Genesis

I woke up this morning with a start. Still very drowsy and not quite awake, I was aware that something loud had just happened, but my sleep-addled brain refused to comprehend what it was.

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The wake-up call

As I approached full consciousness, I started to realize that the sound had come from the general direction of the master bathroom (which is the only bathroom, but that makes it sound much more impressive, doesn’t it?), and that the sound that had awakened me had been a scream. Then it dawned on me that it had come from Wanda.

OK, now I was awake, and thoroughly panicked. My wife and the one great love of my life was not in bed, and had just screamed from the next room. My adrenaline levels immediately shot up, and I pounced out of bed and started running for the bathroom at a full sprint.

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Mystery Solved

Just outside the bathroom, I almost crashed headlong into Wanda as she was coming out. Something here was obviously not the worst-case scenario I’d been running through my head, because Wanda was smiling. No, she was absolutely grinning.

“Are you OK, Wanda?” I was still panicked, but now I was also a little confused. “What happened in there?”

Wanda laughed. She was obviously fine, but a good panic mode takes some time to wear down. As it became clear to me that Wanda didn’t need to be rescued, I started shaking. Too much adrenaline with no place to go, I suppose.

“Oh, honey,” Wanda chuckled. “You’re obviously in no condition for this, but…”

She held up a small white object. It didn’t register at first since it wasn’t something with which I’ve got much first-hand familiarity… I’d actually never seen one before. It was long and thin, like a thermometer, and made of white plastic. About halfway down its length was a small window, almost like a display screen.  It had a “+” symbol on it.

I suddenly felt weak in the knees and I think I might have been about to pass out.

“Let’s get you outside,” Wanda suggested. “You look like you could use some air.”

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The Mommy & Daddy-to-Be

We headed to the backyard, and as soon as I felt like I could hold up my own weight again, I wrapped my arms around Wanda. I held her close for a good, long time, then kissed her neck.

“I’m going to be a father,” I said, master of the obvious that I am.

“Yes, you are, Edison. And I’m going to be a mother,” Wanda teased. “Is that an amazing coincidence or what?”

The initial shock was finally beginning to wear off, and was slowly being replaced with a million other feelings. Love. Joy. Fear. Insecurity. Pride. I just can’t describe how it feels to be told you’re about to be a parent. It’s overwhelming, and exciting, and terrifying.

Also, it looks like there’ll be a lot more construction in my very near future. This little gray box Wanda and I live in is going to need at least one more room.

All In

Wanda and I spent the better part of the weekend sprucing the place up in preparation for a little party. It turns out our birthdays fall very close together, so we decided to throw a little joint soiree to commemorate both of us getting a little closer to reaching the minimum age to join AARP.

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The Poindexter Estate

There wasn’t much we were going to be able to do about the house being an ugly, gray, shoebox-shaped eyesore, but at least it’s got a front door now, so people know where they’re supposed to come in.

We both pitched in on cleaning, but I put myself in charge of repairs. Wanda’s perfectly capable of doing them, of course, but she also understands that having testosterone in my system means that I have an instinctual need to use big, heavy tools in order to reinforce what little masculinity I have.

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Flush, damn you!

Not long after the last bit of prep work was finished, the guests started to arrive. It was quite a party. There was drinking and dancing, and Mr. Seymour even showed up in his Señor Pimp costume, which is always a good time.

Most of rest of the gang from work showed up, along with the Bjergsens and a few other people with homes on the island, some of Wanda’s old pals from college, and even some people I didn’t recognize, who I think heard the sound of a party from the ferry and came to see what was going on. At least one of them was oddly familiar — a guy named Peter Crockett, who I was sure I’d met before, but couldn’t remember where or when.

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The Final Round

Those who weren’t drinking and dancing could often be found at the card table, where a small poker tournament was up being held. After a couple rounds of elimination it came down to just four of us: Wanda, her old roomy Elle, Elsa Bjergsen, and me. Despite my best efforts, Elsa took the final pot with three queens, ace high. Check her out in that picture up there, by the way — she’s all grown up. It seems like just days ago that I was the unexpected guest at the Bjergsen house and she was a precocious little kid who kept hounding me to play chess with her. I hear she’s in med school now. Tempus fugit.

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Calculating breath trajectory… Fire!

There were two cakes, of course. A chocolate one for me, because that’s my favorite, and a strawberry one for Wanda, because we have a ton of genetically modified strawberries harvested from her garden and really needed to find something to do with them before they start bullying all of the non-GMO produce out of the refrigerator.

That’s Peter Crockett in the background of that photo above, by the way — the guy blasting confetti all over my just-cleaned kitchen. I’m sure I’ll remember where I know him from as soon as I don’t care about it any more.

