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Zombie!

Origins




Memoir of Doctor Sanjay Reddy














Zombie Origin Media








































© 2017 Dork, Dough Girl, & Lil’ Dicky


All rights for me!



















In loving memory of the

Choadasaurus Rex

which went extinct by pooping too hard



CHAPTERS



1 Rataroni Genus Project

2 Hungrysaurus Rex

3 Diarrhea Expedition

4 Human Dodo Bird

5 Mini Space Adventure

6 Biological Tickory Tocker

7 Reese’s Pieces Monkey

8 Ain’t Jemima

9 Ratatouille Hoagie

10 Supernova of Galactic Stupidity

11 Dino Personality Disorder

12 Professor Booger Eater

13 Garra Rufa Shampoo Sale

14 Choadasaurus Galore

15 Alphabet Soup Viruses

16 Top Secret Nerd Convention

17 Indian Bald Eagle

18 Big Boy Playdate

19 Cybernetic Frankenstein

20 Boogie Gusher Snacks

21 Bed Chamber Emergency

22 Poopy Virus Funds

23 Pre-Teen Terminator

24 Robo Nerd Defense Force

25 Necrozoic Park Experience

26 Emergency Gameshow Hotline

27 Duel of Alpha Manliness

28 Operation Cheez Doodle

29 Incredible Gecko-Man

30 Medieval Drag Queen

31 Cannibalistic Munchies

32 Easy-Peasy Extraction

33 Trigger Happy Madwoman

34 Ignoramus Road Trip



1

Rataroni Genus Project


“Life and death,” warned Doctor Albrecht, looming over the desk in my office.

“Life and death?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. “For who? You? Me?”

“The children,” said Doctor Albrecht. “If we lose our funding, this whole lab gets shut down. And all those sick little children? They die.”

“The whole Lab?” I asked, completely confused. “I thought Grey Biomedical Research only funded ten percent of our budget?”

“I’m not talking about Doctor Wacky and the rest of the nonsense that passes for science around this Lab,” said Doctor Albrecht. “I’m talking about my work. The work I’ve done my entire life. We need to show GBR progress. Convince them that we’re close to a final genome for human trials. Or else the funding for my entire life’s work at this university gets cut off just as we’re about to make our biomedical breakthrough.”

“I understand, Doctor,” I said, showing him my stack of notes. “I’ve been reviewing my notes every day for the past week. I know every gene of the sequence like the back of my hand. Hey, where’d that freckle come from?”

“That’s the problem,” said Doctor Albrecht. “Liam Grey isn’t like his father. He doesn’t even have a PhD. His last experience with science was freshman biology back in high school.”

“And?”

“He failed,” said Doctor Albrecht. “Liam Grey is an idiot. A giant dimwitted child. You need to take that entire stack of notes you have there, and dumb it down. Probably to a fifth grade level. Otherwise, our groundbreaking biomedical developments are gonna fly right over Liam’s head. And you know how Doctor Grey thinks his son is some kind of genius. I’m warning you, if you can’t get Liam to relay any of our progress on HDNARV back to Doctor Grey with some level of competency, GBR is gonna conclude we have no idea what we’re doing down here, and they’re gonna cut us loose in a heartbeat. And without a finalized sequence, we don’t have a backup plan when that heartbeat stops.”

“Do you want me to just call Doctor Grey?” I asked. “Maybe I can—”

“No,” said Doctor Albrecht. “You need to welcome Liam to our Lab like the genius William believes his son to be. And we need to show him respect for the ten years of doctorate training he skipped. If word gets back to Doctor Grey that we think his son is an idiot, we’ll never do business with GBR again.”

“Okay,” I said, going through my desk drawers. “I’m sure I can find some crayons in one of the labs. I’ll just draw a couple diagrams and illustrate the whole thing out for the moron.”

“Perfect,” said Doctor Albrecht. “Maybe you can even get your intern to help you out?”

“My intern?”

“That kid you have following you around everywhere?”

“No,” I said nervously. “I’m keeping Raj as far away from this guy as possible. The last thing I need—”

“Hey, Proffy,” whispered Rajaroni, popping just his head into my office.

“The last thing?” said Doctor Albrecht, asking me to continue, oblivious to the intern peeking into my office.

“Sorry,” I said, trying to continue.

“Yo, Proffy,” whispered Rajaroni. “You have a minute?”

“Remember,” said Doctor Albrecht. “We need this relationship with Grey Biomedical Research. No one else is interested in our work, and no one else has the money to risk on a project of this magnitude.”

“Proffy,” whispered Rajaroni. “Do you have my little letteroni?”

“Oh my god,” I cringed, ready to explode as my intern added to my level of anxiety.

“Just take a deep breath,” said Doctor Albrecht, still oblivious to the intern standing right behind him. “You need to be at the top of your game today. The entire HDNARV project is counting on you.”

“Proffy, you busy?” whispered Rajaroni.

“Oh my god, Raj,” I whined, pulling out my hair.

“Proffy?”

“Yes!” I exploded. “I am busy! Now will you please get the hell out of my office!”

“Uh?” said Doctor Albrecht in shock.

“Sorry, Doctor,” I said, trying to calm down.

“Did I miss something?”

“Raj,” I said annoyed. “What the hell are you doing?”

“It’s alright, Proffy,” said Rajaroni, fully entering my office now that his cover was blown. “If you’re busy I’ll come back later.”

“Remember,” said Doctor Albrecht before leaving my office. “Top of your game.”

“Seriously, Raj,” I said, now all alone with my intern. “What could possibly be so important that you need to interrupt me with Doctor Albrecht?”

“He really strung you out there, didn’t he?” laughed Rajaroni. “What’d you do this time to get him so mad?”

“He wasn’t mad at me!”

“It’s okay,” said Rajaroni. “We all mess up once in a while. But the key is to hide the mess so your boss doesn’t find out.”

“What do you want, Raj?” I said, trying to get rid of my intern.

“The letteroni.”

“The what?”

“You know,” said Rajaroni. “My little letteroni of recommendation?”

“Your letter of recommendation?”

“Yeah, you got it?” smiled Rajaroni, looking around my desk. “You put a good word in for me, right?”

“I didn’t do your letter yet,” I said. “I’ve got other stuff to worry about right now.”

“Proffy,” whined Rajaroni. “Come on, Proffy. I need that letteroni to complete my application for the master’s degree program by the end of the week. Your girlfriend already submitted hers. If I don’t get your letteroni in on time, the University won’t let me continue my education at this fine institution. And then who’s gonna be your internaroni next year? I’m irreplaceable. Four weeks of learning on the job, and I’m almost as smart as Doctor Albrecht.”

“You gotta be kidding me,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Just ask me tomorrow, Raj. The guy’s coming today, and I need to get him up to speed before the conference tonight.”

“The conference that’s gonna be upstairs?” asked Rajaroni with a big smile. “With all the sciencey people and millionaires?”

