• The Arkham K-12 Science Fair

    by  • March 2, 2015 • Fiction • 3 Comments

    Transcript of a recording by Clifford Winter III, Ph.D., as provided by Jeannie Warner
    Art by Scarlet O’Hairdye


    12 April 1921.

    Where’s the switch, turn on the switch … ah! There we go. Yes, it’s recording now. Okay! Tilly, please go ahead and transcribe these spools for my visit.

    For the record, this is District Superintendent Clifford Winter here. These spools are the recording of my trip down to Arkham to finalize the adjudication of the Arkham K through twelve combined school science fair to approve their district entries to State level competition. The board has determined that we start annual tours of these lesser school systems to add them to the overall pool of candidates. As it’s their first year entering, please make sure that you fill in all the appropriate forms for these possible candidates as I describe their winning entries here on this recording device.

    The school infrastructure needs work, although now that I’m down here getting a good look at the town, I’m surprised that anything functions reliably. Even something as basic as electricity is doubtful given the way the power lines tilt inward with the direction of the prevailing wind off the river. The firehouse was falling down when I passed it, and if the blank-eyed, moon-faced policeman that directed me to the school building is indicative of anything, I wonder where the taxpayers’ funds are going for good public servants.

    Scratch that last. Actually, do me a favor and just edit out all of my personal remarks. Moving on, I will include a few remarks here and there as regards the building grounds and other capital investments for discussion with the budget committee if you wouldn’t mind adding them to the agenda for next month’s meeting. Our allocation into this school may need to increase to keep up minimum standards of cleanliness for the safety of the children.

    Right, then. Arkham general school has three buildings with a gymnasium attached to the main office. Make a note to include budget items for exterior illumination and some grounds keeping. I’ll send O’Malley and his group down here once they’re finished with the Gloucester improvements; we have that bond out of Salem we need to spend so the State Board doesn’t come to believe we can get by with less next year. Also note the Arkham gym needs all new floors. The wood here is warped and stained. I hesitate to walk on it with my new wingtips, but there’s nothing for it.

    Ah, a bit of civilization. There’s a punch bowl by the door, and they’ve offered me a cup. The smell is a little odd, peaty. Almost as if someone used single malt as a mixer, God forbid, but it does go down warm. There’s quite a number attending here tonight, although the ambient conversations are fairly low. It must be such a thrill for them to have a state official here, attending to their little science fair. Onward to the displays!

    The Arkham K-12 Science Fair

    The articulation is fully formed, and stimulated through electronic impulses that Miss Whateley controls with a series of switches attached to wires in a control box. The skeleton has danced, curtsied, and appears to be going through the motions of praying quite devoutly on the gym floor. We all applauded loudly at the end of her demonstration, none more so than me. This is far in advance of what I was given to expect for such a backwater.


    To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2015 collection.


    Clifford Winter III, Ph.D., matriculated from Yale with graduate degrees in science and medicine, although an unfortunate incident prevented him from practicing locally. Tragically, his poor eyesight was also enough to keep him from seeing action via the draft in WWI. Instead, Mr. Winter braved the Atlantic to pursue his interest in Eugenics at Cambridge with the esteemed Sir Ronald Fisher. Returning home, he married one of the subjects of his college-level medical experiments in fertility, and until his unexpected retirement he has been serving the Essex County as District Superintendent.


    Jeannie Warner spent her formative years in Colorado and Southern California, and is not afraid to abandon the most luxurious domestic environs for travel anywhere. She has a useless degree in musicology, a checkered career in computer security, and aspirations of world domination. Her writing credits include blogs of random musings, thriller novel manuscripts, and publications in Tightbeam online magazine, as well as KnightWatch Press’s Rom Zom Com anthology, several police statements, and a collection of snarky notes to a former upstairs neighbor. She lives in the Bay Area with several of her best friends whom she refers to as “minions.”


    Scarlett O’Hairdye is a burlesque performer, producer and artist. To learn more, visit her site at www.scarlettohairdye.com.

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    3 Responses to The Arkham K-12 Science Fair

    1. Andro
      March 3, 2015 at 11:08 am

      What a splendid, well-told short – I particularly enjoyed the multiple juxtaposition of “stiff upper lip” judges, bizzare entries and supposedly innocent grade school science fair milieu. I’d definitely love to read more!

      PS: Could we have a font cranked up just a notch? It’s just enough on the small side to make reading less than comfortable.

    2. Kendall
      March 7, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Ha, that was great! Very amusing take…. I followed a link here from sfsignal.com, BTW.

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