As terrible as they can seem, mad scientists are kind of cool, what with their white lab coats and crackling Tesla coils and plans for changing the world by way of aggressive science and engineering. But no one ever said their plans were guaranteed to actually work.
Mad, Bad Science, by Alexander Paul Willging
Word Count: 535
Smoke filled the corridor as everyone ran screaming from the fires—everyone except for Dr. Jon Stark, who knew all too well what was going on. He grabbed a white lab coat from the rack on the wall and slid it on, thanking the Almighty that this year’s budget allowed for fireproof fabrics.
“Marge!” he called out. “Marge! Extinguish fire!”
The laboratory AI buzzed for a second—probably an overworked processor—and responded, “Command accepted. Extinguishing fire.”
The ceiling panels slid open, as nozzles emerged to spray down the lab with pink retardant foam. While Marge the Machine tended to the cleanup procedures, Jon did his best not to slip on the sticky substance coating the floor and frantically searched for his assistants.
Just because he was crazy didn’t mean he didn’t care.
“Goddammit, Jonathan! That’s the third time this month!” Sheila furiously wiped the foam off her cheek with a towel. “When are you going to put in some proper safety protocols?”
For the thousandth time, he tried to be patient. “I told you, risk is inherent in our line of work.”
“Building a defense against laser weapons doesn’t mean we have to build our own superlaser!”
“Well, how else are you going to test its defenses? The General’s very insistent that this defense plan is the very best.”
Sheila growled in aggravation and chucked the towel at Jon’s head. “I’m done arguing with you. You get two points from me because you saved Tony from burning to death, but that’s it.”
Jon nodded. He still had her cooperation, and that was all that counted. Sure, it was federally-mandated cooperation, but why split hairs about it?
A beautiful May morning, ripe for field testing. Jon slid his goggles into place and turned to the assembled military officers with a grin.
“Gentlemen, I give you Indra’s Hand. The last resort against insurgent laser technology. Why bother with anti-laser shielding when you can diffuse incoming laser attacks with an even stronger laser?”
“Quick word of advice, boss,” Tony whispered from his station. “Take the evil cackling down a notch.”
“I wasn’t cackling, I’m just enthusiastic.” Jon cleared his throat. “All right. Activate Channels One through Six, and align by five degrees northwest.”
“Channels are open. The Hand is aligning now…”
The desert wind was picking up. That could be a problem. Jon briefly imagined Indra Himself reaching down from the heavens to scatter his laser beams, enraged at this technological terror. But what was science if not a chance to spit in the eyes of the gods themselves?
He smiled as he hit the switch.
Six hours and an ambulance ride later, Dr. Jon Stark sat at Sheila’s bedside. He doubted she could hear him in her state, but once he got her cerebral implant working, he was sure he’d find a way around that.
“To hell with the General,” he was saying. “I know we could’ve got that superlaser working. And if I ever find enough DNA to reconstruct Tony, I’ll make sure we’ll do it right next time. You have my word, Sheila.”
He took her silence to mean she was in agreement. When had he ever been wrong about that?
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