“Please tell me you weren’t invited.”

“Your girlfriend invited me.”

“And you said no?” I asked, praying for a miracle.

“Proffy,” laughed Rajaroni. “They’re having spaghetti. What do you think?”

“Miwa,” I whined, crying into my hands. “What were you thinking, Miwa?”

“You know, you sure do talk to yourself a lot, Proffy.”

“Out of my office,” I said, walking my intern to the door. “Go! I gotta get ready. The guy’s gonna be here by ten.”

“I’m free all day, Proffy,” said Rajaroni. “Just say the word and I’m at your service.”

“Please, can’t you just take the day off?”

Shh,” hushed Rajaroni as we stood facing each other in the hallway. “Your girlfriend’s coming.”

“Miwa?” I gasped, trying not to make it obvious that I was looking over my shoulder. “Quick, how do I look?”

“You gotta fix your hair,” said Rajaroni, licking his thumb before reaching out to my forehead. “You can’t have your locks hanging all over the place—”

Ugh!” I cried, fighting off the intern’s disgusting hands to avoid being touched by his saliva. “Get your slimy fingers off of me, you weirdo!”

“Quick,” whispered Rajaroni with his hands molesting my face. “She’s coming.”

“Raj!” I shrieked.

“Cat fighting with your intern again?” said Miwa Ling, the love of my life.

“No,” I said, standing up straight to look more manly.

“Every time I pass by your office, you’re always physically assaulting your intern. Seriously, did you sleep through harassment training? Or do you just have anger management issues? Because I can call Miss Gropes. Let her know that in addition to sexual harassment, you also seem to have a violence problem you can’t keep under control.”

“Come on,” I smiled, resting one hand on the wall to look cool. “You know you love me.”

“What’d I tell you?” warned Miwa.

“So, Miwa,” I flirted. “What are you doing tonight?”

“Uh, the conference,” said Miwa. “Duh.”

“Oh, that’s right,” I said, trying to rebound. “So what are you doing tomorrow night?”

“You really don’t get it, do you?”

“Come on, Miwa,” I pleaded. “Why won’t you just go on one little date with me?”

“Sanjay,” said Miwa bluntly. “Do you want me to file a complaint with HR again?”

“Again?” I gasped. “Oh, wait, you’re talking about our little slap incident last year where they couldn’t find enough proof to put anything in my HR file?”

“No,” said Miwa. “I’m talking about our little slap incident last night. And this time I have your intern as a witness.”

“Miwa!” I whined. “You seriously went to HR again?”

“I warned you about slapping my—”

“Miwa,” I pleaded, dropping down to my knees. “Please, you have to retract the complaint. I’m up for tenure this year. Tenure!”

“Sorry,” said Miwa. “Try explaining yourself out of this one with Miss Gropes.”

“Miss Gropes?” I gasped. “Miwa, why? Why do you do this to me, Miwa?”

“Well I gotta get back to work,” said Miwa, continuing towards the Animal Testing Lab.

“Doctor Ling,” I pleaded, chasing Miwa down the hall with a more professional demeanor. “So maybe we had a little misunderstanding. You know, the results came back better than expected last night, and we were kind of hitting it off.”

“So you thought then would be a great time to slap my—”

“Yes!” I cried. “I mean no! It was an accident. A reflex. All just one big misunderstanding. Merely an accidental groping. Definitely not to the level of sexual harassment. So maybe you can go ahead and retract that little complaint before anything real bad goes into my file?”

“Sorry,” said Miwa. “Miss Gropes said she’d call you in the morning, so you better start thinking about what you’re gonna say.”

“Miwa,” I whined, ditching my professional act. “Why do you hate me?”

“I think I hear your phone ringing,” said Miwa, pointing down the hallway.

“Oh crap!” I gasped, sprinting back to my office. “Outta my way!”

“So how’d it go with your girlfriend?” asked Rajaroni, nonchalantly hanging around outside my office.

“Move!” I warned, diving over my desk to answer the phone.

Ring! Ring! Ring!

“Miss Gropes!” I answered, trying to come up with an explanation fast enough to keep up with the words spewing out of my mouth. “Okay, so I just spoke with Doctor Ling. She said the whole thing was just one big misunderstanding, and she wants to retract her sexual harassment complaint—”

“Doctor Reddy?” said Doctor Albrecht.

“Doctor Albrecht?” I replied. “Oh, do you need me for something?”

“You seemed a bit stressed earlier,” said Doctor Albrecht. “I thought I’d give you a call just to let you know that you’ve been doing a great job these past few years, and that I really appreciate all your help on this project—”

“Thank you, Doctor—”

“But now I can see your level of stress has risen far beyond the point where anything I say could make a difference. So if there comes a time where you think you might need counseling to help get your stress under control, I just want you to know that everyone on our team supports you and we all just want the best for you.”

“That’s okay, Doctor Albrecht,” I laughed, trying to hide my stress. “Just a little mix up with all the phone calls I’m getting today. I assure you, I’ve got a handle on everything over here on my end.”

“That’s good to hear,” said Doctor Albrecht. “Because not that you need reminding, but I need you to remember that your meeting with Liam Grey today is probably the most important moment of your entire life. Your success or failure today will not only determine the future of your career, but may well put an end to my entire life’s work. Not to mention the countless children who are depending on the biomedical breakthrough we are so close to achieving.”

“Thanks, Doctor,” I said before hanging up the phone.

Ring! Ring! Ring!

“Miss Gropes!” I answered, picking up my next call. “Good morning! I just spoke with Doctor Ling—”

“Sanjay?” said Doctor Fetzer.

“Doctor Fetzer?” I replied. “Oh, sorry, Doctor Fetzer. I thought you were someone else.”

“No, my apologies,” said Doctor Fetzer before hanging up. “I’ll talk to you later. I know you’re very busy today.”

“What a day,” I said after hanging up the phone. “Well, twenty more minutes until game time. And honestly, I don’t know how I’m supposed to do this. Dumb it down? To a fifth grade level? The greatest biomedical development in the entire history of the human race? Do I really need to use crayons?”

“Hey, Proffy,” whispered Rajaroni, popping his head into my office. “You busy?”

“Yes, Raj,” I sighed. “I’m busy.”

“You don’t look busy,” said Rajaroni, moseying into my office.

“How do I not look busy?”

“You’re just sitting there not doing anything.”

“I’m waiting for the call from HR,” I said. “I’m up for tenure at the end of the semester, and I can’t have any sexual harassment episodes documented in my file or else I’m gonna be out on the street.”

“So you’re just gonna sit here and wait for your phone to ring?” asked Rajaroni. “Perfect!”

“How is this perfect?”

“Now you’ve got time to write up that little letteroni for me.”

