Fiction: Patent THIS

From the self-published 49-page masterpiece Beer and Bioelectronics: Memoirs (Plural) of a Part-time Science Bro, by Dr. Toomani Katzenstuff. Excerpted by Zandra Renwick
Art by Leigh Legler

“Chaaaaarlie!” I bellowed, thundering up from the yard, brandishing the potato overhead like an incendiary weapon, a live grenade or molotov cocktail. My bathrobe flapped open and my fuzzy slippers slapped the backs of my heels in staccato machine-gun rhythm: fhlap fhlap fhlap fhlap!

My roommate sat on the couch hunched over an open box of junk cereal, full spoon halfway to his mouth heaped with toxic star and moon shapes marketed as having something to do with fruit. Under his cowlicked bedhead hair, he peered at me through cokebottle spectacles, which in this era of lunchtime surgeries were an affectation, myopia as lifestyle choice. “What’sup, roomie?”

Figuring with his terrible eyesight he might not recognize the lumpy ovoid item in my hand as a potato instead of my customary fresh morning egg straight from the backyard chicken coop, I stomped over (fhlap fhlap fhlap) and thrust it under his nose. “Does this look like an egg? That industrial chemical slop you guzzle for breakfast may be all right for some people, but you know I need organic protein in the morning.”

Even to me it sounded more indignant whine than righteous fury. But I was fed up with his additive manufacturing experiments disrupting my genetic modification trials. The world’s food situation was chaos on a global scale, and though Charlie and I shared the same funding (a sickly generous private research grant), the same house (cheapest we could find, and a landlord who put up with random power surges and backyard farming), and the same vision for the future (cheap global access to sustainable, accessible nourishment) … it sometimes felt like we approached everything from opposite sides of the same canyon.

My words must’ve hit home though; Charlie’s spine had gone ramrod straight and he was staring at the potato. “One of your chickens laid that?” he asked.

I harrumphed. “Not just this. A weird-coloured tomato. A small ear of corn. Something I swear is a butternut squash, though how that poor hen–”

Illustration of a chicken with a freshly laid tomato behind it.

“One of your chickens laid that?” he asked.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2019 collection.

A pioneer in underground research of applied bioelectronic husbandry, Dr. Katzenstuff has been largely ignored by contemporary biographers. Memoirs is an effort to right this incalculable wrong.*

*no animals were harmed in the making of this work

Zandra Renwick’s fiction has been translated into nine languages, performed on stage, and optioned for television. She writes in a triangulated midpoint between Portland (Oregon), Austin (Texas), and  the heart of Canada’s capital city (Ottawa). More at

Leigh’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

“Patent THIS” is © 2019 A. C. Renwick
Art accompanying story is © 2019 Leigh Legler

Follow us online:
This entry was posted in Fiction and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.