Confessions of an Ethically Challenged Scientist
By Monica Marier
My name is Elliot Fragg and my life sucks.
I’m not stating that looking for any sympathy or anything. I’m pretty resigned to the fact, but if you’re going to read this you need to understand from the get-go that my life has always sucked, and in all probability will continue to suck until I am dead. And it will suck because I’m the close personal friend of Lucas Frique.
So now that we got that out of the way, I’ll relate how this obnoxious little man became my friend. The whole of it is true apart from the stuff I made up ‘cause I can’t remember.
I’d been working with Frique since we were science lab partners in middle school, back in ’93. He was a pudgy short kid with glasses and unruly red hair that was always too long. He had a perpetual frown on his face which I found out was solely due to temperament.
Frique hated everything on principle.
He hated the teachers who didn’t ‘understand him.’ He hated the big jocks who dunked him headfirst in the toilet every day and took his money. He hated the kids who took pity on him and tried to be his friend (not that there were many). He chased them all off pretty quickly with his sharp tongue and halitosis.
Why he picked me for a confidant was beyond me. It wasn’t for my charisma or popularity. When you’re a legally-blind half-Asian albino in a crowd of ninety-four preteen peers, you’re pretty much screwed. I was a prominent nail just waiting for another hammer to come along. In fact my very apparent “Dork Readings” might have been what drew Frique to me in the first place. It also might have been the few times he saw me drawing fractals in my notebook or translating jokes into binary.
It was around second semester that he first addressed me. We’d made do with limited comments related to whatever project our class was working on, but he’d never said more to me than “pass the spectroscope,” or “your elbow’s in my petrie dish.” We’d just finished our geology lab a half-hour earlier than everyone else, when he slid over a piece of graph paper. It was a diagram for a circuit drawn in 4-color ballpoint pen.
“Do you think we should use FR-4 or CM-1 for a dielectric?” he asked me.
Just like that.
It was as if we were already in the middle of a conversation and things like introductions and general polite inquiry were out of the way. That’s how Frique was. He never beat about the bush or worried about making a good impression.
I don’t even think he knew my name at that time, unless he’d caught a glimpse of “Elliot Fragg” at the top of my worksheets and didn’t think it worth asking. He didn’t start calling me “Fragg” until years later. I was just “you” like there was no one else in his little world.
That frightened me.
We were a pretty insular pair all those years in school together and later on when we went to college for Chemistry. We made Hubris University’s investments in eye-wash stations well worth it.
And then there were the events preceding our expulsion.
That was the problem with Frique. He was a wheedler —a silver-tongued devil. He made everything sound so innocent right until you heard the police sirens. He never had to talk me into anything, because he knew that wasn’t how my mind worked. I attacked any given problem with the sheer desire of solving it, without stopping to think about repercussions. Usually, in a theoretical sense, there would have been no repercussions … if I’d been working with anyone but Lucas Frique.
For example, when I developed a compound that would reduce rotting road kill into eco-friendly compost more quickly, I never expected Frique to use it on the body of our Professor of Biochemistry he’d killed and buried behind our dorm. When I invented a breathable gas that was more effective than laughing gas to immobilize and numb dental patients, I didn’t expect Frique to use it on several members of the student body. A few of them ended up behind the dorm too. Frique would simply ruminate aloud on a subject like, “I wonder if it’s possible to create a machine to project a person’s thoughts,” and I would be on the first draft a few seconds later. Frique would provide the parts (which he probably stole) and correct my math while I feverishly designed and perfected. Then I would find out that Frique wanted to use my mind-reading device to dig up dark secrets about a teacher’s aide for the purpose of blackmail.
The manufactured viruses, the sonic wave devices, the electrically charged suits (I admit that making electro-shock suits was a real “duh” moment for me afterwards) and many more insidious devices were designed and perfected by me for Frique’s purposes. His test subjects were the students and staff at that unfortunate school. I never pleaded with him to stop. It would have been like trying to halt a landslide by waving a stop sign. And I was too scared — no —I was terrified beyond all reason.
I still am.
Every time he approaches me with that boyish face and impish expression of interest I break out in a cold sweat. I’m his to command — and as many times as I’ve tried to break away, I’ve never been able to manage it. He’d always draw me back with promises, with threats, and on one occasion, a gun. He’d never be able to let me go, because without me around there would be only him, talking to himself and letting his mind spiral into tessellating madness.
The man killed in cold blood, tortured his fellow humans and plotted the deaths of thousands in his dark dreams, and he was never frightened of that blackness in his soul … because I was his anchor to humanity. With me around, he’d never be alone. Being alone is the only thing Frique is terrified of. I'd kill myself if I wasn't terrified of Frique digging me up and keeping me alive with electric impulses — "The Fragg That Wouldn't Die."
Right now I’m working on a giant robot with nine kinds of weapons and a strain of flesh-eating bacteria. We’re going to hold the Smithsonian Institute for ransom until the Natural History museum updates its dinosaur exhibit.
It’s Frique’s attempt at being funny.
My life sucks.