Anton Pesticide appeared to be dead. He had fallen down drunk in a gutter, urinated in his pants, and then froze to the ground when the overnight temperature plummeted well below zero. He was found early the next morning by some passing sanitation workers. The paramedics were duly summoned, and a few perfunctory attempts were made to resuscitate the silly old bugger, but all to no effect. After expending a considerable amount of effort, they finally managed to pry him loose from the pavement, shoved him into the back of the ambulance, and dropped him off at the city morgue. The medical examiner on duty (an habitual marijuana user) phlegmatically filled out the death certificate, leaving the name and all the other personal information blank, and scrawling the cause of death so illegibly that nobody could make out what it said. The morgue attendants gave him a cursory glance, then quickly deposited his carcass on a slab, labeling him as “John Doe, no next of kin, cremate and scatter.”
While this was going on, Pesticide’s ethereal essence was sitting on top of a particularly bad-tempered camel, traveling across a vast desert, and rapidly approaching something that looked like the eye of a needle. As a matter of fact, it was the eye of a needle, and the whole desert seemed somehow to be getting drawn into it. Pesticide, of course, was not a rich man (having long since squandered his paternal inheritance of $75.22 on booze and riotous living), and so both he and his mount passed effortlessly through the narrow aperture, and landed safely on the other side. And most propitiously of all, Pesticide was too dazed and confused to utter any of his pompous biblical speculations.
Ahead lay the garden of karmic conniptions, swarming with scantily clad females, and surrounded by a twelve-foot-high concrete wall, topped with electrified razor wire (possibly to keep the scantily clad females from escaping). The camel brought Pesticide right up to the main gate, and dropped him off there. Pesticide made an abstracted attempt to pat the camel on the head. The camel snorted contemptuously, spat on Pesticide, then turned and started back the way it had come.
As he approached the massive, wrought iron gate, the still disoriented philosopher was able to catch tantalizing glimpses of the garden’s pulchritudinous denizens cavorting amongst the flowers, lush greenery, and bubbling fountains. Then, quite abruptly, he was intercepted by a gatekeeper who bore a strong resemblance to Chico Marx.
“Ticket please!” demanded the gatekeeper, planting himself squarely in front of Pesticide and sticking out an upturned palm.
“Ticket?” stammered Pesticide. “What ticket?”
“You no got a ticket?” queried the gatekeeper, with evident consternation.
“Well, I don’t think so,” said Pesticide, attempting to rummage through pockets that were no longer there. “No, I guess not. I don’t seem to have much of anything. I used to have pockets full of stuff. I can’t imagine what happened to it all.”
“Well, you can’t come in without a ticket,” said the gatekeeper firmly.
“Well, where can I get one?” Pesticide asked.
“How should I know?” retorted the gatekeeper. “I no sell-a the tickets. I just take-a the tickets. I’m-a the ticket taker.”
“Well, that’s not especially helpful,” said Pesticide. “Look, where am I, anyway?”
“You are here,” said the gatekeeper, pointing at the ground beneath his feet.
“And where is here?” Pesticide pursued.
“Here is where you are,” the gatekeeper replied.
“Well, that didn’t get us very far, either,” said Pesticide, “and I really don’t understand any of this. I’m starting to get the feeling I might be dead, because the last thing I can remember is falling down in a gutter, and I couldn’t get up. Am I dead? Is this heaven? Are you—”
Here the gatekeeper burst into a fit of derisive laughter, doubling up, slapping his knee, and nearly losing his balance in the process.
“Otsa good-a joke, boss,” he finally remarked. “Heaven? You gotta be kidding.”
“It certainly looks like heaven,” Pesticide pointed out.
“Well, you come-a Sunday,” countered the gatekeeper. “Hey, whatta you think? There’s a party in there, and I’m-a gonna hang around out here? You can’t always believe-a your eyes. But I like-a you, boss, and I’m-a gonna tell-a you the truth: It’s a—”
Whatever it was the gatekeeper was getting ready to reveal, Pesticide never got to hear it; for at that very moment, along came Old Mother Pesticide in a towering rage, and grabbed him by the ear.
