Workplace Meltdown #452 at the Mad Scientist’s Lab: Monday, June 15

Dr. Xorlikai is going to be furious. And rightly so: I’d forgotten to replace the beam aligner on the argon laser and now he’d be lucky to get 30% power from the thing. But he didn’t have to be such a dick about it.

The intercom crackles. “Stravinski! Reporrrt to ze laser chamber immediately!” This is the sort of thing I’m talking about. Sure, I’d screwed up, but how about, “please be more careful next time,” or even, “can we talk about how to improve your performance?” No. It was always “Reporrrt to ze chamber.” Bug-headed bastard.
So I walk into the laser room – I’ll be damned if I call a room a “chamber” – and Xorlikai has some guy strapped to the table. There are scorch marks on his shirt at about the fifth button down. Xorlikai is fussing over the laser, not that there’s anything he can do, since his fine vision resolution is terrible with his compound eyes. Genius boy didn’t think about that when he made the big switcheroo. He wheels ar ound in his stiff-necked way and clicks his mandibles.
“Yes, Dr. Xorlikai,” I say.
“You see zis?” he barks – which you’d think would be difficult for someone with an insect head. “Ze scorrrching?”
“Yes, Dr. Zorlikai,” I respond, adopting the sheepish tone that I hope will result in a minimal tirade.
“Ze scorrrching is NOT what I should be seeing. Ze subject—” he slaps the guy on the table in the face, “should have been reduced to scraps of flesh flung with trrremendous energy by ze expanding steam of his innards being vaporized by ze thirty four megawatt argon laser! What do we have instead?” I assume it’s a rhetorical question, but he presses me. “Well? What do we have?”
“Um, scorch-marks, Dr. Xorlikai.”
Dr. Xorlikai sighs. “Yes. Scorrrch marks.”
Here it comes. It always comes down to this.
“I did not replace my own HEAD in order to reap ze benefits of an insect’s superior neural pathways just to be surrounded by INCOMPETENTS!” Now he’s worked up. “DO YOU SSINK IT IS EA SY? DO YOU? I have ze HEAD OF AN INSECT! Children in ze street recoil at the sight of me! I have not known ze willing touch of a woman for THREE DECADES! IT IS NOT EASY, AND I NEED YOUR HELP!”
“Yes, Dr. Xorlikai.” He could have given himself a slug-head and it still wouldn’t be the most repugnant thing about him; self-pity would always take that prize.
The guy on the table whimpers a bit and says, “What’s wrong with you people?”
Xorlikai and I both turn to him and shout in unison, “Silence!”

–Steve Kilian

Kuo-toa Assimilated

Human Fly


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