Melanie Spiller & Coloratura Consulting
A Tonic for Ramshackle Wordsmiths
Copyright Melanie Spiller 2011. Do not copy without permission.
Shaggy Dog Stories: The Scientist and the Seagulls
Once upon a time there was a scientist whose experiments focused on longevity. He worked for an enormous corporation, heavily funded by the government. Each year, he applied for funding to support his various projects.
One year, he discovered that serum made from the blood of seagulls extended the lives of dolphins. He was quite excited by this, and even though it wasn’t the usual time of year for funding applications, he thought his discoveries had significance for the human race, and so he filed the paperwork and continued working hard in his laboratories.
There was no immediate response, but, sure that he was onto something, he applied for a patent.
There were now two governmental agencies who’d heard about his work, one from his request for funding and the other from the patent office. After considerable delay, the scientist decided to continue his work unfunded and unprotected by patent. He was too excited about the significance for the human race.
The government, being what it is, grew concerned about his research and whether extending the lives of humans or animals was in some way "acting like God." They denied the funding and the patent, and asked the scientist to cease and desist.
But the scientist knew he was onto something and he couldn't stop his studies. He was given other projects by his corporation, but he’d stealthily move some of those resources into his own beloved project.
Others at the company knew. There was seagull blood stored in the refrigerators with the other genetic matter, and there were huge tanks containing live dolphins that needed to be fed. Everyone thought that the government would see the value of this research, and secretly, they let him continue his studies.
After a while, the laboratory got concerned that they might lose their government funding for other projects, and they told him in no uncertain terms to stop his work. But he just couldn't. He knew he was truly learning something useful.
The work with seagulls and dolphins was fascinating. It was all he could think about. So he began to sneak in after hours to use the facilities.
The corporation was worried about its bottom line and their own future, so after he’d been told in no uncertain terms to stop his work and not work after hours, he was put on probation—one more such incident and he would be fired. But he persisted and continued to sneak in. He was always the first one into the office every morning and the last to leave each night, and he was surely to be found hard at work on the weekends.
The security guards had been told not to let him in the building after hours, but he kept finding a way. They tried all kinds of things—cameras, alarms, those fancy laser things that they use to protect artwork. But he always found a way to do his work. Eventually, he was fired.
With all his research within the big glass building, he devised various methods for breaking in, forging fingerprints and retinal scans, and bribing guard dogs with huge slabs of tranquilized meat.
Finally, the laboratory realized that they had to go to extremes to bar this mono-maniac from their labs. Through a special program, they agreed to borrow lions from the local zoo that would parade the halls at night and keep everyone out, even the security guards.
But the scientist was undeterred. He got some tranquilizers, learned to shoot them from a gun, and snuck past the sleeping lions with his precious seagull serum, destined for his timeless dolphins.
At last, the corporation had found a solution. The scientist was arrested for transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.