He answered on the fourth ring, his voice groggy with sleep. "Hello?"
"Greg, I know that we just broke up a few nights ago, but you're still my lab partner, and you're the only person I can trust with this discovery I just made. I need you to come to the lab right now."
"Right now?" After a brief pause, Greg protested: "Shit, Tina, it's only two o'clock in the morning! I just went to bed half an hour ago, and it's freezing outside..."
"Greg. Please. I wouldn't have called you if it wasn't important."
"This better be fucking important," Greg said, his voice becoming slightly muffled and labored, so that Tina knew he was pulling on a pair of blue jeans.
"It is," she responded. "Thank you, Greg. I know - well, just - thank you."
***Twenty Minutes Later***
"So what is this oh-so-significant discovery you've made?" Greg asked, a gust of cold wind following him into the laboratory and ruffling his hair, the way Tina used to ruffle it as they lay in bed together. "Hello? Earth to Tina..." Greg snapped his fingers, impatient, bringing Tina back to the cold reality in which she now existed, a single girl in her twenties, no longer loved.
"Right. Um..." Tina fumbled for words, retreating towards their lab station.
"Have you been getting any sleep recently?" Greg asked, his brow furrowing. "Tina, you know how you get when you don't get enough sleep."
"I may take longer to put my sentences together, but at least they're not vague and almost incoherent like yours," Tina snapped.
"Listen, I've kind of got to get back to my apartment a.s.a.p., so just tell me what's going on."
"What's the matter? Already have a new girl in your bed?"
"Tina - "
"Yeah, yeah, I know. It's none of my business." Tina waved towards the lab station behind her. "Look through the microscope."
Greg complied, resurfacing a minute later and giving her a questioning look.
"I know," Tina said. "I've never seen the molecular structure before. It's literally a new leaf. That color, and - "
"Tina," Greg said, his eyebrows coming together and making him a Cyclops.
"I mean, A NEW LEAF! I think we both know what that means, Greg..."
"Yeah, I think we both know what this means," Greg agreed.
"It's a sign. The apocalypse is impending. The years match up with Nostradamus predictions, and... That color...it's so disturbing." Tina put her hands to her head, retreating until she bumped into the coat hooks behind her. Her purse fell to the floor, the glint of metal catching her eye.
"Tina, I'm so sorry..." Greg said, walking after her, holding out his arms to embrace her.
Tina didn't want to be embraced. She didn't want to have to worry about the end of the world as they knew it. "I feel fine," she said, quickly retrieving the handgun from her purse, putting it in her mouth, and pulling the trigger.
Greg stood in place, shocked. Brains and blood spattered the wall before which, until a few seconds ago, Tina had stood, alive. Looking back at the microscope, Greg whispered, "It's fall, Tina. It's just an orange-red leaf." He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, dialed the campus police, and hoped that Amy would still be in his bed when he got home.