Fiction: The Experiment Meets Certain Doom

An essay by Experiment 105, as related by Deborah L. Davitt
Art by Luke Spooner

I looked up from inside my cage as the skylight of the laboratory opened, and blinked. A swarm of insects poured through the opening, coalescing near the floor. The insects seethed, never entirely outlining the form with perfect resolution, but I could interpolate the shape of a human female. One that now rooted among the cabinets, chucking tools into a sack.

“Excuse me,” I said politely. Mother had taught me to always be polite. “You needn’t steal. If you’re hungry, Mother will give you food. She says everything she does is to help others.”

The swarm dissolved. Reformed, the limbs melding front to back, the face melting through the back of the head to become the front. “Mother? She lets you call her that?” The voice sounded like the susurration of a million wings. “She didn’t let me call her Mother even when I was her flesh-and-blood daughter.”

I sat upright. “You’re her daughter?”

“Once, yes.” Insects billowed toward me, then curled back into human shape. “Until she tried to destroy me.”

I hesitated. Mother’s good. Mother would never try to destroy anything that wasn’t evil. “Are you … certain doom or something?”

“She named me Melissa, first. Then Swarm. Then, yes, Certain Doom. It has a ring, don’t you think?”

“What happened?” I whispered, shocked.

“A period of mutual discovery. She discovered that most people didn’t want to eat bugs. I discovered that I didn’t want to be eaten by people. And people discovered that large swarms of insects often devour entire fields of grain. The local farmers drove her out of town. I followed, because she was my mother, and I didn’t know anything else.” A pause. “Like you and all the others.”

I clutched the bars, half in panic, half in desperate hope. “There are others? Like us?”

Illustration of a swarm of bugs in a humanoid shape.

The insects seethed, never entirely outlining the form with perfect resolution, but I could interpolate the shape of a human female.

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

Experiment 105 believes that she’s probably about ten to twelve years old, though rapid-maturation technology gives her the appearance of an adult human female. She didn’t grab her mother’s lab notes on her existence, however, so it’s hard to tell precisely when she was decanted from her artificial womb. At some point in the future, she thinks that she might like to pick a name for herself. In the meantime, her siblings have taken to calling her Peri, which she thinks sounds like a chip from a paint store, but it’s hard to argue with them, when they’re the only family she’s got.

Deborah L. Davitt was raised in Nevada, but currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and son.  Her poetry has received Rhysling, Dwarf Star, and Pushcart nominations; her short fiction has appeared in InterGalactic Medicine ShowCompelling Science Fiction, and Pseudopod. For more about her work, including her Edda-Earth novels and her poetry collection, The Gates of Never, please see

Luke Spooner, a.k.a. ‘Carrion House,’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree, he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales, his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy, or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility, as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at

“The Experiment Meets Certain Doom” is © 2019 Deborah L. Davitt
Art accompanying story is © 2019 Luke Spooner

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