The Disappearance of Mr Christopher Asquith

An essay by Christopher Asquith, as provided by James Rowland
Photograph by Eleanor Leonne Bennett


An Extract from the Diary of Mr Christopher Asquith

Wednesday 1st March, 1899

I did begin to think for the first time that this journal would lie naked and ashamed for an entire week in my present state of stagnation. After the documented previous failures (see 24th February of this year), I have begun to fear that my experiments concerning the properties of Mr Edison’s light bulb will find nothing new to record. It seems that unlike Newton, who stood upon the shoulders of giants, I am merely confined to be hidden within the shadows of them. I still must profess, though, to the unshakable feeling that this new invention is unsettling. There seems something wholly unnatural in its being.

Regardless of this current defeat, I have found my spirits buoyed over the last couple of hours. It was by chance (after the fifth light bulb had flickered to an early grave) that I found myself walking aimlessly through the streets of our glorious capital. Shortly after midday, I mindlessly marched swiftly down Chancery Lane and headfirst into the path of my former tutor, Dr Kenneth Seymour. After apologising profusely, returning back to old habits of my days at Magdalen College, Dr Seymour invited me to lunch with him at his club. Confessing to this journal alone, my current situation with money is just as austere as my new ideas in scientific research, so I naturally jumped at the chance for a luncheon that would usually be far out of reach for me.

Dr Seymour is apparently in no such financial troubles of my own, supplementing his already far from modest income with a shrewd eye in the financial markets in the City. Over a particularly well cooked meal, which included a type of pale fish that I had yet to hear of, Dr Seymour regaled me with a story of how he has become the majority stockholder in an assured profit-making industry. While I felt embarrassed at the lack of stories that I could repeat to him, I perceived a sense that my former tutor was merely happy for the company. Indeed, by the end of the meal he had offered me an opportunity to invest in his latest endeavour. If I can find the income for such a venture, then I daren’t think about the returns I could make within a year. Money would never be a concern again. I left the meal with an assurance from Dr Seymour that he would wait for me to raise the investment required, and once more I find myself indebted for his kindness. I can only hope that my dear brother will be willing to offer me a loan.

Christopher Asquith

The most peculiar thing has happened as I have written this entry. The five light bulbs that I have experimented on today have seemed to resurrect themselves from the lifeless state that they had entered early this morning. Despite not being connected to a source of energy, each of them flickered into life one by one for the smallest moment of a second. I am most startled by this current development and I shall suspect that I will forego bed tonight to discover the cause for this unexpected turn of events.

The Disappearance of Mr Christopher Asquith

There must be a small part of my brain still functioning logically, for I believe I can pinpoint this irrational behaviour to my lack of sleep. Once more, I spent a night investigating those cursed light bulbs.

 


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2013 collection.


James Rowland is a young, British writer who is just beginning the journey of publication. Since it is just the start of that road, he doesn’t have a fancy website or an interesting twitter account. However he hopes 2013 will be an exciting year where he starts to self-publish his novelette series, The Collingwood Report, and also continues hoping to find people mad enough to publish his short stories.


Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16 year old internationally award winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature’s Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland trust and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United States and Canada. Her art is globally exhibited , having shown work in London, Paris, Indonesia, Los Angeles, Florida, Washington, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia and The Environmental Photographer of the Year Exhibition (2011) amongst many other locations.

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Blood Tests, Types and Ties

An essay by Veronica Night, as provided by Kate Elizabeth
Art by Justine McGreevy


In this issue of Blood, Milton and colleagues report that the next-generation blood substitute, Huma-Nice®, when given as a dietary supplement over a two-month period, resulted in appetite suppression in vampires.

The quest for a viable human blood substitute has spanned more than a hundred years. Blood borne pathogens such as HIV, the lack of volunteer blood donors, and the recent surge in Vampirism has expedited the need for the development of a synthetic substitute. Recent blood shortages have crippled the health care system and have led to an increased incidence of blood-related crimes.

Human rights activists have been advocating the replacement of human blood-feeding practices with that of animals since the 2005 signing of the UN vampire treaty. Although human blood is similar to that of other mammals, vampires have long since shunned the idea of it as a dietary replacement, citing “incompatibility issues.”

