It's Sciency Wiency stuff!

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Summary

What happens when Dr. Alice Evanston makes a major scientific breakthrough- a serum that'll help her wheelchair confined husband, Matthew to walk again....but, ends up accidentally turning him into a What happens when Dr. Alice Evanston makes a major scientific breakthrough- a serum that'll help her wheelchair confined husband, Matthew to walk again....but, ends up accidentally turning him into a monster?

Genre:
Scifi / Adventure
Author:
dcostavidal
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
1
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
13+

Chapter 1

CAST MEMBERS

Matt, Alice and Martin

Rooney Mara as Dr. Alice Evanston

1.

THE WEDDING

2 Vidal D’costa

Cameo by Billie Piper as Herself/ Martin’s estranged ex wife

Matthew smiled as his grinning brother/best man handed him the ring which he then placed on his blushing wife’s finger. The couple had met while he was stationed in Africa and she was a research scientist there. It was love at first sight. How lucky I am to have met ya, love! He thought to himself as he leaned in to kiss her to the applause of family and friends.

“You know, you should find a wife for yourself….Ya know, before it’s too late an’ you start goin bald like uncle Pat.” the concerned brother suggested at the wedding reception. Even though it was Martin’s brotherly duty to look out for his younger brother, Matt always found himself cleaning up after his big brother’s messes! “I dunno if I can love again….not since Billie dumped me.” Martin muttered dramatically, staring off into the distance solemnly. “Right, yeah….the celeb blonde who stomped on my poor brother’s heart. I told ya about Billie Piper, didn’t I, love? ” Matt reminded Alice. “Yup. How is it that they met again? ” she asked, staring amusingly at the lovestruck man who was now staring at a crowd of fans who’d thronged the actress (whom Martin had insisted on inviting, since it was obvious he wasn’t over her yet!) “Ya know, before I joined the army I worked as a stuntman an’ casanova ere was a slacker. I was tryin to find im a job cuz he was kicked outta the RAF for drug use, he found Billie, they struck up a friendship an’ presto! They wound up gettin married….an’ divorced soon after! ” he replied. “Aye….she was the one who got away! ” a romantic Martin whispered, longingly. “Again, dontcha mean, stomped on

2.

OFF TO WORK

Martin and Matt lazing around with their beers.

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 5

The next morning:

Matt would be returning to the battlefield two days later, but for now he was living in the moment, cuddling with Alice. The busy couple had to settle for a stay at home honeymoon. “Two more days before I go off to war again. I don’t want this moment to end. I wish we could cuddle all day.” he whispered, running his finger up her thigh while she rested her head on his bare chest and hummed in agreement. “Unfortunately, I’ve gotta go. Dr. Wartenberg’s gonna throw a fit. We’re workin on this new serum, ya know? It’s like Nobel prize stuff, ya know? It could change life as we know it….that’s all I can say! It’s pretty top secret stuff too.” she explained, tracing circles on his bare body as she spoke. “Glad yer havin fun, love.” he exclaimed, listening intently. “Unfortunately, that’s the only part of my job that’s fun. I mean, I still don’t fit in. Drop by at lunchtime an’ you’ll see me sitting by myself at a corner table at the cafeteria. I mean, is it the accent? I mean I watch Downton Abbey, man. I think I can do a British accent, spot on….I guess….” she confessed, frowningly. “Oh…really? I’d like to hear what you’ve got.” he challenged. “All right, here goes….Ello, guv’nor! How was that? ” she attempted, sitting up. “Ya had me at ello! ” he teased, pulling her back into a sleeping position before they snuggled up together, tangling up in the covers in the process. “Look at me….boring you with my silly problems an’ science stuff. Dude, you fight wars. You’ve got waaay more problems than making friends an’ waaay more adventures than I do in that silly lil lab! ” she muttered, feeling selfish. “No. I love listening to yer sciency-wiency stuff, love! ” he exclaimed in a muffled voice, while

6 Vidal D’costa

showering his giggling wife’s neck with kisses. “I really have to go though, honey. I’ll see ya later. I’ll pick up your favorite… uh, ya know that dish with the sausages an’ potatoes an’ gravy…from, uh, that place….the names escape me!” she promised, untangling herself from the covers and rolling out of bed before dressing up. “Bangers an’ mash from Breakfast Club? ” he corrected, suppressing a laugh. “Yup! That’s it! See, how could I forget that?! I mean, The Breakfast Club was only the best movie ever back home in America! I’m a complete misfit here! ” she complained, plopping down on the bed again. “Love, you don’t have to try so hard to fit in. You’re my misfit an’ I love you, kay? ” he comforted, sitting next to her as she fidgeted about with her shoe straps, feeling sorry for herself. “I love you too, honey.” she whispered, lighting up as he pecked her on the nose

He decided to watch telly, finding nothing better to do or noone better to talk to ,other than Martin who’d crashed on their couch due to a hangover. “Two more peaceful days.” he sighed, flipping through the channels. “Seriously?! It’s 10 in the morning! ” he exclaimed, as Martin handed him a beer, before plopping down on the couch beside him. “What? Ya never had a beer for breakfast before? ” Martin mocked, putting his feet up on the table in a relaxed manner. “Oi! Quit copyin me! ” he scolded, as his brother did the same in a coordinated manner just to annoy him. He let out a childlike snicker, before sipping his beer. “Geez! Yer so childish! I hope ya go off to war soon! ” Martin teased, before letting out a snicker off his own. “So, heard ya got a new job at the lab? ” Matt enquired. “Aye! Yer wife hooked me up. I wash test tubes an’ Petri dishes for that ol codger, Wartenberg.

3.

WORKING SIDE BY SIDE

“Dude, ya could try to show up punctually for once.” Alice scolded, as her brother in law finally showed up at the lab. “I don’t have to conform to the vagaries o’ time an’ space, ya know? ” he boasted, coolly. “Here are your samples, Dr. Wartenberg.” she said as she set down the box of vials on the table next to the old man who was busy jotting down something in his old torn diary. “I’ll start centrifuging the samples, Dr. Wartenberg.” she whispered, not wanting to disturb him, while he waved her off. “You know, I don’t expect much outta you Americans….” she heard him confess in his usual gruff voice. “Aww…great! The bashing o’ the Americans began early today, eh? ” Martin interrupted sarcastically, as he pulled on his gloves and picked up a sponge. “….but, you…you astound me, Dr. Evanston. You are a brilliant young lady.” he praised, ignoring Martin. “Thank you, Dr. Wartenberg.” she thanked, blushing with pride. “I can’t say the same about

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 11

page in his diary . “Dr. Wartenberg, I’m gonna work late an’ figure this out. Maybe there’s a problem with the dosage or somethin. I dunno, but we’re gonna make this serum a success, no matter what! ” she promised, as the dejected doctor left the lab.

“Alice, you’ve been ere all day. Ya haven’t eaten a thing. Let’s go.” a concerned Martin ordered. She rubbed her eyes, which were under strain from peering into the microscope for too long. “You don’t understand. If I perfect this serum, it could help paraplegics around the world. Soldiers who’ve lost their limbs in warfare, polio patients, paralysed people….they’ll all benefit from it, Martin. I can’t leave now….You go ahead.” she explained, refusing to budge. “It’s gettin late an’ Matt’s gonna worry. Besides, ya can’t travel alone by tube. Yer new to London an’ it’s pretty unsafe to travel alone ere at night, kay? Besides, if we leave now, we can still grab a bite at Breakfast Club before it closes! ” he cautioned. “Fine. Lemme just refrigerate these samples an’ we’ll go, kay? ” she finally agreed, succumbing to his puppy eyes and remembering her promise to her husband to pick up his favorite dish. The in laws linked arms as they walked out of the lab and headed for the station after stopping to pick up takeaway at Breakfast Club. “This is good! ” she exclaimed, as they listened to music from his iPod via earphones on the train journey home. “Ya can never go wrong with The Proclaimers. They’re bloody awesome!

.” he praised, as she tapped her foot to the rhythm, forgetting about the failed experiment.

