Monday, October 24, 2016

Letters from the Lab: Cookies with Dr. Binary and a plot to take over world

By The Mad Scientist

I don’t typically enjoy visiting other mad scientists in their home labs because it’s often a pain in the gluteus maximus to get there (these places are usually out of the way, you have to go up against life-threatening forces, cross over deadly chasms and/or moats, and you’re always tested to use some unique talent or intellect to bypass gates or alarms), but I made an exception recently following one of my latest failures.

Now, I’ve blown up my lab hundreds of times before. But when you destroy your life’s work for the tenth time in a row, you tend to want to confirm that others are bigger failures than you. So I called up an old friend, Dr. Benjamin Binary, and asked what he was up to, and it turns out he’d been working on an experiment way out in Transyl-vein-ia’s Bigfoot National Park for some time and he wanted me to check it out.

“Hello,” said the mechanical voice on the other end of the line when I called. “Thank you for calling Dr. Benjamin Binary’s Lair, how may I assist you?”

After having a warm conversation with the voice (we talked about the weather and how to manipulate it, the latest robot uprising and, of course, the upcoming NBA season), I asked how to get to Binary’s domicile, and the voice told me.

Just as expected, it was going to be one big pain. The voice set up an appointment for me to meet with someone named Lorenzo at Footers Lodge at the foot of Bigfoot National Park.

I packed up my books and was on my way. Upon my arrival, some lady at the front desk tried convincing me to turn around and go home.

“You’ll never survive the journey,” she told me.

“Sounds like fun,” I said. “When do we start?”

She set me up with Lorenzo and he put me through a boot camp that would help me get through the park to Binary’s Lair. My trainers taught me how to survive on the land, start campfires without using computers or lasers . . . In fact, they made me relinquish all my technology.

“This is nature’s wonderland out here,” one of my trainers said. “Bigfoot catches you with any kind of electronics or robotics, he won’t eat you. He’ll just bat you around until you’re a bloody pulp. And that’s when he’ll really have some fun with you.”

“Sounds like fun,” I said. “When do we start?”

Unfortunately, it was my understanding that Bigfoot had already taken off for the human world for the Halloween season, so I had to come to grips with the fact that I might not have any run-ins with him.

When I finished boot camp, Lorenzo got me fully equipped to survive my lone hike out to Binary’s place. He got me the right clothing, some boots, a survival knife, a few flashlights, a selfie stick to take photos with Bigfoot in the event he was still in town, etc.

“If you wanna live,” Lorenzo told me before sending me on my way, “keep fires going all night, stay near the water’s edge and keep your food sealed. Bigfoot may not be here, but the bears are. And they’re not your typical household grizzly. They’re mean in these parts.”

My journey through Bigfoot National Park is a story in and of itself, but it’s for another time. It’s filled with twists and turns, creatures and lots and lots of bugs. I never did come across Bigfoot, but I was running for my life on more than one occasion.

I eventually made it to Binary’s lair. The entrance door was massive. I have to admit -- I was a little jealous. It had blinking lights, buttons and spinning gadgets that may or may not have had any purpose, but they sure looked cool.

I located a green button on a speaker box and pressed it. The same voice I spoke with about weather, robots and the NBA greeted me via the speaker.

“Hello, sir,” the voice said. “Welcome to Doctor Benjamin Binary’s Evil Lair, sponsored by Gore Gardens.”

How’d he get that sponsor? I’ve been trying to get them for years.

Anyway, the voice was as friendly as I remember from our phone call. And then it became angry.

“I’m going to take over your thoughts and end you,” it said. It was like it became a different person altogether. Then it became friendly again. “Come on in and have some cookies.”

The cookies were actually quite good. They were chocolate chip. Super soft. Had to have been fresh out of the oven.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” the voice said. “I bake in my spare time.”

I was standing in the middle of an empty, cement foyer. Then a large door in the wall opened, and beyond the doorway was a set of cement stairs that went down.

I took the stairs and found myself in a large round room. As I stepped off the last step, the wall closed up over the stairwell and I was trapped. Then, in the center of the room, a large, green holographic image of someone who called himself The Guardian appeared. I’ll tell you this: Binary did not get any of this stuff at Evil-More Shopping Mart back in the Mad Science District. It was impressive.

“I am The Guardian,” the green man said. “I’m a powerful virtual construct created by Dr. Benjamin Binary. I’m here to monitor all scientific experiments.”