“Raj, I’m not writing your letter of recommendation today,” I said, taking a deep breath. “My schedule is overloaded. First I gotta talk my way out of a sexual harassment complaint with Miss Gropes. Then I need to explain the greatest biomedical development in the history of mankind to a moron. Then I need to make my presentation tonight to an audience full of business people. And finally, I need to figure out how to get Miwa Ling to fall in love with me.”

“Don’t forget your Virology 101 class at ten thirty.”

“Son of a—!”

“No cursing!” warned Rajaroni, pointing his finger to stop me just in time.

“Then why are you down here?” I asked. “Shouldn’t you be getting up to class?”

“There’s nothing better than lab cheese for breakfast.”

“You eat the lab cheese?”

“Not for me,” laughed Rajaroni, pulling a rat out of his pocket. “For this little guy.”

“Holy crap!” I gasped as Rajaroni let his rat loose on my desk. “Dude! Why the hell is your rat so fat?”

“Hey, you’re a poet and you didn’t even know it.”

“What?”

“Let me lay down a beat for you, Proffy,” said Rajaroni, starting to beatbox. “Why’s yo rat so fat? Because yo mama’s fat! Ho!”

“Raj, shut up,” I said, moving my important papers away from the rat crawling on my desk. “You know the whole frick’n Lab can hear you?”

“Look out, Kanye!” shouted Rajaroni. “There’s a new rapper in town! Proffy’s got the rhymes! And Proffy didn’t do no time!”

“Raj, can you get your damn rat off my notes please?”

“Come on, Giuseppe,” said Rajaroni, retrieving his rat. “Back into your pocket for now.”

“Giuseppe?” I asked.

“Giuseppe Gustavo,” said Rajaroni, stroking the rat’s belly. “Actually, Doctor Giuseppe Gustavo. Visiting professor from the University of Bologna in Italy. I ordered a couple lab rats with above average intelligence to test my research and get a head start on my dissertation. And together, Giuseppe and I are gonna change the world for the rataroni people!”

“The who?”

“And boy does this chubby little guy love spaghetti,” said Rajaroni, tickling the rat’s belly. “Don’tchya, little buddy?”

Hee! Hee! Hee!” giggled Giuseppe.

“Whoa!” I gasped. “Since when do rats know how to laugh?”

“Excellent question, Proffy,” said Rajaroni, prepared to give an entire presentation. “My work on the Rataroni Genus Project began—”

“Okay, I’ve got stuff to do,” I said, getting annoyed. “Can I get back to work now please?”

“Ooh, what are we working on?” asked Rajaroni, taking a seat in front of my desk. “Reviewing test results? Conducting research? Engaging in hypothetical thought experiments?”

“I already told you, I’m meeting with Liam Grey from Grey Biomedical Research in like fifteen minutes.”

“Sounds important.”

“Yes!” I cried. “Very important! Do you understand who this guy is?”

“Okay, I’m gonna guess . . . Gandhi?” said Rajaroni. “But I think I might be wrong.”

“What?” I snapped. “Who the hell told you he was Gandhi?”

“I don’t know,” shrugged Rajaroni. “Is he Jesus?”

“Jesus Christ, Raj!”

“Really?” laughed Rajaroni. “The one and only?”

“No!” I cried. “I just told you his name is Liam Grey!”

“Oh, that’s right, Proffy. So this Liam guy . . . ?”

“His father? Doctor William Grey? Renowned biologist? Founder of Grey Biomedical Research? Sponsor of our retrovirus program? The source of all our funding? Ringing any bells?”

“The guy actually rings any bell?”

“No!” I cried, pulling out my hair. “Is this ringing any bells for you!”

“Should it be?” asked Rajaroni.

“I told you like three times about today! Liam Grey is coming in like ten minutes. Doctor Albrecht put me in charge of showing Liam around the Lab, and explaining the entire genomic sequence we produced so far on the Human Delayed Neuronal Apoptosis Retrovirus project. And I need to convince him that our results are promising so GBR continues to fund our program so we can finalize a virus for human trials.”

“It’s coming back to me,” said Rajaroni. “But just to be sure, you’re talking about the virus that we’ve been working on every day for the past month, right?”

“Yes!” I cried. “I’m talking about the virus! The one I’ve been working on for the past ten years! What the hell else would I be talking about?”

“So what do you need me to do, Proffy?”

“I need you to stay the hell out of my frick’n way!”

“What about those binders?” asked Rajaroni.

“What binders?” I asked.

“The ones you asked me to put together about our little retrovirus thingymabob for the conference tonight?”

“Those binders?” I gasped. “You didn’t finish those binders?”

“So should I be doing those binders, or is that no longer necessary?”

“Yes!” I cried. “Please, finish the frick’n binders!”

“Okey dokey, Proffy,” said Rajaroni before leaving my office. “I’ll get those done lickity split right after class.”

“This is gonna be a disaster,” I sighed, closing my eyes.

Ring! Ring! Ring!

“Miss Gropes!” I panicked, answering my phone. “Good morning—”

“No,” said Miwa. “This is Doctor Ling.”

“Are you with Miss Gropes?”

“What?”

“Are you on speaker?” I asked. “Okay, so let me try to explain myself—”

“Sanjay,” said Miwa. “I think your guy’s here.”

“Liam Grey?”

“Mike just saw some rich kid pull up with a chauffeur.”

“I gotta go!” I said, racing upstairs to meet the VIP.



2

Hungrysaurus Rex


“Are you the scientist?” asked Liam Grey, grabbing a student at the front entrance to the Biomedical Center.

“No,” said Caleb before shrugging away from the jacked millionaire.

“Are you the scientist?” asked Liam, getting the attention of another student.

“Who?” said Kimberly.

“Scientist?” said Liam. “Big brainiac guy? Knows stuff?”

“I’m a girl.”

“Ooh-ooh aah-aah!” laughed Liam, making obnoxious monkey sounds.

Ahhh!” shrieked Kimberly before running for her life.

“Watch it, creep!” warned Caleb.

“She thinks she’s a gorilla,” laughed Liam.

“She said girl, weirdo!”

“Watch out, guys,” I said, pushing my way through the front entrance as the morning crew of students swarmed into the building.

“Are you the scientist?” asked Liam, touching every student who passed by. “Are you the scientist? Are you the scientist?”

“Mister Grey?” I said, trying to get Liam’s attention. “Mister Grey, I’m Doctor—”

“Kumar!” smiled Liam, racing over to greet me with a hug.

“Oh crap,” I gasped as the jacked bonehead squeezed me with his muscular arms.

“I knew I’d find you,” sobbed Liam, resting his head on my shoulder. “Look everyone! It’s me and my best bud Kumar!”

“Uh . . . I think we may have a misunderstanding.”

“I’m just kidding,” laughed Liam. “Do you get it?”

“Mister Grey?” I asked to make sure I had the right guy.

“Kumar?” said Liam. “From Harold and Kumar? Because you’re Indian?”