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Insert blowing joke here

As great a time as Wanda and I had at out party, it was a bit of a relief when it all started to wind down. Not that we’re anti-social or anything; we just enjoy the time we get to spend together, away from work and anyone else who might try to distract us.

Once we finished cleaning up after our guests, Wanda and I were finally alone, perched side-by-side on our barstools.

“Great party,” Wanda sighed, looking exhausted from all the partying and the work that came before it.

“Yep,” I agreed, “We did good.”

Wanda looked pensive. “Another birthday. We need to stop having those.”

I nodded. “If things keep up at this rate, we’re going to be a couple of geezers before we know what hit us.”

That’s when I saw something in the look Wanda was giving me. Something, I don’t know, serious. She was inching her way toward a point here, which I wasn’t quite grasping.

“You know, Edison, we’re not getting any younger…”

A light bulb went off in my head. A feeling like mixed joy and fear started welling up inside me.

“Are you saying you want to…?”

“Yes,” Wanda said. “That’s exactly what I’m saying. I know we’ve talked about it before, but this just seems like the right time.”

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Everyone does this before sex, right?

If this is what she wants, I’m all in. We sealed the deal with a high-five and got to work immediately.

Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind

I mentioned in my last update that a tour was going to be coming through the lab. I confess, I’m not a big fan of tour days. As much as I love educating people about science, and showing off my work, it really gets in the way of getting anything done.

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Hi, I’m here to ruin your day!

This particular group was a bunch of people from out of town, as they often are. I couldn’t tell you exactly how far out of town they were from; my questions about that were met with some pretty vague answers. “It’s really far away,” they said. “You probably haven’t heard of it.” Great. I’m opening up the secrets of the universe to these people, and they won’t even tell me where they live. Whatever.

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The Interrogation Continues

One thing they did let on, though, is that they were really curious about what everything we do at the lab. Most tour groups have questions, but these guys had a million of them.

“Have you found any evidence of alien life on other planets?”

“Do you ever experiment on human subjects? Like, with probes and stuff?”

“What exactly do you plan to do with that space ship you’re building?”

“Have you built any superweapons capable of eliminating all human life on Earth?”

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Your interest in science is commendable. Now get off my computer.

My entire day was an exercise in cat herding. As soon as I’d get one of them to stop fiddling with the analysis equipment, I’d get a text from one of my co-workers that another was accessing the power junction for the satellite dishes. I was constantly running from one end of the lab to another trying to stop these tourists from getting themselves killed, or worse, breaking some really expensive stuff.

At one point I found one of them, whose name I never caught, trying to access our top secret files on alien contact reports. While I appreciated his curiosity, I’d just seen him eating a doughnut in the break room and he was probably getting the keyboard all sticky.

I needed some kind of distraction, and I just happened to have one: the cloned energy drink I created yesterday.

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Please don’t die. Please don’t die.

He seemed really interested.

“Has this been designed with non-human species in mind?” he asked.

“Umm…  sure.” I told him. “I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s pet-safe, but we don’t do animal testing at the lab, so it’s all very theoretical at this point.”

He looked agitated. “No, I mean is it toxic to lead-based… oh, never mind.”

He sniffed the beaker, dipped a finger in to test it, then chugged the contents. A few minutes later he was still alive, and he didn’t touch any more doughnuts for the rest of the day. I’m calling the testing phase a success.

They eventually all filed out, with a minimum of damage done. I hear there was a small explosion over in the rocket fuel lab, but they have those all the time so it could have been anything.

As I was getting ready to head home, Mr. Seymour — I mean Hugh — stopped me in the hall. He seemed troubled.

“Did they seem at all strange to you?”

“Not really,” I shrugged. “Just another tour group.”

Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!

I outdid myself today. What happened at work may just change they way people shop for vegetables forever. Once I get the kinks worked out, anyway.

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Designing the Cloning Platform

Sparky and I were together in the fabrication room putting the finishing touches on the design of my new cloning platform. It’s another one of my Star Trek-inspired inventions. Remember the transporters that would break someone down into their smallest particles and then shoot those particles down to a planet full of green, bikini-clad women, then reassemble those particles back into people? Well, it’s like that, except instead of moving the particles from one place to another, it duplicates them. And it doesn’t go very far — just from one side of the platform to another. It may not help you hook up with a hot Orion chick, but it does a pretty decent job of making perfect 3-D copies of reasonably-sized objects.Theoretically, it should even work on organic matter. More on that coming up.

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On three: One, Two, Four!

For example, if you found a really good, ripe avocado at the grocery store, you could use my platform to make a second one just like it. Why not just buy a second avocado, you ask? Where’s the awesome science in that?

