Tag Archives: mad scientist

Writing Prompt: Make up your own holiday

Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Make up your own holiday” (Inspired by this list of silly holidays.)


After the near miss, the year was three days longer. You’d think that not getting hit by a huge asteroid would be the most important outcome of The Scare. At first it was.

Only in the aftermath of something terrible do you see the little ripples and effects. Your birthday wasn’t your birthday. The fourth of July wasn’t The Fourth of July. And it wasn’t just the solar calendar. The asteroid pulled the moon farther out, which changed the lunar calendar. A lot of holidays run on the lunar calendar—Easter, Yom Kippur, Chinese New Year. Each group of people had to decide whether to switch to the new calendar or approximate the old one. Sects were formed, conflicts occurred. The surf was different. Some forms of life live like a clock with the tides, and random species we tend not to think about starting dying in droves. The days were a little longer too.

I was the first one to start it. I looked at the new calendar, I looked at the old calendar, and I said, I don’t care. I’m going to make up my own holiday. It happened roughly once a year, but when I said it would. It didn’t have to answer to anyone but me. I called it Time Dilation Day. We dressed up like Einstein. There were substances that influenced how a person perceives the passage of time. And we didn’t worry. It was a day outside the rigidities of calendars—solar, lunar, or whatever.

That was ten years ago. I’m afraid now that I started a cult. I don’t get to say when Time Dilation Day happens anymore. There’s another asteroid passing near the Earth in a couple of years. It’s not supposed to be close enough. But maybe I can change that. I don’t want it to hit, just another near miss would be swell. Once you control the passage of time, you don’t give it up.


Writing prompt: the newt and the cat

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“The newt and the cat” (This prompt inspired by my highly predatious cat, Erg, who happened upon a very unlucky blue-tailed skink in the house. I helped the skink to escape, more or less intact, but Erg was inconsolable.)

I collapsed onto the chair inside the door. Summer was here, and wow, I was sweaty. I looked over and noticed that the door of the cage was open.

“Oh no oh no oh no,” I muttered to myself and I bolted upright. I wasn’t supposed to have brought the newt home in the first place, but I’d gotten attached to it. I wanted to see how a super intelligent newt would react to a new environment, and maybe I had become a little too emotionally invested.

I heard a clatter from the dining room.

Jaws stood, body absolutely taut, staring between two stacks of books.

“Bad kitty!” I shouted. Newton looked up at me, both terrified and accusing. In that moment, Jaws decided to lunge, and the stacks of books collapsed into chaos. Newton shot out from the pile and behind a pile of papers. I chased after Jaws, but under the furniture I was no match in speed for him or Newton.

Jaws pounced again, and Newton darted to another stack of debris. For once, I was thankful for my shabby bachelor digs and cleaning regimen. I went and got the compressed air, Jaws’ arch nemesis. I sprayed and him and he ballooned into a fluff of fur, but he would not abandon the hunt, and evaded any attempts I made to contain him.

I would be finding out just how smart my modified newt had become.

Writing prompt: the tissue printer

Time: 8 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“The printer”

I loaded the file into the printer and made sure all the print cartridges were full—nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon… Carbon and hydrogen always went fast, but the cartridge was no bigger than nitrogen or oxygen. The traces array was full enough too. I didn’t want this print-out to pause mid printing, it wasn’t good for the creatures. I made sure the enzyme and synthesis units were at operating temperature and weren’t gumming up. Once I had printed an entire miniature penguin only to find it dead, with damage to the proteins. That’s an expensive mistake.

This time I was printing a fairy. I had slaved for hours on the design, making sure that the wings were sufficiently large to support a creature of the size while still looking appropriate. I borrowed the digestion from a hummingbird, and the wings from extinct, enormous species of dragonflies. She would be six inches tall, beautiful and the color of caramel. I had hoped to start with the colors of the rainbow, but I was worried that yellow might end up looking jaundiced, and I wanted this first one to work. I could sell her to a fantasy novelist for a pretty penny, but it would go better if she was alive and beautiful.

I did a last check on the equipment and hit the go switch. The enzyme cartridge came to life, and soon the print head started on the internal organs, the template spinning around, allowing different angles. With these things, the sequence was also important.

I sat nervously on my stool, while the print head flew around, filling in muscle here and connective fiber there. Several hours passed, and I could see a tiny heart. I couldn’t be more nervous if my (hypothetical) wife were giving birth.