“Ya seem tense today. Everythin all right? ” Matt asked, as they washed the dishes after a hearty meal of Bangers and mash. “Don’t ask.” Martin cautioned, licking his

5.

OF LOST LIMBS AND OLD

WOUNDS

They found her sitting on the couch, sobbing. “Love, it was just a prank. We used to pull it on mum all the time when we were kids.” Matt explained, sitting beside her. Martin poured himself a drink, before joining them in the drawing room with a glass of scotch in hand. “Don’t you ever do that again, kay?! It’s not funny! What if you’d really lost an arm,huh?! ” she scolded, wiping away her tears. “Love, what’s the matter? Yer usually fond o’ my jokes.” a concerned Matt asked, placing a comforting hand on her lap. “I’m sorry…..I’m gettin emotional…..” she apologized, sniffling as she spoke. “Want a sip o’ scotch? I’ve been using it to control an’ suppress my emotions for years! ” Martin bragged, shamelessly. “No, thanks. It’s just….you’ll be goin off to war again….an’ I dunno….what if you’re blown up or paralysed or….somethin worse, hon?

14 Vidal D’costa

I mean, we’re married now, we’ve a future ahead of us and….I don’t want us to lose that. Promise me you’ll come back to me in one piece, kay? ” she confessed, peering into his eyes with her frightened eyes as he wrapped his arms around her to comfort her. There was a long silence, before Martin interrupted- “Yeah, right! In one piece! No one returns from war in one piece, lass! It’s usually in a box or with lost limbs or some other injury! ” “Martin, stop scarin her! It’s normal to be worried, love. But, I promise I’ll be fine, kay? ” he consoled, ignoring his brother. “Oh, please! I was an RAF pilot an’ I’ve my share o’ injuries. See this?” Martin continued to speak, pulling up his pant leg to reveal an old scar on his knee. “My best mate was killed in front o’ my eyes after enemy fire got his plane. Blew it to pieces. I swerved to avoid his plane’s debris an’ my plane was hit. I jumped out, was parachuting down, was almost nearing land, when a propeller tore through my parachute, plunging me to the ground. I was in the hospital with a fractured kneecap, cracked ribs and a fractured collarbone.” he recounted. “Wanna see somethin worse? ” he asked before Matt could stop him from frightening her further, pulling off his shirt to reveal a horrific scar that stretched across his lanky frame. “My plane was shot down. Shrapnel to the chest and burns. I was in no shape to continue, so they sent me home. Took me months to recover. I turned to drugs an’ alcohol to cope with it all.” he recounted his nightmarish experience, before putting his shirt back on. “Well, ya could’ve narrated yer harrowing experience without taking yer shirt off! ” Matt muttered, watching as he buttoned his shirt. “My point is ya can’t expect im to return in one piece. Yer gonna have to deal with whatever

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 15

injury or trauma he’s gonna suffer an’ yer gonna have to be strong, kay? ” Martin advised, setting his empty glass down on the table next to the couch. “I think ya should leave…before ya cause any further trauma to either o’ us! ” Matt decided to show him the door. “But, if I leave, aren’t ya gonna miss me? ” he teased, with a pleading look and a lip quiver, as if asking to stay. “He’s right.” Alice agreed, after some pondering. “About us missin im? ” Matt exclaimed in disbelief. “No, not that. About being strong. I knew what I was gettin into when I married you. I’m supossed to be strong instead of freaking out and scolding you over a petty prank and spooking you out by talking to you about lost limbs.” she realized. “Actually, his stories terrified me more than you did, love.” Matt joked nervously, glaring at Martin . “I don’t care in what state you return. I just want you to return. I’m gonna be waiting….so, you’d better come back to me, no matter what! ” she made him promise, before hugging him and burying her tearful face into his shoulder. “I’m sorry too. I guess that joke was a bit too soon.” he mumbled, apologetically. “No, I think it was funny. It’s just ,what with all the disappointments at work and you leaving so soon….I guess, it put me in a foul mood.” she confessed. “I think I’ve somethin that’ll make ya feel better.” Matt suggested, before passionately pressing his lips against hers. She giggled as he took her by surprise as he carried her off to the bedroom, letting the door slam shut behind them. “That’s my cue to leave. Thanks for the dinner, mate! ” Martin called out after the giggling couple, before stumbling out into the dark and heading for his apartment across the street.

6.

MEMORIES OF LOST LOVE

Kelly Rowling

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 17

Cameo by Kate Beckinsale as Kelly Rowling

A drunk Martin collapsed onto his bed. He usually slept like a log, especially when if he was drunk, since the alcohol lulled him to sleep. But tonight was different. He was disturbed by dreams from his past:

He slid his hand down Kelly’s exposed back while she clung to his jacket while they slow danced. The brave girl had risked the cold to wear a backless gown which she’d requested her mum to send over especially for the RAF ball. They kissed intimately, before he pulled her outside. “Kelly, I’ve somethin to ask. I know we’ve been goin out for only a few months….An’ I know if somethin happens to either o’ us….” he began, before his hurt girlfriend shushed him with her finger pressed against his lips. “What I’m sayin is, before we go off to war again, I’d like it if ya made me the happiest man. At least, then I’d be at peace knowin that Kelly Robin Rowling said yes. Will ya be my bride, love? ” he asked. She agreed with a toothy smile, beaming with pride at the sight of his grandma’s ring which he’d always carried with him in the hope of finding the right girl. And now he had, and he wasn’t wasting any time in slipping the ring onto her finger. “Now, I won’t have to haunt ya! ” he joked, before she let out a laugh, losing no time in pushing her fiance against the wall while they snogged and she showered his neck with kisses.

Suddenly, he was back in the war zone and was yet again witnessing in horror as her plane exploded and she was ejected out. He was shot outta the sky too and plummeted after her. He heard a rip from his chute before he landed beside her on the hard ground. Her chute had failed to

7.

DRINKING GAMES

It’d only been a couple of weeks since Matt’s departure.

20 Vidal D’costa

Alice missed him and worried about him a lot, but she’d managed to divert her attention and concentrate fully on perfecting the serum. She spent most of her time in the lab, spending sleepless nights to figure out what was going wrong.

Martin had been given the task of labelling the specimen jars. “What’s porcupine bezoar? ” he asked, staring curiously at a jar filled with what looked like powdered stones. “Exactly what we need for our serum to work! Where’d ya find this, my boy? ” Dr. Wartenberg replied. “I was snoopin around the Do not open drawer.” Martin confessed, with an impish grin. “So….what is it? ” he repeated his question. “It’s a stone found in the stomachs of porcupines. It’s a miraculous cure. It’s believed to have medicinal properties an’ it helps fight off toxins an’ promotes muscle growth. Just what we need to improve our serum! ” a knowledgeable Alice explained on Dr. Wartenberg’s behalf. “Miraculous, eh? Any miraculous stuff’s always got side effects.” a suspicious Martin muttered to himself, while Alice prepared a new batch of serum with the new ingredient. “Leave that to the actual scientists, young man! ” Dr. Wartenberg scoffed. “Careful there, ol man! Yer talkin to the genius who might’ve discovered the solution to yer problematic serum.” Martin retorted, finding an excuse to boast. “I wouldn’t go that far. Yer merely a snooper! ” the elderly scientist corrected, mockingly. “Eureka! Shut up, the both of ya! Come take a look!” they were interrupted by an ecstatic cry from Alice, once she’d finished injecting the rat with the improved serum. “If it explodes, it’s on you!” Martin warned Dr. Wartenberg. “Look! It’s doin much better than the previous lab rats. It’s scampering about, clawing at the

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 21

glass enclosure…..and no signs of an explosion yet! Gentlemen, I think we’ve got ourselves a winner! ” she declared. They kept the active rat under observation, till Dr. Wartenberg decided it was time to declare their test a success, happily jotting down the results in his diary. “This calls for a celebration! ” Martin exclaimed, enthusiastically. Dr. Wartenberg (who wasn’t much of a drinker) decided to head home for some well deserved rest, while Martin and Alice headed for the nearest bar.

