An essay by A.F.W., as provided by Julianne Pachico
There is nothing sadder than a mad scientist hell-bent on world domination whose killer clone-producing machine doesn’t work. When the thick clouds of smoke first start hissing out from the desperately whirring engine, and the room slowly fills with the smell of burning popcorn, the first thing I do is clutch the tufts of white hair growing straight out over my ears, like I’m trying to pull two carrots out of the ground. The next thing I do is address my minions, who are crowding around my feet and nestling up against my leg.
“I’m sorry,” I tell the one sitting on my orthopedic shoe, staring up at me with its big, wet eyes, its tiny fingers in its mouth. “I am so, so sorry.” It makes a little gurgling noise as it clears its throat.
My minions are my second greatest invention. They are a testament to my original backgroud in biology and chemistry, as opposed to my more recent forays into mechanical engineering and computer programming. I genetically engineer them from yeast and grow them in a manner similar to kombucha in giant empty glass pasta jars lining the windowsill above my sink. Whenever I do the dishes I can carefully examine each jar for their evolutionary progress, like I’m studying an educational poster in a classroom. The first jar always contains the mother source, soft and placid, spread out like a melted sponge behind the faded papery remains of Paul Newman’s beaming face. The middle jars gradually show the formation of little stubby feet and hands, while the last jar proudly displays the grand finale: their cave-like mouths with homodont teeth and wet beady fish eyes. The only thing that bothers me about their current design is their sour fermented smell and the yellow crusty dust that trails behind them on the floor wherever they go. But I’m sure in future prototypes that can be corrected.
The minion sitting on my shoe gurgles as it pulls on my pant leg. I pick it up and turn away from the machine, which is starting to groan in a way that reminds me of my teeth grinding at night. The hissing sound of steam escaping from the engine grows steadily louder.
“You don’t need to watch this,” I tell the minion’s wet snuffly face. This particular minion is one of my favorites. I try not to name them as their life span is only two to three weeks, but this one has an especially warm expression in its eyes I’ve grown attached to. I’ve even sewn it a tiny red apron out of an old dishtowel, in order to better distinguish it from the others.
Slowly I climb the stairs out of the basement, stepping over my random pages of notes and sketches strewn messily across the floor. I try my best to feel absolutely nothing as the high-pitched whirs and guttural groans from the machine grow louder and louder. The one plan I can dully think of is to head to my refrigerator, where I can grab packets of frozen peas from the freezer and duct tape them to strategic positions about the machine, in the vague hopes of cooling it down. It feels like a cruel joke, all of my scientific efforts reduced to frozen peas and duct tape.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2012 collection.
Hello, my name is A.F.W. and I’m an addict. Some of you may have heard of me from the incident at **** University, where I’m currently on a leave of absence from the PhD program in Sustainable Biochemistry. Others of you may be familiar with the afterschool science classes I’ve just started teaching at the community center, or my involvement at the local church. Irregardless I want to thank everyone at Narcotics Anonymous for helping me transcribe my story. Just like all of you, my thoughts for now are on recovery, living and enjoying life without the use of drugs.
Julianne Pachico was born in England, grew up in Colombia and graduated from college in Portland, Oregon. She currently lives in Norwich, England, where she tries to blog at never-stop-reading.com. She is happy to act as A’s sponsor and is very proud of the progress he has made.
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