Science Fiction Double Feature

Greetings my colleagues!  I hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day last Sunday.  Sorry I didn’t check in, but I needed some extra time to prepare this next update.  And what a find I have for you!  Tucked away in a small compartment in the trunk, I found a lovely and well-preserved portrait of none other than Dr. Erma Melanogaster!  I was able to identify her by an exciting an illuminating tale, written in her own hand, attached to the back.  And it is my great pleasure to share both of them with you now.

The Tale of Dr. Erma Melanogaster

Where to begin?  The beginning, I suppose, is most appropriate.   It will certainly make the most sense for those unfamiliar with this story, or portions of it.  Well, it seems that’s settled then.  The beginning!

I was tinkering away in my lab in a most usual fashion for myself; in this particular instance that involved affixing a tiny clockwork timing mechanism to the circuitry panel and power source for one of the greenhouses.  The power source itself is the very compound being produced by the plants in the very greenhouses whose environmental regulation is powered by the compound!  And that is what we call An Elegant Experiment.  Elegant.

As mentioned, I was soldering away (soldering, not soldiering, though one must soldier through research occasionally) when I turned for a brief moment to adjust the flame on a burner.  Well, a brief moment is all it takes for a sudden and unexpected Ka-Blooey!  and the next thing one knows, one is regaining consciousness on the floor of one’s lab.  The One in this case being none other than myself, an experience I would not readily wish on anyOne.

So there I found myself, knocked entirely backwards, lab stool and all, on the floor.  I began a quick assessment of my well-being whilst simultaneously returning to the upright and seated position to which I am accustomed.  I was, fortunately, successful in both endeavors, and soon found myself to be in proper spatial orientation and (mostly) good health.  As expected, I was sporting the “Erma tried to blow herself up again” makeup/coiffure the Ladies are familiar with, complete with the ringing ears and slight dizziness that so often accompany it.  Slightly more unexpected, however, was the small gash under my mandible (just west of my windpipe, jugular, and other important bits, thank goodness), which upon gentle probing proved to be quite deep.

Motivated by both my great unease at this development, and my constant companion Scientific Curiosity, I hastened to my first aide/medical testing station to investigate further.  It is not often I get to be the subject of my own — actually, I take that back.  As my dear companions reminded me in their last intervention, I am quite, quite frequently experimenting on myself. See Ladies?  I remembered.  Pat on the back for Erma.  But I digress…

Unable to ascertain just how far my little puncture wound went by surface examination, I fired up my old Proprietary Scanning Device and took a few quick snaps of the contents of my head (accidental experimentation – it doesn’t count!)  All the cranial essentials appeared present and intact, but with the unsettling addition of a new component.  Quite incredulous, I hastened back to my workbench to take stock: soldering iron, exploded burner, forceps, circuit panel, wires… surely I was just overlooking it… but an exhaustive search of the bench and nearby blast radius confirmed what the scans had shown: the wee clockwork mechanism, along with an ample power reserve, was now quite happily lodged in my left temporal lobe.  Yes indeed.

Thank goodness the force of the blast tipped me backwards, or you might instead be reading The Untimely End of Dr. Erma Melanogaster (which I greatly hope one of my dear friends pens on my behalf when the time undoubtedly comes, though they seem intent on delaying it a good long while.)  Even with its not-instantly-lethal trajectory, the odds of me surviving such a blow are astronomically slim; I have only read of one other such case involving an (un)lucky railroad worker, Phillip or Phineas or some such.  His projectile was many times larger, and he did just fine! (if I’m remembering correctly)

I was initially quite alarmed at the notion of going through life with a clockwork mechanism embedded in my brain, and attempted to remove it myself (as one would do).  Alas, those slim odds that allowed my survival ensured that moving the object would prove decidedly catastrophic.  And I rather like my brain functioning, thank you very much.  I was able to discover, however, that the explosion severely damaged the timing mechanism, which now only activates sporadically rather than on the circadian cycle to which it was originally constructed.  Good news, as I have also discovered that the activation of the mechanism results in a temporary dramatic decrease in fear response, inhibition, and emotional control!  Ha ha! Ha.  Um… yes. 

I am learning to live with the effects, as are those around me, as it doesn’t appear I have any alternative.  Fortunately, the occurrences are few and far between, and tend to only last a short while.  Still, all the more reason to continue my research on the compound and determine just how long the power source might last.  Though being a natural compound, I can only speculate as to how it might interact with the human brain.  Fingers crossed it doesn’t extend its viability indefinitely!

And that, dear friends, is my story, in my own words, as you have so often requested.  The moral?  Oh, perhaps something like: a watched pot never boils, but take your eye off your experiment for a second and it’ll explode and nearly kill you?  Yes, that sounds about right.

Yours in Mischief,

Dr. Erma Melanogaster

What a story!  And what a delightfully eccentric Lady she turned out to be.  It’s wonderful to have some more information on her and her research at last, since we’d had just two brief references previously.  I sincerely hope there were no additional effects from her accident!  And there’s yet another thing to add to my search list: find out if she ever found a “cure” for her new clockwork brain.  Though it sounds as though the other Ladies were looking out for her whenever she got too caught up in her academic pursuits.  I’m sure I have no idea what that might be like.  Fortunately, there are very few explosions in my field of study.

Until next time,
~The Archivist

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