I didn’t have an avocado, so we tested with a carrot. I placed it on the platform, hit the remote, and the machine started scanning the carrot, analyzing its molecular construction, mass, coloration, and a number of other factors. A few moments later… well, the machine produced a completely inedible grey cube.

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Epic Fail

I put the cube aside. I plan to paint some dots on it and use it as a giant six-sided die the next time the other geeks and I meet up for one of our Dungeons & Dragons games.

Undaunted, I decided to try something a bit less organic, but still edible. I grabbed the result of a previous project: a flask of my latest formula for an energy drink. Ever seen those ads for light beer that tastes great but it less filling? This is sort of the opposite. It tastes like moldy ass but a few sips and you won’t have to eat for a couple of days.

I placed the beaker on the platform and powered it up again.

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Twinsies!

See that beaker on the left? That’s my original. The one on the right? An exact duplicate. Same color, same smell, same consistency, everything. It was, as far as I could tell, a perfect replica of my original drink.

Pretty amazing, huh?

What? Did I test it? You didn’t think I’d actually try drinking it, did you? Oh, hell no. We have a tour group coming through tomorrow; I figured I could try it out on one of them.

Rocket Man

I love my job. While most people tend to fall asleep when I talk about the things that really interest me, my co-workers actually remain conscious.

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Fraternizing in the Break Room

The new guy, Augustus, isn’t quite as new as he once was, and he seems to very forgiving of the hazing he received during his early days. He’s actually a good friend now, and always up for a game of chess during a lunch break. Even better, I almost always win, which is great for my nerd ego. It also gives me a chance to unwind after a hard day of mixing toxic chemical compounds or lighting the lab on fire. I worry sometimes that spending so much time with humans might make Sparky jealous, but he seems to be dealing with it.

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It’s OK, Sparky, I still love you

Speaking of work, a new project has been assigned to the team that I’m really excited about. We’re building a rocket. No, not just a rocket — this is an actual spaceship. When it’s done, it’ll be capable of interstellar travel. I thought my satellite dish was going to be the key to proving aliens exist and have visited Earth, but this… with this rocket we’ll be able to walk right up to their front doors and ask them. Scoff if you want; I know most of my co-workers do. They find my interest in alien life quaint… obsessive, even. I don’t mind. When we’ve got indisputable proof of alien visitors, we’ll see who gets the last laugh.

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Always point the fire away from your face

Things have been going great for Wanda here at Omniscience, too. Or so I hear — we rarely ever cross paths at work, since she’s over at the Botany campus and I’m over here. She loves her work; nothing makes Wanda happier than having the opportunity to genetically modify a few organisms.

She’s been bringing some of her work home, and I can’t say I mind at all. She’s created quite a diverse little garden, and it’s been a great source of fresh fruit and vegetables. So far she’s collected specimens of all of the edible plants we’ve discovered here on the island, and on weekends we’ve been making day trips to Oasis Springs and Willow Creek for specimens that aren’t native to this area. Pretty soon her backyard garden is going to look like a full-fledged farming operation.

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Poindexter Farms

Between Wanda’s cooking skill and ingredients pulled fresh from the tree minutes before, I’m eating like a king lately. I’ve even had to resort to hitting the gym at work on occasion to keep myself in shape. It’s definitely not my favorite thing in the world, but… well, you’ve seen Wanda. She could easily do better then a dork like me. If I let myself devolve into a pot-bellied, neck-bearded slob, she may just decide to go elsewhere, you know? Not that I think she actually would, but I’m not taking any chances.

Then again, I keep hearing that Steve Wozniak can still find dates, so maybe there’s hope for me.

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The Things We Do for Love

OK, I’m off. Mr. Seymour (who’s been very insistent lately that I call him Hugh, but some habits are hard to break) has invited Wanda and I out for after-work drinks, and I don’t want to miss happy hour.

Tacos and Alchemy

It was a very productive weekend.

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Marta Parisi

It started out on a social note. Marta Parisi took the ferry across the bay with Wanda and me after work for a taco night, courtesy of Wanda’s rapidly-increasing culinary skills. I’d been telling her a lot about the progress of the house, and I suppose she wanted to see it for herself. I confess I was a bit nervous about it — Marta can be a bit of a snob, for lack of a better word — but she seemed to be genuinely impressed by the progress, even if she was constantly brushing construction dust off her blouse.

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Do you see what I saw?

The following morning, I got started on a few projects I’d been wanting to do. Although the construction of the house has been going very well, there’s been a noticeable lack of some minor luxuries around here: furniture, for example. That point was driven home during Marta’s visit, when we all stood around eating tacos standing up, because there’s just nowhere to sit.

