we have spies everywhere
We both know the truth.
I’ll expose you.
Herbert watched a little too much Breaking Bad and tried his own recipe. Things started off fine but progressed rapidly when….
Herbert had just celebrated another birthday, alone, at a bar. He freely dispensed shouted wisdom to all within ear-shot. “Let us have a moment of science!” he declared. “It is a scientific fact,” he slurred, “that scientists that have more birthdays live longer!” He slammed the shot glass down loudly. This was his eleventh shot.
The other patrons looked on at the scientist with bloodshot eyes and a thick unkempt mustache.
“Furthermore,” he continued belligerently, meeting the gazes of the annoyed and bemused drunkards. “Each and every one of you are part of a science experiment right now. Will you survive the new variant or not? This all depends upon your level of intelligence. How many, i must ask, how many of you drunks are also flat earthers?”
They all laughed hysterically. “Oh, shit!” Sheer panic shot through Herbert’s mind. Why were they laughing? “i assure you, this is a serious matter. There are flat earthers all around the world!” This elicited further laughter. Outraged, he drew his pistol and then holstered it. He didn’t make it this far only to lose his cool over a bunch of disrespectful young punks.
“There’s gonna be some fuckin’ bloodshed here.” Anger returned and the gun was raised again. The laughter turned to screams.
“Sir? Sir!” the bartender snapped his fingers. Herbert was slumped over his drink at the bar. Nobody was laughing at him. Nobody seemed to notice he was even alive. “Can i call you a cab?” Herbert put a twenty on the counter and stumbled out the door.
Herbert planned his siege as he pedaled the stolen bicycle to the dinosaur museum. The world depended upon scientists to enforce facts. Everything was upside down. “People no longer respect credentials; they respect memes. Everyone is their own authority today and now the world is falling apart,” Herbert said, hair blowing in the wind.
It was exhilarating.
Herbert was one of the few capable of saving the human race from itself. His plan was simple. Take control of the dinosaur museum. Make it the operational headquarters, the ground zero, for a scientific revolution. “We need a scientific dictatorship over the minds of the ignoramuses!” He spread his arms out, Christ-like, and looked to the stars.
“I’m ready,” he told the universe. “i am ready to sacrifice my life for mankind.” An Uber driver appeared out of a sidestreet and Herbert crashed directly into the side of it, his face planting onto the passenger-side window as his hips slammed the handlebars as the bicycle flipped. Herbert blacked out to the sound of screeching tires, his nose streaming blood onto the street. His spirit levitated above the inert body. He watched the driver and passenger exit the car, attending to his own twisted and bloodied form on the road. Higher he ascended, looking up. Was this a dream? The moon and the stars appeared closer than should have been possible. He glanced down from an impossible height with no sense of vertigo as he experienced atop the 5-g tower earlier. He looked at his hands. They were transparent, barely even there. Listlessly he drifted into the clouds. Then one particular star caught his attention. As an astronomer, he identified it as Sirius, the dog-star. It flickered red, white, green, then blue. Seconds later, Herbert’s ghostly form stood atop a thick white cloud that glowed in the moon’s light. Directly in front of him, the star’s light condensed into a discernable form.
“Herbert.” the authoritative voice boomed in his head. “It’s me.”
“Jesus?” Herbert asked, kneeling on the cloud. His transparent hands clasped.
“Nope. I’m the ancient Greek who started the rumor that boats go over the horizon, thus proving the earth to be round like a ball. Look at the horizon, Herbert.” He looked in the direction the ghostly apparition pointed. a commercial airliner, about 5 miles away was quickly disappearing into the darkness. “Watch the plane, Herbert. It’s just above the level of the clouds. Watch,” the ancient Greek said. The light grew smaller, dimmer, and then disappeared. “What was i supposed to notice,” Herbert asked. “It didn’t go down, over the horizon. It was above the level of the clouds we’re on. Herbert, do you understand? If you don’t, you can’t move on,” it replied.
“Look, you’re an ancient Greek. You didn’t have the advantage of a space agency to tell you the nature of the world. Talk to Eristhothanes. I’m pretty sure he proved it with a couple of yardsticks,” Herbert said. “Herb. It’s not that simple. I guess it’s not your time.” The apparition dissipated like a puff of smoke.
Then vertigo hit him.
Faster than physically possible, the scientist hurled back down to earth. His eyes scanned the darkness for ambulance lights to indicate where his injured body lie. Nothing. Just darkness. Faster he fell, impacting the spot where he had the accident, right into his aching, bleeding body.