“So, there you are, you brat!” she snarled, taking him in tow and dragging him along behind her. “I always knew you’d come to a bad end, you and that crazy twin brother of yours. Neither one of you were ever any damn good. The labor pains you two gave me! It damn near killed me bringing you into the world. And what thanks did I get? Nothing but heartache and misery from the both of you. Just look at you! Dead in a gutter, drenched in your own piss! Serves you right. You’re a disgrace to the family name of Pesticide, if such a thing is possible.”
She continued on in this vein, without giving her increasingly befuddled son a chance to get a word in edgewise, until they arrived at the schoolhouse—a great, gray edifice that looked more like a house of correction, and functioned similarly.
“I’m sick and tired of you being late for school,” Old Mother Pesticide continued, dragging him through the open doors, down a corridor, and up a winding flight of stairs to the headmaster’s office. “One of these days they’re going to come and put me in jail. And will you care? Hah! You probably won’t even bother to come and visit me.”
“But Mother,” Pesticide objected weakly, “I’m a grown man. I don't have to go to school any more.”
“And I’m sick and tired of your lame excuses,” she concluded, slapping him upside his head and shoving him through the office door. “Now get in there! You should be ashamed to put your poor old mother to so much trouble.”
Inside the office, the headmaster was sitting behind a large, high desk, glowering over a stack of papers. He was wearing a powder wig and full eighteenth-century regalia, and was surrounded by shelf upon shelf of musty, worm-eaten books. The entire room and all its furnishings had an aura of incalculable antiquity.
“Why, of all the impertinence!” exclaimed the headmaster very crossly, half rising from his chair as Pesticide entered the office. “What do you mean by coming in here and disturbing me?”
“Well, my mother—” Pesticide began.
“Oh, a mama’s boy, eh?” growled the headmaster, leaning across the desk and adjusting his spectacles. “Well, we’ll soon take that out of you, my lad. So who are you, eh? Hmmmpf! You’re one of those infernal Pesticide twins, aren’t you? I can never tell the two of you apart. Are you the murderer or the thief?”
“Well—” Pesticide started to say.
“No, don’t tell me,” interrupted the headmaster. “It’s always fun to guess. So what are you doing here, then? Is this about the little girl you kidnapped on the way home from school, and then tried to transplant a monkey’s brain into her skull?”
“No, sir, that was my brother,” Pesticide managed to reply. “He’s always been very impressionable. Every time he sees something on television, he just has to try it.”
“Aha!” declared the headmaster, rubbing his hands together with evident satisfaction. “So you must be the one that stole all my pencils and sold them to the army for fifty dollars apiece. That’ll cost you two months’ detention, you little stinker. Starting right now. Room 235. Now be off with you, and don’t let me catch you trying that kind of nonsense again.”
The next thing he knew, Pesticide found himself standing outside the door to room 235, with trembling knees and a growing sense of trepidation. He knocked softly, but no one answered. He knocked a bit harder, and still no one answered. Then he pushed the door open just wide enough to peek through the crack, but saw only a large, empty room. Perhaps the headmaster had been mistaken about the room number. Wouldn’t that be lucky?
Cautiously he poked his head through the door, then gradually insinuated the rest of himself. The room was truly vast, entirely devoid of furniture, and dimly lit by brass fixtures that were set at regular intervals along the walls. The walls were covered with wallpaper indescribably hideous, rising nearly twenty feet to a ceiling that had once been white, with here and there a patch of peeling paint, and its edges all festooned with cobwebs. By contrast, the venerable hardwood floor had recently been mopped. More precisely, it was still in the process of being mopped, by a solitary individual just barely visible at the far end of the room. Pesticide hesitated for a moment, then approached this person, who proved to be a very elderly woman, equipped only with a string mop and a plastic bucket.
“What the hell do you want?” the old woman snapped, as soon as she spotted him. “Can’t you see I’m busy? You’d better not have messed up my clean floor, or I’ll put this mop handle right up your backside.”
“Well, I—” Pesticide attempted.
“Yes, I know,” said the old woman, half turning away from him and plying her mop with redoubled fury. “Anton Pesticide, the bullshit philosopher who claims he doesn’t exist, and boozes his way from one tavern to the next, always at other people’s expense. Life has just been one long sabbatical for you, hasn’t it?”
“You know me?” Pesticide queried.
