An essay by Professor Serena Hart, as provided by Maureen Bowden
Art by GryphonShifter
Valerie Hallaway and I were students together at River City University.
“She’s a genius,” I told Martin, my best friend and occasional bedmate.
“She’s more than half mad,” he said.
He was right. Valerie had a theory that there must be a scientific explanation for why people deliberately sacrifice their lives in battle, die as martyrs, or strap explosives to their bodies, turning themselves into flesh and blood bombs.
“There’s no stronger instinct than self-preservation,” she said, “so what overrides that?”
I shrugged. “Adrenalin and testosterone. There’s no mystery about it.”
“Women do it too. So much for testosterone.”
“Maybe they want vengeance. I doubt if there’s a woman alive who doesn’t have good reason to be brassed off about something or other.”
“True, but there’s something else, and I’m going to find it.”
I guessed she’d be rich and famous one day, so I tagged along, hoping for a share of the bounty. We scoured museums and conned the history geeks into allowing us to take flakes from ancient warriors’ bones, and then we turned our attention to the twenty-first century. She was particularly interested in suicide bombers, so we haunted the sites of some of the worst atrocities of modern times, scraping blood splatter and human tissue from broken brickwork and shattered pavements. It was the task I hated most. “What use is this to you?” I said. “It’s the debris of deluded idiots.”
“The world’s full of deluded idiots, Rena,” she said, “but they don’t all blow themselves up. There has to be an unknown ingredient.”
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2017 collection.
Professor Serena Hart is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and she has a PhD in human and animal psychology. She specialises in the effect of sound waves on emotions and behaviour patterns. Her partner, Doctor Martin Goodman, is an eminent veterinary surgeon. They have two pet rats called John and Yoko.
Maureen Bowden is a Liverpudlian living with her musician husband in North Wales. She has had seventy-five poems and short stories accepted for publication by paying markets. Silver Pen publishers nominated one of her stories for the 2015 international Pushcart Prize. She loves her family and friends, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Shakespeare, and cats.
GryphonShifter is a Seattle-area artist with a background in illustration. She graduated with a BFA in Digital Art and Animation from DigiPen Institute of Technology and now hones her skills with her own art projects. Though she has a wide variety of artistic inspirations, her art is most influenced by the challenging balance between wanting to draw really cute things and a fascination with creepy monsters.
“The Hall of the Fallen” is © 2017 Maureen Bowden
Art accompanying story is © 2017 GryphonShifter