“Where’s the ambulance?” he groaned. Really, he wondered, a hit and run? “What has his world come to?”
The bicycle was nowhere to be found. “And they stole my stolen bike?” His telescope case was strapped across his back and his pistol was at his side. Perhaps his hair was in greater disarray than usual but appearances aside, he was not shaken.
Bloodied, bruised, cast out of heaven, the arrogant and grotesquely unqualified scientist hoofed it the rest of the way to the Museum.
Herbert was hungry again. He was feeling cornered. Reaching into his wallet produced
a crumbed and ripped five-dollar bill.
A dog was walking by. He recognized it. He whistled to get its attention. It was a scrawny dingo with a leather collar.
He looked up and down the street. He was heading for a small square-shaped building on the far side of town.
He looked back down and back up. The dog was still there. It was staring at him. “i wonder where its owner is?” he said aloud.
The building was a shack he rented for science experiments.
He was heading there to check up on his replication of the Cavendish Experiment. He looked at the dingo.
His stomach growled. They were a few miles from his destination. “Gotta go, friend,” he said.
He stepped past the dog. When he arrived he found the building was crawling with flies. He had ducked and jumped as they scuttled and flew down the front steps.
A familiar bark told him he had been followed.
He walked to the entryway. No one was visible. The dingo was more nervous than Herbert at this moment.
He sniffed the space around the entryway. “Something’s rotting.” Did he leave a ham sandwich behind last time he was here, he wondered? He turned the key in the
lock and opened the door. One step inside he heard a woman’s voice.
“Hey, Herbert.” It was Vanessa. “Close the door behind you. Leave the dingo outside please!” she was stern.
And he instantly could see why.
The two metal balls were on the floor. The hooks which had previously held them were suspending a corpse by holds punctured in the wrists.
“My g-g-g-g-g-g-g-god,” Herbert stuttered.
“God has nothing to do with this and you know it,” Vanessa shrieked. The dead man’s bowels are strung down between his stiff legs. Flies were swarming about the pool of offal on the floor between the metal balls.
Vanessa picked up a dagger and started to unbutton her blouse. She put her lips to his ear. “a little demonstration will speed things up.” As she spoke her breasts touched his. Herbert moved his limp hands away from her. “It’s okay, I’m here. I’m here.”
And now, without the use of his hands, he had strength.
His eyes flickered back to Vanessa’s. “Explain to me why you used my laboratory as a torture chamber again. I thought we had an agreement.”
“I know, Herbert, but you’ll understand when you see who it is. We caught a big fish this time.” She leaned in and whispered a name which sent chills up his spine:
The leash attached to one of the hooks that still held the dead man’s hand detached itself somehow and the corpse swung back and forth stiffly.
“Let’s do lunch,” he suggested. “Let the dingo feed while we’re out.”
The two friends exited the shack, allowed the dingo in, and walked hand in hand to Burger King.
Not even a glass of brandy would calm Herbert’s nerves tonight. He walked over to the window and reflected on his surroundings. He gulped and glanced at his reflection. He was a brandy drinker with brown fingers and spiky elbows. His nose glowed red above his thick greasy mustache. He looked at the computer screen. The video showed slope-headed buck-toothed flat earther with a bowl-cut. The mental defect was expounding on flat earth theory.
“I cannot tolerate this anymore. This is a war on stupid.” He pointed his finger at the screen like a pistol and pulled on an invisible trigger. He took a swig from the bottle and then pulled out the pistol from his belt. He held it sideways, like a gangster.
“Herbert, put the gun down,” Susan looked afraid. She set down a bag of groceries on the table.
He stared uncomprehendingly. “Susan,” he slurred, “What’s your take on global warming?” he hiccoughed and the weapon discharged. Neither were prepared for what came next. They looked at each other with equally dumbfounded expressions.
“This flat earth lunacy has made you dangerous, Herbert,” she said. Then she snatched the weapon from his grasp.
“Susan, did you know that if no air resistance is present, two objects will reach the ground at the same time if they are dropped simultaneously from the same height?”
“No Herbert. I mean yes, sure. What does this have to do with anything? You just nearly killed us or me or both of us!” She raised the weapon’s barrel pointing at his chest. She noticed his Science Man tee-shirt. “Why are we talking about falling objects Herbert? Stop changing the subject.”
“Do you know WHY these objects will fall at the same rate?” he pressed, taking a deep drink from the bottle.
“No, why Herbert.” her voice shook.
“Because GRAVITY BITCH!” Herbert lunged.
