Monday, April 13, 2015

How I Became a Mad Scientist - Episode 4




I snorted. Now I knew Frank was making things up. There was no way my cousin could create a monster out of groceries. “IGA carries steak, eggs, and squid,” I said.

“And I’d need a lab assistant. If I get caught doing anything myself, it’s off to the big house for me.  So I’d need someone I trusted who could follow directions and keep a secret.”

“I’m all about secrets,” I said. “They called me ‘zip-lips’ in fourth grade.” Which was technically true. Of course, it was because of my braces, not because of my secret-keeping abilities, but I wasn’t going to tattle on Frank. It’s not like he was planning anything illegal or dangerous.

“Excellent.” Frank wiggled his fingers together like a mad scientist in a cartoon.  “We can start as soon as we get home from this forsaken wilderness.”

“We’re only 5 miles off the highway, Frank. It’s not even close to a wilderness.” I rolled over and closed my eyes. Some animal or another thrashed around in the underbrush. I had a feeling Frank was going to be up all night.

When we got home the next day, we headed to the IGA to pick up the materials for the Kraken-Cow project. We wandered up and down the aisles.  Frank was pretty sure he wouldn’t get in trouble with his probation officer for coming on the shopping expedition. We were at a grocery store, not a science store.  

The ground beef and the eggs were easy, but the squid presented a problem.  Our only choice was frozen and breaded.  “If we thaw it first, it shouldn’t be too bad,” Frank decided. “Any way, it’s not like we’re going to let it grow very big. I’m just showing you that it’s possible, so you’ll stop making fun of me about that dumb story.” I hadn’t said a word about the story since the night before, but you could tell the whole joke had really bugged Frank.  Besides, I kind of wanted to see if he could make a Kraken-cow.

As we walked home, we paused in front of Frank’s house.  “Can we do this at your place?” he asked nervously. “I have a feeling my mom would suspect something.” My mom doesn’t pay much attention to what I do around the house since I’ve always been a good kid.  But I pointed out that I didn’t have any science stuff at home. 


“It’ll be fine,” said Frank. “You’ll have most of what we need in your kitchen. And I can run inside really fast and pick up a few things.”

Frank came out of his house carrying a shoebox with a syringe, a strange lightbulb, and a little Plexiglas box with a plug attached. He grinned widely and bounced while he walked. For the first time since he moved to town, he seemed to be having fun. 

We set up shop on my mom’s kitchen island. “This won’t stain anything, will it?” I asked nervously.  My mom is kind of obsessed with her kitchen. She and Dad just redid it last year, and she calls it the “Kitchen of Destiny.”  If we screwed anything up, she’d probably call Frank’s parole officer herself.

“No, it’s not any messier than normal cooking,” Frank said. “Cooking is a kind of science, after all.” He stopped for a moment, deep in thought.  I pulled the food out of the bags and lined it up on the counter. It was a hot day, and the squid, or ‘calamari,’ as the package called it, had mostly thawed on the way home.

“Now,” said Frank grandly, “I will teach you to create life!” Thunder echoed up the river valley.  

Next Episode.

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