“Me an’ my pals at MIT used to vape in the school library .” she reminisced, as they randomly talked about the craziest stuff they’d ever done. “Wait a min…Ya used to what?! ” he asked in disbelief, mishearing her. “Vape. Ya know, smoke e-cigs? ” she replied. “Oh! Vape! I thought ya said the other thing. Ya know, the thing that’s covered in every episode o’ Jessica Jones that I’ve ever watched! ” he exclaimed, louder than he’d meant to. “Oh…My…God! You have such a dirty mind, dude! Get it outta the guttter…Oh, my god! Ugh! ” she cried out, widening her eyes in disbelief before playfully swatting at him with her napkin. “Sorry.” he muttered, apologetically and embarrassingly. “Seriously! ” she mumbled. “Me an’ my mates used to play this drinkin game called Hijinks in the army. An’ this girl, Kelly Rowling, she had…wow! Such a rockin body! Anyway, Kelly beat all us blokes at it! She was a real tomboy! I mean we both had more in common than I had with any o’ the blokes. Anyway, long story short…we got pissed as newts one night an’ snogged in a BAE Hawk! ” he bragged. “Did you really? ” she asked.” Actually, we had the hottest sex in a BAE Hawk! An’ I’m not exaggeratin! Remember the scene in Titanic where Rose’s hand slides down the steamy car window? Well, in

22 Vidal D’costa

this case, it was the steamy aircraft canopy! ” he bragged. “Bro, too much info! ” she gagged. He let out a wicked chuckle. “Sorry…that’s me.” she whispered, fidgeting about in her bag as her phone rang. He raised an eyebrow on hearing her Doctor Who theme ringtone. “Don’t judge me. I’ve heard your All about that bass ringtone, skinny boy! You’re probably thinking of calling me a geek, aren’t ya? ” she retorted, noticing his expression. “I wasn’t. I think bein a geek is sexy. Never strive to be the cool kid- it’s bloody boring! ” he quipped, before sipping his drink. She seemed impressed by his take on geekiness. “Hello?” she answered her phone. “Hey, love! How’re ya doin? ” came his voice. “It’s Matt! ” she exclaimed gleefully, putting him on speaker so Martin could hear as well. “We’re fine. We had a major breakthrough in the lab today, so we’re treatin ourselves to drinks.” Martin explained. “Well, he had a major breakthrough.” she corrected, giving him due credit with a friendly smile. “So, what’re ya up to? ” he asked. “Well, the boys are playin drinkin games. We’re bravin a sandstorm ere. Seems like it’s gonna subside though.” he replied loudly, trying to make himself heard over the noise of drunk uncontrollable laughter and table drumming from his colleagues. David’s gonna hurl! Make way, boys! She heard someone yell in the background. “Sounds fun! Martin an’ I were gonna do the same, but given David’s predicament, I think I’ve changed my mind! ” she decided with a nervous chuckle, while Martin teasingly mouthed coward. “Sounds like someone’s chicken, eh, mate? ” he asked Matt over the phone for confirmation. “Oi! She’s no chicken….she just can’t handle her drink! ” Matt teased, just to annoy her. She was just about to argue with him over the matter of

8.

HE WAKES UP

They’d been taken unawares as a missile from the enemy had destroyed their entire camp, claiming many of his comrades’ lives. He’d ended up with serious injuries and was in a coma. A distraught Alice and Martin waited by his bedside for some good news. “Alice, you’ve been up all night. Why dontcha go home an’ I’ll stay ere? ” he suggested, sitting beside her. “No… It’s ok.” she whispered, her teary eyes ringed with dark circles. “Fine. At least have some coffee.” he offered, holding out the cup of steaming hot coffee that he’d bought. “I’m fine actually. You drink it.” she refused politely, before reaching out and giving her comatose husband’s arm a squeeze. “Well, I’m not makin that mistake! I’ve had the hospital’s bland food before. I’m not takin chances with the coffee, which I imagine tastes worse!” he joked, in a bid to lighten her mood. She didn’t even smile, instead hot tears streamed down her cheeks as she broke down, uncertain about her

9.

LOSING HOPE

It’d been weeks since the bad news- Matt had been paralysed from the waist down and was confined to a wheelchair. The trauma of it all had stolen the smile from his face and he suffered from bouts of depression and night terrors which kept a concerned Alice on her toes. Fortunately, she had Martin around to help. It helped that he lived next door and was now finally realizing his responsibility as an older brother. The brothers were sitting in front of the telly, drinking beer for breakfast as Martin preferred to do every morning. Matt sat quietly and gloomily on his wheelchair, examining the beer bottle from which he’d hardly taken a sip, while Martin slumped into the couch and took a sip from his second bottle, watching his face for any hint of that old, infectious smile. “Sorry.” He whispered, noticing the hurt look on Matt’s face. He’d unconsciously put his feet up on the table as he used to before Matt’s incident and as he lowered them off

10.

PITY PARTY

Raleigh and his phony Angels

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 29

The next morning at work:

“Look at that vulture an’ his band o’ trollops! ” an observant Jenny muttered in disgust, leaning her chin against her mop handle as she fixed her eyes on Alice who was sitting at her table in the cafeteria…although not alone. Martin, who was on his lunch break and had struck up a friendship with the gossipy janitor ,followed her gaze to see the cunning Professor Raleigh and the equally cunning trio of Maddie, Deirdre and Anita AKA Raleigh’s angels as they were known by all those who knew them, flocking around and chatting up his sister-in- law. They were known to steal formulas for new serums from fellow scientists, develop them themselves, before patenting them and making a fortune on stolen ideas. Though FDA approval took a long time, Professor Raleigh had so many contacts that he could get it done in a blink of an eye! With the right contacts, he was also able to get all the lawsuits that were filed against him by the furious scientists tossed outta court. In his short time there, even Martin knew about the vile man’s misdeeds and he didn’t trust him or his angels one bit……especially around a vulnerable Alice. “Look at em, with their phony smiles and equally phony looks o’ concern!” Jenny grunted. “Pathetic! ” he muttered, with a frown. “Tell me about it! All these years she was invisible an’ now that she’s goin through somethin tragic an’ is at her most vulnerable, they swoop in! Pretendin to be her friends, comforters, an’ what not!” the red haired woman agreed, nodding her head of disbelief. “I’ve gotta stop this! They’re obviously up to no good! ” a distrustful Martin declared, quickly making his way to their table.

11.

COOKIES, COKE AND

CUNNINGNESS

“We’re sooo sorry to hear about yer hubby, Dr. Evanston!” Anita, the conniving microbiologist exclaimed with a pout. “Soooo sorry! ” Madeleine, the doll-faced geneticist seconded. “We baked ya these cookies, sweety.” the innocent-looking biotechnologist Deirdre (who was of Indian descent and was once a misfit just like Alice) offered. “I’ll take those, thank ya very much! ” a protective Martin interrupted, snatching the tray from her and wolfing down a few of the chocolaty treats. “Was starvin!” he exclaimed with a toothy, chocolate stained grin, before leaning back into the chair in a relaxed manner. “Long day, scrubbin Petri dishes, I s’posse? ” a mean Professor Raleigh asked in an insulting tone. “Aye, exactly! I’ll have that!