Blood Tests, Types and Ties

Unlike previous blood substitute attempts, Huma-Nice® comprises a number of recombinant human proteins supplemented with essential vitamins and minerals.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2013 collection.


Veronica Night is one of the world’s foremost cryptozoologists. She received her doctorate from the University of Transylvania. Her current research interests include parametamorphosis and alternative therapies.


Kate Elizabeth enjoys writing short stories in her ‘free’ time. When she is not working, reading, or writing you can find her blogging over at http://kateelizabeths.blogspot.com.au/


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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That Man Behind the Curtain: February 2013

Hello mad science fans. A very quick and slightly belated post recapping the numbers from last month. I wanted to get the slush from the special call cleared up before posting this, just so I didn’t have to make some comment about “oh, well, these submission numbers aren’t complete because we have a bunch of slush that isn’t finished.”

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The Writings of Brigham Worthing

Collected, Arranged and Verified by Svetlana Rhosven
Provided by Alexis A. Hunter
Art by Scarlett O’Hairdye


Dear Asa,

I hope this letter finds you in good health, dear brother.

I believe I need to learn more about the actual work I am claiming to be doing. This belief was cemented by a run-in I had with a would-be customer yesterday. My assistant Quinton had stepped out to take his lunch, and I took up his post at the counter. I sat there studying Rhosven’s journals and barely looked up when the customer–-a gargantuan of a woman who smelled of salted pork-–entered. She was a bit miffed at my lack of notice, but persisted to question me regarding what sort of statue I, the master artist, could create for her illustrious home.

You can imagine how the conversation went from there. I bumbled about and threw out made up terms. I glanced at the door, praying–-if I may still be allowed to pray-–that Quinton would end his lunch early. I began to sweat and grow quite nervous as she seemed to know a fair deal more than me about art, and I feared myself in danger of being found out. After a time, I grew annoyed by her questioning. I told her I could not abide her speaking to me in such a tone and went on to berate her with much indignation.

At last, Quinton arrived and settled everything quite well, allowing me to retreat back to my room with the journals. Needless to say, it was a most aggravating scene. I think I shall have Quinton tell me at least the basics of his work, lest I end up in such a spot again.

Going back to my work, I must tell you that I am tiring of the lower angels. Once they provided a fair challenge, but now I find them as easy prey. More and more, I find myself studying Rhosven’s journals to see what he said of the greater angels. I hardly dare to dream of it, but I must confess I have some aspirations of attaining an archangel one day–-if I can continue to improve my craft. It is folly, you will say. And dangerous, surely. You will be quite correct, but I cannot help the desire of my heart. The cherubs are beautiful indeed, and sell well–-but I desire greater.

How is Mother faring? I hope she is in good health and has not had an overly hard winter. Please tell her I ask about her. I think about her often when I am not out hunting. I believe now it would have been better not to tell her a thing about my work. Or at most, to leave her believing I was out of my mind. That would be better than this silence. I never once believed she would shun me; I think now she may wish I was young enough to fight in this war. No time for my “blasphemous occupation” then, yes?

The night grows dark and the candle is burning low, thus I shall end my letter here. I set out tonight to catch the regular fare. Are you certain your Lilly would not like a cherub as a gift for your impending anniversary? I would be delighted to do so, and can imagine it beside your fireplace in quite a pleasing way. Let me know if you have changed your mind on that score. Give Lilly and the children my best regards and love.

I remain your affectionate brother,

Brigham

It took longer this time. I chanted until sweat bubbled on my brow and I grew winded. I pressed on for a quarter of an hour, tongue growing dry. At last, a flicker of light grew before me. He appeared. God, I cannot capture in words his full glory. He was above my height, towering some foot and a half above me. Whether he was an archangel or not, I cannot tell. His wings spread out to either side in a sort of wary caution. It had the most noble features you've ever seen, his pale, shimmering form clad in white robes.

It took longer this time. I chanted until sweat bubbled on my brow and I grew winded. I pressed on for a quarter of an hour, tongue growing dry. At last, a flicker of light grew before me. He appeared. God, I cannot capture in words his full glory. He was above my height, towering some foot and a half above me. Whether he was an archangel or not, I cannot tell. His wings spread out to either side in a sort of wary caution. It had the most noble features you’ve ever seen, his pale, shimmering form clad in white robes.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2013 collection.


