Inside You

An essay from an unnamed entity, as provided by Iulian Ionescu
Art by Luke Spooner


I’m a monster, let’s get that right off the bat.

I’ve been a monster since the day I was spawned, but I really hate that word, to be honest. It’s such a label. When you people hear it, your mind jumps to scales and teeth and claws and tentacles. I like to think of myself as parallel life, a companion of sorts, if you would indulge this particularly cruel comparison.

I love my job, don’t get me wrong, but even a monster has ups and downs. Let me explain.

I can’t remember the last time I had the luxury to take it easy, but I finally got a break with old Ms. Donnelly. I attached to Ms. Donnelly in March or April, something like that; it was a bit chilly, I remember that.

As soon as I clicked I knew I was up for a peaceful season. I swear I haven’t been in such a clear mind in years. I mean, she had her bingo nights and romance novels, but that’s nothing compared to the horrors I’ve been through in the past.

On top of that, she lived alone, Ms. Donnelly, in a tall townhouse she kept sparkling clean, so nobody bothered us most of the time. She was up every day at the crack of dawn and she wouldn’t sit still until sundown. Up and down the stairs, outside, inside, market, pier. No wasted time, and barely any human interaction, which works for me.

The moment I got in, though, I knew it wasn’t gonna last too long. I sensed immediately her body was decayed. I could see it and feel it–her organs were eaten from the inside out by years of restlessness, I guess. Her face was smooth as silk, no wrinkles, believe me, but on the inside–a dead apple.

At first I got angry. Why would the Committee send me here? I’ve been roaming this neighborhood for decades now, and I know there are better hosts. But I guess they have some rotation programs and I had finally earned my break.

Once I realized this was going to be more vacation than work, I decided to delay the process as much as I could. I tried to keep my spawns in check, let them loose slowly, but, unlucky for her, it’s not easy to control them once they’re out, roaming through the blood stream. They know one thing and one thing only, and there’s not a lot I can do about it.

I tried to keep her happy at least–I didn’t touch the brain. It was way too clean, even for me.

I held back, but at some point she did start to deteriorate rapidly, progressively worse as days went by. That’s when she went to see them.

Oh, I hate them, hate them with a passion … They mess with up our act pretty badly, even if just for a brief period. It’s extremely uncomfortable and the best of us still dread the experience, no matter how short.

Inside You


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2014 collection.


He doesn’t remember being born, but became aware of his being when he was first spawned by a Supreme. He was given the task to roam and seek new hosts where he could unleash his own spawns, helping to clear the way for the final invasion. Since life is not just work, but also play, he often enjoys a vacation inside a pet or even an insect. But deep down inside, he hopes for an early retirement on a beach, back on the home planet. His only regret is to have never been given a name.


Iulian was born and raised in Bucharest, Romania, where he earned his Bachelor’s in Finance. He moved to the US in 2001, and became a CPA (oh, the excitement!). Despite his career choice, Iulian’s creative side kept him awake at night. At this point he calls himself an aspiring sci/fi and fantasy writer. He published several short stories and is currently working on two novels. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and son and he blogs at www.fantasyscroll.com and www.iulianionescu.com. He is also the editor of http://fantasyscrollmag.com.


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 www.carrionhouse.com.

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An Open Letter to the Residents of Earth City: The Curious Case of the Cacti

A letter by Dr. Alan Dimplebottom, as provided by Jennifer Mitchell
Art by Leigh Legler


My dear residents of Earth City,

I feel obligated to write this letter in Earth City Daily News to clear up last month’s cactus situation. None of us in the scientific community could have predicted such enormous destruction to property and life, but the advances that have been made in our understanding of alien plant life are extraordinary. I feel that if the general public is made aware of these advances, it will be more understanding of the destruction.

Unbeknownst to most of you, unmanned space ships have been searching our galaxy for alien flora since 2273, and this year, on planet X32C31, the discovery was made. The cacti were so tiny that the scanners nearly missed them, but a few samples were brought back to Earth for study. One of them was personally delivered to me for dissection and analysis.

On X32C31, the atmosphere is composed mostly of nitrogen and cyanide. Temperatures hover far below freezing, and hurricane force winds rip across the planet’s surface. While cacti survive well in extreme desert conditions, this was far beyond anything on Earth, and we were curious to discover how the cacti were surviving. It seems that they were barely clinging to life on that planet, as the cacti thrived in Earth’s conditions, growing at an unbelievable speed.

