An essay by the son of Dr. Morgan Locke, as provided by Hamilton Kohl
Art by America Jones
[I have had the good fortune to recover a small collection of journal entries archived by an unknown historian of the alternate, or mad sciences. As you know, due the secrecy involved, it is very challenging to find firsthand accounts from mad science practitioners. This small piece of correspondence composed by the historian was all I could salvage by way of introduction to these findings.]
… and during my travels I became engrossed in the history of the mad sciences. My particular area of interest was the migration of Eastern European scientists to the colonies, which coincided with continued westward expansion into the 1900s. To that end, I have found fragments from journal entries that lend possible credence to your theory that not only did Dr. Morgan Locke escape his persecution in Prussia, but he in fact survived and continued his work upon arriving across the Atlantic. It would further seem, by the included documents, that some of his studies were carried on for some time by at least one of his sons. I hope you will find this of use for your paper, The Mad Sciences of Upper and Lower Canada: A look into …
[The following entries are from the journal of Dr. Morgan Locke, as entered by one of his sons.]
Sunday, March 27, 1853
My father’s accumulated knowledge of the dark arts is finally mine! Or they would be, but now on the eve of his death, I hold his journal in my hands only to find the pages are completely blank. It is all gone: the blueprints for his devices, the recipes for his chemical compositions, strategies, projects, theories, all of it.
I returned here to our family’s estates outside of Ottawa this very evening, having received an urgent telegram from my father’s man, Karstan. Ever to the point, it read: “your father has expired.”
Upon arriving, Karstan showed me to the body. Father was slumped over his desk with a pistol in hand and a rather small hole in the back of his head. A second hole, which was not actually a hole at all, but more of a fist punch from the inside out, inhabited the spot where one would normally find his scornful countenance. I will spare you the detailed description of the congealed blood splatters, bits of bone and brains that adorned the desk, the wall, and the carpet.
I am proud to note that shortly thereafter I had the presence of mind to make sure I properly bottled and preserved (what was left of) his cerebrum. At least this way we’d still be able to argue.
But of course, my main concern was for the journal. It was my birthright. Unfortunately, a small smattering of blood is all that is left to mar the pages. I wish he would have taken better precautions when he killed himself at his desk last night. It was not like him to make such a mess of things, though I find it remarkable that he was able to shoot himself in the back of the head like that.
I’ll leave a note for Karstan to dispose of the body, I’m sure that will be sufficient.
Monday, March 28, 1853
While I found the pages of the journal empty, Father’s my workshop and laboratory are both very much intact, though many of his projects are incomplete or have been misplaced.
Here is a list of what I have been able to salvage so far:
1) The Slingshot Time Machine. This one is very promising. Father had raved about this for years. but Mother wouldn’t have it–something about not getting out of their marriage that easily. He must have finally completed it after she passed on. I plan to test it immediately. (See Appendix 1, Figure 1.)
2) Serum of the Reanimated. At one point, my father had an entire army of the undead, but he seems to have misplaced them …
[Note: The inventory looked to be much more extensive, but what I hope was water had smeared the pages and left all but the first two items illegible.]
Tuesday, March 29, 1853
A rather large amber cat was reading this very journal last night, and while I haven’t outlined any of my own projects yet, the cat must have his suspicions. He certainly must know about the time machine.
I asked him what the hell he thought he was doing, but he just stared at me and started licking himself. I told him if he knows what’s good for him that he will stay clear of my affairs. He did not seem concerned.
I also suspect that he has been fouling the garden.
For future consideration: I may need to kill the cat. But not before I find out what he knows about the missing undead.
Wednesday, March 30th, 1853
I received an unexpected visit this morning from a local constable. My father’s body turned up. Apparently, my instructions to Karstan had not been explicit enough.
Having dealt with the constabulary regarding dead bodies numerous times before, I placed the tidy sum of ninety-nine dollars, five cents on the stand in the front foyer. It would have been an even hundred, but the cat insisted I buy him a fresh fish at the market earlier in the day.
The officer, to his credit, took the cash with his assurances that my father’s body would once again “disappear.”
For present consideration: You wouldn’t have to feed the cat if it were dead.
Thursday, March 31, 1853
Saturday, March 26, 1853
I was able to employ the time machine, but to disastrous effect. (Or to opportune effect, given one’s point of view.)
There was a storm tonight, and a lightning strike, as you may or may not know, is required to power most every time machine ever created. The timing of this was imperative, as the machine cannot stretch back in time farther than seven days. (I found a note left by father, and I have added it to the appendix at the end of the journal.) I had to act decisively if I wanted to confront my father.
He was surprised to see me, to say the least. We argued about why the journal was blank. He laughed at me from this very chair and flourished his quill with no ink on the nib. He boasted that he only went through the motions of penning his plans in the book to aid in committing them to memory, not to share them with either of the snivelling disappointments he had sired. He then went on mocking my lack of a proper doctorate for some time.
Apparently, it is not only madness that runs in our family, it is a poor temperament that has been demonstrated to be hereditary as well.
In short, it turns out that I murdered my father. I had not ever planned to add patricide to my list of accomplishments, but it is done. I should have known that a self-inflicted gunshot to the back of the head was rather unlikely.