I knew it. This is why I hate visiting other mad scientists. You can never just go hang out. It’s gotta be part of some elaborate plan.

“Am I an experiment?” I asked. “Because if I am, I don’t have time for this. I’ve got my own experiments to run.”

“Silence!” The Guardian yelled at me, only he changed from green to red as he said it. “I’m no guardian, but I will take over your mind and destroy the world.” Then he became green again. “Would you like some more cookies, first?”

A table came up out of the floor with some more of those awesome cookies. As I took a bite out of another one of those soft babies, the green man offered his apologies and said he was actually Dr. Benjamin Binary.

“Ben?” I asked. “Is that really you? Are you the one behind these cookies? Because they’re damn good.”

“Silence!” he said as he changed colors to red again.

“Sorry,” he said one more time as he turned back to green. “I’m stuck in my own creation and I can’t get out. This system has taken over my every thought and I’m trapped. Do you like the cookies?”

“Yeah,” I said. “They’re really good. And really soft.”

“Remind me to tell you about how I make them,” he said. “I actually made that batch three years ago. In any event, I need your help to get me out of here.”

I told him I’d help, provided he set me up with the cookie recipe, and then he flipped again. The red man screamed at me, told me to come closer. He complained that his other self wouldn’t let him do any of the things he wanted to do like take over the world.

“I’ve embedded myself into every system you can think of,” the red man said. “And now I have access to all of those systems. I’ve been devising a plan to shut down the grid and take over the world, but every time I go to do it, my pesky other self takes over and tries to end me.”

Just then, the red man became green. It was like a tug of war between these two entities to take over the holographic form in front of me.

“Don’t listen to me,” the green man said. “It’s not me. If it takes over the world, it won’t be me who is doing the taking over. And I can’t have that. I want to be the one taking it over. I want the glory.”

“Ben,” I said. “I can’t have either one of you taking over the world. As you know, I have my own plans.”

The green man said the red man’s plan was going to work, though. What a slap in the face.

“Look,” he said, “it’s nothing personal. But you know I was always the better mad scientist.”

“Yeah,” I said, “you’re so much better that you’re stuck in a hologram that changes colors more often than a traffic light.”

“Never mind that,” he said. “I’m working on getting through the firewall on this thing. If I can do that, I can end the red man’s attack. But if I can’t get through, he’ll continue taking over and I’ll be a goner in less than three hours and he’ll own you, too. So it’s good you got here when you did. How are you, by the way? How’s Ethel?”

We talked about the weather and how to manipulate it, the latest robot uprising and, of course, the upcoming NBA season, and then he told me how I could help end the red man.

“If we don’t do this,” he said, “he’s going to unpack this new technology he created called Packet Encapsulation. He embeds himself around network packets like a capsule of a pill, which allows him to see everything over the wire. He can encapsulate anything and everything. He can morph the packets, duplicate them or change them into anything he wants. It’s sorta complicated. But if he gets this technology around the world, he will take it over, there’s no doubt. And, as stated previously, we can’t have that. If anyone is gonna take over the world, it’s gonna be me, which was also stated previously.”

No, it’s gonna be me.

So I set out to help him end the red man. I’d deal with the green man and Binary later, I thought. I went to a circular panel on the floor near the hologram, opened it and pressed the green and red buttons simultaneously.

“How dare you tell this man our plans!” the red man said upon his return to the room. “How dare you get him involved! Now we must destroy him!”

The green man came back with more instructions and a warning to hurry.

“Hurry,” he said again. “He’s trying to get rid of me right now. Now push the yellow button five times and then punch in the code, ‘DESTRUCTION.’ It’s case sensitive, so use the cap locks, please.”

I don’t remember anything after I typed in the code. When I woke up in the hospital this morning, I asked how I got here and one of the nurses told me someone in a cloak dumped me off at the front door, then fled the scene in a rush.

I don’t know if the red man or the green man was victorious over poor Dr. Benjamin Binary. All I know is that there were reports of a huge explosion in Bigfoot National Park two days ago, which means, in my book, whoever won didn’t take over anything.

So the world is still up for grabs.

I’d say it’s time for me to get back to my own work.

The Mad Scientist is a mad man with evil on his mind always and plans to take over the world at any given time. He lives in a castle on Lab Lane in the Mad Science District of Transyl-vein-ia.

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