Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Notes from the Mad Science Lab: Cuddles Versus Facehugger

One of my friends... Well, okay, he's not exactly a friend.

One of my fellow researchers... Well, okay, there isn't too much fellowship there.

One of my rivals... Yes, that about covers it. A few weeks back, one of my rivals stayed up late watching every single Alien movie ever made. (He may also have been drinking at the time.) When he was done, he went back to his laboratory (with, I suspect, a drink still in his hand) and fired up his gene sequencer.

Five days later, the pills he'd been taking finally wore off, and he dragged himself to bed and slept for three days straight -- but not before sending me the results of his work, for independent verification. That, after all, is how the scientific process works: you share your results so that others can check them for errors, or confirm your conclusions. In this case, Doctor X (not his real name) believed that he had successfully created a being which reproduced the life cycle (though not the full acid-for-blood physiology) of the Xenomorph from the movies. So, naturally, he sent it to me in order to have a competent scientist check his results.

Or possibly he was just trying to kill me.

Either way, the package arrived intact, and I brought it down to the lab. Naturally, I placed it in the Cryptozoo and left orders for my assistant, Jeffries, to open it up and situate it near the buffadillo pen.

Now, Jeffries is in most ways an exemplary assistant. However, he has an enthusiastic interest -- actually, more of a monomaniacal obsession -- with safety precautions. Everything he does for me requires, at the very least, three times as long as it would have for any of my previous assistants. I firmly believe that were he ever to be placed in charge of OSHA, in less than two weeks his elaborate and comprehensive safety requirements would paralyze all production within the continental United States. Still, this is his only noteworthy flaw, and he has remained under my tutelage for at least twice as long as any of his predecessors, so I am willing to grant him a little leeway.

And, when he reported that the egg was in place, I was fully confident that the arrangements were just as he had said. He is nothing if not meticulous. And, I wish to be clear, what happened next was in no way his fault. Jeffries is not responsible for the physical maintenance of the Cryptozoo, nor does he monitor Cuddles.

So the fact that Cuddles broke the door which separates his area from the rest of the cryptozoo, made a beeline for the buffadillo pen, and for his troubles received a faceful of genetically-engineered prototype Xenomorph can not, in any way, be blamed on Jeffries. No, that responsibility falls squarely on the now-rotting shoulders of Mr. Howell, my cryptozookeeper. Naturally, I would fire the knave, but it's more than little bit too late for that now. You see, the Xenomorph was designed to gestate inside a living host of approximately human mass. And, so far as I can tell, it worked very much as designed.

Cuddles, however, is undead. And now so is the small-but-mobile worm that burst from his chest. I am, of course, deeply disappointed.

Oh, I'm not worried about the buffadillos; I can create more of them. Nor am I especially concerned about Mr. Howell, who clearly deserved his fate. And Cuddles, of course, is fine -- one more hole makes no difference to the zombie velociraptor. No, the true tragedy is that owing to its experience with Cuddles, I will not be able to see if the Xenomorph would have have grown into a full-sized warrior-drone.

Also, I have a foot-long undead worm rattling around in the vents and pipes that surround the cryptozoo.

Have no fear on that account, however. Jeffries has promised to capture the beast... just as soon as he can figure out how to do so safely.


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