A Scientific Genius and his Sidekick

Submitted into Contest #40 in response to: Write a story about someone turning to a friend in a time of need.... view prompt



Johnn is scribbling in his journal while sitting by the side of the tombstone that he had laid just some hours ago, for his wife, whose grave it was. The sky is scattered with civilized canopies that sprout in some places. It is the shade of a blue that is serious and solemn, the sky. Johnn holds under his armpit, a nightstick to illuminate the pages on which he is hurriedly writing. 

'12th April 2123

With knowledge and wealth arrive the inevitable vices of corruptibility and avarice. I was driven to it, and I am ashamed to admit it, insomuch that if I could jump off the building where Maurice breathed her last, I would. Its grip is too tight on me, and I cannot help it. I am committed to acting on it, this greed. 

Whenever I hear anything close to a knock, I feel dread and strangely alive. It is the prospect that it might be my wife, beckoning me to come and save her. 

I had called Brad, though I had not told him everything. But I had told him the truth. although. it was my truth. Brad, and here I have to count back to the lost journals during our school time, and the lost memories therein. I remember having written about Brad a lot in the first series of journals that I had struggled to keep on throughout my adolescent life. I had been proud of that habit. In this age of distractions, I was as focused as a laser beam. 

Coming back to Brad, I can already have some bits of my memory returning as I demand of my mental faculties. Brad, Brad, yes. He was a heavy, thickset boy even at eleven when I had first met him. Despite my naivete and lack of world knowledge, I was never in doubt whether he was a smart specimen or a goofball. Clearly, the latter. His gait was like that of a joyous primate, feet turned outward, but beaming with the pride of his ignorance. One day so it happened, that with a stammer which I clearly remember, he had introduced himself to me. 

"Hello, I a- am bra -Brad," he had said and added an exhalation to it. 

I don't flatter myself with the thought that asking if his name was Brabrad, and his laughing upon it had made him smitten to me but I think that was the starting of us, a misfortune. A scientific genius and his sidekick. 

I remember this phrase because my focus as a kid was on becoming one of the most distinguished scholars of this subject. Brad, I remember, had become estranged from me when his brain had finally puttered itself into sensibility. It had seeded into him the realization that so far he had played in his life, the role of a minion. Ever since that time, he had occupied himself as a trader on Wall Street. That's all there was to Brad and me, in our school life. 

But I knew, I felt I knew something about him that would make him advantageous to me at this moment; he was gullible to the idea of easy procurement of wealth, and to that end, he had not disappointed me one bit. 

Maurice had been buried at around three in the afternoon on a clear sky that shined bright on her pale face, one last time. She was a striking but plain woman with a handsome face and as she lay there, she still commanded attention to herself. This had been dreadful to me, and to Brad, I had cried out, laid my heart out to him. 

I was a genius and the nanobot revolution of the year 2119 had allowed me an advantage. I had developed, in layman terms, a method to change the atomic structure with zero volatility left in the result. To put it simply, I had with me the method to change one element into any other element I desired. With this, came the idea of making gold, but so cliched and so old was it that I resorted to finding some other element. My first epiphany was, why not Lutetium? It is a naturally occurring element in the bones after all. Theoretically, it was a decent probability on paper. Tested, it had resulted in a grave loss to me.  

Maurice, she never found much space in my journals. Much that I can remember about her is how she would budge me with her regret of fading youth, the possibilities that she had for herself in this world, all lost now. She would do all of it in her stern manner and usually required no words to communicate the same. Desperation drove me to extremes, and I decided to surprise her. I asked her if she would like to be the most expensive in the world. To it, I received raised eyebrows in shock, but I covered it by rephrasing my question. I do not know what she understood by it but I think it made her assume she was going to be young again, by some crazy idea of mine. All in all, she was ready to be a test subject, and I was ready on both fronts, to lose her as well as have her really become the rarest of the rare elements, but commercially viable. I guess in effect, I was really prepared to lose her in entirety. For the benefit of science after all. 

As I write this, my watch shows me it is seven in the evening hours and I have half an hour more to suffer before Brad comes. What did I tell him? I told him what it was for him to know, and for the fool that he always was, I think he even believed most of it. 

"Brad." I had uttered after some pause in which he had made no attempt to raise a single syllable


I could not hold myself and a weak voice had mumbled incoherently. 

"Johnn?" he had repeated. 

It was a long pause after that whence I had broken down. 

"Is it really you crying?" another pause, but minuscule. 

He must have been thinking because he immediately changed track and said, "You could be someone else. Johnn, if this isn't you, I will-"

"Damnit you fool it is me, can anyone else speak in as fine a voice like mine?"

A silence and a "No."

I had broken down once again at this. 

