Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How I Became a Mad Scientist -- Episode 21



 

They put us in an empty conference room. There was a table, four chairs, and a mirror on the wall.

“It’s so they can watch us,” Frank said. “I’m sure they have cameras and voice recorders, too. These places always do.”

“How many of these places have you been in?” I asked. I sat, then stood, then sat again. I stared at the mirror. Why were they leaving us in here so long? What were they waiting for?

Frank leaned back in his chair and propped his feet on the table. “They’re trying to make us nervous,” he said, half-closing his eyes as if he was going to sleep. “Don’t give them the pleasure of seeing you upset. You don’t need to worry, George. I’ll get you out of this.”

“I don’t want you to get me out of this,” I yelled.  “It’s my fault, and I’ll take the blame. You did nothing but run me down and discourage me from day one. And then, when I build something that works, all by myself, you suddenly want to show up and take the glory? This was my project. I’ll take my punishment.”

“I should have stopped you sooner,” Frank said. “I should have taken you seriously. For all I know, you have radiation poisoning now. You may be dying a slow, miserable death because I was too stuck-up to realize that you could do something like this without my help.”

I stared at the table. “You need to tell the truth. I don’t want you to go to jail. Probation would be no big deal.” 

The door opened.  A young, blond woman walked in carrying two cups of cocoa and some packets of peanut butter crackers. “Here,” she said, “Eat. I know you must be scared and hungry, but everything is going to be fine as long as you two tell the truth.”  I stared at the cocoa, almost afraid to drink it, but Frank tore into his crackers with a grin. 

“Thanks, Agent Newcomb,” he said. “Are you and Agent McCawber going to do ‘good cop, bad cop’ again?”

She chuckled. “I don’t think that’s really necessary, Frank. I just want you to tell me your whole story from the start.”

I spluttered. “What about me? I’m the one who made the nuclear stuff, not him!”

Agent Newcomb looked at me sadly. “This is your first offense. I’m sure you’ll get probation, at most. Frank is the one in serious trouble.”

“But Frank didn’t do anything, “I complained. “He hasn’t touch technology since he moved to town, or done any experiments or anything.”

Agent Newcomb pulled a couple of photos out of her jacket pocket. “So, where did this herd of cow-octopi things come from?” she asked.  In the photos, a triumphant Bessie presided over a group of miniature kraken-cows. 

“She’s breeding?” Frank asked, “But how? She’s the only one?”

“Apparently a lot of farmers pasture their bulls down the river,” Agent Newcomb said. “And she reproduces in numbers that would make a squid blush.  This is a major ecological catastrophe, and I have a witness who says you boys are behind it.”

“Frank didn’t make her, I did!” I shouted. 

“But who told you how to make her?” Agent Newcomb asked. I stared at the table in silence as she whipped a newspaper out of her sleeve.

“Next up. Your electric company suddenly developed a hover park from upcycled materials.”

“That was me and a bunch of neighborhood guys,” I said. “You can ask them. They’ll tell you! We’re all proud of our work.”

“Again, we have a witness who says Frank was the mastermind,” Agent Newcomb said. “In fact, it appears the only bit of mischief Frank wasn’t involved with was your little nuclear attempt. Which makes sense, since Frank has always been safety conscious, even when he’s ignoring critical environmental regulations.”

“But Frank didn’t do anything,” I argued. “You can’t arrest someone for thinking!”

“No,” Agent Newcomb said. “But I can refer him for inpatient psychiatric treatment. The last thing our country needs right now is yet another deranged super villain.”

Frank looked up at her with flashing eyes. “That’s the problem with you idiots,” he snapped. “You assume that anyone who’s intelligent is on the path to villainy. You refuse to even consider the possibility of a brilliant, science-minded, superhero.”

Agent Newcomb laughed sourly. “A superhero who creates genetically-engineered monsters and infests our rivers with them? Who builds devices to drain the local electric grid? Who corrupts his normal, innocent cousin and turns him into a warped and twisted lab assistant?  I don’t think so, Frank.”  

She snapped a pair of handcuffs onto his wrists and snapped her fingers. Two large men picked him up and carried him out of the room.  “He’ll be staying with us until he reforms,” she said quietly. “It’s for the best, George.”

Next Episode.