Sunday March 27, 1853 (Redressed)
Staging my father’s death to look like a self-inflicted gunshot (to the back of the head) took much longer than expected, and as a result, the Slingshot Time Machine (trade mark and patent pending) snapped back to the present without me aboard. Now I will have to travel forward to the present (or future as it was) by standard means, which is to say, I will have to relive the five days leading up to the point that I traveled back to now, or then, no it is definitely, now. I think.
Sunday March 27, 1853 (Redressed, and amended)
You can imagine my surprise when I greeted myself at the door this evening. Though it was nice that I was able to summon Karstan to carry my things up the several flights of stairs. It was the least I could do for myself.
Monday, March 28, 1853 (Redressed)
I was able to spend most of the day discussing my plans with myself, specifically what uses we might find for the Serum of the Reanimated. I think we are both on the same page about that. And, as it turns out, I am a delightful conversationalist.
Tuesday, March 29, 1853 (Redressed)
I confronted the cat again. This time, I caught him batting at the corner of the book in an attempt to turn the page, at which he was almost successful. I berated him again, and while he still did not care to explain himself, he could offer no defence when I caught him snooping through the journal red handed clawed. I took great satisfaction in breaking the calm demeanour the beast displayed during our previous first encounter. When he saw two of me, he hissed and howled, and bounced to and fro around the study before finally escaping in a frantic dash through the door.
He is a sly creature, and I would do well to not underestimate him.
Wednesday, March 30, 1853 (Redressed)
The constable found my father’s body (again). But instead of offering him the full sum of ninety-nine dollars, five cents, I bet myself that we could purchase the officers favour for considerably less. Always keen on a wager, I accepted. In the end we only paid sixty dollars, twenty-five cents. I both won and lost the wager, and then had to pay myself an additional sum of twenty dollars. I have mixed feelings about the experience overall.
Thursday March 31, 1853 (Then and now, and possibly then again.)
I arrived back in the present. The first order of business was to take myself up to the roof so that he could travel back to the past again, as I had before on this very same day. We had discussed neither one of us going this time, but we both decided that we were moderately happier with Father dead.
We drew straws to see who would go, but both of us cheated all three times, which resulted in a stalemate.
I grew impatient and knocked myself out (the other me) and threw him into the machine and sent it back. Now I have two sets of memories: one where I knocked myself out, and one where I got knocked out, by myself. Needless to say, I don’t like either of me very much right now.
For past, present, and future consideration: I believe it is in my best interest to cease my experiments with the Slingshot Time Machine (trade mark pending, patent declined–the post master is very efficient here). The machine should be destroyed before the cat can use it against me.
Friday, April 1, 1853
I believe the cat stole the Slingshot Time Machine (trade mark and patent both declined) before I could destroy it. He is now amber. I am almost certain he was black when I arrived, though Karstan doesn’t think so. He has started a log to that effect to track the cat’s movements (and colours).
I am most sure the cat suspects that I murdered my father, but I doubt he knows which me it was. I’d like to see him try to explain that to the constable. I have decided not to kill him until I have discovered what other devices he might employ against me.
Should you be reading this, and we both know that you are, you have proven to be a worthy adversary. I congratulate you on a game well played thus far, but you and I are not done here. I intend to procure a hound.
[Here ends all I was able to salvage from the journal of Dr. Morgan Locke, as written by one of his sons. I have learned of a possible lead from a colleague regarding the Serum of the Reanimated and the resulting fiasco in 1854. I am hopeful that more pages will soon be recovered.]
Appendix 1: Slingshot Time Machine
The Slingshot Time Machine is named thusly due to the way it traverses time, and not because it bares any resemblance to a slingshot.
The machine is propelled in combination by a bolt of lightning, and a terrifying descent down a single rail mounted to the side of the north tower. The lightning bolt provides the energy required to weaken time, and the speed of the vessel determines how far back time can be stretched. For my purposes, one storey descended toward terminal velocity is approximate to one day traveled back in time. Results may vary.
When the machine delivers you to the desired point in time, you have approximately one hour before the energy will snap back on itself and pull the time machine back to the present. Thus the term: “Slingshot Time Machine.”
A note on traveling forward in time: Preposterous. That sounds like the kind of foolhardy notion one of my sons might dribble forth.
-Dr. Morgan Locke
Unfortunately, not much is currently known about either son of Dr. Morgan Locke, though it is widely speculated that this journal was written by the youngest and least sane of the Locke siblings.
Hamilton Kohl discovered his love of the mad (or alternate) sciences at an early age, when he was introduced to the Hilarious House of Frankenstein. He now spends his days writing while chained to his office cubicle. At night, and most weekends, he enjoys a slight reprieve from the insanity of corporate mad scientists to spend time with his wife and children where they live just outside of Toronto, Canada. You can find him on twitter @Hamilton_Kohl.
AJ is an illustrator and comic artist with a passion for neon colors and queer culture. Catch them being antisocial on social media @thehauntedboy.
“A Fragmented Examination of Slingshot Time Travel” is © 2019 Hamilton Kohl
Art accompanying story is © 2019 America Jones