} (From the Journal of Doctor Orrie) Tuesday, the 27th - The mouse,
} Piezo, continues to excel in every intelligence test I can give him. It
} would seem that the surgery was a success. Today, I arrived at the lab
} to discover that he had escaped from his cage by jamming the water bowl
} underneath the exercise wheel and climbing up it like a latter. Then he
} attached one of the Bunsen burners to the portable heater and was
} attempting to cut through the laboratory door when I arrived. Of
} course, this may have been a learned behavior. If only I had some proof
} that he was truly intelligent.
} Doctor Orrie continued his speech into the small black box. Thag
} shifted the bucket of sloppy water around to the other side of the
} doctor and continued mopping. It was often that the doctor used words
} that Thag didn't understand, but it was only recently that the small
} mouse Thag fed late at nights began to use words that were too big.
} Thag used to have no trouble understanding him. Lately, however, it was
} all Thag could do to keep his mind focused on the poker games he and
} the mouse played.
} "I would like to further my research," continued the doctor, "with a
} mammal of higher order. Unfortunately those bastards at the FDA won't
} allow it without further trials on mice."
} Thag grunted as he scrubbed a small, burnt spot on the floor where
} the doctor had, in a fit of rage, thrown a vial of acid at Zadoc
} yesterday. When it seemed that the spot wouldn't clean, Thag got down
} on his knees and pulled out the wire brush that he kept in his shirt
} pocket for just such stubborn stains. If there was one thing that Thag
} knew how to do, it was be a janitor, and Thag was proud of that fact.
} "If only I had some form of creature that the FDA had no knowledge
} of," the doctor said. "Some creature that could prove the abilities of
} my research once and for..."
} At that point, Thag was moving the bucket around behind the doctor
} again, having given up on the burnt spot. The doctor, who was obviously
} paying more attention to his notes, stepped directly backward and
} planted his foot firmly in the bucket of soapy, grimy water.
} "Dangit!" he yelled. His foot was covered in slime and hairballs. He
} looked at the foot, then at Thag. "You idiot! You worthless, mindless,
} incompetent, stupid..."
} At that point the doctor's eyes lit up. He glanced up and down Thag,
} sizing him up.
} "Yes. An idiot. A perfect idiot! Oh Thag! I could kiss you!" he
} said, placing his hands on Thag's shoulders.
} "Thag not like men," Thag said, shooing the doctor's hands away.
} "Thag heh-ter-uh-ro."
} The doctor called Zadoc into the lab and the two had a private
} whisper at the door, both looking in Thag's direction. Thag thought for
} sure that he was to be fired and when the doctor and Zadoc approached
} him, he was certainly frightened. He looked at the doctor and lowered
} his eyes to the floor. He never noticed Zadoc circle around behind him
} and it was too late when he felt the sting on his rear end. Soon, he
} grew drowsy and everything went black.
} (From the Journal of Doctor Orrie) Wednesday, the 28th - I anxiously
} await Thag's awakening. The operation went smoothly, much more smoothly
} than it did with Piezo, perhaps because there was more room to work and
} their brains are about the same size. I have Lisa bringing Thag some
} coffee with breakfast in the hopes that it will awaken him.
} The smell was unlike anything Thagernon had ever experienced. It
} wasn't fear, it wasn't a rutting female, it was something unlike any
} scent Thagernon had ever detected. It was...
} "Food!" Thagernon said, sitting up. "I've never really smelled food
} "Well," Lisa said, sitting the tray down next to the bed. "I see
} you're feeling better."
} "My head is a bit woozy, but I'll be all right," Thagernon replied,
} itching mindlessly at the bandages around his head. "This is truly
} amazing! I've never smelled anything except the scents on the hunt! Oh!
} This bacon smells incredible! Mmmm! I've never imagined that properly
} cooked meats could taste like this!"
} "Here," Lisa said, handing him a mug. "Drink this coffee, it'll
} clear away the grogginess from the anesthesia."
