The Formula

For some time, I had been working on my formula, which I intended to be a means for people to escape their mundane or unhappy existences and exchange them for happier lives. The results of my experiments hadn’t met with much success. I probably shouldn’t have tried it on myself, but I’d already lost a couple of assistants and had run out of volunteers.

One of my assistants became convinced, after imbibing my formula, that she was an actress in “La Dolce Vita”. She kept offering me pony-rides around the lab. She would trot around the room on all fours, whinnying loudly in Italian. This activity passed after a few hours, but she continued to make intermittent blowing noises while flapping her lips and kept pawing the floor with her foot. I found this very irritating and after a day or two finally had to let her go. I watched her gallop happily away down the street, her nostrils flaring and her hair flowing behind her in the wind.

Another assistant had reacted by hallucinating that he was a refrigerator, and stood stock still for several hours in a corner of my laboratory making periodic humming noises. Occasionally, he would complain that I had left his door open or that it was too warm in the room. I noticed his breath actually seemed a bit cold when he spoke to me. As was the case with my other assistant, he recovered after a while, but not completely. He hung around for another day or two, during which time he kept offering me food. Then, few days later, he said he was going out for some freon and never came back.

I continued to tinker with the ingredients of my potion and one night decided it was time for another test. I was out of guinea pigs and I realized I would have to drink it myself. After jotting down the time on a notepad in front of me, I downed my new mixture in one gulp.

At first, I detected very little change, but then I began to get dizzy and lightheaded. I scribbled a few notes, but my handwriting was becoming illegible. Then I blacked out. I have no memory of what took place next. Even now I have to consult what I can read of my old notes in order to re-construct events.

When I came to, I was indeed a different person. Gradually, I became aware of unaccustomed thoughts filling my brain. Gone were the mathematical formulas and calculations that used to consume all my attention. They had been replaced by doctor jokes, plays on words, and hundreds of variations on the line, “Honey, I’m home!”. My notepad at this point switches from my written scientific observations to doodles of talking animals and people with big noses.

I had become a cartoonist.

Unlike the experiences with my assistants, my new condition never diminished, in fact, it seemed to intensify. I had hoped for something more along the lines of becoming a movie star or a gifted poet, however I found I rather enjoyed drawing funny pictures. In time, I found a way to make a living at it. Though my new brain is good at making up gags, it lacks its old science skills and I’m no longer capable of producing an antidote, so, even if I wanted to, there’s no going back.

All things considered, I was lucky. This is much better than some of the things I might have become. I could have been a bloodthirsty dictator, a fire-hydrant, an insect, or the entire Republican Party, not to mention a kitchen appliance or an actress who thinks she’s a horse.


One comment

  1. MStevens says:

    Please do, and thank you. This story and others are to be included in a planned book. I’ll keep a record of your email address and will let you know what develops.


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