” he replied with a proud grin, before reaching up to grab the

Coke from the annoyed Professor’s hand, spilling

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some of it on his expensive looking suit in the process! “That was for yer sister in law, actually.” a fuming Professor Raleigh muttered. “Looks like yer slippin, Raleigh! If you’d done yer background check…. like ya do on every other person who’s arse ya wanna kiss….you’d know that my dear sis ere only drinks health drinks an’ the occasional cup o’ decaffeinated coffee.” he shot back, with a knowledgeable grin. “Just ignore im, Raleigh. He’s just a big show off. Believe me, I dated im….an’ I regret it! ” Madeleine calmed the insulted Professor down, while shooting daggers at a pleased Martin. “Maddie, ya could make a profit as a walkin,talkin Barbie doll….what with yer blonde locks an’ plastic smile! ” he mocked on overhearing her comment. He snickered shamelessly, as she rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at him. “Wait a min….you an’ Maddie? You guys were a couple?” Alice interrupted. “Well…I dumped er after the first date. She asked me to move in with er….on the first date! Hence the moniker- Needy Maddie! ” he recounted, coolly. “Oh, bugger off!” an insulted Madeleine cried out, before leaving in a huff. “An’ you! Yer just a soulless person, arentcha? All the layers o’ make-up ya put on aren’t gonna hide the fact that yer a cold, heartless strumpet who married for wealth, had yer wealthy husband killed off and then covered it up by sleepin with a bunch o’ lawyers an’ then got a job ere by sleepin with sweet ol scumbag Raleigh ere!” he rattled off, before a embarrassed Anita scurried off, avoiding the gaze of everyone in the cafeteria who were now listening in with rapt attention! Raleigh hurried behind to console her. He finally turned his attention to Deirdre who had been a silent spectator to it all and had a nervous gaze fixed at the fiery tongued

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 33

Scotsman . “Deirdre, my dear….I dunno how ya got together with these devilish people, but I advise ya to find better friends.” he advised, tsk-tsking as she followed Raleigh and the rest of the angels out of the cafeteria. “They were just asking me how work on the serum was going along.” Alice revealed. “Don’t tell em a thing. They’re vile idea snatchers! ” he warned. “Ok, I won’t. Was all that true? ” a stunned Alice asked, watching as the embarrassed group tucked tail and ran. “I dunno! I heard it all from Jenny the janitor! ” he replied, calmly sipping on his Coke, before helping himself to a large half of her tuna sandwich.

“What the…?! What’re ya doin ere?! ” he cried out suspiciously, on seeing a sly Madeleine standing tiptoe to reach the top shelf of the cabinet in the lab, where Dr. Wartenberg kept his diary! “I was j…just borrowing…this.” she lied, removing the diary from its place on the shelf. “Borrowing? More like stealing! The doctor doesn’t let anyone touch his diary, so give it ere! ” he ordered. “Get outta my way an’ noone gets hurt, skinny boy! ” she ordered, refusing to hand it over. “Was that a threat? C’mere, you! ” he exclaimed, rushing at her to snatch the diary from her. She made a run for it, but he was faster, catching hold of her and preventing her from escaping. She held the diary up, away from him as he held her tightly around the waist. “Lemme go….or I’ll scream! ” she warned, thrashing about. “Fine. Scream! Go ahead! ” he ordered bravely, before she let out a ear splitting scream, which brought Dr. Wartenberg and Alice running. “Martin, how bout some discretion the next time ya decide to have yer sexual rendezvous at the workplace! ” Dr.

12.

FIRING SQUAD

Cameo by Bill Nighy as Dr. Hardy

“I ought to fire every single one of y’all! ” Dr. Hardy declared, glaring at Raleigh and his angels who feigned remorse. “Aye, everyone….’cept er.” Martin interrupted, before pointing out to Deirdre. Everyone, including Deirdre, were taken aback by his statement. “What d’you mean, except er? She’s equally responsible. Ya can’t go soft on er! ” Dr. Wartenberg disagreed with him, eyeing him suspiciously. “No, she isn’t. Those cookies were genuine sympathy cookies. She’s not like these….these phonies! ” he justified. “Besides, she’s just hangin out with em cuz she’s just tryin to fit in.” he continued. “Is this true, Dr. Sultani? ” Dr. Hardy asked for confirmation. “Yea…I guess I was. I mean, when I first arrived here, they both seemed like friendly women….An’ Professor Raleigh agreed to help me out by funding my research. I didn’t find out about their idea stealing ways until much later,

36 Vidal D’costa

an’ I tried to report em, ya know, be a whistleblower an’ all….but, Professor Raleigh threatened to stop the funding. I’m sorry, Dr. Hardy.” she confessed, while her so-called friends looked at her in horror. “Well, ya can’t fire me. I’ve got a wife an’ child to support.” Professor Raleigh pleaded. “Well, according to Jenny, ya live alone with yer two cats- Custard an’ Mustard, ya liar! ” a grinning Martin interrupted, to his embarrassment. “Ya wanna fire someone, ya should fire that nosy janitor! ” he suggested. “Why? Bein nosy ain’t a crime, is it? ” Jenny asked, suddenly appearing at the doorway and peeping in and taking everyone by surprise! “Were ya standin out there the entire time an’ listenin in on us? ” Madeleine asked, seeming nervous by her presence. “None o’ yer business, Barbie.” the feisty redhead snapped. “Anyway….back to ya, Professor Raleigh. I’ve also received these sexual harassment cases against ya in the past….” Dr. Hardy continued, ignoring their petty argument. “Eww! What’d ya do, ya sick freak?! ” the curious janitor interrupted, yet again! “Well, what he did is serious enough to get him fired! By the way, ya two are fired as well! I don’t want either of y’all to step foot in my lab ever again.” he finally decided, to cheers from Dr. Wartenberg, Alice and Martin and a sigh of relief from Deirdre, who flashed a grateful smile at Martin. “Yer gonna pay.” a fuming Anita muttered to Martin, before they left.

38 Vidal D’costa

mate….looks like someone had a bad day. D’you wanna go to the park? Will that cheer ya up? ” Martin asked sweetly as he knelt down in front of him, in a bid to cheer him up. Their dad often took em to the park whenever either of em were having a bad day as kids. “Why’re ya talkin to me like I’m a child? ” the frustrated man retorted, in a grouchy voice. “I’m not. I’m talkin to ya like I would to an adult, mate.” he defended himself, trying to calm Matt down, since he seemed to get worked up over anything that anyone said to him. “No, ya weren’t! Ya were talkin to me like ya would to a dog or a six year ol! ” he cried out, getting worked up again. “Who in his right mind would talk to their dogs?! I’m just bein nice to ya! ” Martin argued. “Just go to the f# king park already! Geez! ” an annoyed Alice lost it, as she glared up at the brothers, looking up from the ceramic mess which she was cleaning up. “Rather temperamental today, isn’t she? ” Matt muttered to Martin. “Let’s get ya outta ere, eh? ” Martin decided, pushing his brother out for some fresh air, while she stayed behind picking bits of ceramic off the floor.

“Hey, Laurie! Long time, no see! Out for a late night jog? ” flirty Martin asked with a wide grin on spotting the neighborhood hottie jog past them. “None of your business….An’ not happenin, Martin! ” she replied haughtily, before jogging away. “Tell me somethin, Martin. Are ya usin me as bait so ya can talk to pretty joggers in the park? ” a suspicious Matt asked. “Nah….All though, ya could appear a bit cheerful. Yer startin to scare off the poor women! ” Martin lied, grinning sheepishly. “I thought ya were done chasin women….after all, ya already swooped my wife off her feet!

Probably already slept

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 41

o’ yers a rest, do ya? ” he teased, flashing her a toothy smile. “I’ve been thinkin of usin the serum on Matt.” she continued. “What?! But, it’s not ready for human use yet. I mean, the FDA hasn’t approved it yet.” he reminded. “No….but, we don’t necessarily need approval, do we? ” she retorted. “I dunno….I mean, we’ve only tested it on Mickey the rat so far….” he began to disagree with her decision. “Martin the rat.” a sharp Dr. Wartenberg corrected, putting on his gloves as he went about dissecting a frog. “Martin 2.0, actually. Martin 1.0 blew up, remember? ” she corrected. “For the last time, I don’t really appreciate ya namin yer lab rats after me! An’ I also won’t have ya treatin my brother as one o’ yer lab rats, kay?! ” he protested. “I made this serum so that every crippled soul could have a chance to walk again….An’ right now, he deserves to walk again! I can’t see him suffer any more, Martin!” she cried out. “An’ I don’t want him to suffer any side effects from this unapproved serum, Alice! Ya dunno the consequences if it doesn’t work! We could end up givin im false hope….” Martin argued. “….or end up paralysing him further, or killin im! It may have worked on the rat, but it’s different for humans an’ we haven’t tested it on any human subjects yet, my dear. I’m afraid there are rules. Until, we’ve got it approved, I’m afraid I can’t let ya go anywhere near that serum.” Dr. Wartenberg agreed with him. “None of you understand the seriousness of the situation! ” she sighed, before leaving the lab angrily. “She’s lettin her emotions cloud her judgement. That’s not a good thing.” Dr. Wartenberg muttered, tsk-tsking as he continued to dissect away, while a concerned Martin followed behind to console her.