Doctor Svetlana Rhosven is one of the last remaining descendants of Anton Rhosven, the original Angel Collector. Upon discovering her heritage, Svetlana set out to collect every scrap of detail she could find about the process her ancestor sank so much of his life into. Svetlana attained her Master’s Degree in Angelology & Demonology at UnClouded University in 2001 and currently resides as close as she can to an orphanage.


A lifelong fan of speculative fiction, Alexis A. Hunter specializes in all things mythical, ethereal and out of this world. Her work has appeared most recently in Insatiable Magazine, Post Mortem Press’s The Ghost IS the Machine, Interstellar Fiction and more. To learn more about Alexis visit www.idreamagain.wordpress.com.


Scarlett O’Hairdye is a burlesque performer, producer and artist. To learn more, visit her site at www.scarlettohairdye.com.

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Rigor in Mortis: Helpful Hints for Staging Your First Grave Deception

An essay by Dr. Iolanthe Osmandius, as provided by Antoinette McCormick
Illustration by Cory Caywood


The first time I died was an accident. First attempts at anything are awkward, but mine, hastily planned and frantically executed, was almost my last. Fortunately, I have learned a few tricks and some valuable lessons in my many deaths since–information you might find very useful, should you ever find yourself faced with a similar situation.

Believe me, you just might.

#

Somber Statistics

At some point in their careers, many practitioners of the numinous arts will find themselves the objects of derision, investigation, or public insurrection. Too often, what begins as calumny quickly turns into calamity: last year, 750 sorcerers, necromancers, and alchemists living in the Ordinal Zones outside the Vespertine Territories were the victims of violent attacks. An estimated 17% of these were fatal. In fact, unless you are lucky enough to live within the impenetrable wards of the Vespertine Territories, you will have a 75% chance of being the victim of crowd contagion–the bonfire of insanity generated by a throng of pitchfork-wielding, crucifix-waving, homicidally minded hicks–within the first five years of your vocation, alone.

You know this day will come. You have acknowledged its possibility since you invoked your first spirit, cast your first Star of Chaos, or pulled that first phial of what you thought was a much-vaunted, viscous elixir–one that probably turned out to be vinegar–from the ether. Call it an occupational hazard, but it is the burden shared by all practicing Occultists.

Why play the odds? Readiness in the face of the inevitable beats a last ditch improvisation in a faulty dirigible by any phase of the moon.

A prudent practitioner is always prepared.

Rigor in Mortis

In fact, unless you are lucky enough to live within the impenetrable wards of the Vespertine Territories, you will have a 75% chance of being the victim of crowd contagion–the bonfire of insanity generated by a throng of pitchfork-wielding, crucifix-waving, homicidally minded hicks–within the first five years of your vocation, alone.

 


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2013 collection.


An itinerate lecturer and alchemical practitioner, Dr. Iolanthe Osmandius was last seen leading a magical symposium at Conlegium Obscuro. Her sudden disappearance, following publication of this treatise in the inaugural (and only) edition of Artifice Weekly, continues to baffle authorities.


When not writing, Antoinette McCormick, a handmaiden of Western medicine, prefers to cast healing magic. Her work has appeared in The Vermont Literary Review, on a comic-themed tour poster for the musical group, Alice in Chains, and is forthcoming in Blood Moon Rising.


Cory Caywood is an illustrator, concept artist, and designer specializing in science ficition and fantasy. His work can be viewed at http://www.floatinginspace.net

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Review of The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World DominationA review by Dawn Vogel


Here at Mad Scientist Journal, we were very excited to learn that John Joseph Adams would be editing an anthology titled The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination. With a title like that, we knew it would right up our alley. So when the nice folks at Tor asked if we’d be interested in reviewing the anthology for our journal, I jumped on the opportunity to do so.

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination is a collection of twenty-two short stories about many different sorts of mad scientists and their diabolical plots. In many cases, the mad scientists themselves are the narrators of their stories, but in other cases, the stories are from the perspective of someone who has been affected by the mad scientists and their plots. Two of the stories, “Instead of a Loving Heart” by Jeremiah Tolbert, and “The Mad Scientist’s Daughter” by Theodora Goss, are reprints, but they fit in seamlessly with the original stories.

