On the Perils of Self-Mummification

An essay by Dr. Constanza Vivette as provided by Sylvia Cullinan
Art provided by Justine McGreevy


Never underestimate the value of a good lackey–or the scheme-destroying potential of an incompetent one.

Perhaps Hairy Joe’s willingness to adopt such a misleading moniker should have been my first clue that the man was as inept as a one-legged unicorn wielding a chainsaw–our correspondence had prepared me for a hulking ape of a man, not the slight, ragged, and embarrassingly hairless gentleman whose sopping-wet clothes left a trail of water on my nice hardwood floor as I led him into the heart of my lair. Nor had I expected the incessant chatter that spewed forth from the man’s fleshy pink lips.

“A bit stormy tonight, eh?”

I shot him one of my best withering looks, well-perfected after hours of intensive training, and carried on towards the dungeon. “Your job, Misleadingly-Hairless Joe, will be to serve as my replacement laboratory assistant until Gretchen starts returning my calls again and comes back to work. I’m currently working on …”

“What happened to Gretchen?” Joe’s voice contained a note of suspicion–a bad sign. My professors at the University had squabbled over every facet of the malicious sciences, and disagreed about every idea but for one–that a good henchman was as loyal as he was silent. My new friend, I feared, lacked both of these salient qualities.

“She had a personal issue.” I wasn’t ready to open up to Joe about the anguish I’d experienced when Gretchen had lost a few layers of skin to the pore-sealing serum we’d been concocting and stormed out of my lair in rage. I hadn’t had a good afternoon snack since she’d left–the hussy had gone so far as to steal the last of the snickerdoodles on her way out. It was a grievous sin, indeed, but the longer I spent in the presence of Hairy Joe, the more eager to forgive my heart grew.

On the Perils of Self-Mummification

Suddenly I felt something dripping down my face. I brushed my hand against my cheek, only to realize that the strange concoction of chemicals I’d used to preserve my youthful allure had caused my skin to break out into pus-oozing boils.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2012 collection.


Dr. Constanza Vivette received her doctorate in experimental biology from the Academy of the Malovent Arts & Scienes in 1992. Since then, she has published a number of papers documenting her experiments, including her Hershowitz Prize-winning article, “The Diabolic Utility of Domestic Felines.” She currently resides in a spacious lair in the Swiss Alps where she lives with her wretched henchman, Hairless Joe, and a clowder of tricloptic cats.


Sylvia Cullinan likes writing stories about giant mantises, virgin sacrifices, and, occasionally, mummies. She also likes making friends rather a lot, so follow her on Twitter @SylviaCullinan if you enjoy reading about bizarre creatures, discussing speculative fiction, or viewing pictures of the writer’s cat.


Justine McGreevy is a slowly recovering perfectionist, writer, and artist. She creates realities to make our own seem slightly less terrifying. Her work can be viewed at http://www.behance.net/Fickle_Muse and you can follow her on Twitter @Fickle_Muse.

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