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 43

defense, I was depressed when I said that.” Matt defended himself, as he sat in the backseat and buckled up. Deirdre, who’d driven them there, helped Martin to fold up Matt’s wheelchair and since he no longer needed it, they carried it and put it in the trunk of her car. He was just about to follow her into the car, when Alice stopped him. “Martin….I’ve to tell you somethin….I, uh…injected him with the serum a few days ago ….so, uh…technically it’s not the miracle of physiotherapy, but of my serum! ” she confessed, beaming with pride over her success. “Wait….Ya did what?! After, I warned ya against it?! ” he cried out in disbelief, pulling her aside. “If you were in my place, you’d do the same thing….wouldn’t you? ” she asked, in a bid to calm him down. “No…I would’ve tested it first on someone other than on a loved one. Ya might be bloody proud that yer serum worked an’ that he’s showin signs o’ improvement, but I don’t trust it, Alice. What if somethin goes wrong? ” he demanded to know. “We’ll keep him under observation, then. But, I’ve full faith in it. He’ll be fine. Believe me.” she assured, in a calm and confident manner. But, he was still not satisfied with her assurance. “Hey, you two! We’re gettin late! We’ve gotta drop him off home before we head back to the lab.” Deirdre called out from the car, interrupting them. As he took his place in the backseat next to Matt, he could not help glancing at the needle mark which was still slightly visible on his arm and worrying about the side effects…if any.

16.

FEELING BRAND NEW

Annabel’s

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 45

It was Martin’s birthday an’ they’d decided to celebrate it at Annabel’s, a fancy nightclub in London. Alice and Matt (Who was already fit enough to dance by now) were already setting the dance floor on fire with their dance moves. The birthday boy sat in a dimly lit corner, watching the happy couple dance while nursing his frosty beer. “You’re not gonna sulk and drink here all night are you? You only turn 38 once. C’mon, I need a dance partner too. Not gonna leave me hangin, are ya?” a chatty Deirdre asked, stretching out a hand towards him. “38 is just two steps away from 40. It’s the worst age to be. Who’d wanna celebrate when I’m two years away from middle age? ” he grumbled. “Whoa! It’s too early to be havin a midlife crisis, mate! You’ve gotta live while you’re young……An’ before that beer belly shows up….so, c’mon! Get your arse on the dance floor! ” she urged, pulling a groaning Martin to his feet.

“Alright, show me your moves! ” she teased. “Don’t have any.” he muttered, shoving his hands deep into his pocket and keeping to himself. “What d’you mean? Everyone’s got moves. ” she exclaimed in disbelief, frowning at his response. “Well, I don’t. I haven’t danced since….never mind.” he confessed, his voice trailing off towards the end of the sentence. “Fine. Let’s just sit in your corner an’ talk, then. How bout you buy me a Guinness? ” an understanding Deirdre suggested, shooting him a bored look. “Sure.” he agreed. “You still owe me a dance.” she reminded, staring behind longingly at the dance floor, before they walked back to his table in the corner.

“So…if you don’t mind me askin, why’re you such a philophobic person, Martin? ” the girl with a verbose mind

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asked, sipping her Guinness as she spoke. “Philo…What? ” he asked for the meaning of the word. “Philophobic. Why’re you so afraid of falling in love? ” she repeated. “Oh! How d’you know I’m afraid of fallin in love? ” he asked, in surprise. “Alice tends to gossip about her personal life a lot. Now, that we’re best friends, we confide in each other a lot. She said that you haven’t been able to stick to one woman an’ it usually ends with a bad breakup cuz you can’t commit or you end up havin a one night stand or end up divorcing Billie Piper. She says it’s cuz you haven’t met anyone as perfect as Kelly was. Who’s Kelly, by the way? ” she rambled on. “Someone from my past. Someone whom I still feel pretty uncomfortable talkin about.” he muttered, with a pained expression. “Oh…Sorry.” she apologized, realizing she’d accidentally opened an old wound. “It’s alright. Ya know, in some ways, you sorta remind me of her. That smile, those gorgeous brown eyes, that endless chatter….” he reminisced, listing the similarities between her and Kelly. “I dunno if this would help you get o’er her, but would you like to go out on a date with me? ” she asked, feeling sorry for him. He was silent for a while. “I’m sorry if you don’t wanna….Forget I even brought it up! ” she exclaimed, feeling embarrassed. “Sure. For someone who’s been infatuated with me since I started workin at the lab, anything.” he replied, with a teasing smile. “Oh, my god! Was it that obvious that I had a crush on you? ” a blushing Deirdre asked. He nodded, before turning his attention back to his beer.

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Martin 2.0 turns scary!

He hummed happily as he fed the lab rats, excited about his date that evening. “Sounds like you’re smitten! ” his sister-inlaw teased, overhearing him. He didn’t respond and blushed. “Just keep yer mind on yer work right now, both o’ ya! ” a strict Dr. Wartenberg scolded the chatty duo. “Ow! Martin 2.0’s gettin temperamental! He just bit me! ” Martin yelped all of a sudden, holding his bleeding finger. “Maybe, he hates ya like everyone else! ” Dr. Wartenberg insulted. “No….It’s not that. He’s never bitten me. In fact, I’d say he’d taken quite a shine to me….lil bugger would come scamperin when he saw me durin feedin time….an’ now he just sits there, eerily glarin at me with those beady eyes! ” he recounted, sucking on the tip of his finger to stop the bleeding. “Looks like he’s

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 49

shedding too. Whoa! Look at all those tiny white hairs on the floor of his enclosure. There seems to be some gooey discharge coming from his eyes and he seems rather jittery and trembly too. Doc, what d’you think is wrong with him? D’you think, maybe it’s Tyzzer’s disease? What if it’s the

C. Kutscheri infection? ” a concerned Alice asked, jumping to conclusions as she peered into the enclosure, scared about losing her precious test subject. “I dunno….maybe, Martin’s not feedin im properly.” Dr. Wartenberg comforted her in his gruff voice, at the same time flinging accusations at his favoured target, Martin! “That’s rubbish an’ I won’t stand for it! He hasn’t been keepin too well ever since ya injected im with that serum though. I didn’t pay much attention to it, but now I’m startin to think yer serum’s at fault ere.” Martin accused the scientists, eyeing them suspiciously. “Perhaps, the dosage was a tad high?” a clueless Alice guessed, with a shrug

. “Yer brother-in-law’s only tryin to make us doubt the serum. He’s always had his doubts about that brilliant serum. Just ignore it. I’m sure Martin 2.0’ll be alright. Stop frettin o’er im, he’s only a rat, for chrissakes! ” a busy Dr. Wartenberg reprimanded. The human Martin frowned, before deciding not to give it too much thought. He decided to check on the rat later and turned his attention to his injured finger,washing the blood off under a running tap and covering it with a bandaid before returning to work.

18.

UP IN FLAMES

He let the roses he’d bought drop to the footpath as he watched in horror as the flames lapped up her apartment

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 51

and her ashen face appeared at the window as she banged on the window pane, calling out for help. He’d turned up for his date, only to be met by firemen hard at work, determined to rescue Deirdre and concerned neighbors who’d gathered outside to witness the chaotic scene. Soon, the ordeal was over. They were able to rescue her and rush her to the hospital, but her apartment no longer existed, burnt to cinders. He rode with her in the ambulance, holding her trembling hand to comfort her.

“They burnt my research, Martin. My papers an’ everythin….all gone! Raleigh an’ the girls broke in an’ doused everythin with lighter fluid before burning it an’ then, Anita tried to kill me but when I resisted, she knocked me out! When I came to….everythin was up in flames an’ I couldn’t get out! ” she recounted, while he listened intently, fuming over that vile man and his equally vile angels! “Don’t worry. She’s out of danger now. Fortunately, the firemen arrived in time or she’d have died from asphyxiation. A couple o’ stitches an’ you can take her home. Here are her discharge papers.” the doctor informed.