} At that moment, the doctor and Zadoc arrived, carrying a large,
} cardboard box. The two glanced at Thagernon, who was using a fork and
} holding a folded napkin in his lap, and then at Lisa. Finally looking
} toward each other, they proceeded the rest of the way into the room.
} "Thag," the doctor began.
} "Please, call me by my full name, Thagernon."
} "Very well," The doctor said, with a look like he had just been
} slapped. "Your vocabulary is incredible, Thagernon."
} "Thank you. I was awake for about ten minutes before Lisa arrived,
} so I read this New York Times you left here."
} Again, the doctor and Zadoc exchanged glances.
} "Um, Thagernon, Zadoc and I would like it if you would consent to
} some tests."
} "What kind of tests, doctor?"
} "Nothing frightening or painful, I assure you. Merely some
} intelligence tests."
} "You mean like ink blots and those two-tone cubes and the
} Several hours later, long after darkness had crept over the outside
} of the windows, the doctor and Zadoc left. Thagernon did his best at
} the tests, and was hoping that eventually they would prove a challenge
} so that he could show how well he was doing to the doctor, but the
} doctor was obviously taking it slow at first. All the tests he was
} given were easy, and Thagernon, sitting alone in the silence of his
} room, recalled the doctor cursing the IQ charts for being inadequate.
} If the charts were inadequate, Thagernon thought, then perhaps he was
} inadequate as well. There must be more that he could learn to show the
} doctor he truly was better.
} Climbing from the bed, trying to make as little noise as possible,
} Thagernon reached into the small night stand and produced the fork he
} had kept from dinner. Bending the tongs slightly, he used it to pick
} the lock on the door to his room, and stepped into the dimly lit
} He had cleaned the temple floors daily for what must have been three
} years now, at least since his last digest appearance, and knew the
} layout fairly well. The doctor's library was off limits, but Thagernon
} knew if he had any hope of gaining further knowledge, it would be
} The door to the library was heavy, and it took much more effort to
} pick the lock than it had to open the door to his room. However, once
} inside, Thagernon found himself surrounded by mountains of books. There
} were more tomes of knowledge than Thagernon had ever dreamed of. In one
} corner sat piles of atlases, in another sat mounds of mystical
} encyclopedias filled with arcane knowledge. Where to begin?
} Overwhelmed at the amount of information at his fingertips,
} Thagernon found himself mildly disoriented. He sat down on the doctor's
} easy chair and put his hands on the armrests. He tried to think where
} the doctor would begin in his situation, but found that he couldn't
} because he had never known the doctor to be without a fact or idea
} already in his mind. It took a second for Thagernon to realize he had
} been idly playing with a small, black box that was lying on the armrest
} of the chair. Was this the doctor's recorder on which, Thagernon knew,
} were all the notes pertaining to his case? Perhaps. Thagernon picked it
} up. It seemed much smaller than he recalled, but was still lined with
} buttons. Overcome with curiosity, he tapped the one marked "power."
} He was rather startled when, instead of a voice coming from the box,
} a light came from a larger box on the other side of the room. This new
} box, which Thagernon believed was a "television," was pointed just so
} that a person sitting in the chair Thagernon was in would have an ideal
} view. He thumbed the arrow next to "volume" that pointed up, and was
} reward with sounds from the television.
} "Now entering the studio," began a voice, "are today's contestants."
} Well, thought Thagernon, moments into the show, this seems to be
} some sort of contest of wits. I'm sure the doctor would approve of my
} ingesting such mental exercises.
} The overcast sky of that stormy morning kept Thag from understanding
} that time was rapidly spinning past him. He sat before the television,
} entranced. The two characters on the show he was watching were laughing
} and jibing each other good-naturedly.
} "I've never known a woman to eat as many hotdogs at a company picnic
} as Kathy Lee does," said the man. The audience laughed.
} "Oh Rege," the woman said, patting him on the arm. The audience
} laughed again.
} Suddenly, the door opened and the doctor entered. He was unaware, at
} first, that Thag was in the room. Curiosity dictated, however, that he
} enter further to find the source of the sounds, and when he saw the
} television on and Thagernon sitting, enmeshed in the show, he howled.
