A Bad Thursday
© Jonathan Lowrie 1989 & 2012

It was late on a Thursday night and Doctor Frank Jones was sitting at his desk immersed in thought.  He had been putting in 18-hour days for the past 3 weeks and tonight was no exception.  He had two untouched Chinese takeout containers on his desk, and a cup of probably the most potent coffee on the planet.  Along with 4 empty cans of 5-hour Energy drink lying on their side, the desk was covered with old journal articles and his Mac Book Pro.  On the screen was an email from Doctor Herman Scannel, editor of the Journal of Genetic Microbiological Mutagenesis.  This email was titled “Article submission rejected”.  It was Frank’s third attempt to publish his early research into his genetic research.  Doc had been trying to create his plasmodic slime.  He envisioned a new form of life that could help the world by consuming oil from oil spills, or perhaps cleaning up toxic spills, or even radio active waste, the future was limitless.  Dr. Jones had always wanted to create a living macroamoeba with the ability to adapt and chemosynthysize and absorb and bind chemicals from its environment.  It was close to the time for a Nobel prize, and he could feel it in his bones that his experiment was almost finished.  Doctor Jones knew that the protoplasm he had stored up in the atomic reconstructor would soon start to metabolize. 

Frank pushed his leather chair away from the grey matte finished institutional desk.  He grabbed the brass key chain from the right hand drawer and shuffled over to the lab room door. Peering through the glass window into the lab, he saw two rows of workbenches with his various instruments lined up. He swiped his electronic access card and heard a click, the door creaked open.  Dr. Frank Jones was in his personal lab.  All the many varieties of microscopes and preserved specimens stood out. He had DNA sequencers, incubators, spectrometers, multiple types of imaging gear and all the shelves of reagents and glassware one would expect from a moderately well funded research lab.  It was the back corner that caught his eye, his pride and joy. Frank saw his own invention, the atomic plasma reconstructor, and the device that should have given him fame and fortune, and his rack-mounted array of Mac Minis linked into a super computer. The atomic reconstructor relied heavily on computer processing to help align the molecules for the reconstructor and maintain the DNA sequence and splices. Without this computational power, his research would be set back at least a decade. 
His lab was one of many at the research center, loosely affiliated with the University.  He had some private grants, and a few bucks from the Feds, NIH and such.  But the ‘word’ on the street was Frank’s lab was not producing and in jeopardy of being kicked out of the research center.  Frank needed his ready access to the shared vivarium, and cheap graduate student labor pool, as well as the prestige and security afforded by the Institute.  Just the other day, or was it last week, the Director had been in to inform him that his funding plan for next year was due in a week.  Damn, was it a week already? He couldn’t remember when exactly he had that discussion.  It didn’t matter he was close. The doc thought about how he would get back at the others and win the Nobel Prize.
Frank checked all the variables on the control counter.  He decided it was time to check on his creation.  Although Doc Jones didn’t believe in God, he sure felt like one now.  If his calculations were correct, he would open up his A.P.R and find a three-foot amoeba, and the Nobel Prize would be his. 
Dr. Jones pressed two buttons. Gas was released from the monstrosity as the huge door slid open.  Frank could not believe his eyes.  What they beheld was in his mind impossible, or was it.  Dr. Jones leaned over to take a closer look.  Whatever he saw was definitely alive.  It had dissolved all the sensors in the chamber with what he hypothesized was an enzymatic or acid slime.  The creature’s respiration had fogged up the plexi-glass safety shield.  Frank knew that he would have to remove the shield in order to examine the critter better.  He took all the precautions and sealed the room.  He even put on a radiation proof suit and full PPE including a personal air purified respirator. 