He helped her to her feet and hired a cab, deciding to take her to his place, since she had nowhere else to stay. “Too bad we couldn’t go on that date, eh? ” she whispered sadly, leaning her head against his shoulder. “Who cares. I’m just relieved yer safe an’ sound.” he whispered back, planting a kiss on her forehead. When they arrived, an exhausted Deirdre had dozed off and he had to carry her up to his apartment. “Chivalry’s not dead, folks! ” he heard her mumble jokingly, as he laid her in his bed and tucked her in. He decided to hit the couch, since he was

19.

A ‘PORCU-RAT’?!

A porcu-rat

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The next day, there was a queer development at the lab. Martin was checking on his namesake rodent friend. He noticed something stranger than the rat’s gooey eyes and lack of fur. He noticed tiny quills protruding from the rat’s skin, making him look less like a rat and more like his relative- The porcupine!

“Is it just me….or does Martin

2.0 seem a tad different? ” Martin asked, bringing this strange new development to Alice’s and Dr. Wartenberg’s attention. “Are those….quills? ” Alice exclaimed in disbelief, as they gathered around the enclosure for a closer look. “What d’you think caused it….? An’ don’t you dare say my serum did it! ” she warned, as Martin opened his mouth to respond. “Well, what else could it be? All the blood tests we did on im revealed no disease. He was a healthy lil bugger, until yer serum….it changed im! God knows, what it’ll do to Matt! ” he muttered. There was an awkward silence, before a frightful Alice asked- “What d’you mean by that?! Are you saying my husband’s gonna turn into a porcupine….cuz of my serum?! ” “Wait a min….Ya used the serum on Matthew after all that we talked about?! Dr. Evanston, that is highly reckless o’ ya! Ya should know better! I’m disappointed in ya.” Dr. Wartenberg reprimanded her before Martin could reply, nodding his head in disbelief. An ashamed Alice bent her head, feeling like a disgrace in front of the man she’d looked up to and frightened about the consequences. “I’m afraid this experiment was a complete failure! ” Dr. Wartenberg continued. “Oi! I’d suggest ya stop blamin er! She had no choice. Besides, it isn’t er fault. It’s probably yer porcupine bezoar. We probably shouldn’t have used it in the first place! ” Martin defended her. “But…I’ve never known it to have any side effects before. This is a first!

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 57

lunged at Martin. “Whoa! I was in the army, what’s yer story? ” Martin asked, impressed and taken aback at the same time by the usually timid girl’s heroic act. “I’m a black belt in karate.” she replied, coolly adjusting her beige dress. “Well, remind me to cancel that Halloween scare I’d planned for ya!

” he joked nervously,eliciting a snicker from her. “What should we do to these scoundrels? Wanna hand em o’er to the coppers? ” he asked, staring at a jittery Raleigh and his hurt, groaning angel. “He’ll probably bribe the cops into bailin em out or somethin! I’ve got a better idea! ” she exclaimed, before running into her room. She rummaged through the travel bag where she kept spare test tubes. The bottle on the kitchen top caught her attention as a wicked grin crept across her face.

“Here. Let’s inject em with this serum! ” she declared once she’d returned, displaying the test tube filled with orange liquid and a syringe she’d brought out with her. She mouthed play along to a confused Martin. “It’s a new serum. Bet you’d like to get yer ratty hands on it, eh?” he replied on her behalf. “A fast acting one.Just one dose an’ it’ll make all your hair fall off! ” she continued, with wild eyes and a crazed expression which would put Hamlet to shame! “My beautiful blonde locks? ” a trembling Madeleine asked. “That’s not the worst part, princess. A second dose, an’ your pretty face’ll be covered in warts. Now, who’s gonna be the first one to test it? ” she finished explaining her devious serum. “Ya know what?

We’re sorry for ruinin your evenin. We’ve gotta run anyway, don’t we, sweetums? ” a horrified Raleigh decided to take off, while Madeleine nodded in agreement.

“I hate that phony! If he was a real man of science, he’d know that this is Fanta! ” she quipped, gulping down

21.

CHECKING FOR CHANGES

The mysterious rash

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“Mornin, sunshine! ” a drowsy Martin groaned, as he felt her push him off the couch. “C’mon, up on your feet, lazybones! We’ve gotta get to work.” Deirdre reminded, stretching out her hand to help him up as he lay on his back on the rug. She tumbled and fell atop him, as he mischievously tugged at her arm. “Fancy some breakfast first? ” he asked, tucking a lock of hair that’d come loose behind her ear. “Sure. But, your fridge’s empty. You should keep it stocked.” she advised, looking into his eyes as he spoke. “We haven’t even kissed yet an’ yer already raidin my fridge, eh? Anyway, I meant, let’s head on to Matt an’ Alice’s. Her pancakes are to die for! ” he exclaimed. “Brilliant! Let’s go then! ” she declared, rolling off him and standing up. “Now….about us kissin….? ” he asked longingly, disappointed because she’d interrupted their intimate moment. “Later. I’m famished! ” she replied, putting on her coat and gesturing to him to stop lying around like a tortoise and follow her out.

“Mornin! You two are early. Matt’s still asleep. You 2 are the first recipients of my famed pancakes! ” she exclaimed cheerfully, before busily flipping some more pancakes and rustling up scrambled eggs. “Oi! Hands to yourself, O’Reilly! Those are my pancakes.” Deirdre scolded, swatting his arm away, as he greedily grabbed at her stack of buttery, blueberrytopped pancakes. “Yeah, I should’ve warned ya. He tends to eat off others’ plates. Does it to me an’ Matt all the time! ” Alice revealed with a laugh, as if egging him on! “An’ they let me! ” he continued shamelessly, before quickly sneaking a handful of blueberries from her plate and popping them into his mouth.

” Mornin, love! ” Matt greeted Alice with a kiss, happily

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 61

strutting into the kitchen before pouring himself a cup of coffee from the carafe. “Mornin, mate! Ya feelin all right?” ” a concerned Martin asked. He’d finished his breakfast hurriedly, since a punctual Deirdre insisted on not reaching late to work. She’d even risked it by gulping down steaming hot coffee! “I’m fine. D’you mind? I’m just gonna get past ya….to my cozy place at the breakfast table? ” Matt requested, trying to push past him. “Feelin a bit temperamental there, mate? Sure, you’re fine? No mysterious aches or pains? ” Martin asked again for reassurance, raising an eyebrow. “Well, I’ve this serious headache.” Matt replied, rubbing his forehead with his fingers. “Really? When’d that start? ” a curious Martin asked. “Around the time ya started talkin.” came the sarcastic reply. “Ya know what? I think, we’ve gotta get goin! ” Alice interrupted, quickly gulping down her orange juice, before pulling her prodding brother in law aside. “What’re ya doin, dude?! Tryin to scare him? ” she asked, angrily. “Yer right! We should probably wait….till the quills start protrudin outta his back! ” he retorted, sarcastically. “Till the what

protrude outta my back?! ” an alarmed Matt cried out, overhearing them. “Nothin, hon! Martin was just tellin me about this horror movie he watched last night- Night of the zombie porcupines 2!” Alice lied, dragging Martin out the door before he can open his mouth again. “You’ve gotta tell me more about this movie! ” Deirdre (who was a huge fan of horror movies) exclaimed, following behind. “Have a great day, ya 3!” Matt called out after them with a mouthful of bran, before folding up his sweater sleeve, feeling the urge to scratch at the itchy crimson rash that stretched across his arm.

22.

THE PORCUPINE MAN

The porcupine man

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The night everything changed:

“G’night, love.” Matt whispered, before giving Alice a goodnight kiss as the couple turned in for the night. He twisted and turned in his sleep, as he felt a burning sensation and itchiness all over his body. He headed to the bathroom, splashing water on his burning face, before looking up at his bare torso in the mirror. He shirked in horror. The rash had somehow spread across his entire body overnight! He reached for the calamine in the medicine cabinet, when a sudden pain caused him to stoop to the floor. He fell to his knees. The pain caused him to pass out on the white tiled floor. He came to a few minutes later, slowly climbing to his feet.

