An essay by Carmel Jimenez, as provided by Denzell Cooper
Art provided by America Jones
“And this is Carmel.” The director’s voice was muffled by the glass. “She is working on something that will literally–” he made a hand gesture like he was flattening laundry “–change the world.” Theatrically, he turned and pressed a fingertip to the speaker button. The system whined, and when he next spoke, his tinny voice echoed into the lab: “Carmel, why don’t you explain it?”
I smiled. It was forced, of course. All I really wanted to do was get on with my work, but I reminded myself that I needed funding to make that work possible. I scribbled a note in the log and measured out 3ml with the syringe as I talked. “Good afternoon, everyone, welcome to where the real work takes place.” The group of investors laughed. I saw a few nods. Putty in my hands. “The formula I’m working on here is a matter calorific-fat-cell inverter. When it’s perfected, the company–your company if you choose to invest with us–will manufacture it as a kind of high-end diet supplement.”
The test subjects were lined up in fish tanks filled with river sludge. It was the best approximation of their natural environment that we could manufacture. I checked the charts to make sure I was selecting the right one.
“Excuse me, young lady. I’m sorry, but did you say a diet supplement?”
I looked up to see a rotund gentleman with a handlebar moustache and a monocle regarding me with a puzzled expression. There was a half smile on his face.
“Yes,” I said. “But this isn’t your regular run of the mill diet pill, mister … ?”
“Oh, Pickman. Richard Upton Pickman.”
“Mister Pickman. This pill will be revolutionary. Everyone will want it. You see, the formula uses otherworld gases and molecules to completely reverse the calorific and fat content of food. Taking the pill means that not only will you not put on weight, you’ll actually lose it. Sir, with our pill, the more food you eat, the more weight you’ll lose.”
“My word, how clever.” He chuckled. “And you designed this?”
The director guffawed loudly. “Sir, she is both beauty and brains.”
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2018 collection.
Carmel Jimenez works for Autre Monde Laboratories in an alternative reality of modern London, where aspects of Victorian society were never quite forgotten. She is most famous for her groundbreaking thesis on the origins of the Lesser Old Ones, which forms the basis for much of our current understanding of the otherworlds. You can visit the secret underground chambers where her experiments are conducted by presenting your travel pass to the gentleman in the top hat at Kensington Tube Station.
Denzell Cooper is a British writer working across multiple genres. His dark fiction has previously appeared in Mad Scientist Journal, Bete Noire, and other small press publications, as well as the anthologies Mental Ward: Echoes of the Past and Pirates & Ghosts. When he’s not writing, Denzell enjoys playing horror board games, such as those set in the world of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, which provided part of the inspiration for this story. The other part was his own twisted imagination.
AJ is an illustrator and comic artist with a passion for neon colors and queer culture. Catch them being antisocial on social media @thehauntedboy.
“The Benefits and Risks of Calorific Fat Cell Inversion” is © 2018 Denzell Cooper
Art accompanying story is © 2018 America Jones