Any self-respecting mad scientist would have a trusted pet, right? Of course, the stereotype is for the scientist to be, EVIL, black eye-patch and hiding within a subterranean lair waiting to take over the planet. But Professor Quan is not evil, and he is not mean, he is a man on a mission to eradicate Ms. Prosperina. To me, that’s the connection between Professor Quan and Captain Lovins, it is about personal responsibility, they understood it was vital to their mission to hide, and remain ghosts.
Professor Quan’s pet was named, Waldo. The inspiration for Waldo comes from the happy faces at the top of this post. In particular, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, on the right side of the photo. She was our Margaret May, and I could not think of a better friend for Professor Quan. So, I decided to share an excerpt from Fishing for Light, and perhaps when you read this chapter, you might remember our departed friend.
Inside a cavernous, subterranean lair, lost within the lush emerald green Appalachian hills, Professor Quan stared into a high-powered optical microscope. His skin was reddish with orange undertones. He was far from packed urban neighborhoods, busy city streets, but most of all, Big Brothers’ constant inquisitive eyeballs. Nearby on a faded leather lounger his pet dog’s seal-brown eyes focused on her master. He slid off his magnifying goggles, latex gloves, mesh smock, and deposited them into a biohazard container. A satisfied expression emerged across his face as he slipped on a white lab coat. He scratched the dog behind its fluffy ears. He grinned down at his friend.
“Waldo, it’s about what happens to you, and you have to remember you’re loved,” Professor Quan said. He adjusted his lab coat at the lapels. “Let’s go for a walk, time for you to do some business, right?”
Waldo and Professor Quan left the lab; traveled up inside a wide reinforced elevator, and emerged inside a dilapidated shotgun style house. Together, they ambled out of the rickety front door. A lonely 1940s era powder blue metal porch glider set on the left side, flanked on the right side of the concrete slab porch by a wooden swing connected to the ceiling by metal chains. A cooper-bellied water snake, disturbed, uncoiled and slithered into the scrub grass. The obedient dog scurried just in front of Professor Quan down a narrow dirt path. She sniffed at dense foliage, pranced back forth in semi-circles before she stopped to relieve herself.
“Good Waldo,” Professor Quan said. He chuckled as noticed several fox squirrels. “Come, Waldo.” Ignorant that Professor Quan lurked, they scratched behind glossy red bryum moss covered limestone, and chewed fresh elder berries. They dug holes near Cumberland rosemary. Their cybernetic vibrations bounced off inconspicuous spider web like receptors strategically placed next to tree trunks, rock embankments, and draped across mountain azaleas. Carbon based threads that glistened with a blue diamond fleck coating. The vibrations reflected back to a primary cellular membrane spread over the shotgun shacks tin roof. Over the decades, they had created an almost impenetrable organic mesh security zone, because years before he had roamed the habitat, hunting the local rodents with his enhanced three-foot blowgun. He had shot a disintegrating dart, tipped with a microscopic wafer that dispersed into their pink tissue. At the molecular level, over the subsequent decades, the little-brained creature’s natural breeding cycles advanced the micro-organic adjustments from squirrel to squirrel. The result, their sensations and feelings beamed back positive kinetic energy collected by the web sheets that Professor Quan could convert into three dimension visual images that signaled any unwanted visitor hiking within their environment, an environment that had only a single narrow dirt road that terminated in front of the dilapidated house.
Professor Quan and Waldo continued along a bisecting walking path up to a clearing within the forest that overlooked the sun-splashed valley. But he dared not emerge from the canopied tree line to reveal his real face. He remained within the shadow cast by a massive sycamore aware Ms. Prosperina’s drones constantly roamed the heavens filming, probing and sensing earth, and communicating with her satellite constellation. Waldo sat back on her hind legs, she panted with her pink tongue as she looked up at Professor Quan.
“Waldo, this valley was formed from a huge meteorite, I used to go hiking along those trails when I was at Briar Hill, it’s not far from here,” Professor Quan said. He looked down at Waldo. She had happy black eyes, as her tongue waggled out.
“I wish you understood me, but that’s okay, what I tell you would get you killed,” Professor Quan said. He clenched his jaw. He leaned down on his left knee; he patted Waldo along her furry back and turned to stare down the jagged valley wall. “Down there, along that sandstone ridge, I found those plutonic diamonds. I had no clue, coated with organic material. I was just a kid, playing with science.”
Professor Quan picked up an oak leaf. He smelled its oaky fragrance admiring the expansive veins that had fed the blade.
“I wonder about nature, a random asteroid slings past Jupiter, it blazes through the atmosphere, crashed into earth, with organic material packed in ice, organic material? And the ice melts, we have water, but from where?”