The only images I had then in my mind then, like a spinning roll of film, were my memories from childhood. Such a promising candidate I had proven myself to be when I was in school, and look now, what a disaster had turned out upon my door when I was so close! 

I did not know what to tell Brad, but somehow, sobbing felt normal. He was really taking it, letting me have my space. I continued, and he held his phone, coughing occasionally, to let me know that he was there. 

When I felt I could do it no longer, even under what I thought were a few minutes of pretense, I told him everything.

"Where are you now?" he had asked me. 

"My wife," I sniffed, "she, she died," I had answered with ragged breathing. My voice wasn't coming out how I wanted it to, so I had covered my mouth then, mopping off the sweat. Muffled, it was fine, in my opinion. An awkward pause hung heavy like a set of bricks in the air between him and me across the phone.

"I am really sorry about it, mate."

Mate! So easily that oaf fell right into my trap. I almost wanted to break into a delightful laugh, rub my hands together manically. After a few more exchanges, he came to the question of why I had called him.

"How can I help, Johnn?"

"I just wanted someone to, someone to talk to."

"And I came to your mind?"

"Can you ever not be surprised for a moment and just-"

"I am sorry. Tell me all that you want to."

And I had told him how she had died. The truth which was for him to hear, in that world, my wife's lust for money had consumed her. 

"Such was her desire, her devotion to this aim, that she spent nights and days out of our bed and in her lab. To trials and experiments, she served her mind and heart and body. It was inspiring, this monstrous devotion, but it was, it was something magnificent to see.

"She had come up with a method that worked theoretically well but it had a half-chance of success. That was all good till she wanted me as her test subject. I did not concur. So she decided to be it. One night, we had a long altercation over it, and I told her that I would obliviate all her formulas, destroy all her notes if she tried any of it. So intense was her hunger for it, her suffering for the attainment of her goal, that against her cries and wailing, I had to relent. I had her notes in my hand at that very moment, with a lighter lit in the other.

"I gave in to it and, and I prayed. We prepared to do it. Her method was to alloy a controlled carcinogen with the lutetium inside her bones. The carcinogen would travel inside of a precise number of nanobots. She, the rate at which the carcinogen would mutate, she had increased it. I did not know this, because if this failed, she would die, as she did. There were things she was completely unsure of. If this element would be toxic and lethal to her if her bones converted into it. What if the Lutetium grew out, mutated, what would happen to the bone material then? It was very much possible, and that would kill her due to internal injury, severe, unimaginable. There is not much known about the toxicity, and she could not hypothesize. I remember she did prepare a shaping agent that would replace the bones with the Lutetium and fragment the bones. The nanobots would multiply and pack those atomic fragments into themselves and flow out through the valves. Trying it all out before the actual operation would kill her just the same if the chances of the actual operation to be a success were low."

I had started sobbing again, but I could hear a devilish hint of laughter in it, which surprised me. I think it might have been a few seconds till I did it. It soon chilled my spine, so I changed it. I was afraid Brad might have felt it. So I got on to the proposition I had for him. Before I went ahead, I took a couple of audible, deep, breaths, straight into my gut. I felt myself relax. That is how I felt I should let it out to him, and I felt fine, but appropriately morose.

"I am broke Brad. Maurice had hedged all our finances against this operation, a knowledge that had come to me only after she was buried. I got a message from insurance that the premium is due tomorrow. For her."

Strangely, I felt emotional about this and cried out impulsively. After a moment, while he let me cry, I told him that it was followed by a message from our joint back account declaring that all our money had been reduced to just six dollars. Brad was surprised but courteously asked me if was in need of a loan.

"No, no. No, Brad. I do need money, but I already have it. It is, it's in the grave, with her."

He did not get it at first, but soon, he connected the dots. I think I sensed him grimace. To salvage if any chance was left, I immediately pleaded my cause with bribery. He bit the bait. 

To Maurice, it should be only right that I write about her now. Something very strange, abominable, had happened to her. I can't seem to place it, how it happened. I had just met Newton that day after work. But, such gross negligence? Exchanging vials? A scientist and a biologist of such high repute, such incredible promise, backed with achievements of unimaginable quantity and nature, err like this? No, I must digress from this train of thought, I cannot accept it.

So what really did happen to her was that she became this convulsing mass of flesh. She looked alright, just like herself, only paler, shifting colors, purple, to algae green, to a terrible shade of burgundy. And she ate Pup. Yes, she tore into him and she ate him. That seemed to give her frail self some strength but half an hour into chasing me around, she exhausted herself and collapsed. Since then, it has been playing on my mind, what if I brought near her the odor of some living, animate, flesh? Live tissue? I did. I brought some leaves to her, but she did not stir. I shut her inside a glass cage and made a scene of her demise since the landlady inquired about the commotion. That was why I had to go through all this ordeal. The coroner understood my concern and allowed me to bury her with haste. I had taken a lot of trouble in convincing everyone who had to bear her coffin that she could not be brought outside of the glass cage she was in. I was afraid she might have reacted to their presence. Would I have lost just my wife? I do not know if she would transmit it to anyone.  