“Ahhhhh!! ” a shriek from the bathroom woke her up.

“W…what’s t……th..this….? What’s happenin to me?? ” he exclaimed, as she looked on frightfully. His own reflection made his heart leap into his mouth, as he stared in horror at the millions of spines which covered his bare skin. His horrified wife watched in silence, blaming herself in her mind as he unsuccessfully attempted to break off the spines and cut

through them with scissors from the cabinet. “What’s this…

some kinda joke?? ” a clueless Matt muttered as he tossed the useless scissors aside, though only Alice knew this was no joke.Speechless, she slumped against the cold wall, wishing her eyes were deceiving her. “I…I’m…so…sorry. This is all my fault, Matt! ” she apologized, finally finding her voice. A clueless Matt staredat her, his frightened

eyesdemanded an explanation. “You did this?! ” he exclaimed in disbelief after she told him all about what the serum had done to Martin the rat. He looked away from the mirror, unable to look at his horrific appearance anymore.

“You an’ yer

23.

SAVING MATTHEW

“I can’t believe my serum did this to him! It was s’possed to help him! ” Alice broke down, confiding in Martin and Deirdre. “Relax….we’re gonna fix this, Al. In fact, Deirdre an’ Dr. Wartenberg might have somethin that might help.” Martin consoled. “They do? You do? ” Alice asked, shooting a surprised look at Deirdre who was almost done dressing the wound on her neck. “Uh…yea…Dr. Wartenberg asked for my help in synthesizing an antidote soon after he learnt about ya injectin Matt with the serum. ” she whispered. “Why’d you hide this from me?! We could’ve used it earlier….before all this! ” Alice demanded to know. “I didn’t wanna get your hopes up. We haven’t tested the antidote either…” she explained, nervously. “But, we have a shot at curing him, right? ” a desperate Alice interrupted. “Yes…but…” Deirdre began to protest, doubting her own antidote, a far cry from Alice who had been confident about her serum. “I don’t wanna hear

24.

A HARD TIME CATCHING

UP

The Hungerford and Jubilee bridges

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 69

Matt scrambled about quickly, running faster than any human being. When they finally caught up to him, he was heading past the large window panes of closed shops, shirking each time he caught a glimpse of his spiny self in the glass. They lost sight of him as they approached the busy marketplace. He was lost in the hustle and bustle of the crowd. They heard a familiar voice scream from somewhere in the crowd. “Make way, folks! Comin through…It’s urgent! ” Martin pushed his way through the crowd, sprinting in the direction of the voice, while the equally determined women followed behind him. They found a terrified Madeleine huddled in a corner next to a fast food stall, the contents of her shopping bags strewn on the road and quills sticking out of her pink cropped jumper. Thankfully, she wasn’t hurt. “Deirdre….? Matt…he’s a……a monster! Wh…what’s goin on?! ” a shaken Madeleine asked, as Deirdre helped her up. “No time to explain, Maddy. Which way did he go? ” she enquired, while pulling the sharp things outta her friend’s jumper. “I…uh…he, uh, bumped into me….An’ then he ran away…that way, towards the Hungerford and Jubilee bridges.” she recollected, pointing in the direction with a shaky finger. “Whatever this is….I’d like to help.” she offered , to their surprise!

They raced against time, making their way to the bridges which wore a deserted look. “Split up. Ya two take the footbridges, while Deirdre an’ I’ll take the railbridge. Be careful.” Martin ordered Madeleine and Alice (who held onto the antidote). “Aye, aye, Cap’n! ” Madeleine exclaimed, rather excited about their nighttime adventure. “Don’t call me that!

An’ I want ya to take this

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seriously, kay? ” a distrustful Martin reprimanded, before hurrying away.

“So…serum gone wrong, huh? ” Madeleine asked, as the duo walked along the empty footbridge, keeping an eye out for Matt. “Don’t rub it in my face. Where’s the rest of your Goonie gang, anyway? ” Alice enquired. “I wasn’t rubbin it in your face. I just feel sorry for poor Matt. An’ if you must know… Anita an’ Raleigh are on a late night flight to Brazil. We’d got a job at a research lab there but they left me in the lurch after Raleigh an’ I had a tiff at the airport. An’ the worst part is….he said I looked fat in this jumper! I was just doin some binge shoppin to get over that arseholse’s hurtful comments. Ya dunno how much I’m hurtin right now.” she revealed, with a sniffle. “Get a grip!” Alice muttered, rolling her eyes and wishing she hadn’t asked. “Shush! What was that?! ” she interrupted a narcissistic Madeleine who’d begun to ramble on about how the cropped jumper suited her, accentuated her curves an’ how wrong stupid Raleigh was an’ how she hated him an’ Anita an’ how she wished their plane would crash! A loud clang from the nearby steel truss railbridge finally shut her up. “Oh, my god! ” a wide- eyed Madeleine cried out, as they saw Matt clinging to the side of the railbridge. He was bathed in the light from Alice’s flashlight as he slowly crept across the bridge, unbeknownst to Martin and Deirdre who stood on the railway tracks.”Guys, look out! ” Alice cried out a warning, as he climbed higher and higher, before dropping down on his feet in front of the couple.

25.

HANGING ON

“Hey, mate. Yer gonna get better soon. We’ve got the antidote. We just want ya to stay still while Alice injects ya with it, kay? ” Martin requested, approaching him slowly. He’d never felt scared of his brother, as much as he did now. “I don’t want yer antidote. God knows what it’s gonna do to me! Probably turn me into somethin worse! ” Matt muttered, his furious eyes glowing in the dark. “It won’t. Ya don’t have to worry, kay? Yer gonna return to normal, I promise.” Martin promised. “Hollow promises. I’d rather die than let ya inject me with some bloody antidote! In fact, I was just about to go ahead an’ do that until ya showed up ere. Jump in front o’ a train. An’ if that didn’t work, drown myself in the Thames.” a distrustful and frustrated Matt revealed. “Oh, my god! That’s why you’re here? Listen, you can’t lose hope. Just let us help you, please.” Deirdre pleaded. “I guess I’ll have to deal with ya lot, before I can finally leave this sickening form! ”

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Matt muttered, disgusted by the creature he’d become and venting out his frustration and anger at his loved ones. “Mate, please…” a concerned Martin whispered, reaching out an arm to grab his arm and pull him off the tracks. “Let go! ” Matt cried out, no longer trusting his own family as he freed his arm from his brother’s grasp and backed away. “Oh, yea…that was a bad idea! ” Martin grimaced, as a quill stuck out from his hand. It’d gone right through the skin and flesh when he’d grabbed onto Matt’s spiny arm. A determined Martin pulled out the quill, fought back the pain and approached him insistently. “Martin……move!! ” Alice’s voice wafted from the footbridge, as Matt lashed out, swinging his arm and landing a blow to Martin. “Noo! ” Deirdre screamed, as he was knocked off his feet and flew right off the bridge! “An’ now, to deal with the person who started all this! Don’t take the trouble to come o’er ere, love. I’m comin there! ” an unhuman Matt declared, turning his gaze towards the women, before leaping onto the footbridge to deal with them . “Alice…..Run!! ” Martin’s voice cried out from nearby. A surprised Deirdre ran in the direction of the voice and heaved a sigh of relief as she saw his bloody arm clinging to the side of the bridge. “Hey, love! A lil help? ” he requested, looking up at her and flashing her a nervous smile as he hung on for dear life.

“Oh…bollocks! I don’t wanna go! Not like this, anyway!” he cried out, swaying about as he dangled from the bridge and worryingly looked down at the strong currents of the Thames below him. “Stop overreactin, ya crybaby! You’re not gonna die! Stop wiggling so much or I won’t be able to pull ya up! ” she ordered, holding on to his arms and pulling with all her might. He gulped,

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 75

lashed out, tossing her away violently over the railing of the bridge, before pulling out the syringe with a groan and rubbing at the needle mark on his neck. He felt himself changing, as the spines fell away and he returned back to normal. Of course, by normal, it meant that he was back to being a paralyzed man.

