Monday, November 18, 2019

Superhero Bar Stories: Doctor Roach

Huh. Weirdest scenario involving a lab? That's your challenge? Any kind of lab? All right. Waitress, a round of Laphroaig for the table, on me. Full glasses, no ice. We're going to need it for this one.

Everybody ready? Right then, picture this:

There's this guy. Not an especially bad guy, but not an especially good guy either. And as such guys sometimes do, he develops a habit and becomes a junkie. But of course his habit makes it hard for him to hold a job, which makes it hard for him to feed the habit, and... you all know how this goes, right?

He's not really a bad guy, he's just an addict. But he's hungry in that way that some sorts of addicts get, and he's desperate. He needs a fix. And he's noticed this place, a couple of blocks down, mostly just a single guy working out of a basement setup. It's not a supplier, he'd know about it if it was. But it's something, and there's some interesting glassware and maybe some chemicals that could be sold for money. Like stealing tranquilizers from a vet's office, but maybe easier because whatever this guy is doing doesn't get much business.

So our addict, he cases this place: the little narrow windows looking out at street level, the doorway down at the bottom of the stairs, the gate that goes across it. And finally he breaks in. Well...

I'm downtown, because that's where I usually am. I'm running a patrol, because that's what I usually do. And then my cell phone rings, because... wait, what? I'm on a zipline three hundred feet in the air, maybe twenty people in the whole world have this number, how the hell is my cell phone ringing right now?

So I get to the next building, unclip, and answer it. It's Doctor Roach.

No, of course you've never heard of him. He's not a supervillain, and he doesn't work for the agency either. His name is Mark Roach, and he has a PhD in Biology, a Masters in Biochemistry, and a junkie in his lab who won't stop screaming.

Yeah, fine, all right. He could have been one of us. I knew him in high school; we did a lot of skateboarding together, extreme sports style of stuff. He was good, but if he had powers he never admitted it and after graduation, well... he went on to college. But yeah, with a last name like that and a potential for life in costume, maybe it was inevitable that he'd end up doing research on cockroaches.

So there he was, checking results, when someone crashes through a vent and lands in a specimen container. Perfect landing, too: dead center in a glass tank maybe three feet wide and eight feet long, holding fourteen thousand bugs, and this desperate junkie -- not a bad guy, but not a good guy either -- his break-in attempt lands him face-up, square in the middle of them. Absolutely covered. And then he starts screaming, but well... Fourteen. Thousand. Cockroaches. Ever swallowed a bug? Maybe while riding a motorcycle? Well, it's a lot worse if they crawl in on their own.

So yeah, this guy: Doctor Roach pulls him out, brushes him off -- I hate to think of what the rest of the building had to put up with for the next couple of weeks -- gets him into a chair, even scoops the roaches out of his mouth... the junkie just won't quit screaming. So he calls me. Naturally I came right over -- you don't think I'm afraid of cockroaches, do you? I'm already on the line with Dispatch, and they're sending EMTs and a squad car.

I start talking to the guy, asking his name and is he hurt? He says no, but I'm not sure I believe him since he fell out of the ceiling. Does he know what day it is? He doesn't. Does he know who's president? He does. What's his name? He gives it to me, so I know he's not all there.

Around this time the EMTs come in and sedate him, except one of them freezes in the doorway and has to wait outside. Too many bugs. It doesn't bother me -- they just tickle -- but for some people it's just too much. Then we get him upstairs, dust him off again, and put him in the back of the patrol car. Straight to the detox cell.

And you know what? That was it for him. Talk about your "scared straight". That guy swore off everything, got himself a job, stayed straight... last I heard, he owns an Appleby's down in Texas, got a wife and three kids. Took us a week to get the lab back in shape and the Inventor had to loan us a device to get the specimens back in their cage, but all in all it came out all right.

So that's my weirdest scenario involving a lab. You think you can top it, kid?


  1. Replies
    1. The superhero bar stories are a lot of fun. Firstborn keeps making suggestions for them.


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