Experiment #331

Near Enough Part 1

Samara’s body shook with the force of the electric pulse. The EMT pulled the defibrillator paddles away. The EMT’s partner felt for a pulse on Samara’s wrist.

“Nothing,” he said.

“Clear!” The EMT shouted and shocked Samara again. Her body contorted and convulsed. The second EMT tried for a pulse on Samara’s neck.

“Still nothing.”

The EMT turned up the voltage, shouted once more, and shocked Samara’s body, but Samara’s lips were turning blue.

Cara looked on from the sidewalk, … Read More

Experiment #328

Oxygen Part 3

Warning lights blinked like a frenetic traffic signal. Alarm bells whistled and sang. Pulling on the steering column did nothing. The nose of the rocket took on a red glow as it split the atmosphere. The ground grew ever closer. Bits and pieces of the ship snapped off, dissolving like sugar cubes in hot tea. The astronaut put his helmet on and fumbled for the locking mechanism.

The red ball that had flirted with his hopes … Read More

Experiment #327

Oxygen Part 2

“Shooooweeee, you sure you didn’t pee yourself, Mr. Johnson?” Dave asked loud enough for Mrs. Dinkle across the hall to hear. “You stink like a skunk in an onion patch.”This just the latest in a string indignities. “Don’t worry, Mr. Johnson, we’ll get that shirt on right-side out!” “It’s all right, Mr. Johnson, everybody poops their pants sometimes.” And “Well, well, Mr. Johnson, still at it, aye old-timer? You thinkin’ about Mrs. Dinkle last night?”

Johnson … Read More

Experiment #326

Oxygen Part 1

The astronaut breathed in and out, clinging to that most basic of human motions.

In and out…

In and out…

He’d fallen face down in the dark, red sand. His arms and legs spread out on both sides. Scratches, dents and a fine coating of red dust covered his grey suit.

He looked at the oxygen readout on his arm panel: 10% and falling.

In and out…

In and out…

#

“Hello, Sunshine,” Dave sang as he threw open Johnson’s door at the … Read More

Experiment #325

The Time Machine

Sam built a time machine out of two scratchy blankets, a transistor radio, his favorite pinwheel, and the thing that beeped beside his bed. He set the dial and left for the future.

The next day, when his mother came to visit, he told her of the wonders the future held. Of the amazing gadgets that cleaned the house for her, made dinner every night, got those bloodstains out of his sweater, and eradicated brain tumors. … Read More

Experiment #323

The Cleverest Contraption of Jeremiah Brown Part 10

When the town showed up at the Ferris wheel, they found Jeremiah holding Mayor Brewins hostage on the highest platform. He peered over the edge as the crowd gathered.

He waited until they started getting restless, then shouted, “I’m only here for what you owe me. What he”—here he shook the mayor—“promised me.”

Murmurs broke out among the crowd.

“The majority of you have nothing to fear. The mayor and the town council…well…” he brandished the device high … Read More

Experiment #322

The Cleverest Contraption of Jeremiah Brown Part 9

Amelia did not sleep that night. A pit in the middle of her stomach would not dislodge. At first light, she dressed herself and hurried to Jeremiah’s workshop. When she arrived, Jeremiah’s section of the workshop felt hollow and empty though it still contained a jumble of tools, materials, books, and half-finished inventions. In the midst of the chaos sat a wide drafting desk. On the desk, Amelia found a letter:

Dear Amelia,

You are right. I … Read More

Experiment #321

The Cleverest Contraption of Jeremiah Brown Part 8

The sheriff showed up a few moments later and apologetically served Jeremiah some papers. Colonel Rotan had decided to sue Mr. Clifton over the lawn incident and had named both Jeremiah and Mrs. Peterson in the suit.

Jeremiah went in search of his assistant but found that Francis was not at the workshop. In looking for Francis, he came across Francis’s appointment book, opened to that day’s date. He found both a wealth of client meetings … Read More

Experiment #320

The Cleverest Contraption of Jeremiah Brown Part 7

Through the polarization of his constituents over Jeremiah’s invention, Mayor Brewins had found the old fighting spirit he’d had in college debate club. The man who hadn’t had an opinion in twenty years of public service finally settled on his right to nothave an opinion, whether morals and the good of the people were involved or not. And he further resolved that no one could tell him differently, even if that person had saved him … Read More

Experiment #319

The Cleverest Contraption of Jeremiah Brown Part 6

All three reporters quoted Mayor Brewins on his affection for the system and how it had increased his moral intuition. One of the three seemed unconvinced that the invention was real. The other two, though they seemed to believe in its existence, felt unsure about its implications.

Upon reading these reviews, several of the mayor’s constituents decided the contraption, if it existed at all, amounted to a form of mind control. At a town council meeting, … Read More

Experiment #318

The Cleverest Contraption of Jeremiah Brown Part 5

Word soon got around that Jeremiah had “gone funny” or could “no longer keep track of his marbles,” but these speculations did not come from Amelia. Francis had been “dropping some eaves” near the door and heard everything. He was not a malicious man, even once Amelia had scorned him, but men who lack imagination tend to fear and envy those who have it. If Jeremiah fell into the camp without marbles, Francis did not … Read More

Experiment #317

The Cleverest Contraption of Jeremiah Brown Part 4

Jeremiah went straight to his workshop and began to build. When customers showed up the next morning, he hadn’t stopped. Francis made some excuses for his employer and scheduled the customers for a week from Thursday. Jeremiah sometimes got into these building moods and, within a week, Francis was sure, he’d have gotten it out of his system. But a week from Thursday came and went without the display of any prototype or blueprint or … Read More

Experiment #316

The Cleverest Contraption of Jeremiah Brown Part 3

“You’ve met my friend, Miss Valerie Fontaine, haven’t you?” Amelia asked. “She works across the street. According to her, Mr. Montclair fired all but one of his dishwashers.”

“Well, I’m sorry about that, but it’s Mr. Montclair’s restaurant. He paid for the machine. I can’t tell him what to do with it.”

“Miss Fontaine went on to say that the Olde Towne Diner next door and Frisco’s Saloon across the street have both fired all their dishwashers. … Read More

Experiment #315

The Cleverest Contraption of Jeremiah Brown Part 2

As is typical with politicians, Mayor Brewins agreed with whichever constituent he was speaking to at the moment, and pledged his defense of their claim to the death. No headway could be made, and all three parties threatened to boycott the event.

To solve this problem, Jeremiah Brown built a giant Ferris wheel on top of the town square. He affixed three great platforms to the wheel so that they could be moved on and off … Read More

Experiment #314

The Cleverest Contraption of Jeremiah Brown Part 1

The famed young inventor, Jeremiah Brown, got up on stage at Stapleton’s theatre to display his newest invention: an automatic conscience. A breathless moment followed where the standing-room-only crowd stared at what seemed to be an empty table. One confused little boy in the crowd called out, “There’s nothing there, Mommy!”

The crowd burst into laughter.

***

As problems came up among the various people in his town, a teenaged Jeremiah Brown began to invent solutions. As he … Read More