The Counterweight

An essay by Jean-Michel Borrino, as provided by Damien Krsteski
Art by Dawn Vogel

There is a monster in every text. Or perhaps, one monster spanning all of text. I cannot know. All I am sure of is its existence, because I have seen it, and what is worse, it has seen me.


Leading a professorial life is far from boring–despite the claims of those undoubtedly coerced into academia by strict parents–which I was about to discover after three years of teaching semiotics to yawning students.

During a lunch with the colleagues, while I was rearranging the peas on my plate with my plastic fork, Professor Huntov sat down next to me, and in his usual merry manner asked about my lectures.

“I teach Kristeva this semester,” I said. “Intertextuality.”

“Sounds fascinating.”

I chose to ignore that sarcastic tone prevalent in most comp sci academics when philosophy was discussed, and said, deadpan, “It is.”

He seemed to have become conscious of his arrogance so he paused for a moment, pushed his glasses up his nose. He said, “Can I offer a tip? For when you are writing.”

Stuffing green peas in my mouth. “Sure.”

“Use version control.”

“Excuse me?”

“I wrote my book with git. Makes keeping track of your changes a breeze.”

Having no idea what he was talking about, I said, “I will look into it,” and ate the remainder of my food in silence.

The Counterweight

The first message from the monster came one evening, right before bed.

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

Jean-Michel Borrino was a Professor of Philosophy whose essay was discovered–several years after his passing–scattered among discarded words from old manuscripts.

Damien Krsteski is an SF author and software developer from Skopje, Macedonia, whose stories have appeared in The Colored Lens, Perihelion SF, Fiction Vortex, Way of the Buffalo podcast, and others. He can be found at

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 and manages an office of 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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1 Response to The Counterweight

  1. Gary Cuba says:

    Great tale! Lots of food for thought.

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