“Oh my god,” I sighed, realizing this was gonna be way worse than I was warned about. “It is an honor to finally meet you, Mister Grey. My name is Doctor Reddy, and I hope you find your visit to the Biomedical Research Laboratory at the Pacific Coast University of Science and Technology—”

“Doctor?” laughed Liam. “Don’t tell me you got duped into going to school just for a little title.”

“Yes,” I sighed. “I got duped into going to school, and now I am a doctor. If it makes you any more comfortable, you can feel free to just call me Sanjay.”

“Sanjay boy,” smiled Liam, roughing me up on the shoulder. “Liam and Sanjay gonna learn some science today.”

“Would you like to see the Lab?” I asked, leading my guest into the lobby of the Biomedical Center.

“Should I close my eyes?” asked Liam. “Make it like a surprise?”

“Or you can keep your eyes open,” I said as Liam blindly followed my voice. “So you don’t trip over anything. And so I can give you a tour of the Center, and you can actually see where we’re going.”

“That’s actually a good idea,” said Liam, opening his eyes. “They must teach you guys good in doctor school. You know, that must be why daddy’s so smart. By the way, how long does that kind of education take? Something I can do real quick on the weekend maybe? Get another degree under my belt?”

“Seven years,” I said, remembering all my hard work. “To become a physician-scientist with an MD and PhD, it took me seven years of strenuous medical and scientific training after university until I was fully admitted as a clinical scientist in the Lab.”

“Oh, that’s not so bad,” said Liam. “Only one more year than college.”

“Where’d you go to college?”

“Gulden State University!” cheered Liam proudly in the middle of the lobby. “Full football scholarship! Go! Go! Gulden Warriors! You’re going down by the spicy brown! Up your nose, you’re gonna sneeze! So you better watch out, Grey Poupon! Because if you challenge us, you’re getting pooped on!”

“Holy crap!” I gasped as everyone in the lobby stared in shock. “What the hell was that?”

“Pre-game war cry,” said Liam, getting into game stance. “I made it up myself. Best six years of my life.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“You say hoorah!

“Shut up!” shouted Caleb from the second floor balcony overlooking the lobby. “Some of us are trying to study!”

“You wanna go!” shouted Liam, ready for a fight. “I had two dozen eggs for breakfast! Raw!”

“Let me show you the Lab,” I said, leading my guest through the lobby.

“Speaking of eggs, I’m kind of getting hungry.”

“It’s ten o’clock.”

“You gotta eat every two hours, on the dot,” said Liam. “Otherwise your muscles wither away, leaving you looking like your average wimp. And I think I’m coming up on a refueling.”

“Can you wait until ten thirty?”

“Ten thirty-two,” said Liam, checking his digital watch. “Exactly. Not a minute sooner or later.”

“Okay,” I said. “How about I show you the Lab? Then I’ll bring you up to the cafeteria on the second floor? And then we continue the tour at eleven thirty?”

“Bingo!”

“Huh?” I said. “Okay, so in case you haven’t figured it out yet, we are now in the Biomedical Center.”

“We are?” asked Liam, getting nervous. “When did that happen? Where were we before? What’s happening to me!”

“No, it’s been the Biomedical Center the whole time. I’m just saying—”

“Gotchya!” laughed Liam.

“Oh my god,” I sighed. “We are in the Biomedical Center, Mister Grey. Entrances are at the big glass wall behind you where we came in from. And this is the lobby.”

“I think I got that, Sanjay.”

“The sets of stairs on the left and right go up to the second floor. Two separate wings. East and west. And there are elevators straight ahead that you can take all the way up to the sixth floor.”

“What’s on the sixth floor?” asked Liam.

“Classrooms and a couple offices—”

“Classrooms?” laughed Liam. “Hey, I’m not here to learn, Doctor Sanjay.”

“Yes you are,” I said, correcting the moron. “I’m supposed to show you our progress on HDNARV so your father’s company can continue funding our work.”

“Bingo!” said Liam, shooting me with his finger pistol. “Hey, is that a running track on the second floor?”

“No, that would be a walkway,” I said, referring to the elevated walkway around the lobby. “So the students can get from the west side to the east side of the second floor without having to go down the stairs on one side of the lobby and up the stairs on the other side.”

“You got a gym up there too?” asked Liam.

“A gym? No, we do not have gym, Mister Grey. The cafeteria is on the west side of the second floor. And the library and conference room are on the east side.”

“One second, Doc,” said Liam, sucking on his index finger. “West is—”

“I believe that is for wind,” I said as Liam held his slobbery finger out to gauge directions. “West is the left side.”

“Is west always left?”

“For today’s purposes, west is left,” I said. “If you look at the elevators straight ahead, west is on the left.”

“Got it, Sanjay,” said Liam. “West is left. Left is cafeteria. Cafeteria is food.”

“Bingo.”

“Yeah!” sung Liam. “You’re catching on, Sanjay.”

“How about we see the Lab?” I said, leading the idiot to the left side of the lobby. “The Lab is downstairs in the basement.”

“No way,” said Liam, stopping frozen in front of the west side doors to the Lab.

“Yes way?”

“Look at this,” laughed Liam in amazement as we stood between the two staircases on the west side of the lobby. “Your architect must’ve been snorting something crazy. Why are there two sets of stairs on each side of the lobby?”

“For symmetry?”

“This is awesome!” said Liam. “The two stairs make like a little tunnel to the doors for the Lab. But there’s no roof above the tunnel. Only sides! The sides of the two stairs make the tunnel! And even cooler, both of the stairs lead to the exact same place. The second floor! It’s like I can walk up one staircase, or I can walk up the other staircase, and still get to the cafeteria. Or I can walk up one staircase, and then down the other staircase, and then up the first staircase again, and continue forever in a never ending circle. Or I can stop walking up and down the stairs, and then go through the tunnel and go downstairs!”

“Does this actually amaze you?”

“I’m getting ideas, Sanjay,” said Liam, looking around the lobby. “For my post second meal workout, I’ll start off with a couple laps around the elevated track, and then, to cool down, I’ll do a couple sprints up and down this awesome stair loop.”

“This isn’t even the exciting part of the tour.”

“Do you have a locker room?” asked Liam.

“This is the Biomedical Center,” I said bluntly. “So no, Mister Grey. We do not have a locker room.”

“Shower?”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m gonna be pretty sweaty after my workout,” said Liam, smelling his armpit. “I could definitely use a shower.”

“Decontamination?” I offered. “You can shower in the decontamination shower?”

“Bingo!”

“Okay then,” I said, continuing through the little tunnel between the two west staircases. “Through these metal doors are the stairs to get downstairs into the Lab. Now this can get a little confusing, but all you need to remember is the number eight.”

“As in seven ate nine?” asked Liam.

“Good enough,” I said, leading the way downstairs and into the basement lab. “Now imagine the number eight sideways.”

“Boobs,” giggled Liam, groping the air with both hands. “Got it, Sanjay.”

