My Neighbour, Mr. Telford

An essay by Martin Telford and Geoff Stevens, as provided by Mark Carpenter
Photograph by Dawn Vogel

To: All

Subject: The end

I have discovered something terrible, and something wonderful. This discovery should have been one that would shock the scientific establishment and usher in a golden age of progress and development. But it won’t be. The discovery came too late, and because of it … well, in simple terms, the end is nigh and it’s my fault. As I write, the universe is beginning to collapse–and I destroyed it.

This is the story of how it came about. I am sharing this because I believe that even in our last moments, the population of the world has a right to know something as important as this.

I was doing experiments on particles to try and discover how the universe formed. I won’t go into details here, except that I was sending protons back in time by tiny increments, using my new Antimatter Trans-Temporal Displacement Bowl, enveloped in Tesco Own-Brand High Density Magnitude Multiplying Silver Shiny Foil. My logic was that by sending a number of protons to the same point in space time, there would be some sort of reaction and that might show me the secrets of the universe or something.

It wasn’t going very well. No matter how much Time Fuel I added, the protons weren’t budging. They just sat at the bottom of the Displacement Bowl and slowly got wetter. My experiment was a complete failure, so I tipped the contents of the Bowl into the Waste Disposal Cylinder and sat on the floor, slowly sinking into a deep meditation on the incomprehensible multiplicity of the universe.

A knock on the door woke me from my reverie. Surely it must be the courier from the Institute, I mentally ejaculated. I ran to open the door and sure enough, on the other side of it, dressed in the customary pink hat of the Institute of Science and the Universe, stood the courier. The courier said something I didn’t understand (I must say I disagree with the Institute’s secret policy on using illegal immigrants as couriers) and handed me the package. I nodded, thinking that was the most polite way to avoid saying I didn’t understand, but the courier appeared to take that as an invitation and gleefully pushed past me into my apartment. Not wanting to make trouble, I let it happen.

In the brighter lights of my home, I could see much more clearly that the courier was in fact a woman. In fact, it was a woman that I recognized–it was Margaret von Flubert, who lives across the hall.

My Neighbor Mr. Telford

As I write, the universe is beginning to collapse–and I destroyed it.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2013 collection.

Martin Telford is a retired physicist who lives alone in a small flat in the London suburbs. As a researcher, his most important work was on the development of [REDACTED] for [REDACTED], which [REDACTED] but fortunately [REDACTED].

Geoff Stevens is a stay at home dad who gained international fame for revealing the identity of Martin Telford, the man who we believe destroyed the universe.

Mark Carpenter is the pen-name of a student and writer from the far north of England.

Dawn Vogel has been published as a short fiction author and an editor of both fiction and non-fiction. Although art is not her strongest suit, she’s happy to contribute occasional art to Mad Scientist Journal. By day, she edits reports for historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business and tries to find time for writing. She lives in Seattle with her awesome husband (and fellow author), Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats. For more of Dawn’s work visit

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