Click.  The plexi-glass moved and the chamber was fully open.  Dr. Jones saw a large blob of slime.  It was transparent mostly, yet he could see patches of redness that he believed to be organs or blood.  Did his creation have such developed systems? Perhaps it even had a rudimentary nervous system. He took a petri dish and prepared to scoop up a chunk of the slime.  As the dish touched the slime, the slime let out a barking like yelp; the dish dissolved in a gooey mess.  Now Frank had heard of a natural defense immune system, but never one this fast or violent.  He might even get two Nobel Prizes now.  Along with his original ideas the possibility of a lucrative defense contract crossed his mind.  He figured he would call it a slime dog because of the dog-like bark and its slimy composure.  Perhaps he could create smaller more tame versions that could be marketed as pets for the home.  He felt invigorated by all the possibilities.  Doctor Jones felt like a God now, in his mind he was trying to rationalize why he wasn’t.  After all, he had created life from nothing more than bits of DNA, proteins and some basic building blocks of carbon, and hydrogen.  His creation respired and responded to stimuli and possibly even had organs and made noise.  It was incredible.
Frank began to think about all that crap he read in the bible back in Sunday school and the few required classes in college.  He remembered that the bible said that God created all living creatures.  Now Frank did not believe this, he believed in evolution, and the big bang, yadda yadda.  Yet deep down, he realized that he dis-proved his own deep-rooted scientific mind, and created life.  And when he began to ponder what he had done, he thought that it might even be superior to man. What if he could apply his atomic reconstructor to his human tissues?  Could he increase his intelligence, and even his strength?  Frank was not a bad looking man.  At 45 he was a tad pudgy in the middle and the old hairline had receded an inch or so, but his curly brown hair remained and he still hit the gym every few days.  At least he had been until recently.
Doctor Jones realized that while he had something wondrous in his lab, it had not gone according to plan.  All of his calculations and preparations had been to create a smaller amoeba link create that could digest chemicals.  He had a 30-pound mass of living tissue with awareness.  It was wonderful, but also wrong.  
It was at this thought that Dr. Jones to lock up the system, go over his calculations, and figure out what the hell went wrong.  As Frank was shutting the glass shield, the slime dog jumped forward; landing with a large splut on the floor.  Frank knew he couldn’t touch the mother f’n thing, he had to corral it back to the A.P.R.  What he failed to realize was that it was a highly specialized superior intelligent life form. It knew exactly what Doc wanted to do, and obviously didn’t agree with the prescription.  The slime dog proceeded to destroy the A.P.R. with its acidic slime. It began to fling tendrils of acidified slime about the lab destroying the computer array and various instruments.  In the back of Frank’s mind was how much this was going to cost him.
As the bench between him and the slime dog dissolved into a puddle Frank snapped back to reality. By now Frank was scared, his experiment had turned against him.  He had only one hope, to kill it.  Now he truly felt like a God, creating life and then destroying it.  His only problem is that he thought the slime dog might have a few God like qualities itself.  Dr. Jones tried to pour HCl on it, but the slime dog didn’t even notice its bubbly effect.  He tried as many  chemicals as he could find.  Sulfuric acid, potassium permanganate, lactated ringers.  Nothing worked.  He tried tossing a lab chair at the slime dog and it dissolved immediately.  He even tried spraying it down a halon fire extinguisher.  No luck, it was even worse now, the slime dog was pissed.  Frank opened the doorof the lab, and slammed it shut behind him.  He dove over to his desk, and reached into the bottom drawer.  He pulled out a Berretta nine-millimeter gun.
The slime dog had dissolved the lab door and was now between Frank and the exit to his office. Nine shots were fired, all of them were disintegrated before they even penetrated the slime.  Dr. Jones knew his lab was doomed, and probably himself as well, his slime dog had now split into four growling slime puppies.  The four creatures barked and howled as they closed in on Frank.
Frank awoke suddenly from a loud blaring alarm.  He groggily rubbed his eyes and lifted his head from his desk.  A spilled carton of Kung Pao chicken was at his side.  The Institute’s fire alarm blared overhead. Frank suddenly realized he had been dreaming.  Too much energy drink and coffee he figured. He raced over to the lab door and peered in.  All seemed quiet.  He entered cautiously and headed straight for the bank of computers and the atomic reconstructor and he proceeded to do a total shut down of all systems.  He aborted the experiment.  Frank felt that he should leave the creation of life to the universe, or if they exist, Gods.  He was glad that the dream was over. Or was it.  Frank heard a muffled barking like noise from somewhere, and a momentary thought flashed through his mind.  Was it too late, had he already created this life form?