“A square eight,” I said at the bottom of the stairs. “Like on your digital watch. This is the west hall. The left side of the eight. There are offices and small labs all along the outside of the eight. And then there are four big labs inside the eight.”

“Got it, Sanjay,” said Liam. “The big labs got eaten up.”

“Let’s go down this way,” I said, turning right down the west hallway so we were walking north. “My office is in the north-west corner of the Lab. The top left of the sideways eight.”

“I’m starting to get confused, Doctor Sanjay.”

“That’s all you need to know,” I said, stopping outside my office. “Besides that, the Animal Testing Lab where we conduct our experiments is literally straight down this hallway at the inner south-west corner. So all you need to do is stay in the west hallway. And there’s a staircase right in the middle of the hallway that will get you back upstairs to the lobby.”

“Okay, now you really lost me, Doctor Sanjay.”

“If you get lost, just remember the sideways eight. There’s the short west hall, the long north hall, the short east hall, and the long south hall. Big rectangle. And then in the middle there’s the center hallway that bisects the Lab to connect the north and south hallways.”

“And that’s where you do the dissection?”

“No, that’s the lounge,” I said. “The center hallway has some sofas and vending machines in case you need to relax.”

“Coolio,” said Liam.

“So if you get lost, just remember the short hallways are the east and west. The left and right side of the sideways eight. And there’s a staircase on both the east and west side leading upstairs to your cool little tunnel. The whole place is like a mirror. Exactly the same on the east and west side, and it all gets you back to the same place.”

“And that is?”

“The lobby,” I said. “Stairs get you to the lobby. Lobby gets you upstairs to the cafeteria. Cafeteria gets you to the food.”

“Full service?” asked Liam.

“Self-service,” I said. “Five bucks, all you can eat.”

“Best news all day,” said Liam, looking around. “So where the heck are we now?”

“This is my office,” I said, standing in the door frame. “North-west corner of the Lab.”

“Okay, now I’m a smart guy,” said Liam. “But just in case I get lost, do you have a map?”

“There’s maps posted on all the walls.”

“Okay, and now let’s assume I’m not the greatest reader?”

“The map is a picture,” I said, trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with the moron.

“Can I call MapQuest?” asked Liam.

“There’s no cell phone reception in the Lab.”

“Then how am I gonna call MapQuest?”

“You can use the phone in my office,” I started saying. “It’s connected to a landline . . . wait, why are you calling MapQuest?”

“Directions, Sanjay,” said Liam. “I use MapQuest for everything. Forgot how to find daddy’s office? MapQuest. Need two dozen raw eggs? MapQuest. Can’t find my boxers under my bed? You guessed it . . . MapQuest!”

“We don’t have MapQuest for the Lab, Mister Grey.”

“You gotta get MapQuest,” said Liam. “You can’t beat it. I tried this morning. I told my driver no GPS or MapQuest. I was gonna use my sixth sense to see if we could find you. Didn’t work. We had to call MapQuest.”

“I’ll see what we can do about MapQuest, Mister Grey.”

“So if you don’t have MapQuest,” said Liam, pointing to a glass case attached to the wall. “Should I just use that thing?”

“No!” I gasped, blocking the moron from touching the emergency class case. “Whatever you do, do not break the glass on that case!”

“I’m just kidding,” laughed Liam. “I know how the emergency system works. We have the same boxes set up all over daddy’s building. If I break the glass, all your doors get locked down until the ABC’s let us out. Or was it the BBC?”

“Are you thinking of the CDC?”

“Maybe,” shrugged Liam. “But boy was it funny the first twenty times. After that, daddy started getting mad so I had to stop.”

“Well at least you understand something,” I sighed. “How about we just take things nice and slow today so you don’t get confused?”

“So where’s John Hammond?” asked Liam.

“Who?”

“CEO of this operation?” said Liam. “Old guy? White beard? Bald head? John Hammond?”

“The CEO of Jurassic Park?”

“Bingo!”

“Uh, I’m sorry, Mister Grey,” I said. “I don’t believe we’re gonna be able to meet John Hammond today.”

“Bummer,” sighed Liam. “Could’ve sworn I was meeting John Hammond. How about a baby T-Rex? You got any of those hatching today?”

“Another joke?”

“I’m serious,” said Liam with a straight face. “I was promised a T-Rex. Baby or adult. Not velociraptor. T-Rex.”

“Mister Grey,” I said, breaking the bad news, “I’m not sure what exactly you think we do down here in the Lab, but I assure you, we do not have any dinosaurs.”

“Does John Hammond know that?”

“Mister Grey, this is not Jurassic Park.”

“Good one,” smiled Liam. “You’re a funny guy, Sanjay. But you can’t fool Liam Grey.”

“Mister Grey,” I said in a serious tone. “This is the Biomedical Research Laboratory at the Pacific Coast University of Science and Technology.”

“So you’re not kidding?” asked Liam, turning serious.

“I’m not kidding.”

“Whoops,” cringed Liam. “Well that’s embarrassing.”

“Who told you this was Jurassic Park?”

“My bad,” laughed Liam. “Little mix up with my communications. Daddy emailed me a summary last night to get me prepared for our big day today. Kind of blew the whole thing off. Jurassic Park was on TV again so I said, hey, I’ll watch a classic to break up the time while I read daddy’s little paragraph. Before I even opened the email, the theme song was already sucking me in and I completely forgot about the summary. I don’t know what was going through my mind, but for some reason I kind of thought Jurassic Park was the intro video for today.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, Mister Grey.”

“So I guess this means you do not have any safari rides?”

“That is correct, Mister Grey.”

“Bummer,” sighed Liam, lifting up his shirt to show me his underwear. “I even wore my dino boxers today.”

“If it’s any consolation, I believe the cafeteria sometimes serves dinosaur chicken nuggets.”

“Bingo!”

“Well, seeing that it’s almost ten thirty—”

“Speaking of dinosaurs,” said Liam. “Hear that rumbling? That’s my tummy. I gotta load up on some carbohydrates.”

“I’ll show you the cafeteria,” I said, leading the giant child back up to the lobby.

“I’ll take over from here,” said Liam once we reached the end of the little tunnel on the west side of the lobby. “Ooh, this is gonna be a tough one, Doctor Sanjay. I don’t know what to do. Both staircases go up to the second floor, but I can’t decide whether to go left or right.”

“Let’s try out the left side this time,” I said, heading up to the second floor. “You can have fun on the stairs later.”

“I gotta say,” said Liam, taking in the sights from the second floor. “Your elevated track is awesome! So which way do people usually run around the track?”

“Considering that this is not a running track, I really don’t think it matters which direction you run.”

“Coolio,” said Liam, stretching out his arms. “Then I’m gonna run this way. North, right? Straight down the west side. Cut right to pass by the elevators. Turn down the east side to spy on the dorks in the library. And then get some sunshine by the front windows. So how many laps for a mile?”

“Are you running now?” I asked. “Or are you having your ten thirty lunch first?”