} "Thagernon! What are you doing?!"
} Thag glanced up from the television at the doctor, who was yelling
} and smelled of fear. The scent made Thag angry and he jumped up from
} the chair, ready to defend himself.
} "Thag not do anything! Thag watch Regis!"
} The doctor howled again and called for Zadoc. When Zadoc arrived,
} Thag spotted the needle in his hands and bolted for the windows. Zadoc
} was quick, but Thag was quicker. However, the needle did strike Thag,
} although the plunger wasn't pushed all the way down.
} Thag climbed onto the ledge by the window. The rain was soaking his
} face, and the wind was driving it against him so that it stung. He
} squinted through the downpour and saw a light further ahead along the
} ledge. He began to inch his way toward the light, beginning to feel
} drowsy from the medication. The doctor's head appeared at the window he
} had left.
} "Thag! Thag! Come back!" the doctor was yelling. Thag paid no
} attention to him, but kept inching toward the light. "Thag! We can fix
} it! You can be smart again! Please!"
} Thag reached the light, coming from the window at the end of the
} ledge. He was dizzy, and his vision blurred as he held on to the
} shutters, but held on he did. He glanced in the window and saw a blurry
} Lisa stepping out of the shower. The door in the room burst open and
} Zadoc entered. Lisa screamed and Zadoc quickly said something to her,
} pointing toward the window. Lisa looked to the window, saw Thag, and
} screamed again. She quickly grabbed a towel and wrapped it around
} herself while Zadoc kept talking. She nodded something in Zadoc's
} direction and slowly made her way to the window, opening it carefully.
} Thag knew it was already too late.
} "Thag! You must come inside," Lisa began, but Thag knew her heart
} wasn't in it. She belonged to the doctor, and he could never have her.
} "Please, Thag. I want you to come inside."
} "No, Lisa," Thag said, placing his rain-soaked hands on her cheeks.
} "Thag not come back. Thag sleepy. Lisa?"
} "Yes Thag?" she asked, looking into his eyes. A bolt of lightning
} split the sky behind him and for a moment she was lit up like an angel.
} "Not rember Thag like this," he said. It was getting hard for him to
} think, the medicine was taking effect quickly, even the small amount
} that had been administered.
} "Rember Thag smart," he gasped. "Rember... Thag-er-non."
} "Oh Thag!" Lisa said, a tear at the corner of her eyes. Thag wanted
} to remember that tear, to hold her, to tell her everything would be all
} right, but he couldn't. His hold on the shutters slipped and for a
} brief moment he was dangling in space, flying like a bird, then he
} dropped away with the rain drops, and out of Lisa's sight, never
} uttering a sound.
} (From the Journal of Doctor Orrie) Friday, the 13th - I'm afraid
} this is, indeed, a day of bad omens. More than two weeks have passed
} since Thag's demise, and the experiment continues to degrade around me.
} The love ghoti I had performed the surgery on all drowned themselves.
} The woodchuck was a total failure, never getting farther than the
} spit-bubble stage. And poor Zadoc; when he awoke from his surgery, his
} frail frame couldn't handle the new intelligence and he exploded. Even
} Piezo, the mouse, is gone. I arrived at the lab yesterday morning and
} found that he had climbed to the top of the filing cabinet and leapt to
} his death. I found a tiny Wall Street Journal and a miniature portfolio
} in his cage. Having glanced at it I'm sure I would have done the same
} thing in his shoes. I'm afraid I have no choice now but to abandon the
} experiment completely.
} The doctor turned off the tape recorder and walked toward the door.
} The floor was sticky now, having not been cleaned since Thag was gone.
} He glanced behind him and his eyes scanned the room. He took in every
} detail, every piece of equipment, every piece of furniture, to fixate
} the image in his mind, before turning off the light and shutting the
} As he walked down the hallway he knew that his time would come and
} that someone, somewhere, owed him tribute.