling back in his head, a low, keening moan gurgling from the cavity of his chest. He began to shake: sharp, electric seizures that rippled the skin of his face like a carpet on a laundry line. He dropped the gun, his fingers finding purchase in the flesh of his face, nails renting jagged tears in his cheeks and chin. Blood dribbled copiously from the fresh wounds, but his actions proved ineffectual.
"Oh god, what's wrong with me?!" He shrieked and fell backward, limbs going stiff in a grim rictus, his head thrashing back upon the linolium again and again. Pamela lifted to her knees and hovered above the man's trembling frame, lips puffy and fragrant. She watched Jason Woodrue's brain destroy itself, multiple edemas errupting beneath the surface of his skin. A strange feeling of empowerment rushed through her veins: This is what you wanted, Pamela. This is what he deserved. She leaned down, bringing her lips in tandem with the dying man's earlobe:
"You fail, Jason..."