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My Neighbour, Mr. Telford

An essay by Martin Telford and Geoff Stevens, as provided by Mark Carpenter
Photograph by Dawn Vogel


To: All

Subject: The end

I have discovered something terrible, and something wonderful. This discovery should have been one that would shock the scientific establishment and usher in a golden age of progress and development. But it won’t be. The discovery came too late, and because of it … well, in simple terms, the end is nigh and it’s my fault. As I write, the universe is beginning to collapse–and I destroyed it.

This is the story of how it came about. I am sharing this because I believe that even in our last moments, the population of the world has a right to know something as important as this.

I was doing experiments on particles to try and discover how the universe formed. I won’t go into details here, except that I was sending protons back in time by tiny increments, using my new Antimatter Trans-Temporal Displacement Bowl, enveloped in Tesco Own-Brand High Density Magnitude Multiplying Silver Shiny Foil. My logic was that by sending a number of protons to the same point in space time, there would be some sort of reaction and that might show me the secrets of the universe or something.

It wasn’t going very well. No matter how much Time Fuel I added, the protons weren’t budging. They just sat at the bottom of the Displacement Bowl and slowly got wetter. My experiment was a complete failure, so I tipped the contents of the Bowl into the Waste Disposal Cylinder and sat on the floor, slowly sinking into a deep meditation on the incomprehensible multiplicity of the universe.

A knock on the door woke me from my reverie. Surely it must be the courier from the Institute, I mentally ejaculated. I ran to open the door and sure enough, on the other side of it, dressed in the customary pink hat of the Institute of Science and the Universe, stood the courier. The courier said something I didn’t understand (I must say I disagree with the Institute’s secret policy on using illegal immigrants as couriers) and handed me the package. I nodded, thinking that was the most polite way to avoid saying I didn’t understand, but the courier appeared to take that as an invitation and gleefully pushed past me into my apartment. Not wanting to make trouble, I let it happen.

In the brighter lights of my home, I could see much more clearly that the courier was in fact a woman. In fact, it was a woman that I recognized–it was Margaret von Flubert, who lives across the hall.

My Neighbor Mr. Telford

As I write, the universe is beginning to collapse–and I destroyed it.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2013 collection.


Martin Telford is a retired physicist who lives alone in a small flat in the London suburbs. As a researcher, his most important work was on the development of [REDACTED] for [REDACTED], which [REDACTED] but fortunately [REDACTED].


Geoff Stevens is a stay at home dad who gained international fame for revealing the identity of Martin Telford, the man who we believe destroyed the universe.


Mark Carpenter is the pen-name of a student and writer from the far north of England.


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 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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The Maleficent Egg of Dr. de Groot

A Report by J.M. Cadogan RSSc, AHME, BS, MS (Birm), MS (Oxon). Presented by Archivist to The Society, Mark Wardecker.
Art by Katie Nyborg


We all thought de Groot was a crank, and that is why I bear no grudge toward any member of our Society. Like myself, you had no reason to believe that the errand upon which you had sent me could have been any more than the routine debunking of a charlatan. In fact, as I prepare myself to write this account of de Groot and his “creation,” it strikes me that I myself may be accused of attempting to deceive you, for the facts of the case seem fabulous even to me, and I have little to offer in the way of evidence, just what is left of de Groot and his machine. For the rest, I hope you will rely upon my reputation as a man who stands flat-footed upon the ground, a scientist–like most of you–but no theoretician, simply an inventor.

For those of you still unfamiliar with the circumstances surrounding this report, it was precipitated by a letter from Dr. Oswald de Groot, a physicist lately retired from academic life. It was early in the evening, and following dinner, we had all congregated before the fire in the walnut-paneled Members’ Room of the Society’s library for cigars and aperitifs. By way of a joke, Farnham produced de Groot’s letter, delivered earlier in the day. It was characteristically flamboyant and read:

“My work has progressed to the point where I have begun to assay the role of God himself. I have created life. Please send a representative to my home in Sussex to confirm, and all will be made clear.”

“You don’t suppose he’s impregnated his chamber maid?” asked Morrow.

“Doubtful–there are limits to what even science can accomplish!” Larson fired back.

