Fiction: Stars Swimming in the Ether

An essay by Priscilla von Muller, as provided by Genevieve McCluer
Art by Luke Spooner

“Ms. von Muller, I was hoping we could ask you something.” Kirkpatrick, the head scientist of the facility, waved me over. His smug smile as he stood in front of his meaningless little Tesla coil made me feel all the less amicable toward whatever his request might be. I just hoped it wasn’t to fetch him coffee again. Honestly, we were not grad students anymore; there were far more effective stimulants.

“It’s doctor,” I corrected.

The hint of annoyance only flashed on his face for a second, but it was unmistakable. I felt the same every time he opened his mouth. “Of course. Doctor.” He said it almost sarcastically, like the years I had spent studying were all just some big joke. “Well, all of us have been working on that new specimen. So far it’s given us nothing.”

“Have you tried vivisection?”

He groaned. “We’ve cut into its tentacles repeatedly, but they just regrow, and nothing seems capable of piercing its body.”

I cocked an eyebrow at that. We had more than enough tools to do such a simple job. I’d only seen the specimen in passing before, but it didn’t look like it would be a particularly tough nut to crack, as it were. “Have you tried a diamond-tipped scalpel?”

He waved off the comment, giving the distinct impression he had not attempted it. “We’re well past such things, Priscilla. But the creature seems to be learning. It’s already developed as good a grasp at English as you have.” The Brits would never shy at the chance to insult a foreigner’s mastery of their language, no matter how pitiful they themselves may have been at it. “We were hoping you could talk to it?”

That was certainly unusual. “Why me?”

Illustration of a woman surrounded by tentacles.

I opened the door to the shed to find the shrieking creature they so feared.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2020 collection.

Priscilla von Muller. The greatest scientific mind of her generation. After revolutionizing automobiles, she moved on to perfect advanced weaponry, anti-sleep pills, and infinite energy. She had devoted her life to the pursuit of science, forgoing all else, including love, and even moving from her home in Germany to join an upcoming institute in England. While she regretted the decision, she still had to show up those small-minded Englishmen in their feeble attempts at advancing human understanding. She doesn’t believe in the concept of leisure time.

Genevieve McCluer was born in California and grew up in numerous cities across the country. She studied criminal justice in college, but after a few years of that, moved her focus to writing. Her whole life, she’s been obsessed with mythology and past cultures, and she bases her stories in those.

She now lives in Arizona with her partner and cats, working away at far too many novels. In her free time, she pesters the cats, plays video games, and attempts to be better at archery.

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

“Stars Swimming in the Ether” is © 2019 Genevieve McCluer
Art accompanying story is © 2019 Luke Spooner

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