Midnight Jolt Run

Caffeine tastes better when the city's asleep

Son of A Mad Scientist

Posted by Fiss on March 26, 2010

“Great Tesla’s Ghost!!” my father screamed as he nearly ripped the front door off it’s hinges.

His coat was on fire and it was raining, but like so many other experiments, he got the proportions mixed up and ended up making everything worse.  The rain wasn’t nearly heavy enough to put the fire out.

In fact, the light spring drizzle had only coaxed the adventurous next-door tenants onto their balconies to enjoy the sudden cool precipitation instead of the stifling heat within their concrete matchboxes.  As he ran screaming out onto the yard, flailing about, smoking, sparking and steaming in the rain, the building’s entire compliment of available eyes were upon him.   Only after realizing one layer of his clothing would have to be sacrificed to save the other layers of his skin did my father finally pull his arms out from his coat, slide it off, and let it smoulder down to a wet, gray lump that smelt of burnt cow and petroleum.

Several neighbours began clapping, enjoying the show.  Some waved lighters in the air.  This only served to infuriate my father further as he stood there on the lawn, wild gray hair finally succumbing to the spring shower and becoming an octopus of sickly wet tentacles down over his brow.

“Substandard electrical in this building,” he supposed loudly.  “I should sue!  I should sue you all!” his voice got louder and he filled his lungs, ready to begin another practiced tirade against humanity.  This was my cue to run out there in the rain and get him back inside before he angered someone deeply enough to get the police involved.  “And don’t get me started on the air conditioning!  Do you think Einstein had to work in such horrendous conditions?!”

I reached him and began tugging on his sleeve.  He didn’t resist, but he did pause for a heartbeat to pick up the remnants of his lab coat.  “Come on, father, the lab awaits” I begged, trying to use his work ethic to dull his anger.

The shine in his eyes returned at the thought of his lab.  His projects, no matter how flammable, were his sole pride and joy.  A son could almost be jealous, except I considered it good fortune to be ignored by him most of the time.

“Just you wait!” he shouted at the building.  “Just you wait until I perfect my formulae!  Then you’ll see.  I’ll show you all!”

“Good!” one of the folks up on the forth floor laughed.  “We could use more fireworks!”

My father’s cursing was drowned out by the resurgence of laughter from most of the tenants.  I managed to get him back into our apartment, shut the door, and closed the sound-dampening curtains before the applause and chuckling dropped to levels sufficiently low enough to let my father instruct them where they could stick their fireworks and how best to light them in the most painful of methods.

“Father,” I said, wheeling him around from the entrance so he wouldn’t think simply to walk back outside.  “You should check on the orange beaker.  It may boil over at any moment.”

“Of course,” he said, sounding depressed.  “Of course.  Science marches on.  Please, son, fetch me my spare lab-coat.”

“That was your spare, father.”

“I see.  Then an apron, if you please,” he paused, letting out a long breath and tossing the coat to the ground.  “I should have stirred the mixture a little longer.  It separated too easily.”

“You shouldn’t have tested your concoction on yourself first, father,” I muttered, pointing at his lab-coat.  “That wasn’t the smartest-”

“Yes, yes, I know,” he said with a frown, then looked longingly towards the empty cage in the back of the apartment.  “It’s such a shame they don’t allow pets here.  Such a shame.  I miss the old lab monkey.”

“You know the rules, father,” I said, repeating a conversation I often had to remind him of.  “Children allowed.  Smoking allowed.  No pets.  I warned you about it before you signed the lease.”

“It’s strange that they would allow children, but not monkeys.  Mister Bananas was so resilient until that last explosion. ”

I walked away, nodding.  “Yes, father.  I’ll go get you your apron.”  Finding the garment, I take it from its hook on the kitchen wall and examine it for holes.  This ratty cloth is barely better than his crispy lab-coat, but at least it will protect him from a splash or two.

“Son!” I hear from the lab/living-room.  “I have a brilliant plan!  Come here!”

Being the son of a mad scientist is not nearly as wonderful as I’m sure some children believe it is.  I sigh deeply.  “Coming, father!” I shout, wondering briefly if I should grab the fire extinguisher on the way.

He’s waiting for me by the door and I don’t see him until he grabs me and puts something over my mouth.  When I gasp, trying to register my shock, I feel orange, numbing vapour fill my brain, mouth and limbs.  I would cry out in pain as I stumble to the floor but no words come out of me!  It seems, unfortunately for me, that my father’s latest batch of Super-Chloroform works all too well.

I fight off unconsciousness as I long as I can, though I regret doing it when he ties the apron on and readies a spray-can of foul-smelling solution.  “Don’t worry, son,” he says with a twinkle in his eye.  “I’m almost certain I’ve figured out the mixture this time!  Just imagine how wonderful it will be to have fire-proof skin!”

He rolls me onto my side, and the last thing I see is his burnt-to-crisp lab-coat slumped on the floor.

“Great Tesla’s Ghost!  Why didn’t I think of this before?” my father says with a laugh as I feel the acidic spray start to cover my face and neck.  “This is so much easier!  Monkeys are such terrible pains to clean up after.”


Posted under Short Stories
  1. Kentonblack Said,

    Hah! the beginnings of a GURPS character as I can see it!
    ALLy/Dependant -[father] Constant, loved one, built on equal points. Father has weirdness magnet, impulsive and low self control.

  2. Marie Said,

    LOL!! Still as awesome as the first time I read it =D

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