H. H. F. Enterprises, outside Las Vegas

2:47 am


            Unknown to unknown geneticist Dr. H. H. Fussing, he had reached for his favorite pipette for the very last time.

            “Good evening Doctor,” intoned the intercom, interrupting the solitary investigator in his quiet laboratory.

The old man paused in his procedure — Strange, I thought I was here alone in my laboratory, built by and for one person: me. Even stranger, the entire building is owned by my corporation, I am the CEO, president, chief scientist, human resources officer, head technician and all other positions. I have no customers or clients or partners — in fact, no one else knows that I am here. So who would be talking to me at this hour? And, strangest of all, why did I build an intercom system?

            “Good evening. To whom do I owe the honour of conver-”

            “Silence! Enough! None of your fancy English spellings Doctor! You and your kind long for the days of yore, don't you? Perhaps a tankard of mead and a game of cards with some of your closest friends? Or perhaps even a game of your friends’ making?”

            Dr. Fussing dropped his pipette to the floor and shuddered as the voice uttered the tell-tail signs that signaled this was more than an accidental tourist. He quickly turned over the options in his mind, and he decided on the only action that could possibly work, given the circumstances.

            “Go away!”


Damn! This would be more difficult than he thought. But his master has prepared him well. The truth would survive!

“You can see Doctor, I am ready for all of your tricks. You have not escaped, and I have come for what rightfully belongs to us.’”

            “Oh, dear me, but what do you mean? I don’t understand.’”

            “Oh, dear me, but what do you mean?” mocked the intercom. “I mean what I say Doctor and you know exactly what I mean. Drop the absinthe-minded professor bit shall we? Where is it?”

            “What? I honestly don’t know –”

            “Oh, c’mon Doc! This is theatre of th— er, theater of the absurd! Tell me where it is and I shan’t — ‘Sblood! I won’t release the virus!”

            Virus? Oh God! Note to self: next time, don’t put the virus control panel beside the intercom switchboard.

            The old man slowly peered around his lab looking for a possible means of escape. But once a virus was released, all exits would be sealed tight and ventilation stopped. He would be trapped like a bug in a jar with no holes in the lid. He had to try a different tactic.

            “Ok, ok — let’s not get too hasty! We can work this out!”

            “Aha! Coming around, eh? I knew the virus would get you going. Where is it?”

            “Ok, I’ll tell you! Promise not to tell anyone else?”

            “Yeah, sure Doc. Tic-a-lock.”

            As the doctor recounted the Bald-Faced Lie at a slow and leisurely pace, he walked over to the Intrude Alert Panel and pressed the Intruder Alert Button, musing to himself that he needed more panels and buttons. He assumed the silent alarm was ringing someplace silently — he never had figured that one out.

            After he finished the fabrication, he sighed deeply. The voice over the intercom sounded elated.

            “Ahhh, oh yes! Of course! Very good – tallyho — er...quite right — er, excellent! Bitchin’! I am outta here! Thanks for the info Doc! You were a good little Protector while it lasted — but the jig is up! I’ll take over from here!”

“I hope you are careful — will you leave now? This has been rather hard on my heart. I fear I have lost my colour –”

            “Doctor!! Stop that! There you go again! Oh, perfidious Albion!  Enough of your Anglican ways — I am the Protector now! That’s right, a new sheriff’s in town, and my first order of business? Infect you with a virus of my choice! Hmmm, let’s see here — tuberculosis, Ebola, anthrax...”

            “But...I told you what you wanted to hear!”

            “Yes, and thanks for that, Doc! But you know there can only be one Protector! Ok, enough prattle — here’s one I like: V543/FY. The label states ‘Twelve hours of busy work followed by a quiet painless death, body suitable for viewing by loved ones.’ Excellent! Consider it done. Ready Doc? And...Mark! Ok — see you around Doc! Toodles...Out!”

            The intercom went silent and Dr. Fussing knew he was done for. But he also knew he couldn’t dwell upon spilt virus, he had work to do to protect the secret. The Bald-Faced Lie would only keep them off-scent for a few days. He stood up and walked to his adjoining study and plopped on the couch.

            I have twelve hours to make sure that the secret is passed on to the right people, people who will protect it. Hmmm, and I like puzzles...