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Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc.
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Guinea Pigs

by Harris Tobias


Guinea Pigs

Dr. Herkimer stood over the quivering animal. When the last shudder ended and the creature lay still, Herkimer clicked his stopwatch and looked satisfied. “Thirteen seconds,” he announced. “And that was diluted beyond a measurable dose, beyond Avogadro’s number. Our work on this weapon is almost done.”

The work to which he was referring was a toxin more lethal, more deadly than anything ever made. A single drop could kill thousands, a small vial could poison a city. There was no antidote. It was undetectable.

“Congratulations, doctor,” cooed the several lab assistants who had been working on the toxin in secret for years. “A heroic achievement,” mumbled one. “A great day for science,” said another.

“Thank you my friends,” said the doctor. “It has been a long road. Our military benefactors will be pleased. But let us not forget who the real heroes in this story are—the thousands of mice, monkeys and Guinea pigs who have given their lives to advance this work. Without them we would never have gotten this far.”

Herkimer picked up the dead rodent with special tools and placed it in a ceramic container for cremation. The container, heated to several thousand degrees and the ashes buried deep in the Earth, was the only safe way to destroy the toxin, it was that persistent. “Soon our work here will be complete. It has been an honor working with all of you.”

 With this speech, Dr. Herkimer ushered his team out of the lab and switched off the light. The door locked on the laboratory. Nothing stirred except the anxious pacing of the various lab animals in their cages; every one of them eager to help humanity in this noble enterprise.



2015-05-26 12:42:33
The last line of this tiny tale is so potent - like a stab in the heart. It brings into focus that yes we need to keep science moving forward, but who is paying the ultimate price? And obviously - the ultimate price might be death to the humans on the other side militarily, so aren't we all just guinea pigs in the long run. It's hard to raise such questions in under a 1000 words, but I think the author did exactly that in this short tale.


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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
A Felony of Birds

by Harris Tobias
The Greer Agency

by Harris Tobias
Assisted

by Harris Tobias
Hold The Anchovies

by Harris Tobias
Alien Fruit

by Harris Tobias
Peaceful Intent--Stories of human/Alien Interaction

by Harris Tobias
CHRONON--Time Travel

by Harris Tobias
The Stang

by Harris Tobias


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