An essay by Professor Chester Willis, as provided by Calvin Demmer
Art by Shannon Legler
How does one ask forgiveness for potentially killing the entire human race? That is a question I have pondered all morning. Would you believe me if I said it all started because of a simple request from Clara, my blue-eyed niece? The internal question lost its appeal for an answer by lunch. Still I feel the need to write something down, maybe just as catharsis for me, maybe just to stave off boredom, as I do not intend for anyone to read my scribbles.
Two years ago, summer decided to leave early one day, but not without taking things that did not belong to it. One of these things was my nephew, Timothy. He’d been playing catch by himself under the retreating rays of sunlight when a snake appeared from out one of the bushes in his yard. Being young and innocent, he approached the creature, only for it to strike.
Timothy’s parents found him under an hour later, inert, pale, no heartbeat, no breathing. By the time he’d arrived at the local hospital, Timothy had passed away.
At his funeral, I wandered away from the proceedings to collect my thoughts, only to feel a small hand grip my own.
“Uncle Chester, where are you going?” Clara, Timothy’s sister, asked.
“I’m just taking a moment,” I said.
Clara smiled. It was not a smile of joy, but rather one of understanding, but before I could sketch the image in my mind, it was gone.
“Everything will be okay,” I said, knowing the words were not true, nothing could bring her brother back, but I felt like I needed to say something, and it was all an aging mind could find.
“Uncle Chester, may I ask you to do something?”
“Sure, anything,” I said.
Clara smiled as before. “Kill all the snakes, for me?”
Clara’s request was not one of fantasy. Though most will know me as a boring biology professor, I have made money on the side with some other products–mostly illegal poisons I have concocted in my basement to help farmers protect their crops from insects.
Clara, who knew me well, and who was also one wise beyond her years, knew I’d begun experimenting to target certain insects. I didn’t want to harm any insect or other creature that stumbled upon the field in innocent curiosity, so through many sleepless nights of research, I began to prepare poisons that targeted certain species.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2017 collection.
Professor Chester Willis was a biology professor until he resigned after the death of his brother and sister-in-law in a tragic car accident. Not much is known of his actions or whereabouts since, but it is believed he moved to the state of Nevada to be closer to his niece, who survived the aforementioned car accident but remains in a coma.
Calvin Demmer is a crime, mystery, and speculative fiction author. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Sanitarium Magazine, Morpheus Tales, and Mystery Weekly Magazine.
Shannon’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://shannonlegler.carbonmade.com/.
“The Snakes or the Humans?” is © 2017 Calvin Demmer
Art accompanying story is © 2017 Shannon Legler