Dr. Ivan Beavis let out a sigh of relief. He had been working hard in his lab for three days straight, only taking light breaks for food, use of the bathroom, and the occasional powernap.
Ivan appreciated pleasure as much as any other person, but he considered his work to come before any sort of leisure. Such was the mantra of the doctor and his trusted assistant, Richard.
The two were co-workers, and considered one another friends. Yes, Richard and Ivan were as diligent as they come, and the laboratory walls were decorated with prizes and plaques for their accomplishments in the sciences—especially medicine.
"Hey, Richard! Come here a second!," Ivan exclaimed, followed by his always delightfully gruff laugh. "I believe the chemical solution is--"
“Euh, Ivan. Can’t you see I’m busy here?”
Richard was in the process of diagramming the spiders they had extracted the base ingredient of the serum from.
“Are you threatening me!?”, Ivan responded, with a defensive tone of voice.
The two stared at each other before letting out a loud laugh. Then hugs were exchanged.
“Rich, you know I’d never be angry at you. It’s just that I think we’re on the verge of… of finishing this godforsaken thing.”
Richard smiled. Of course he knew that all was alright. The very thought of a confrontation… no. No way. It’s always been all for one and one for all. If an attractive woman eyed one of them, there would only be an advance if the other was comfortable (of course, in the interest of the production of their work, rarely was a flirtation reciprocated).
If there was only one piece of a meal left, it would come down to a mutually agreed upon coin flip. If there was a new product delivered to the lab, the first person to try it would be the one judged to be the most genuinely enthusiastic about it. No… not greed, not envy, not gluttony, nothing could come between the inseparable, professional pals.
“Alright. Let’s have a look at those tubes. To think that we can mix a spider’s DNA with a human’s…”
Before Richard could get off his stool and on two legs, a knock on the lab door was heard. The two scientists weren’t ones to show rudeness to any visitor or coworker, and they raced one another to be the first to warmly greet their new guest.
“Ive, please, you’ve been working very hard all day, and have certainly been performing much more laborious computational work these past few days. Allow me.”
Ivan modestly nodded and smiled—before being taken off guard. Before Richard could reach his destination, rapid twists of the knob and bangs on the old wooden door were made easily audible.
“Hold your horses, friend!” A twist of the hand from the host, a creaked open door, and…
“Beavis and Dick! We don’t have all day, or month, and certainly not year! We have visitors who need to see results, ASAP! No contribution, no reward! No reward, no funding! No funding, no lab!”
Although the doctors were especially emotionally sensitive, they took their boss’s demands at face value. Sure, their boss was in a constant irritated state, but he simply wanted what was best for them, they thought. Besides, they felt it only morally right to respect their elders and authority figures.
“Mr. Van Driessen! The serum is prepared! We simply wanted to test it on some more lab rats before we handed it over for inspection.”
“Oh, my precious boy scientists,” Van Driessen responded in a sudden soft and paternal tone of voice. “I did not mean to rush you, but… it seems like the Medical Tech Ventures folks are here and ready for business. If we don’t have product now, they might not be ready for us ever…”
“Heh, heh.” Ivan responded. “In most cases like these, I could never… we would never… hand over something so sensitive. But we have performed extensive studies these past few days.
The mice are navigating mazes over 75% faster, even when there’s no food reward at the end. They’re swimming from side to side of the pool boxes like little Mark Spitzes. They’re…”
“… they’re great, I’m sure. But Ivan… the product, please.”
An order was an order, and the boy geniuses responded like military men.
During the following two hours, there was waiting. Tons of waiting. The doctors were ready to doze off to sleep, but they just couldn’t. Mr. Sandman be damned! No dreams to be brought, except for the ones from research awards committees for the advancement of the human species. In this case, for the advancement of both desire and intellect. To allow men to be their own superrace, if and only if folks would be willing and wanting, of course.
And now, another knock on the door—this time, much gentler and more patient. Richard, shaking with anticipation, opened the door and…
It was Van Dreissen, and only Van Dreissen. Again.
“Oh, boys. MTV is more than pleased with what they see! When they learned that what you could change in rats had the reverse effect in humans…”
“Reverse effect? Are you—“
Needles pierced the sides of Ivan and Rich, and within what seemed like milliseconds, golden slumbers filled their eyes.
Ivan awakened in a small room at the corner end of the lab sector of their building. His memory was hazy—so hazy that he didn’t remember how, and certainly not why, he ended up tied and shackled to a chair in this little used corridor. He remembered working on something… something big… but as for what it was, it was a great big blur. It could’ve been a paper. It could’ve been plans for how to spend lab time for the coming weeks. It could’ve been…
… A serum…
Yes, that was it. But even though he’d remembered that significant detail, he didn’t feel like following it up with any further investigation. Despite sleeping for what seemed like a long time—who knows how long—and being fully rested, he’d rather just stare at the wall ahead of him, with his mouth twisted and open, and his eyebrows cocked in a slightly aggressive way. It was like… he was reverting into some sort of animal stage.
And yet, he didn’t care. He knew it. He knew he was losing his competence, curiosity, and capacity for benevolence, even… yet, he didn’t care. He didn’t know if he was happier this way. He didn’t think about whether he was happier this way. He just… stared ahead…
“Alright! Uhhh… let me see our subjects here,” said a loud voice of a large man who sounded like he hadn’t used the bathroom in ages.
“Are you… are you threatening me?” Ivan impulsively, and non-sarcastically inquired.
“Uhhhh… no. In fact, you’re about to have a job. You see, Medical Tech Ventures… we kind of deceived you boys. I’m Dr. Anderson, and… you’re about to be famous for something other than medicine. Let me get your buddy, Dick.”
“Heh heh heh. Dick buddy. … Dick butts. … Head butt. … Butt head…”
“Sure, uh, alright. In the meantime, here’s some coffee to get you started. There are going to be a lot of tests for you boys to take, so get pepped up.”
Dr. Anderson untied and unbounded Dr. Beavis. At this point, there was no sense in calling him Doctor anymore… he would never exercise science again, except to investigate if, say, a large magnifying glass could burn alive several armies of ants. Ivan sipped his coffee at first like a hesitant little chimp, and then… he drank it. A lot. Very quickly.
“I AM THE GREAT CORNHOLIO! I NEED TP FOR MY BUNGHOLE!”