“Bingo!” said Liam. “Dino nuggets first. Then my morning run.”

“Very well, Mister Grey,” I said, heading down the second floor hallway. “This is our cafeteria. Five bucks, all you can eat dino nuggets. I’ll find you between eleven and eleven thirty, and then we can continue the tour and go over our progress on HDNARV.”

“Thanks, Doctor Sanjay,” said Liam before heading into the cafeteria. “You dino nuggets better watch out. Because here comes a Hungrysaurus Rex!”

“Wow,” I exhaled, taking a moment to breathe as the bonehead walked away. “And we didn’t even get into the science stuff yet.”

“Good morning, Professor,” said Caleb, the brownnosing student. “How are you doing today, Professor?”

“I’m doing just great,” I said, turning to face the annoying voice.

“Do you want me to carry anything for you?”

“Carry what?”

“Anything,” said Caleb. “Lecture notes? Textbook? Briefcase? Whatever you need, just ask me, Professor. I will do literally anything to get that A. Carry your stuff? Extra credit assignments? Visit you during office hours and lock the door?”

“Caleb, my hands are completely empty. So no. I do not need you to carry anything. So please, just go to class. I’ll see you in like two minutes.”

“Are you taking the elevator, Professor?”

“Are you taking the elevator?”

“We can share an elevator up to class.”

“I think I’ll take the stairs then,” I said, continuing down the second floor hallway. “Just eleven more hours today until this nightmare is over.”



3

Diarrhea Expedition


“Quiet down, guys,” I said, beginning my Virology 101 class of about thirty undergraduate students.

“Shut up, everyone!” shouted Caleb. “The professor’s trying to teach!”

“Thank you, Caleb,” I said, making a mental note to give Caleb no more than a B+ in my class.

“You got this, Proffy!” shouted Rajaroni from the back of the room.

“Ow!” snarked Kimberly. “Can you watch my ears please?”

“Why? Where are they going?”

“Seriously, guys, can you shut the hell up,” I said, taking a seat in front of the room instead of standing at the lectern. “I’m not really prepared to teach anything today, and I kind of left all my lecture notes downstairs in my office—”

“Would you like me to get them for you?” asked Caleb, trying to rack up as many brownie points as possible. “I can run down real quick.”

“That won’t be necessary,” I said, checking the clock. “I’ll just wing something a little easier for a couple minutes as a review, and then let you guys all go a little early today. I kind of need to get back to babysitting a giant child who right about now is probably running laps around the indoor track.”

“We have an indoor track?” asked Kimberly.

“Is this gonna be on the final?” asked Caleb.

“It’s a review,” I said. “And yes, everything I say is on the final.”

“What’s the format of the final?” asked Caleb, preparing to take notes. “Multiple choice? Essays? How many essays? Do we have to know chapter four? Are the exam questions gonna be like the practice questions in the back of the text book?”

“I don’t know,” I said, ready to rip out my hair. “I didn’t write the final yet.”

“How long is the final?”

“Moving on,” I said. “Considering that many of you have been invited to the event tonight, I figure I should review the basics of retroviruses so you can follow along with the presentations.”

“You mean the Tenth Annual Conference Connecting Biomedical Innovators with Global Entrepreneurship Sponsored by Lazarus Biomedical Solutions?” asked Caleb.

“Yes,” I said annoyed. “The one where we dupe a bunch of rich business people into funding the absurd research projects of your tenured professors so that those of us working to develop real biomedical breakthroughs are left cramped in one corner of the Lab.”

“I’m going to the event,” said Caleb. “Do we get extra credit for going?”

“No!” I said. “Nobody gets extra credit!”

“What about me, Proffy!” asked Rajaroni. “I’m your internaroni! You’re gonna send a couple points my way, right?”

“No he’s not!” shouted Caleb, turning around to stare down his competition. “Didn’t you hear the professor? Nobody gets extra credit! Now why don’t you go back to middle school, weirdo!”

“Enough!” I snapped. “Everybody, shut up!”

“You heard the professor!” said Caleb, trying to stay on my good side. “Let the man teach his class!”

“Let’s see if I can finish this in fifteen minutes,” I said, finally beginning my class. “I’m just gonna do a quick review of the genomic reengineering work we do down in the Lab with retroviruses. The sooner I can get through my lecture, the sooner I can let you go for the day and get back to my nightmare downstairs.”

“Hey, Proffy,” said Rajaroni, getting up from his seat. “If you gotta be somewhere, I can take over the class for you.”

“Sit down, Raj,” I said before continuing my lecture. “So for those of you attending the event tonight, you’re gonna hear three big words being thrown around. And in case you feel like dozing off, this stuff is on the final. In fact, I believe this material is in chapter three of your textbook. So if you don’t understand any of this, you’re a moron. Seriously, see a tutor because this stuff is the foundation to everything we do down in the Lab.”

“So what are they?” asked Rajaroni.

“Raj,” I said annoyed after losing my train of thought. “Why are you even in this class? You’re a senior in Virology 101. I mean, what frick’n classes were you taking these past three years that you somehow managed to skip the only corequisite for clinical experience in the Lab, but still get placed as my intern?”

“First off,” said Rajaroni. “This is my third year of college.”

“Did you even finish high school yet?” snarked Caleb.

“I did that in two years,” said Rajaroni. “I’m what you call an early bloomer.”

“But what classes have you taken?” I asked.

“A little bit of everything,” said Rajaroni. “Journalism 101. Theater 101. Virology 503.”

“Virology 503?” I gasped. “With Doctor Fetzer? That class is for the PhD program! What the hell were you doing in Virology 503?”

“Little mix up with my registration,” laughed Rajaroni.

“Bet that didn’t help your GPA,” snickered Caleb.

“Threw it way off,” said Rajaroni. “I was trying to maintain my 4.0. That A+ bumped my GPA way off the charts!”

“A+?” I gasped. “Then what the hell are you doing in Virology 101?”

“Like you said, Proffy. It’s the only corequisite for a clinical internship.”

“Did you check with the registrar?” I said. “I think they could’ve made an exception!”

“Little late now,” said Rajaroni. “But seriously, if you gotta go, I can take over the class.”

“I am perfectly capable of teaching my own class!”

“Whenever you’re ready then, Proffy,” said Rajaroni. “I’m waiting to hear those three big words.”

“Three big words!” I said, continuing my lecture. “Reverse transcriptase! Integrase! Protease! Remember them! Or you will fail!”

“So I just wanna make sure,” said Caleb. “This stuff is gonna be on the final?”

“These three very important enzymes,” I continued, “are responsible for the process by which viral genetic information is inserted into a host cell’s genome, thereby altering the genetic coding of an organism.”

“Wow,” laughed Rajaroni. “You just dumbed that way down.”

“Now I’m dumbing it up,” I said, getting ready to use my big sciencey words. “The genetic material of a retrovirus is maintained in a single strand of RNA.”

