• It Won’t Cost You a Cent

    by  • December 5, 2016 • Fiction • 0 Comments

    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.

    Molly, Hunter, and I have been on a steady diet of oatmeal, tomato juice, and Azure (so named because of its delightful hue) for the past six months and have never felt better. No more squabbles over the remote. No more struggles over who takes the garbage out. Did I mention that Molly was promoted to manager five months ago? I think I did! After previously being put on probation twice for aggressive behavior. And little Hunter, who used to crawl around on the ground, barking and pretending to be a dog whenever spoken to? Now he speaks, in plain English, to his teachers, his classmates, and to us. As for me, I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol in almost a year. All thanks to Azure.

    If it sounds like this holiday update has turned into something of a sales pitch, fear not! I would like to offer free samples to all of our friends and family, to share this wonderful discovery with all of you. It won’t cost you a cent. I do ask that you spread the word amongst all of your own friends, families, and co-workers. I’ve enclosed a packet for you to sample. All you do is sprinkle the powder into a glass of water, stir vigorously, and drink it down. I find it has a pleasant, potable flavor with a nontoxic aftertaste. Don’t worry if your tongue starts to tingle or goes numb. This wears off within an hour after consumption.

    Cover for Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2016
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    Hey, if you’re worried, try first on your pet! Tesla loves it so much he refuses to touch his dog food nowadays. His tongue is permanently stained blue and he is the happiest, most docile canine on the block. If you remember, we were previously sued in civil court by our neighbors for nuisance due to his little biting problem. 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.

    Hold on, you’re thinking. What’s the catch? The only catch is that once you try it, you’ll never want to drink anything else, or for that matter, eat anything else. Again, this can be solved by forcing yourself to consume a measured amount of oatmeal and tomato juice each day, or a simple mash of grains and vegetables. All I ask is that you try it once. And that you serve it once to each family member, friend, and person that you have access to. Cousin Maria, try mixing Azure into your delicious matzo ball soup at the diner! Uncle Hal, why not provide Azure instead of Gatorade at your next bible study group? Aunt Tina, consider serving Azure to your students with some carrot sticks as a healthy snack. Before you get caught up in some silly ethical dilemma about feeding unsuspecting minors a non-FDA approved beverage with psychoactive properties, remember that it’s good for you. 100 percent all natural, organic, and GMO free. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked, and so will they.

    As if that weren’t good enough news, I would like to extend to you an exciting new business opportunity. Once you’ve developed a taste for Azure (and it only takes one sip), I know you’ll want to share it with everyone you know. You can, and even better, at a profit. After careful consideration, I have decided against mass distribution (no thank you, corporate greed!) and plan to rely on word of mouth and a network of reliable, independent entrepreneurs to spread the word, and taste, of Azure. With every sale (please do remember to provide a free sample to every consumer before asking for any money) of Azure, you will retain 20% of the profits, at no cost to you. In time, and with the drastic reduction in household expenditures that comes along with a minimal diet and complete contentment, you will be able to quit your day job and rely entirely on your Azure earnings, with no decrease in quality of life.

    Well, that’s about all that’s going on with us. We’ve had a phenomenal year, thanks to the selfish misers at CrypTech, a mild hurricane season, and a certain blue powder that has changed our lives forever. I can’t wait to hear how much you all love it.

    Warmly,

    Julian, Molly, Hunter, and Tesla

    P.S. As you were reading this, tiny particles of Azure have been seeping into your system through your fingertips. Azure makes a delightful royal blue ink, and adds a tasteful dash of color to stationary. Aren’t you feeling much better already?


    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 errowcollins.wix.com/portfolio.


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

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