Mammoth Task

A fuzzy trunk reached across Dr. Elisabeth Naylor’s shoulder and ruffled her hair. “Good job you didn’t do that when CNN was here.” She gave the trunk a pat. “This cut and color set me back over $200.” Naylor rummaged through a drawer, pulled out a hairbrush.
The young mammoth trumpeted. “OK Binky, as a treat.”
After a few brush strokes, Binky gave a low rumble, eyes closing as he dozed. She continued to smooth his long hair, working her way to the coarse undercoat. An artificial strawberry smell drifted up, traces from the mammoth’s earlier shampooing. She rubbed his rough skin, assessed the developing musculature. She thought he had done well in his first TV appearance.
Dr. Naylor returned to her desk, picked up the media prep sheet. She had perfected sound bites for public consumption on her team’s expertise and passion. Of the six centers granted access to cells with live DNA, her lab had the most successful cloning pro- gram. Other researchers made caustic comments on the dangers of accelerated growth techniques. At conferences she heard jealous whispers about her funding, questioning the source. “Technology transfer,” she said, imagining ghostly competitors’ furrowed brows.
She opened a cardboard tube and unrolled A1 sized sheets. Dr. Naylor smiled, surveying the plans for the new facility and young mammoth petting zoo. On another page, she reviewed the abattoir design—discreet, screened by a hillock crowned with poplars. She smoothed the Gourmet Mammoth Products logo, weighing down a curling corner with the brush.
Dreaming, Binky murmured.

Marie Gethins’s work has been featured in the 2014 NFFD Anthology, Flash, Litro, The Incubator, and others. She won or placed in Tethered by Letters, Dromineer, The New Writer, Sentinel Literary Quarterly and She lives in Cork, Ireland, working on her MSt in creative writing at the University of Oxford.