When the cactus was first delivered to me, it was about the size of a pea, but within days it was the size of a watermelon. Absolutely extraordinary in itself, but then it began dividing. It was acting more like a virus than a plant, splitting over and over, filling my office to the roof with cacti. This is something that has never been seen before, so I let it continue for longer than was prudent, in the interest of scientific advancement.

The cacti continued to grow, from the size of watermelons to the size of small cars. None of my readers will be surprised by this, knowing what we now know, but my office was destroyed, and then the entire wing of the university, as they grew.

At this point I began to become concerned, and sent my assistant Geoffrey to purchase pesticides. This was a painful decision for me, as the chance to analyze alien cacti was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but at this point I was beginning to see the danger. Geoffrey returned from the hardware store with several canisters of pesticide spray, which we emptied on the cacti. This did not have the desired effect. Not only did the cacti not die, but they became carnivorous. Poor Geoffrey fought bravely, but he was no match for them. I am ashamed to admit it, but I ran.

Once I reached the safety of my apartment, I called my friend Dr. Agnes Snifflebop. She has a PhD in Botany, and was heavily involved with the mission to find alien flora. I knew that if anyone could help with this situation, it would be her. At first, she didn’t believe that the tiny cacti she had helped discover were dangerous. I told her to turn on the news, and the sight of the rubble that used to be the university was enough to convince her that we were in trouble.

Together, we set out to destroy the cacti. We were both heartbroken to destroy our lives’ work, but these are the sacrifices that must be made. In hindsight, I should have acted earlier, as soon as I saw the cacti multiplying. But it is too late for that now.

We tried various mixtures of extra strength pesticides, but the only effect was to make the cacti hungrier. Their growth continued at exponential rates. At this point, after being on Earth for less than one week, each cactus was the size of a football stadium. We pursued them with our pesticide guns as they rolled through the city, flattening buildings and consuming citizens, but to no avail.

An Open Letter to the Residents of Earth City: The Curious Case of the Cacti


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2014 collection.


Dr. Alan Dimplebottom is one of the most respected scientists in the world, with Ph.D.s in both astronomy and astrophysics. He has published over one thousand scientific papers, in respected journals such as The Space Journal and Earth’s Science Digest. Look for his new book, The Curious Case of the Cacti, which will be released sometime next year.


Jennifer Mitchell is a Canadian writer of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Born in 1722, a homemade time machine has allowed her to write stories for the people of the future. She lives in a haunted house with a robot named Xyerhsl and a pet Bigfoot. She has been abducted by aliens twice. Do not approach Jennifer, because it may be her identical evil twin, NotJennifer, who is a wanted criminal in six galaxies.


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 http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.

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One Week Left for Lovecraft Submissions

We only have one week left for people to submit their stories to our anthology, That Ain’t Right: Historical Accounts of the Miskatonic Valley. This is our first anthology paying semi-pro rates, so get your stories in! Details can be found on our submissions page: http://madscientistjournal.org/submissions/

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We Shall Make Monsters

An extract from the papers of Professor D. E. Balcass, as provided by Mark Patrick Lynch
Art by Leigh Legler


First Published in Nature Medical Experimentation, 2237, as part of the “Clones In Exploitation” season, later broadcast on the BBC Wireless Services as part of the Christmas Lectures Series in the Public Understanding of Sciences/Social History promotion.

This extract from Professor D. E. Balcass’s study of clones in the common workforce focuses on the strange and troubling uses of Professor Xavier Whitting’s breakthrough in human replication, as recounted by his business partner, a certain Mr Addison-Whitt, whose notoriety is well known in the music business to this day. Although unverifiable in parts, the account does fit the facts as history and popular culture understands them.

Professor Balcass included the account in his papers as a warning about human nature, and how quick it is to exploit others. It is a salutary warning of what might have continued unabated in the general workforce had the Wilberforce 2 anti-exploitation laws not been passed by parliament in 2189.

#

Enough time has now elapsed that I might finally reveal my part in the whole sorry StepFor’d affair. Like the last grains of sand sliding from one bulb of an hourglass to the next, I feel my life slipping away. If I am to give an explanation–or perhaps some would see it as a confession–then it should be here and it should be now, before it is too late and the chance to do so has passed.

