My Pet Carrot Speaks Norwegian
Olaf could hardly see where he was going. It’s a wonder his 18-wheeler didn’t sail off the cliff. But at least the one consolation was that if he did, he’d likely be feeling no pain; a bottle of good old American Jack Daniels sitting next to him made sure of that.
Like any good Norwegian, Olaf had a strong Protestant work ethic. Unfortunately, three quarters of the time said work ethic, as well as Olaf – were thoroughly pickled. And though he made the 100 Km freight haul between Trondheim and Steinkjer three times weekly, it’s a wonder he made it at all. No doubt an ancient Viking was looking out for him. Either that or his Jack Daniels. Beats mead.
And today was no different. Monday was shoes, Wednesday was a load of car parts, and today – a full load of Norway’s finest carrots, bound for the Veldig Godt Juice Company.
"Blecchh. Hate carrot juice,” the burly Scandinavian said, as he lovingly caressed the bottle of whiskey on the seat next to him; with an adoration that was slightly unsettling. “God bless the Americans,” he murmured proudly, as he took another swig.
And on he sped toward Steinkjer – or rather, weaved – kicking up stones, as they sailed over the mountainous road and into the Norwegian Sea far below.
Pulling into the city Olaf slowed down just a bit, to glance at the invoice clipboard next to him. But first – another swig. “Hmmm, let’s see – Veldig Godt Juice Company. Empty load into vat #11, it says.” He moved the clipboard closer, then farther away, in a vain attempt to discern the address. “If I find the people that keep making the print smaller on these damn things, I’ll kill them myself!” he complained. The in and out motion was making him queasy. And then he promptly threw up on the invoice. It wasn’t the first time, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. “No problem,” he slurred. “I know Steinkjer fackwards and borwards. I’ll find the damn place. How hard could it be?”
And somehow, by the grace of God, or Leif Ericson, he found it.
Or did he?
He backed up to the loading dock, and sure enough, there was a vat labeled #11. This had to be the place.
His load of carrots dumped into vat #11, Olaf got back in his truck and left. With any luck, he’d make it home.
Workers milled around, supremely unconcerned. After all, deliveries arrived every day, so they paid this one no heed. Besides, it was now 5:00, quitting time. What did they care what was dumped in the vats? It could have been their spouses or mothers-in-law, for all they cared. And some fervently entertained that idea anyway.
And as the sun slowly went down over the Norwegian fjords, and vehicles hastily left the employee parking lot, the corporation’s brightly lit sign blinked off for the night. Pity that Olaf was by now too far down the highway to see it before being switched off. Would he have cared that it said V.G.J. GENETICS COMPANY? Same letters, right? Who cares? Certainly not him, even if he had seen it through his Jack Daniels induced fog. Should you? Probably not. Then again…
For beginning at midnight, in the darkened plant, while crickets chirped and birds flew on silent wing through Scandinavian climes, something very strange indeed began to happen in vat #11. Bubbling, gurgling; and what was that strange glow? And that bizarre smell? This wasjuice? Oh, most assuredly not. Not this time. This particular vat began to glow brighter, with a sickly orange hue. And whatever was within it began to grow hotter and hotter. Green and yellow sparks began to emanate from the top of the vat. And the sounds that issued from it – oh those sounds!
And at 4:00 AM – something – began to scale the confines of the vat! It slithered, it crawled; it crept up, up the polished aluminum vessel, until it clambered over the top – and fell to the floor!
At 8:00 AM the research scientists and employees of V.G.J. Genetics Co. arrived at work, just as they’d always done; trying to unlock the secrets and potentials of recombinant DNA, and attempting to create new hope for the human species – or unleash an unknown nightmare. What two senior technicians came face to face with may not exactly have been said nightmare – but it came damn close – if not infinitely idiotic.
“Hva er dette! What is this?” one shouted.
“Guri! My God!” the other technician yelled.
For there, walking upright towards them on two tiny fibrous legs – was a carrot! “Kan du hjelpe meg?” the carrot said in perfect Norwegian. But of course it did. After all, this was Norway. If it had spoken Mandarin – nowthat would be just plain weird.
The two technicians were in shock. Whatever it was they had to hide it – fast. No need to cause a panic. At least not yet. They’d figure it out in their lab.
Hans scooped up the genetically transformed carrot, slipped it into his lab coat pocket, and ran to his office; his colleague Sven right behind. “I’ve got salad fixings mumbling in my pocket!” he said to Sven, as they raced to their office. “This is nuts!”
“No, this is insane! What the hell is senior staff experimenting with out there? And why? Now I have images of talking pistachios stuck in my head!”
“You can just add the carrot to the salad mix,” Hans answered sarcastically.
They arrived at their office lab out of breath. Hans took it out of his pocket and placed it on his desk. They both stared at it without saying a word. The carrot stared back at them.
"Why can’t we just throw it away?” Sven suggested.
“No! That’s inhuman!”
"Of course it’s inhuman, you fool! It’s a carrot!”
“We have to tell Dr. Neilsen,” Hans finally announced.
“No! Not yet. He’s still in hospital, recovering after that – unpleasant incident. The less stress for him right now, the better.”
“Jeg har gatt meg bort,” the carrot finally said.
It startled the both of them, and they stepped back a distance.
“He said ‘I’m lost’,” Hans said.