“Seriously, though,” snuffled Farnham, “Does anyone know what de Groot’s been about lately? What could possibly be the meaning of this?”

“Last I heard, he was experimenting with magnets,” I recalled.

“To create life?”

“No, something that is obviously even further beyond his ken–invisibility.”

And with that, I assumed I had managed to dispel the last hint of decorum, but Farnham, as the last few chuckles subsided, declared, “Well, as this Society’s president, for form’s sake, I suppose I must appoint one of you to go and examine this buffoonery.”

It was at this point that I came to regret my earlier remarks, since my passing familiarity with de Groot’s recent work (and because the other likely candidate, the naturalist, Edwards, was conveniently busying himself with retrieving a match he had dropped beneath a chair) procured me the privilege of investigating the claim. I resigned myself to a trip to Sussex the following afternoon.

The Maleficent Egg of Dr. de Groot

It was massive, the size of an ostrich egg, but completely unblemished, with a hint of phosphorescence about it. Whatever de Groot’s claims, this was unnatural, a real discovery. We would likely need a naturalist after all.

 


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2013 collection.


Though not a mad scientist himself (or, rather, not yet), J.M. Cadogan has met more than his fair share of them through the august Society of which he is a senior member. It was, in fact, during the events described in the report featured here, that he began a long career of investigating such characters. Prior to that, he was best known for his innovative mechanical contributions to the Empire’s railways.”


Mark Wardecker has been a great admirer (from a safe distance) of mad scientists since his first exposure to Peter Cushing’s Victor Frankenstein and his various monsters from hell. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, The Willows, Doctor Who and Philosophy, and the Baker Street Journal. He has also edited an anthology of August Derleth’s early Solar Pons stories and is a librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Katie Nyborg’s art, plus information regarding hiring her, can be found at http://katiedoesartthings.tumblr.com/

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That Man Behind the Curtain: January 2013

This is a little delayed as I wanted to use the first of February for posting about our special call for submissions. It’s been a crazy month, with a few more frustrations than we’re used to, but we have soldiered on.

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Zero (or, The Collected Correspondence of Patient Zero)

An essay provided by Cameron Suey
Art by Justine McGreevy


Istanbul, Turkey

August

09:12:09 AM

I am at a small outdoor cafe just a few hundred yards from the teeming throng of a morning market, just in sight of the Bosporus. I love this city, and all its thick and violent contradictions. The rising heat of the day is already causing the linen of my suit to cling to my legs.

I awoke last night with a change of heart; you are owed an explanation, and even a warning. If I do as I have planned, I and my actions will be vilified, and misunderstood. Please believe me, I am doing this for all the right reasons. You may not see it now, but in ten or twenty years, you will see a new world born. That is worth any sacrifice, and my good name is no sacrifice at all. It is worth nothing to me now.

I have done my work here in Istanbul, the first of many great cities to see, and I board a plane tomorrow. Don’t bother looking for me here.

Zero

I have left you something. One last breadcrumb, woven into these letters. It may be the key to your salvation. If you find it, it will set you onto the path to the cure. You understand that I can not just hand it to you; that would defeat my whole purpose. Believe me when I say that I want you to live, but I must be strong not to undermine the grand struggle that will shape you for centuries to come.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2013 collection.


Patient Zero is a caucasian male, aged 50-60, who passed away at San Francisco General Hospital of the PZRV pathogen that has since appeared in many major cities. The collected letters he left behind were never addressed or sent, and the intended recipient is unknown. Based on the these documents, we can surmise only that he was at one point employed by a pharmaceutical manufacturer, and later worked on the creation and weaponization of the pathogen responsible for the ongoing pandemic. Anyone with any information on Patient Zero should contact the World Health Organization or the CDC.


Cameron Suey is a California native living in San Francisco with his wife (who can occasionally be convinced to edit his work, as long as it’s not too gross) and infant daughter. He works as a writer and producer in the games industry, and along with several other talented writers, won the WGA Award for Videogame Writing in 2009 for “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.” He can be found on the web at thejosefkstories.com, where he writes about writing, horror, and other influences, and on twitter as @josefkstories


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.


Author’s note: The puzzle hidden in the story is in the timecode. If you convert each listed time into 24hr formats, and then to letters (With A=01, B=02, etc.), the message reads “I lied there is no cure.”

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