“I ought to,” said the old woman. “I’ve been watching you since you and that loopy twin brother of yours took turns trying to strangle each other with the umbilical cord while you were still in the oven. And what have you done since? Nothing that’ll get your face on a postage stamp, to be sure. A wanted poster, maybe, but only if it’s a slow week. So here you are, seventy-four years old, with an ingrown toenail on the little toe of your right foot, an enlarged prostate, an irritable bowel, and a head full of self-indulgent nonsense—and that’s about all there really is to you.”
“But…how do you know all these things?” Pesticide asked, in moderate bewilderment.
“How else?” the old woman responded.
“You mean you’re—” Pesticide began, looking appropriately awe-stricken.
“Naturally,” interrupted the old woman impatiently. “Who else could they get to mop the floors around here? The rest of these arrogant bastards imagine that it’s beneath their dignity. Anyway, what were you expecting? A demented Hebrew demiurge, perhaps? It’s like government, really. People get the kind of deity they deserve. In your case, you’ve spent your entire adult life insulting me and vomiting all over my creation. If you’d been a bit nicer to me, I might have appeared to you as Marilyn Monroe, and given you a bit of a party before I dropped you into hell.”
“Well…er…now that I’ve finally got your attention,” said Pesticide, as diffidently as he could, “I have been wanting to have a word with you about your creation. It’s…it’s really not a very nice place to live, you know.”
“Oh, what an original complaint!” retorted the old woman. “I’ve been hearing that crap for thousands of years, and I’ll give you the same answer I give everybody else: It’s my kitchen. Why the hell should I care whether or not the roaches are satisfied? You lot have always had an absurdly exaggerated estimate of your own importance in the overall scheme of things. And for what, pray tell? Just because a few of your ancestors managed to climb down out of the trees without falling on their stupid heads, ambushed a passing extraterrestrial, and tortured him until he agreed to teach them enough of his technology to make them feel superior to the rest of the drooling, slack-jawed, idiot primates. And what have any of you done with your stolen technology? You’ve poisoned a whole damn planet, that’s what you’ve done. And worst of all, you’ve slaughtered all my beautiful whales. I could have spared a million of you more easily than one of them.”
“Well, then—” Pesticide endeavored to say.
“Yes, I know,” the old woman forestalled him from saying. “It’s still all my fault because I should have known better in the first place. How can I be omniscient and omnipotent, and not see a truckload of shit heading my way? Well, maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m just getting old. So let’s see you create something better, then.”
“Well, if I were omniscient and omnipotent, I believe I could create something better,” Pesticide boldly opined.
“You’re about to get your chance,” said the old woman grimly.
Meanwhile back at the morgue, Pesticide’s mortal remains were the subject of ongoing negotiations between a corrupt morgue attendant and a one-eyed hunchback whose name was Notigor. This latter individual was in the employ of a shadowy underworld scientist who called himself Dr. Stankenfrein, but who was in fact none other than Anton Pesticide’s twisted twin brother Earwig.
Having long since progressed beyond his failed attempts at monkey brain transplantation, Earwig Pesticide was now hard at work on an ambitious and all-encompassing plan to improve the human species. To this end, he had developed a wonderfully precise gene splicer, with which he intended to produce a hitherto unthinkable human-amoeba hybrid. The supposed purpose of such a creature would be to combine the frontal lobe, curved spine, and opposing thumb of the human with the simple reproductive habits of the amoeba, thereby retaining all of the so-called higher human faculties, while eliminating the complex mating rituals that have contributed so much chaos to mankind’s colorful history. According to Earwig Pesticide, the world would then become a less violent and much more sensible sort of place, where a fellow could actually get some work done without getting his head all clogged up with smutty thoughts every time a good-looking babe walked by. In addition, from Earwig Pesticide’s own peculiar point of view, it would be a great leveler of the playing field, since he had never had much luck in that department, anyway.
Anton Pesticide would have been deeply insulted by the paltry sums of money that were being haggled over for possession of his remains. In the end, a price of fifteen miserable dollars was agreed upon, and the bargain was sealed with a spit-anointed handshake. Much later that night, Notigor returned to collect the corpus delicti, which was stuffed unceremoniously into an extra large lawn-and-leaf bag, and carried out the back door of the morgue to a battered old station wagon that was waiting to receive it. Notigor drove away into the night, and science was in for yet another preposterous assault on its already fragmented dignity.