From the outset, I would have it known that I was not the sole creator of “the clone bands.” However, I accept that turning the tide of public opinion so late in the day is no easy matter and that blame will be more easily laid at my feet–solely at my feet, if you will forgive the pun–rather than spread among those others involved. It is the way with the masses, and believe me, I should know the masses after I have spent so long exploiting them.

Yet the truth remains that I was not alone in my actions; I was not the only one responsible for what followed. My remaining hope is that people accept this. Perhaps, in time, it will be so.

The whole of what follows will be dispassionately relayed, dictated on my mechanical word-loom with an eye only for detail, neither recrimination nor redemption an aim. Just the truth.

This is my testimony.

We Shall Make Monsters


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2014 collection.


Professor D. E. Balcass (b. 2142) currently holds the position of Emeritus Professor of Social Justice and Science, King’s College, New Oxford. Although he lectures rarely these days, he still takes on the occasional public appearance, most notably in popular media presentations. He is perhaps most famous for his lobbying work on behalf of Clones’ Rights. In Who’s Who, he lists his pastimes as Fishing, Walking, and Dominoes. He was awarded an OBE in the King’s New Year’s Honours List, 2240, for services to science and humanity.


British writer Mark Patrick Lynch’s short stories have appeared in various publications around the world, ranging from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine to Zahir. On the internet, his work can be found on Daily Science Fiction, Perihelion, and Abyss and Apex. Several of his pieces have received honourable mentions in annual Year’s Best summaries as notable tales of the year. His print book Hour of the Black Wolf is published by Robert Hale Ltd, while What I Wouldn’t Give, a novella, is available for eBook. Don’t be shy: find him at markpatricklynch.blogspot.com, or through his twitter feed @markplynch.


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 http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.

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That Man Behind the Curtain: March 2014

Here’s a look at the numbers for March:

The Money Aspect

Amounts in parentheses are losses/expenses.

Hosting: ($17.06)
Stories: ($586.00)
Art: ($431.33)
Advertising: ($95.75)
Paypal Fees: ($2.22)
Kickstarter Fees: ($397.82)
Donations: $0.00
Ad Revenue: $1.21
Book Sales: $17.96
Kickstarter: $4,378.00
Total: $2,866.99
QTD: $2,026.50
YTD: $2,026.50
All Time: ($5,486.07)

As per usual, I try to list costs for art and stories under the month that the stories run on the site rather than when I pay them. I also cover Paypal expenses when paying authors and artists.

So, Kickstarter. It brought in more money than we’ve ever seen. It also brought more monthly expenses than we’d ever seen, and there will be more down the road once we start accepting stories and printing actual books. But we also made more profit from it than I had accounted for. (I had estimated very conservatively, perhaps too conservatively.) It’s a breath of fresh air, though, to have a positive balance for the year. It’s also very telling that our all-time loss is still significantly more. (Also: The Amazon Payments site is kind of annoying.)

We’ll be doing another one of these next spring, probably. I don’t know that it will generate nearly as much money since it won’t be Cthulhu-oriented. But hopefully doing these will help over all with our bottom line.

Submissions

In March we received 24 submissions, 6 of which were for the new anthology. Since we won’t be deciding on these till next month, I’m going to call it 18 for purposes of acceptance rates for March. We accepted 13, making our total for the month 72%. Our all-time acceptance rate is 55.97%.

This gives us enough content for the site through mid-November.

Traffic

Traffic increased in March. We had a total of 1,970 visits. Our traffic consisted of 1,320 unique visitors and 3,545 page views. Our highest daily traffic was 142. Better than the month before, making it the new second highest day.

March’s search engine term of the month is “sudden boils on face.”

That’s all for this month.

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Its Terrible White Horn

An essay by Dr. Vadim Orlov, as provided by Ian Rose
Art by Justine McGreevy


I did it. It was me. We have all paid the price for my hubris and that of the fools who joined me. This is my confession.

I released the unicorn into our world.

We discovered its remains in a cave system in eastern Russia. The cave itself was only found a year before, revealed while digging the foundation for a new shopping center. Staff from the local museum knew immediately that they had something special, and when I was flown in from Moscow and first laid eyes on the massive cover stones blocking the cave entrance, it was the most exciting day of my professional life.