“I’m Norwegian, stupid,” Sven answered. “I know what it said. Wait a minute – how do you know it’s a he?”
“well, I mean – hell, it’s long and hard. I just figured…that’s all.”
“It’s also orange, with a flowing green stalk. Good God, man, why are we talking like this? It’s a damn carrot, for Christ sake!”
“Well, what are we going to do? We can’t tell anybody about this. The government will be on us so fast we won’t know what hit us. Our jobs are on the line here.”
Hans had a thought. “Wait a minute. I have an idea. I have a colleague, Dr. Steven Palmer; a good friend in America. He’s a fellow scientist I know I can confide in. I can call him on Skype. It’ll be secure.”
Suddenly, the carrot spoke up again. “Det gjor vondt her.” He began waving his stalk.
“He said ‘it hurts here’,” Hans said.
“Idiot! I’m Norwegian. I know what he – it – said.” He looked back at the carrot. “Hmmm, it’s waving its stalk. Maybe that’s where he’s hurting.” And he slowly approached it. “I won’t hurt you.” And he gently caressed its green stalk. Within a few seconds it stood up straight and stiff.
“Well, I guess that confirms its sex,” Sven said quietly. He thought Hans would turn green himself.
“Oh that is so wrong on so many levels,” he said. “And yet…” And he had a far-off look in his eye. “This genetic freak of nature can be our ticket to fame & fortune! Think of it: you and I are now the owners & guardian of the world’s only talking carrot. And so far, it’s just you & I. And we’ve got to keep it that way. But we have got to know more about it – how did this happen? What is its genetic makeup? And what other properties does it possess? And the only way we can learn more about our orange & green friend here, is from an outside source. And that’s where Steven Palmer will come in! We’ll freeze our veggie friend, ship it to him, and swear him to secrecy.”
“Can we trust him?” Sven asked.
“I’ve known Steven for years. I did my graduate work with him at Harvard. Once he analyzes a tiny sample in his firm’s electron microscope, he’ll ship it back to us, we’ll thaw it, fill Steven in on what the carrotreally is, then offer him a partnership. We’ll all be rich!”
“How much will you tell him when you speak with him?”
“As little as possible. But if I know Steven, it will be a scientific puzzle he’ll find irresistible. Besides, he owes me a favor.”
“But how will he not know?” Sven asked. He’ll see the fibrous legs, and my God, if it speaks to him…!”
“After I Skype him, we’ll send him a whole bunch of Norway’s finest carrots. We’ll conceal our orange friend in the middle to avoid anysuspicion from anyone. It’s vegetable, not animal. We can freeze it to put it in suspended animation. That will keep it quiet. Then we’ll tell him everything.”
“Sounds like a plan. Well, it’s now or never. Tell our talkative vegetable to shut up. Then we’ll put him in our desk drawer, and call Steven.
“Steven! Long time no see. You’re looking well.”
“You too, Hans. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“We have – an anomaly – we’ve accidentally produced, that I want your opinion on.”
“But you have an electron microscope, and all the state of the art equipment at V.G.J. to analyze any genetic RNA engineering. Why not just turn it over to your Dr. Neilsen?”
“Well, it is of an organic nature, yes; in the botanical field. But I have decided to keep what I do know under my hat, for reasons you’ll learn later. For now, only me, my colleague Sven here, and now you, even know of the existence of this genetic anomaly. And I’d like to keep it that way – for now. And there is the distinct possibility of vast financial gains. If that’s true, I’d like you on board too, with a brand new start-up. And Dr. Nielsen? Well, he’s recovering in hospital after an unfortunate accident with a Venus Flytrap of – how shall I put this – an intimate nature? Let’s just say an inordinate amount of Schnapps was involved.”
“I don’t think I want to know more.”
“Trust me, you don’t. Let’s just say, Sven and I have stumbled across what we believe is a breakthrough development. And we want you in on it with us. But first, we need to know what your electron microscope reveals, so we know what we’re dealing with.”
“Is it dangerous?”
“Not in the least. Let me send it to you, and then you can get back to me with your findings. How does that sound, my friend?”
“Now I’m definitely intrigued, Hans. By all means, send me your sample and I’ll get to work on it immediately.”
And the die was cast.
“I told you he couldn’t resist a scientific puzzle,” Hans said.
They retrieved the talking carrot from the desk drawer, and began to freeze it. But before it went to sleep, it looked up at Hans and Sven. “Det er kaldt.”
“He said he’s cold,” Hans quipped.
Sven gave his colleague a withering look. “I swear, if you do that again, so help me God… I know what it said!”
And so, with the un-named talking carrot safely in frozen sleep, they bound it – or him – within a bunch of other of Norway’s finest carrots. Soon he was winging his way to the shores of America.
Hans and Sven were understandably nervous as the days went by; their orange & green ticket to fame & fortune many thousands of miles away. But finally – finally – they received an email from their friend, and hopefully new partner, Dr. Steven Palmer.
Dear Hans and Sven;
Still waiting for your mysterious anomalous sample for my analysis. Looking forward to it. But thank you for the kind gift of those excellent Norwegian carrots you sent me! I don’t know what genetic cross-breeding you do on them, but they made the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted!
Dr. Steven Palmer
PS – Why do I have such an urge for Lutefisk? I hate Cod.