Susan took a step back but not far enough to dodge the brandy bottle swung by the neck at the end of Herbert’s reach. It arched a full one hundred and eighty degrees before impact. The bottle hit her like a hammer sending her cartwheeling over the couch.
The pistol hit the floor at the same time she did.
Surely Herbert wasn’t always this crazy. What drove him to these extremes? We’ll start back in 1975, when he was in his twenties.
Herbert had always loved pretty Pondscumville, with its shallow gene pool. It was a place where he felt at ease. He was so at east he found himself drinking again, which was never a good idea.
“Herbs drinking again,” his wife, Jenna, would say. He was a violent drunk.
Her friends saw him as a massive monster. Jenna walked over to the window and reflected on her dull surroundings. Then she saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the figure of Mathias Plumb.
Jenna gulped. She was not prepared for Mathias. As Jenna stepped outside and Mathias came closer, she could see the smooth glint in his eye.
Mathias gazed with affection. He said, in hushed tones, “I love you and I want a resolution.”
Jenna looked back guiltily. “Mathias, I just don’t need you in my life any more,” she replied. ‘Hebert will kill us both. They looked at each other with relaxed feelings, like two old friends enjoying a gracious snow storm with jazz music playing in the background, with Herbert drinking himself to a stupor.
He was not in the same universe as his wife nor their friend who politely rolled Herbert’s drunken, puke-covered body onto his back. Later he’d recollect the previous night’s events but there were always the blank zones.
He was in one of these the night of Mathias’ mysterious disappearance but that’s another story.
“Science is how we purify nature,” he said to the students, teachers, and parents at the dinosaur museum.
Herbert had always hated the uneducated. They displayed their ignorance at the museum with their asinine questions indicating they paid scant attention in class. It was a place where he felt psychotic.
He was an angry, cantankerous urine drinker with bulbous thighs and scaly pectorals. The more honest in the crowd saw him as an unkempt, unnatural unstable. The teachers (liars for the most part) only saw his white smock and scientist badge.
“Listen to me!” He said much more forcefully. “Science is how we purify nature! This means that some of us,” he gestured at the dinosaur skeletons, “will have to go to make room for better, purer, life forms.”
A little girl spoke up: “But Mr. Capital S Scientist, the dinosaurs were killed by an asteroid, not by scientists!”
“Listen, hussy,” Herbert began. “Once, I helped a stray kitten recover from an accident. That’s the sort of man I am. But if the dinosaurs were around today, I’d advocate for working them to death like the Flinstones or just gassing them.” He shrugged.
Herbert walked over to the window and reflected on his wonderful surroundings and the awestruck faces of the children who were meeting a real life scientist.
“Some of you children are not going to leave your mark on the future,” he said. “Just look at your parents. You can see that you’ve already reached the end of your genetic line so enjoy the ride. The future doesn’t need you. Others, and I can see the taller and more intelligent among you from the more privileged classes here, will make it to the future and beyond. Life extension is just around the corner.”
Then he gestured to a replica of a stuffed bird, thought to be extinct. It was the figure of a Dodo. “The rest of you,” Herbert gulped, “will go the way of the Dodo bird.”
As Herbert spoke, a teacher came closer. He could see the weak glint in her eye. She was a mousey little woman with oversized glasses and dry hair.
“Geez, could you put on a little makeup?” Herbert blurted.
“Mr. Scientist, I don’t think the children appreciate the tone of this conversation,” She slammed her fist against Herbert’s chest, “You’re talking eugenics! Are you a Nazi?”
Herbert looked back, fiery rage in his eyeballs. He fingered the boney contours of her brow. “Bitch, “I am a scientist. Say it with a capital S,” he replied.
Suddenly, she lunged forward and tried to punch Herbert in the face. Quickly, Herbert grabbed the stuffed Dodo by the beak and tail, placing it between them as a shield.
They looked at each other waiting for the other to move. Herbert’s thighs trembled and his flaccid pectorals wobbled. She looked lethal, like a cornered ferret. He tossed the Dodo into her arms and drew his pistol from his belt.
Then she let out an agonizing groan and collapsed onto the ground. The crowd scattered, screaming, yelling, and ducking for cover.
Herbert fired indiscriminately. His aim was terrible. A brontosaurus skull, suspended with wires from the ceiling, came crashing down amidst the gunfire and scattering museum goers.
“I am a holy warrior,” he mused, reflecting on his willingness to kill for his beliefs. And why wouldn’t he?
“Science is how we purify nature,” he said aloud. “Hmm. When did I start talking to myself?” he wondered.