“RNA stands for ribonucleic acid,” whispered Rajaroni. “That means only one strand. No double helix like DNA.”

“I know,” snarked Kimberly. “Do I look like an idiot?”

“Once the retrovirus finds its way into a host cell,” I continued, “the enzyme reverse transcriptase begins its work. A polymerase transcribes the virus’ RNA, creating a DNA strand similar to the RNA strand, in order to form an RNA-DNA double helix. Ribonuclease H then degrades the RNA portion of the double helix, leaving just the one DNA strand as a copy of the original virus. The polymerase then hybridizes the DNA strand with another DNA strand to form a DNA double helix.”

“And then you die,” laughed Rajaroni.

“Shut up, Raj!” said Caleb. “This stuff is on the final!”

“That was step one,” I continued. “The enzyme integrase then takes the DNA double helix created by the virus and transfers it into the host cell’s nucleus. Once inside the nucleus, integrase integrates the viral DNA into the host cell’s genome so that the genetic material of the virus becomes part of the host cell’s DNA.”

“Professor?” said Caleb, raising his hand. “Do you know any good tutors?”

“I can tutor you!” said Rajaroni. “I got an A+ in Virology 503!”

“Can you people just let me finish?” I said, taking a deep breath. “Once the virus’ genome is integrated into the host cell’s DNA, it is called an endogenous retrovirus, or provirus.”

“Not convirus,” whispered Rajaroni just to annoy Kimberly. “These viruses are good for you.”

“Raj, shut up!” I yelled before continuing my lecture. “These proviruses make up about five percent of our genome. But fortunately, after millions of years of living within our ancestors, most of them are completely defective and incapable of replication. However, with the right tools, as we have in the Lab, proviruses provide us with an ability to reengineer the genomic structure of entire organisms.”

“But you can’t do it without me,” smiled Rajaroni. “Your internaroni!”

“One more time, Raj!” I warned, trying so hard to make it through my lecture without suffering a brain aneurism. “And you people better be taking notes. Even though you should already have notes on this easy transcription stuff from chapter one. So pay attention and remember what I’m teaching you this time. By normal cellular processes, the proviral DNA inside the host cell’s genome is transcribed into RNA. And then the RNA produces proteins. Now for the final step. The enzyme protease cleaves the proteins into smaller proteins so they can be used to form a new virus containing the proviral RNA. This new virus then continues the cycle throughout the organism, integrating its genetic coding into every cell until the original virus becomes an eternal part of the organism.”

“But, Professor,” said Caleb, raising his hand to look smart. “Isn’t it true that the reverse transcription phase of the retrovirus doesn’t have any proofreading capability, making the copied genes highly susceptible to mutation?”

“Yes, Caleb,” I sighed. “I’m very impressed with your knowledge on this material.”

“Thank you, Professor,” smiled Caleb.

“Because not just anybody can open the textbook to page fifty-five and read verbatim.”

“Too bad,” said Caleb, looking around the room for laughs from his next stupid comment. “If reverse transcription is so error prone, then I guess you can’t really reengineer an entire organism without producing some funky looking creature from a Doctor Seuss book?”

“Maybe five years ago,” I said, rolling my eyes. “But are you familiar with a little peer reviewed article in the Journal of Biomedical and Bioengineering Science titled Exonuclease Breakthroughs: Maintaining Integrity in Reverse Transcription of Retroviral Genomes?”

“Maybe?” said Caleb, still aiming for his brownie points. “Who’s the author? Anyone important?”

“No, not really,” I said, playing stupid. “Just some physician-scientist named Sanjay Reddy. Co-authored with Doctor Frederick Albrecht.”

“Oh,” said Caleb, going pale after losing all of his brownie points.

“Hey, you’re talking about yourself again, Proffy!” laughed Rajaroni. “Who knows, Proffy. Maybe you and me’ll write a little article together and be co-authors one day.”

“That’ll be the day,” I sighed.

“How about Monday?” asked Rajaroni.

“Huh?”

“I’ll mark it down on your calendar,” said Rajaroni. “Should I put us down for two hours? Or is that not enough time with your internaroni?”

“Raj, shut up,” I said. “We’re not coauthoring a paper together.”

“You know what we should do then?” said Rajaroni. “We should make zombies!”

“Not this again, Raj,” I whined.

“It can work!” said Rajaroni. “We just need to create the zombie virus, and then do a little insertaroni into a human test subject!”

“And who’s gonna be creating this zombie virus for you?”

“You and me, Proffy!” smiled Rajaroni. “We’ve got the brain power! So what do you say? Let’s team up as mad scientists and destroy the world!”

“Enough, Raj,” I said. “How would you even create a zombie virus? What the hell would you put into the genome?”

“Professor,” said Caleb, darting his hand into the air to start fresh on his brownie points. “A zombie virus entails several different elements. First, the virus would need to reanimate the dead. Second, the virus must make the undead crave human flesh. And finally, the virus must be contagious by zombie bite.”

“Thank you, Caleb,” I said sarcastically.

“You’re welcome, Professor.”

“Because I live in the Walking Dead universe and have never heard of a frick’n zombie.”

“Maybe we can find the zombie virus in the Amazon,” said Rajaroni. “You and me’ll take a little expedition down to the jungle and go hunting for ancient viruses lying dormant in the swamp?”

“Sure, Raj,” I said. “Let’s go on a diarrhea expedition. We can contract malaria and get swallowed whole by an anaconda.”

“Good idea, Raj,” said Caleb, trying to get back on my good side by piggybacking off my sarcasm.

“Seriously, Raj,” I continued. “Do you know how unlikely it is for a zombie virus to somehow just randomly develop in the middle of a mosquito laden, crocodile poop infested swamp?”

“Okay,” said Rajaroni. “So we’ll just go back to creating the zombie virus ourselves in the Lab.”

“Really?” I said. “Because it’s not like I spent the last ten years of my life working full time just to develop the Human Delayed Neuronal Apoptosis Retrovirus. Not to mention the twenty years of research and experiments conducted before that by Doctor Albrecht. You don’t think creating a zombie virus might take a little more work than just saying: Hey, let’s make a zombie virus!

“So what are you saying?” asked Rajaroni. “Fifty years?”

“I’ll be dead by then!”

“But I won’t be,” said Rajaroni. “I’ll carry on our work, Proffy. Heck, maybe I’ll even get my own internaroni one day. Fifty years? A hundred years? We’ll create that zombie virus!”

“Raj!” I yelled. “Are you even thinking? Why the hell do we need a zombie virus!”

“Just a hypothetical thought experiment,” said Rajaroni, happy to end the discussion now that he got me all worked up.