Of course, Anton Pesticide was blissfully unaware of these degrading vicissitudes, and was otherwise occupied. Having accepted the divine challenge to build a better universe, he had been ushered into a playroom full of Legos, and pretty much left to his own devices. At first, he raised the natural objections to this arrangement, and inquired (as respectfully as he could in the circumstances) how he was expected to build a better universe out of Legos.
“What do you think I used?” thundered the voice of the divine persona from on high, in all its full-blown, awful, cosmic ubiquity.
“Well, I never thought—” Pesticide began.
“On the contrary,” interrupted the divine voice, “all you do is think, and the same old tired thoughts, over and over. You waver between the improbable notion that it all assembled itself by chance, and the snide insinuation that chance would have done a better job. Well, now you can try that one out for yourself. There are the pieces. Go ahead. Heap them up at random, and see what sort of universe chance will create for you.”
“You really expect me to believe that the universe was created out of Legos?” blurted Pesticide incredulously.
“Well, that’s how it would have looked to you,” the divine voice replied. “You readily accept the idea that the universe was assembled from tiny particles. You freely admit that none of you really know what the tiny particles look like. Well, there they are, in a form best suited to your extremely limited imagination.”
“But I still don’t have your omniscience and omnipotence,” Pesticide protested.
“You can see every single piece,” said the divine voice sternly, “and know everything there is to know about it. You can see how every piece joins to every other piece. You have absolute authority over how each piece is used, or whether it is used at all, and you alone decide what the finished product will look like. How much more omniscient and omnipotent do you expect to be? Now get to work.”
“This isn’t fair,” murmured Pesticide feebly.
“Well, what the hell do you expect from a demented Hebrew demiurge?” roared the divine voice. “If that’s what you really think of me, you ought to have known better than to mess with me.”
“Well…er…how long do I have?” Pesticide asked, with great circumspection.
“I did it in six days and six nights,” the divine voice reminded him. “You get the same. I’ll look in on you in a day or two, and see how you’re getting on.”
All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, Earwig Pesticide hated them all. But more than any of these, he hated his brother Anton—hated him with such a vitriolic passion that the merest mention of Anton’s name was usually sufficient to cause him to soil his breeches. According to him, Anton had been persecuting him relentlessly since early childhood, and had destroyed his every hope for earthly happiness. In particular, during the first two years of life, Anton had repeatedly attempted to mutilate his genitals, in order to wipe out his seed forever; and it was these infantile traumas that had been directly responsible for all his frustrations and failures with women. Moreover, Anton had stolen all his favorite toys, including his beloved little green truck, which he had returned to him (grudgingly, and after numerous parental threats) filled with excrement. And worst of all, Anton had denied him his birthright while still in the womb, by holding him back from being first born, and then punching, kicking and elbowing his way into the world ahead of him.
These twin prodigies had come into the world near the stroke of a sultry, summer midnight. As a result of his ruthless maneuver, Anton had been born just before midnight, and Earwig just after, on the following morning—and thus it had been recorded. On account of this, Anton drew a high number in the 1970 draft lottery, and avoided military service, while Earwig got stuck with a low number, and was drafted and shipped off to Vietnam. Thus, while Anton was partying his way through college, Earwig was sent to the jungle to wallow in the mud, dodge bullets, and contract all manner of loathsome tropical diseases. Ultimately he was captured by the Viet Cong, gang-banged and tortured to within an inch of his sanity. He returned to the States a lonely, embittered man, only to find himself facing a trumped-up charge of desertion, resulting in a court-martial, followed by a year’s imprisonment at hard labor, and a dishonorable discharge.
Being thus disgraced, Earwig Pesticide was denied entry to the best universities, and was obliged to pursue his passion for science at second-rate institutions of learning. This, in turn, caused him to be unjustly ignored by the Nobel Committee and repeatedly ridiculed by so-called colleagues—narrow-minded fools who were not worthy to lick the boots of a genius such as himself. And so, instead of taking his rightful place among mankind’s greatest minds, he was compelled to work in boarded-up storefronts and abandoned warehouses, and seek his funding from unsavory sources such as La Cosa Nostra, the Bulgarian KGB, various Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, assorted payday lenders, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. And Anton, of course, was the father of all these abominations.