Nine layers of intricately carved stone had been laid to cap the tunnel, a level of technological effort never before seen in a site so old, but the cave itself, once revealed, was surprisingly free of any human symbols or characters. The only marks on the walls were deep gashes, as if someone had hacked at the stone repeatedly with a sword or axe.

Delving deeper, we found the beast.

At first, it looked to be nothing but bones, its flesh eaten away by millennia in the damp recesses of the cave. The skeleton was clearly equine, but larger by half than any extant species of horse. From its forehead rose a single spiraled horn, pure white and untouched by the ravages of so much time. Closer investigation revealed a small patch of meat hanging from one of its hind legs.

Naturally, we had our doubts. The entrance stones were impressive enough, but a unicorn skeleton was just too much for the skeptics. I counted myself among them. I ran every dating test twice, and they all came up with the same result: the creature had lived and died over 20,000 years ago.

The cloning idea came from a science blogger in Japan, and her audience enthusiastically spread it around the web. She even suggested that if we were willing to make the attempt, using the same techniques which had recently been used to resurrect the Tasmanian tiger and woolly mammoth, she would help raise the money.

Our crowdsourcing campaign reached its initial goal in 36 hours. By the time it was over, we had raised millions more than we needed. We had no choice but to try.

The cells in that small scrap of recovered meat proved to be remarkably intact. At every step of the process, we marveled at the ease and quickness of success. We had a viable egg and sperm in a matter of weeks, engineered from the DNA in that tiny sample. The mammoth had taken almost a year.

Inside the belly of a Clydesdale mare, we watched the creature grow. When the tiny nub of its horn appeared on an ultrasound scan, it became the most shared digital image of the year. It was a perfectly healthy developing foal, in every way a horse except for its size and its legendary ornament.

Its Terrible White Horn

The foal was born on a sunny day in June, the day that everything changed.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2014 collection.


Dr. Vadim Orlov was a distinguished professor of zoology at Moscow University before the fall. Despite a long career in paleontology and many important publications, he will unfortunately be best remembered for his participation in the events described above, and his organization of human survivors afterward. He had a wife and two adopted children in Moscow, whose whereabouts are still unknown.


Ian Rose lived on every coast that the United States has to offer, and had a few short stints inland, before settling in Oregon. He lives with his fiancee, her daughter, and a mischievous black cat. His work has recently appeared in New Myths and Cast of Wonders, and more of his writing can be found at http://ianwrites.com.


Justine McGreevy is a slowly recovering perfectionist, writer, and artist. She creates realities to make our own seem slightly less terrifying. Her work can be viewed at http://www.behance.net/Fickle_Muse and you can follow her on Twitter @Fickle_Muse.

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MSJ Alumnus Eryk Pruitt Publishes His First Novel

We’re excited to share that one of the first writers we published, Eryk Pruitt, has published his first novel: Dirtbags, a Southern noir crime novel.

Dirtbags by Eryk Pruitt

We haven’t had a chance to dig into our own copy yet, but we are definitely looking forward to it.

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Milky Way Zoo

A brochure from the Milky Way Zoo: Earth Exhibition, as provided by Dusty Wallace
Art by Leigh Legler


Station 1. Tasmanian Tiger*

This odd-looking mammal was the only carnivorous species of marsupial. It’s not a tiger or even a feline, but was named for its tiger-like stripes. The hind quarters are considered a delicacy in some corners of the galaxy, where they’re grown in the finest restaurant laboratories.

Public Feeding at 1030 IGST

Milky Way Zoo


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2014 collection.


The Milky Way Zoo is made possible by partnership between the Decimated Planets Council, the Astrozoological Resurrection Society, and visitors like you! Founded in Terazix 14803, The Milky Way Zoo has been collecting extinct and endangered species from post-apocalyptic planets throughout the galaxy. Not only do we provide entertainment for the little ones, but our scientists study other planets’ tragedies to help ensure the continued success of the Zulatonarn people.


Dusty Wallace lives in the Appalachians of Virginia with his wife and two sons. He enjoys reading, writing, and the occasional fine cigar.


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 http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.

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Two Years of Madness!