He raised himself groggily on his elbows and remembered what his rage had caused as he watched Madeleine cup her hands around her mouth, calling out to his wife- her wide, worried eyes searching the dark waters for her. “There’s no sign of her. I’m sorry, Matt….” she mumbled apologetically, turning towards him on noticing him. ” No…Alice…noooo!” he moaned, leaning back against the cold steel railing and letting tears roll down his cheek as he blamed himself for what had happened to her.

Martin and Deirdre, who’d reached the footbridge just then, joined in the search. “There she is! ” Deirdre exclaimed from a far end of the bridge, spotting her thrashing about and pointing her out to the others. She was trying to stay afloat, while weakly yelling out for help. Martin was still recovering from his injuries and Deirdre was a hydrophobic. Someone had to save her before the river claimed her.

27.

THE SAVIOUR ANGEL

“I’m jumpin in there. I’m not gonna let her die! ” Madeleine declared bravely, as she took off her jumper and climbed atop the railing of the bridge. They watched in disbelief as the heroic girl dressed in only a tank top and ripped jeans jumped off, plunging into the icy water. Shivering, but unafraid, she dived in to retrieve Alice who’d lost consciousness and had almost sunk to the bottom by then. Both the women resurfaced a while later and Madeleine held onto her as she fought against the current to finally bring her to shore. She dug her nails into the mud as she successfully scrambled to the shore, not caring whether she broke one of her manicured nails as long as her colleague was safe.

A short while later, Martin and Deirdre reached the still unconscious Alice. Martin held her limp body close to provide warmth while attempting to resuscitate her. He heaved a sigh of relief as she finally came to and sputtered.

28.

HEALED WOUNDS

Matt and Alice’s apartment:

“Ok, just relax…..Stay still. This might sting a bit.” she whispered, soaking a cotton ball with alcohol, before dabbing at the wound on his forehead which he’d sustained when he hit his head on railing of the bridge, once she’d finished bandaging his hand. He hissed, scrunching up his face in pain. “Don’t worry….just a lil dab….An’ a bandaid….An’ we’re all set! ” she exclaimed, as she pushed aside strands of his hair that covered his sweaty forehead, before planting a kiss on his forehead once she’d carefully dressed the wound. “All better? ” she asked, sweetly looking into his eyes. “Almost.” he replied, looking back at her in a longing manner, before clasping her hand in his, gratefully planting a kiss on it. “How bout now? ” she asked, moving closer till their lips met in a passionate kiss. “Much better.” he replied, still reeling from the taste of her sweet lips as she pulled back quickly

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 79

on hearing the door swing open. “Sorry. Did we interrupt somethin? ” Matt asked, wheeling himself into the apartment while Alice followed behind. “That’s why you’ve gotta keep your medicine cabinet stocked.” Deirdre whispered advisably to Martin on noticing his disappointed expression at the interruption of their intimate moment. “Here ya go, Al. I borrowed your first aid kit. Hope you don’t mind.” she remembered, setting down the first aid box on the table. An absent minded Alice nodded silently. “What’s troublin ya? ” a concerned Martin asked as he sat up with a groan, while Matt squeezed her shoulder in a comforting manner. “I guess it’s goodbye to my FDA approval, huh?” she muttered in a distraught manner. “An’ you probably won’t get a chance to walk again, will you, hon? I’ve failed…miserably! ” the tearful scientist exclaimed. “Don’t be hard on yerself, love. If it makes ya feel better, I kinda like lazin about in my wheelchair! It’s relaxin! ” Matt joked, trying to lighten her mood. There was a tense pause, before she finally let out a snicker at his joke and leant in to kiss her understanding husband.

29.

BACK TO THE LAB

Making the front page!

It’s Sciency Wiency stuff! 81

“Look at that! I made the front page! How bout that, eh? ” a boastful Matt exclaimed, showing off the front page of The British Bugle, before Martin snatched it away from him. “Big deal! They didn’t even print yer photo.” Martin pointed out mockingly, getting crumbs all over the paper as he munched away on his toast. “I swear, the press has gone to the dogs! ” he joked, with a knowing look on his face as he set the paper down. “Close call though. Imagine if they hadn’t thought of it as a Halloween prank. They’d have turned on him like that mob had turned on Frankenstein’s monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein! ” a bookish Deirdre heaved a sigh of relief. “Excuse me! Frankenstein’s monster?! That’s goin a bit too far, isn’t it? ” Matt cried out, feeling insulted by her comment. “Ya didn’t exactly look too good with those quills sticking out o’ ya!” Martin agreed, his voice muffled as he took a sip of coffee. “We’ve got a job to do,remember.” Deirdre reminded, tapping at her wrist watch on noticing the time. “Oh…Right! We talked to Dr. Wartenberg an’ he’s agreed to start work on a brand new, improved serum. An’ this time, we’re not skimping on any procedures or trial runs. We’re pulling out all the stops! I can’t wait for this serum to be approved an’ out on the market soon! No more late night adventures that involve running after porcupine men an’ keeping the press guessing! ” a determined and hopeful Alice declared, not losing her can do spirit. “Right. But, first we’ve gotta get to the lab an’ do further research on it. Now, let’s leave before the ol grump throws a fit! ” Deirdre reminded, in a bid to calm the over-excited woman down while impatiently holding the door open. “Ya know, I’m really concerned about you spending time with him. His habit of insulting people is rubbing off on

30.

EPILOGUE

Kelly Rowling returns…Or does she?

84 Vidal D’costa

2 years later:

“Our serum’s on the market, it’s helping physically challenged persons around the world without any side effects….” she exclaimed enthusiastically, linking an arm around his arm as they strolled along the lawns at the wedding venue. “…including Matt.” he agreed satisfactorily, letting out a chuckle as they watched Matt and Alice having a ball on the dance floor, proving that they were indeed terrible at tango! “Ya know, ya never thanked me for providin ya with a name for yer serum.” he reminded, braggingly. “Right! Biothaique…What’s it mean, again? ” she asked, rolling the catchy name around her mouth since she liked the sound of it. “It’s Scottish Gaelic for revive” he replied, before breaking into a grin as she pecked him on the cheek gratefully. “If that’s what I get for simply naming the serum, I wonder what I might’ve gotten if I’d helped in synthesizing it! Now, gimme a snog! ” he exclaimed saucily, before leaning in for a French. “Down, boy! Save some for the honeymoon, eh! ” she teased, letting out a shy laugh as she pushed him away. “Oh, look! Dr. Wartenberg’s here! ” she interrupted, waving at the old man who smiled at them from the flowery archway, before walking towards them.

“Congratulations, ya two! Although, ya could’ve done better than this fella!” the usually serious man joked. “I hope ya don’t mind, I brought a plus one. This is my student, Ms. Shawna Munson. She’s just arrived from Poland where she’d been working on her revolutionary inventions. She’s plannin on introducin em to London….An’ soon,the world! ” Dr. Wartenberg praised, brimming with pride. “Doctor, you’re making me blush! Anyway, congratulations, you two! ” the beautiful, brainy

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Further Recommendations

Sue Kelly: Loved this book well written good flow recommend it

Ilja : When are you gonna update again??

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Leah Sin: Sweet ending and a great twist. A fun book to read

Paula: Once again a beautiful story, very well written with great characters, great plot.I love your stories Natalie le roux.Thank youI can't stop reading.

Alice Daniela Claudia Marcu: I enjoied every page of the books and i enjoy the last one im waiting for an update as soon as you will post one

Tina-Jo: Healed by Fate is a great read. I was hooked from the start. I really look forward to reading the rest of this book. It can only get more infusing from here.

Crystaliina: On to the next one...

ThatTransBoy/Ray: I loved this all the way, there were a few spelling errors but other than that it was amazing

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Alicia758: I really enjoyed reading this book. The writing was amazing the characters were flawless.

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Hlengiwe: I literally loved the book so far , there was no part that I disliked.

elcid423: Norwood is easily the one character you'd love to outright hate. I enjoyed the way you brought each character to life with their own unique personalities. The overall story is very intriguing and I am eager to read more. Nice job!

liz: The seconed book is good so far hope to see more.Thanks

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