This story seemed to get more melodramatic every time Earwig Pesticide told it, and often assumed epic proportions after a few brandies. Nevertheless, regardless of how much of it was true , and how much the product of his perpetually percolating paranoia, it does help to account for his behavior when Notigor arrived back at the lab and presented him with his brother’s corpse. At first, he waxed so apoplectic that it seemed as if every vein would burst out of his body. Then he sprang upon Notigor and attempted to throttle the life out of him. Notigor succeeded in fighting him off with a broom handle, knocked him down and sat on him until he wore himself out. And afterwards, Earwig Pesticide went and changed his breeches, poured himself a brandy, and began to consider the matter a bit more scientifically.
“Well, well, Anton!” he gloated, gazing down at his brother’s cold, gray cadaver. “Fancy seeing you here, eh? I would have preferred to kill you myself, you filthy swine, but all the same, it’s such a joy to see you dead! You’re the last person I would have chosen for this experiment, but perhaps there is some justice in it, after all. You, who have been the worst of men, are about to be reborn as the first of a better breed of men. And you, who have robbed me of so much worldly happiness, are now going to provide me with the Nobel Prize I so richly deserve. So fuck you, Anton! You’ve done your best to ruin me, but now who’s laughing? HAHAHAHAHA! I have prevailed and you have failed! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
Anton, of course, was ever the consummate bullshitter, whether in or out of body. Notwithstanding, in the beginning, he really did try to create a better universe. For his first attempt, he created a universe without entropy, in the expectation that such a universe would provide limitless cheap energy for its happy, ageless, undying residents and all their assorted gadgets that never wore out. What he actually got was a universe in which it was impossible to generate any heat, and which therefore remained frozen and lifeless at a temperature of absolute zero, and stubbornly refused to budge no matter what he did. Then along came a grizzled old mountain man, with a heavily laden pack mule in tow. The mountain man paused to contemplate Pesticide’s universe, and shook his head sadly—at the same time quivering all over with ill-concealed inward mirth.
“So how y’ gittin’ on there, pilgrim?” he asked genially. “Ain’t doin’ too good, huh? Y’ left out entropy. I saw it, right off. Y’ can’t build a fire without entropy.”
Without waiting for any response from Pesticide, or offering any constructive suggestions, the mountain man turned abruptly and started back the way he had come, still shaking his head. The pack mule followed obediently, and on its way out the door, it deposited a large pile on the playroom floor.
“There’s some fresh fertilizer fer ye, pilgrim,” added the mountain man over his shoulder, with evident satisfaction. “Maybe that’ll help ye git ‘er started.”
To whatever credit he had left, Pesticide knew better. There was clearly nothing for it but to squeeze his entropy-free, frozen universe into a ball, roll it toward some overwhelming question, and start over. For his second attempt, he decided to retain entropy, but do away with the brutal predator-prey model of life and replace it with a more kindly, symbiotic matrix. And this time the results were initially more promising: Every habitable planet was covered with luxuriant green vegetation, babbling brooks, fragrant flowers and multifarious fruit trees, and the only animals were gentle butterflies to pollinate the flowers that sustained them, and harmless fruit bats to eat the fruit and fertilize the soil with their droppings. And Pesticide looked down upon the universe he had created, and behold, it was all very good. And he blessed them, and bade them be fruitful and multiply, and congratulated himself on the happy little universe he had created, and patted himself on the back, and high-fived himself. Then things started to go wrong.
Since they had no natural enemies in Pesticide’s universe, the fruit bats quickly reproduced themselves to the point that they overwhelmed the food supply, and picked all the fruit trees clean. This naturally led to a considerable amount of discord among them, and before long, some of them transgressed against Pesticide’s holiest commandment, and began eating the butterflies. Then Pesticide’s wrath was kindled against the fruit bats, and he threatened them with all manner of plagues, pestilences and other natural disasters if they refused to repent and turn from their wicked ways. But the fruit bats responded with a torrent of blasphemy, neither did they repent, nor turn from their wicked ways. They thumbed their proboscises at Pesticide, called him a demented Hebrew demiurge, and told him his universe sucked. They complained bitterly that it was all his fault they had run out of food, because he hadn’t given them the sense to keep their numbers under control, so he was damn well going to have to miraculously provide them with more food, and if he didn’t, they would do whatever the hell they had to do to survive, and if he didn’t like it, he could get stuffed. So Pesticide saw that it was useless, and he smote the fruit bats with every nasty thing he could think of, and enjoyed every minute of it. Then he rested from all the labors he had done, and started looking around for a pub.
