It Won’t Cost You a Cent

A letter by J. Julian Watson, as provided by his cousin, Dana Mele
Art by Errow Collins

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy holidays from the Watson family! As always, this December delivers swirling snow, crowded malls, and another annual update from Julian, Molly, Hunter, and Tesla. It’s been a year, and so much has happened. Hunter is halfway through his first year of kindergarten, and loving it. Molly has been promoted at the Post Office! As for me, exciting things are on the horizon.

First, I have finally managed to shimmy out of the corporate noose. After another round of layoffs at CrypTech, I had the pleasure of turning in my badge and collecting a generous severance package, which will keep us clothed and fed for another month at least.

To tell the truth, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m finally free to pursue my own interests and engage in cutting edge research and development that allows me to contribute to the betterment of the world. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results so far.

You will remember, of course, that incident at last year’s Christmas party. I do apologize. I allowed myself one too many glasses of Nana’s delicious eggnog, which does little to improve my personality. It got me thinking. If alcohol has such a detrimental effect on human behavior, shouldn’t there be a drink that has the opposite effect? Not a chemical compound that only benefits people with mental diseases, but a healthy, naturally occurring substance that can improve mood and behavior for all of mankind? Don’t we, as a human race, deserve such a thing? Think of all the evil that would be eliminated from the world, if only there were some easy way to stifle selfishness, repressed animosity, and uninhibited impulsivity, which I have determined are the three main behavioral results of excessive alcohol consumption.

If so, the human race is in for a real treat. I have spent the last year creating and perfecting such a formula. It is 100% natural, derived from plants you might find in your own backyard, depending upon where you happen to live (it’s unlikely that anyone lives in both a desert and arctic climate, but who knows? The universe is a big place with infinite possibilities). It is rich in vitamins and minerals and only 20 calories per serving. Best of all, it works.

Art for "It Won't Cost You a Cent"

Now our neighbors are just as hooked on Azure as we are, and Tesla is as welcome in their pool as he is in his own doghouse.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2016 collection.

J. Julian Watson is a chemist and entrepreneur. He holds an A.B. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Watson is the youngest living recipient of the MacArthur genius grant, and is the former head of molecular research at CrypTech, Inc. His areas of specialization include computational biophysical chemistry and design and analysis of drugs. He is passionate about gardening, playing the ukulele, and musical theater. He lives in Greenville, New York, with his lovely wife Molly, his son Hunter, and his dog, Tesla.

Dana Mele is a writer and attorney currently located in a remote corner of the Catskill mountains. She has a B.A. from Wellesley College and is presently a student at the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program. Her fiction and academic writing have appeared in 101 Words and the Syracuse Journal of Science and Technology. She spends her time drafting wills and writing elegies for fallen logs, chasing her toddler in endless concentric circles, and avoiding bears.

Errow is a comic artist and illustrator with a predilection towards the surreal and the familiar. She pays her time to developing worlds not quite like our own with her artist fiancee and pushing the queer agenda. She probably left a candle burning somewhere. More of her work can be found at

“It Won’t Cost You a Cent” is © 2016 Dana Mele
Art accompanying story is © 2016 Errow Collins

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