Today marks two years since we published our first story on the site! To celebrate this, we’re offering all of our quarterlies at 20% off from now until May 2nd. Below are coupon codes for each of our eight collections of stories, redeemable at Smashwords. You can find all of the quarterlies at https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/2222

Spring 2012 – PU59G
Summer 2012 – LZ43A
Autumn 2012 – LP25V
Winter 2013 – LT79B
Spring 2013 – SQ92U
Summer 2013 – UF35E
Autumn 2013 – VM86E
Winter 2014 – JM92N

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Carnivorous Fog: Avoidance, Survival, and Eradication Strategies

An essay by Dr. Balini Enoras, as transcribed by K. A. Blaha
Art by Dawn Vogel


Introduction

Since our arrival on this world several years ago, we have adapted to a variety of new and unexpected circumstances. By far the greatest challenge encountered has been the mysterious “fog.” It is unclear whether fogs are mindless predatory ensembles of tiny insects or some sentient organization of these independent units. What is clear is that they are deadly, with several deaths in the last month alone.

In a recent study, we proved the existence of the fog organism in a controlled experiment. In this paper, we discuss what is known about the fogs. We discuss strategies for surviving, avoiding, and eradicating them. We debunk several myths about fogs and fog behavior. We hope that this paper will reduce fog-related fatalities, and pave the way for future research.

#

What is known about fogs?

When we pose this question, we mean in the scientific sense. In the common parlance, the fog is a vaporous apparition, similar in aspect to the more innocuous fog of Earth. Both terrestrial fog and our fogs appear after and during rain. They fly between 15 cm and 1.5 m above the ground, though it is not known whether this is by preference or by rule.

Contact with a fog above the shoulders results in near-instant death for every observed macroscopic organism. Neural tissues, especially brain tissues and neurons, show extensive damage after death by fog. The mechanism for this action is still unknown. The claim that fogs feed on “neurolytic” energy (note from the author: we are unfamiliar with this form of energy) is wholly unproven.

In the first scientific documentation, a fog seemed to disintegrate into the sandy ground. We collected this sand and investigated it in a controlled environment. In experiments, we found that fogs “emerged” from the sand sample when moisture density reached 60 percent. The fogs disappeared again when the humidity fell below about 25 percent. This agrees well with anecdotal observations that fogs appear in the presence of rain. (Note from the author: statistically, it has rained more often in this year than in the year of our arrival. This only makes the work presented here more important.)

When we examined the soil sample under magnification, we observed encapsulated insects mixed with the grains of sand. These insects comprise a fog, but they appear to be completely inactive when in this state. Their encapsulation resembles the survival strategies of African lungfishes or waterbears observed on Earth. While they are encapsulated, they are nearly impervious to their surroundings (See diagram in Figure 1 of encapsulated and emerged insects).

We mention above that fog insects emerge at high humidity. We also discovered that insect emergence is sensitive to the density of nearby insects. When we hydrated only small samples, no insects emerged. Unless roughly 1,000 insects were present, none would emerge. This suggests that collective action is somehow essential to the mechanism of the fog. However, this does not guarantee sentience.

Carnivorous Fog: Avoidance, Survival, and Eradication Strategies


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2014 collection.


Balini Enoras received his PhD in cellular biology in 2199, specializing in manipulating mitochondrial structures. Since leaving Earth and arriving on this world, he has explored a wide variety of subjects, from xenobiology to weather patterns. He is the foremost expert on native insect physiology. He conducted the first experiments demonstrating the existance of the fog in 2205. Since then, he has studied strategies for adapting to native species, while working to improve scientific models.


K. A. Blaha, another mad scientist, recently received her PhD in chemical engineering with research in chaos and nonlinear dynamics. Her fiction has appeared in Swords and Sorcery Magazine and The Colored Lens. She writes about science, photography, and science fiction at her blog (www.vironevaeh.com). Her science-fiction themed fairy tales, set in Balini’s universe, are available free in the ibooks store, including over 50 original illustrations.


Dawn Vogel has been published as a short fiction author and an editor of both fiction and non-fiction. Although art is not her strongest suit, she’s happy to contribute occasional art to Mad Scientist Journal. By day, she edits reports for and manages an office of historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business and tries to find time for writing. She lives in Seattle with her awesome husband (and fellow author), Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats. For more of Dawn’s work visit http://historythatneverwas.com/

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