Several hours later, the divine presence returned to check on Pesticide, and see what sort of supposedly better universe he had created. From the divine perspective, the results were revolting, but not at all surprising. Having abandoned whatever noble intentions he had started out with, Pesticide had gone on to create the only sort of universe he really felt altogether at home in. Thus every habitable planet in Pesticide’s universe was now covered with taverns (each housing a seemingly inexhaustible supply of spirits), and the streets were alive with fellow tipplers, staggering merrily from one pub to the next.
Being truly omniscient, the divine presence had little difficulty tracking Pesticide to a particularly disreputable dive, and found him sitting in a corner booth, working his way down yet another liter of cheap gin. The better to get Pesticide’s attention, the divine presence then assumed the shape of a scowling Puritan elder, strode purposefully up to him, and yanked him to his feet by the scruff of his neck.
“What’s this, then?” snarled the Puritan elder. “Just look at this mess you’ve made! You should be ashamed! Of all the pompous, bed-wetting, blasphemous wretches who have dared to criticize my holy creation, you are one of the very few that have actually been given the opportunity to play God—and this is the best you can come up with? You dare to insinuate that this profane mockery is a better universe than mine?”
“Well,” said Pesticide, “I hardly dare to insinuate anything. Not in my present condition, at any rate. I leave it to you, who are far wiser than I am, to decide whether it is better or not. However, my universe does have this one advantage, that none of its inhabitants are ever sober enough to care one way or the other.”
So the divine presence saw that it was pointless to waste any more time with such a crapulous old crock, and he sent Pesticide back to his body, telling him that his task on earth was not yet finished, and probably never would be. Then he smote Pesticide’s besotted universe with a plague of prohibition, shut down all the taverns and dried up all the booze, and sat back to watch the fun.
Meanwhile back in Earwig Pesticide’s mad laboratory, unbeknownst to the Nobel Committee, the grand gene-splicing experiment was underway, with brother Anton’s smelly carcass connected to one electrode, and a Petri dish full of amoebas connected to the other. Flasks were bubbling, lights were flashing, gauges were pulsating, and everything was proceeding nicely along the path to scientific immortality. Unfortunately for Earwig Pesticide and all his great expectations, he had had to rely on Notigor’s skills as an electrician, and all of Notigor’s credentials were forged. (In reality, Notigor was an escapee from the city jail, and knew even less about electricity than his employer.) Thus, long before the critical moment arrived, one of the main relays shorted out, sending a column of smoke rising from the apparatus, and a shower of sparks flying in every direction. In his attempt to get clear of the catastrophe, Earwig Pesticide got his feet caught up in some loose wires, tripped, fell over backward, and was knocked unconscious.
By a wonderfully ironic stroke of divine providence, at roughly the same moment, Anton Pesticide’s wandering spirit returned to his body. He opened his eyes, sat bolt upright, and looked around. Notigor took one look at the reanimated philosopher, and fled screaming into the night. The reanimated philosopher rose unsteadily to his feet and brushed himself off.
“Well, well!” he remarked quizzically. “I must have dozed off. What a peculiar dream I had! I thought I was dead. It appears I was mistaken.”
Then he spotted his brother Earwig lying unconscious on the floor, and approached him curiously.
“Hullo, what’s this?” he continued, bending over his brother’s motionless body. “Earwig, eh? And what have you been up to, my lad? Hmmpf! Whatever it is, it seems to have got the better of you, hasn’t it? Well, never you mind. We’ll soon set you right.”
He attempted to prop his brother up against the side of the still throbbing apparatus, then he happened to notice the Petri dish, and came to a somewhat erroneous conclusion concerning its contents.
“Here you are, old chap,” he said, picking up the Petri dish and returning to his brother’s side. “Have some of this broth. That’ll fix you up.”
Earwig Pesticide, who was just beginning to stir, and was still far too groggy to have any idea what he was doing, readily swallowed the contents of the Petri dish. By the time he was fully conscious, brother Anton had already lifted his wallet, credit cards, and car keys, and made a discreet exit from the laboratory. Owing to the head trauma he had experienced, the aspiring Nobel Laureate remembered relatively little of what had happened, and it was just as well. All the same, the amoebas he had swallowed went straight to work on his digestive tract, and gave him many an anxious turn for several days running.