Now, I was not sacrificing Brad here, but he was a friend who still owes me. He could barely pass an exam without needing assistance! He could at least create a diversion, and if it came to the worst, I would at least get to learn if she was still functioning. And maybe, maybe I could hold her inside the cage, take some help from Newton, that rotten man. Turn her back, do the right experiment. It was all possible. The possibilities of so much Lutetitum to sell if it all worked! Brad would be insignificant here, really. Wait, I could monetize him too, come to think of it, should he managed to save himself. 

I think I see the tail lights of a car. It could be him, I am not sure. That idiot has his headlights off. 

I really have no idea how to approach him if it's him in that car. I am staying. I hope no one else is around, so he might not stray off. 

It has stopped right outside the gate, blocking the escape. Sigh.

Someone just got out of the bug. It is a man alright, work clothes, light gray. He seems, rotund and is waddling across in my direction. 

He is coming right to me-'

Johnn shut his journal with a snap and stood up. Brad was standing there, a foot away, breathing hard and mopping his large forehead with a handkerchief that was soon damp. Johnn looked up at him, inquisitive, appearing sincerely mournful. Suddenly, he found himself in the embrace of a grieving man whose large chest reeked of, food.

After some pretense and courteous drama, Brad let down Johnn and declared,

"You've, changed."

Johnn couldn't help but smirk at it, but immediately masked it with a sincere sniffle. They did not make any talk however, as Brad took a few moments looking to his right and left and back, while his face poured sweat down across his shirt. He was scared, terribly scared.

"Have you brought-" and before Johnn could complete it, Brad nodded and proceeded to retreat a small bag that hid under his big hands. With the other hand, he held two spades, one smaller than the other.

They set to work in silence. It took them, with continual effort and no pause, close to a couple of hours. When the last shovelful of dirt had been hurled out, to their amazement came the discovery that they had dug inside the coffin, right inside the glass cage, the top of which was shattered and its sides, cracked. The coffin lay there, open, it's top, splintered, the fragments lying around the box, with pieces of broken glass. 

Johnn could not believe this, and his mouth lay open, for he could not look at his accomplice, such was his guilt. Brad was riddled and scratching his forehead, looking down in search of a body. 

A sudden sharp cry, feminine in its pitch and quality, rent the air and startled them both. Brad was more startled than the other, who was just miserable and shook with fear as he refused to climb atop to investigate this. It seemed to be coming from close by. In fear, Johnn realized that this might be too difficult to handle and thus, he decided at that moment to save his friend. He was conflicted by this change of heart but the insistent howls were heavy upon him.

He pulled down Brad's shoulder with all his weight but the bulk of the giant was far more than he could handle. Brad, soon got out and immediately bent down at the edge of the dug grave. He offered his hand to Johnn, with an expression that was serious and concerned. It was only after a very long time, that Johnn was now crying without willing himself. It was not because of the fear he had, but because he had a friend, who despite the bribe, was offering him help. He placed his chances against his wife, whatever it was that was his wife now, at equal odds, now that he had Brad, and extended his arm to climb out. 

May 06, 2020 08:07

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Batool Hussain
08:29 Jul 02, 2020

Hello! Another beautiful story. I went through various of your stories but 'no errors' found. You're a good writer and I know you'll be even greater in the future!


Dobby's Sock
11:36 Jul 02, 2020

That is generous of you in praising, Batool. Thank you, delighted to have your support and wishes.


Batool Hussain
11:39 Jul 02, 2020

Oh, you're welcome!


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Rody White
15:08 May 18, 2020

Not really my cup of tea man, but good story. Well written. Ta!


Dobby's Sock
08:29 May 20, 2020

Thank you Rody. I am glad you liked it. : D


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Let me just say, I miss Dobby! And yes, Dobby's sock. Love your pseudonym. This was a good story! Keep it up!


Dobby's Sock
11:15 May 12, 2020

I am glad you liked this story. Hahaha, your pseudonym is quite cute itself!


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Khushi Singh
14:27 May 06, 2020

This is definitely one of your better works. Very well written, it held my attention nicely throughout.


Dobby's Sock
14:33 May 06, 2020

Fluff, thank you! I am glad you found it nice.


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Sonika Kamble
11:50 May 06, 2020

I want to know what happens next, will there be a sequel?


Dobby's Sock
12:08 May 06, 2020

Good idea. I could try doing it. I shall send it to you if I do it : >


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