“I’ve got a couple minutes left,” I said, checking the clock. “Does anyone have any questions? Retrovirus related? If you’re going to the event tonight, I believe Doctor Fetzer will be starting off the conference with a more in depth description of retroviruses. I’ll be discussing the reproduction cycle of our standard retrovirus template. And depending on how much funding Doctor Albrecht believes we need to finalize HDNARV, maybe he’ll say a couple words about our progress on a real biomedical achievement. Besides that, we’re probably gonna be listening to two hours of gibberish on the nonsense research conducted by your idiot professors. And before the conference? I need to figure out how to explain the HDNA genome to a bonehead. So with five minutes to spare, does anyone have any non-zombie related questions?”

“I have a question,” said Caleb, raising his hand before he even had a question in mind. “In chapter three of our textbook where it says. . .”

“What’s that, Giuseppe?” whispered Rajaroni into his pocket while I answered questions. “You wanna listen too?”

Shh,” hushed Kimberly. “I’m trying to pay attention to the professor.”

Shh!” Rajaroni hushed back. “I’m talking to my friend over here.”

“Well I can’t hear the professor,” snarked Kimberly.

“That’s because he isn’t capable of speaking yet.”

“Are you an idiot?”

“Am I an idiot?” mimicked Rajaroni. “No, seriously, am I an idiot, Giuseppe? No? Good, that’s what I thought.”

“Who are you talking to, weirdo?” asked Kimberly.

“I’m talking to the professor,” said Rajaroni.

“You’re looking at your crotch.”

“Wrongaroni,” said Rajaroni. “I’m checking out my pocket.”

“For what?” asked Kimberly.

“The professor, duh,” said Rajaroni. “Why else would I be talking to my pocket?”

“Just leave me alone,” said Kimberly, trying to ignore Rajaroni.

“So do you wanna meet the professor?”

“I’m trying to listen to the professor!” yelled Kimberly.

“Huh?” I said, looking to the back of the classroom. “What’d I do? Can you guys all hear me in the back?”

“Sorry, professor,” said Kimberly with her cheeks going red after her outburst in the middle of class.

“Embarrassing,” whispered Rajaroni into his pocket.

“Thanks a lot, jerk,” whispered Kimberly.

“So do you wanna meet the professor or not?”

“Will you shut up, you weirdo?”

“Don’t be shy,” said Rajaroni, pulling a rat out of his pocket. “Kimberly doesn’t bite.”

“Don’t talk to me,” said Kimberly, trying to avoid drawing any more attention to herself.

“Would you like to say hello?” asked Rajaroni, holding his giant rat out to Kimberly’s face.

Ahhh!” shrieked Kimberly. “Oh my god! Get that away from me!”

“Raj!” I yelled. “What the hell are you doing?”

“My friend wants to learn too,” said Rajaroni. “Equal opportunity for the rataroni people?”

“What the hell is that?” cried Kimberly. “Why do you have a rat!”

“Rat?” said Rajaroni. “This is Doctor Giuseppe Gustavo. Visiting professor from the University of Bologna.”

“Raj!” I yelled. “What have I told you about taking rats out of the Lab?”

“I think you said not to?”

“Then why do you have a rat in my classroom?”

“Because this is Doctor Giuseppe Gustavo,” whined Rajaroni. “Visiting professor from the University of Bologna! I can’t leave him in a cage all day! How else is he gonna learn the latest in biomedical science!”

“Then put your damn rat away and stop disrupting my class!”

“Sorry, Giuseppe,” said Rajaroni. “I guess you’re going back in the pocket. But don’t worry, little buddy. I’ll get you some spaghetti later.”

“Now where was I?” I said, trying to get back on track.

“I believe we were discussing polymerase chain reactions,” said Caleb, working so hard for his brownie points.

“No, I think I was about to end the class,” I said, getting up from my seat. “See you tonight. Now the fun part of my day starts.”



4

Human Dodo Bird


“Mister Grey?” I called, trying to find my important guest somewhere in the Lab. “Has anybody seen Liam Grey? Tall dude? Big muscles? Bigger head? Kind of looks like John Cena? But a whole lot dumber?”

“Sanjay, can you shut up?” said Miwa, popping her head out of the Animal Testing Lab. “I’m trying to find my pig blood.”

“Hey, have you seen a human dodo bird wandering around?”

“The big oaf singing in the decontamination shower?”

“Thanks,” I said, heading down the hall towards the Bizarre Experiments Lab.

“Yo, egghead!” shouted Liam from the decontamination shower. “You forgot to restock the shampoo!”

“One second, Mister Grey!” sung Doctor Wacky. “I have just the solution for you!”

“What the hell is going on in here?” I asked, entering the Bizarre Experiments Lab.

“This specimen is very unusual,” smiled Doctor Wacky, retrieving a bottle filled with something weird. “I wanna test my new Garra Rufa Shampoo on the test subject’s big round head to see how well my microscopic nibble fish eat away at the dead skin on his scalp.”

“Dandruff eating fish?”

“Precisely!”

“Hey, egghead!” shouted Liam. “Where’s my suds?”

“Coming right up, Mister Grey!” smiled Doctor Wacky. “Would you like me to help apply the shampoo?”

“You mean touch me in the shower?” asked Liam, grabbing the bottle of microscopic fish shampoo. “I don’t think so, Doc.”

“Is it working?” asked Doctor Wacky, waiting outside the shower to monitor his test subject. “Can you feel them?”

“Whoa!” shrieked Liam. “Get me a couple bottles of this stuff to go! It’s like a pedicure for the scalp!”

“Would you like to try the conditioner?”

“I wanna try everything!” smiled Liam, popping his head out of the shower. “Hey, Doctor Sanjay! You gotta come in here and try out this shampoo!”

“No, that’s okay, Mister Grey,” I said. “I think I’ll let you have your privacy.”

“Come on, Sanjay,” giggled Liam. “Nothing you’ve never seen before.”

“No, I’m pretty sure I don’t go around looking at giant muscular—”

“Dicks!” shouted Miwa.

“Excuse me?”

“All of you!” said Miwa, storming into the Bizarre Experiments Lab. “What’d I say about stealing my pig blood?”

“That I can explain,” said Doctor Wacky. “I needed your pig blood—”

“For another one of your stupid experiments?”

“Not this time,” laughed Doctor Wacky. “I needed the blood to collect a genetic sample of the pig genome so that I could begin my work on creating piggies.”

“Piggies?” I asked, praying that the weird scientist wasn’t wasting more of our funding on ridiculous experiments.

“Piggies,” smiled Doctor Wacky. “Miniature pigs. The size of a finger. A fat finger, mind you. So that no part of the pig is wasted in making a little sausage sandwich. Instead, you will be able to wrap an entire pig with a slice of bread, with nothing going to waste. Bones. Snout. Everything. A true piggy in a blanket.”

“And you needed my whole tub of blood?” asked Miwa, pushing her three hundred pound tub of blood into the hallway. “Next time get your own genetic samples, wacko! This blood stays in the Animal Testing Lab!”

“Mister Grey?” called Doctor Wacky. “How is the shampoo? Is it rinsing out well?”


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