An essay by Reuben Archuleta, as told to Lucinda Gunnin
Art by Scarlett O’Hairdye
“I had to fire Igor today,” I said, casually, as though asking my wife Tessa to pass the mashed potatoes or the salt. She saw through my nonchalance.
“Do you have a new one in mind?” she asked, even though she knew the answer. Her tone was mild, but I could sense the underlying tension. In these modern days, there was a distinct lack of available Igors. The last time I advertised for one, a grand total of three applied. I had just fired the last of them.
I shook my head. “No, I’ll have to start advertising again and slow the work down until we find one.”
“Well I’m not shopping for the lab in the meantime. You’ll have to get to the market to fetch your own body parts and laser components. And I’ll expect your help with the rats.”
“Don’t ‘But Tessa’ me, Reuben Archuleta. You didn’t even consult me before letting him go. He was my Igor too you know. How can I work on my mind control if there’s no one to feed the rats? What did he do anyway?”
“He was eating your rats.” I waited for Tessa realize it was her plan for world domination that had been interrupted before I continued. “I managed to save three of them, but he ate all the pink ones.”
Tessa’s eyes grew wide and tears started to form. “He ate all my test subjects? That’s three years of research destroyed. What am I going to do?”
“Test your serum and theories on a human subject?”
“I can’t do that. With all the disclosure forms to keep us from getting sued, no one ever agrees to be a subject.”
“True. But once you calculate the dosage in the 27 rats that he ate, Igor has received a dosage more than double what you would have begun with if testing someone his size. This may be the perfect opportunity to determine if the formula works at all. And he already signed all the forms, before he began working for us.”
“But you fired him. He’s probably out of range for the serum to work.”
“No, he’s in the lab now, cleaning up the mess he made with the rats.”
“But you fired him.”
“I fired him as Igor. He was horrible at it. He’s now officially employed as Test Subject #2.”
Tessa smiled, and I felt the weight lift from my shoulders. She stood and walked around the table to kiss my cheek. “You’re so clever, Reuben. I should never have doubted you.”
Basking in her adoration, I felt I could continue. “You never did tell me what happened to Subject #1.”
Tessa waved her hand. “Oh, he’s around,” she said, dismissing the question.
We moved on to more pleasant dinner conversation while I enjoyed the wonderful roast she made just for me. Tessa’s a vegetarian, but makes me a hearty meat-based dinner every night. She started doing that not long after she began her mind-control work.
Once dinner was over, Tessa left for the lab to visit her new test subject, and I did the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, and straightened the house before heading to bed. I sometimes miss the nights Tessa and I would spend together drawing up new plans to rule the world, but then she reminds me I don’t miss them at all.
Dr. Reuben Archuleta is a well-known mad scientist with a penchant for building flesh golems and building lasers to attach to the foreheads of his various creations. He lairs near Taos, N.M., with his better half and better scientist, Dr. Tessa Archuleta. Tessa Archuleta has perfected her mind control serum since this writing and is in search of Human Test Subject #3. She prefers blondes.
Lucinda Gunnin is a short story author and commercial property manager in the western Philly suburbs, a few miles past the end of the Main Line. Her collection of horror short stories Seasons of Horror is available online, and her story “Righteous Anger” was included in Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures. Gunnin also reviews board games at geekinitiative.com, loves sushi, and thinks the world revolves around her cat.
Scarlett O’Hairdye is a burlesque performer, producer and artist. To learn more, visit her site at www.scarlettohairdye.com.
“Firing Igor” is Copyright 2018 Lucinda Gunnin
Art accompanying story is Copyright 2018 Scarlett O’Hairdye