In order to alleviate that situation, a large part of Saturday was spent out in my workshop. By the end of the day I had cobbled together a reasonably sturdy set of bar stools, which I already love. Sitting and eating at the same time? What will they think of next?

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Eating is now slightly less vertical

Now, I’ll admit it: my woodworking isn’t exactly world-class. The barstools aren’t going to be showing up at your local fine furnishings store any time soon, and I probably hit my thumb more often than I hit a nail. And, well, it’s a lot of work. By the end of it my arms were tired, my hands were sore, and I couldn’t help thinking there had to be a better way to furnish the house than to spend my weekends crushing my phalanges with a hammer.

Then it occurred to me: Cailleach. I’d already built in the transmutation circuitry. In theory, I could collect some of the old broken furniture from the ruins out at the Bluffs, perform a little molecular manipulation, and bam! New furniture. I hadn’t completely forgotten that the last time I’d tried it I’d lit Mr. Seymour’s cubicle on fire, but I was exhausted, my hands were throbbing in pain, and anything sounded better than spending another day at the workbench.

Too tired to haul my sorry ass out to the Bluffs, I decided my first test subject would be the old reliable air mattress. I went and got Cailleach, pointed her at the bed, and pulled the trigger.

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Farewell, old friend

The results were unexpected, but definitely not in the “Oh my God, I just lit the house on fire” kind of way I was half-expecting. Instead, the mattress started glowing as the molecules were rearranged. The glow got brighter and brighter, until I was literally blinded by it. Great, I thought. What’s better than being in a burning house? Being in a burning house with no eyes. This was not good.

Slowly, though, my vision started to return. I strained to focus, and as I did, the most beautiful thing imaginable started to take shape in front of me. Well, the second most beautiful, in case Wanda is reading this.

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Now that’s a bed

Who’s your daddy? That’s right, I am. My transmutation had been a glorious success, and what now stood before me was not only an actual bed, but the most comfortable bed I’ve ever had the pleasure to sleep on.

I immediately called Wanda in to take a look. Her jaw dropped. She looked at the bed, then looked at me, and I saw a smile spread across her face. Then her eyes dropped to Cailleach and the smile was gone, to be quickly replaced by a look of anger that I can’t really describe, except to say that it looks a lot like you’d expect your wife’s face to look after she’s discovered you just did something very likely to burn her home into a smoldering, ashy crater.

After the reaming I got, I don’t think I’ll be doing that again any time soon. But damn, it’s a nice bed.

The Swimsuit Edition

I’ve been tinkering with Calleach, the freeze ray I invented a while back. With a little help from Sparky, I’ve been able to fine tune the output and have achieved some rather fascinating results.

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For example, I’ve discovered that by reversing the polarity of the wave using a broad beam, with live subjects I’ve been able to increase body temperature system-wide.  In layman’s terms, I can make people feel really hot. So hot that they really have no choice but to start stripping their clothes off.

Who am I to let technology like that go to waste? Besides, things have been really glum around here since Vivian died, and so what better time for an office beach party?

With that, I now present Poindexter: The Swimsuit Edition.

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Mr. Seymour

Mr. Seymour is an executive at a well-known scientific firm. He enjoys dressing up in gold lamé, taking his employees out for too many drinks, and frowning as often as possible.

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Alice

Alice Spencer-Kim Lewis is a brilliant scientist and devoted wife. When she’s not collecting hyphens to add to her name, she enjoys sticking her left arm into grungy tattoo parlors to see what happens.

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Eric

This is the part where I would say something funny at Eric Lewis’s expense. I’m not going to do that, though, since he’s the one person at the office most likely to kick my ass for doing it.

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Marta

Voted “Most Likely to Die in a Bizarre Make-Up Accident” by her peers, Marta enjoys having perfect hair, a perfect home, and a perfect life. She was also voted “Most Likely to Be a Cyborg Sent from the Future to Enslave Mankind.”

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Augustus

Augustus Atkinson is the newest member of the Omniscience team. In his spare time, he enjoys… oh, wait. He doesn’t have any spare time. The poor bastard is too busy following orders from the rest of us.

I’ve saved the best for last, of course. Make sure you’ve got your sunglasses on before scrolling any further down the page. I will not be held responsible for any retina damage from staring directly at my blinding whiteness.

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Edison

Our centerfold, Edison, is an avid chess player who also dabbles in writing and photography. His work can be found at https://simming.wordpress.com, where his brilliant prose has been viewed by at least three people, though one of them was likely a Google spider-bot, and another was himself.

With that, we conclude this year’s Swimsuit Edition. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed messing with my colleagues’ heads.