Something Truly Remarkable, by Sean Fenech - Insite's Short Story Competition

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Sean Fenech penned this outstanding entry that takes a closer look at the nature of a creator. The image used to illustrate this article is a high-definition photo from the Hubble space telescope of the Pillars of Creation, a formation of interstellar gas and dust located in the Eagle Nebula.

“And, the Planetary Creationist prize goes to… Professor Abel Schmidt.”

A standing ovation: the sound of hands colliding against each other pealed throughout the auditorium. I was amongst the clappers, adding to the general noise in adherence to social precepts rather than from the awesomeness of my peer’s contribution to planetology. Sure, it cannot be argued that Delta XLR53 is not impressive in itself—as well as being a beautiful and magnificent globe of iridescent resplendence; the planet essentially being a spherical conglomeration of crystals—but have we forgone pragmatism? Have we forgotten that science is a practical realm? Delta XLR53 is nothing more than just a pretty ball of gems.

“And, the Nebulaic Composer prize goes to… Doctor Abraham Stern.”

The same applies to the good Dr Stern. IBC337—or, ‘The Twilight Eye’, as he likes to call it—is nothing more than just pretty. Of course, the act of creating a nebula and then ‘freezing’ it—in layman terminology; the nebula is actually submerged in a nonreactive, electromagnetic matrix which prevents the nebula from interacting with itself—is impressive in itself but the fact that he intentionally made it unable to react and form a star renders it useless. It’s nothing more than just pretty. Pretty, pretty, pretty. I thought I went to a scientific award ceremony and not an art gallery. Thus I am afraid that my compeers must have mistaken scientific construction for artistry. Both planetology and art involve creation but there is no room for error: it is rather impossible to confuse the two and I had hoped that this applies especially to academics with doctorate degrees. Perhaps they have not; perhaps they have conflated the two realms to prove that science too can be beautiful. Or, it could also be, that they decided to no longer finger phials, mix chemicals and operate machinery for the sake of scientific progress but merely for the sake of beauty. Beauty is a petty objective to strive for—one that should be left over for those dandies with palettes that only pretend to create, when all they know is how to facsimile reality—and nothing less than discovery and innovation should satisfy the scientist.

“And, the…”

If people could eavesdrop on my thoughts, had they the power to perceive my cogitations as if they were speech, to listen to my mental monologue, they would attribute—rightly so—the source of these thoughts to envy. If emotions could make us colour then I am sure that I would be accused of gleaming as greenly as a lake on a spring day afternoon since, admittedly, I do find my peers’ achievements as most enviable. I concede my reprehensible feelings but please, understand that my sentiments are justified. Being overshadowed by your peers casts you into the gulf that separates two questions: “am I worthy of such accomplishments? Or am I not?” Dwelling for so long within this chasm however, creates a longing within oneself: a longing to create something truly remarkable… I think I have an idea.

I indulged myself in contemplation on the journey home—the raucous workings of the engine not conducing, howsoever, to my cerebrations. Creating a planet is entry-level, run-of-the-mill planetology; any amateur can create a floating globe of rock and dust. Stars and nebulae are the next step after planets but what I have in mind is on a whole other level. I must make arrangements for the funding of this project and I believe I know of a few entities who would be interested in endorsing an endeavour as revolutionary as this. My work will be significant, my work will be innovative, my work will be on the lips of generations to come. My work will be beyond the descriptive, adjectival scope of mere words: it will be a marvel to behold, a scientific prodigy that will alter the way we view existence. It will cause entire paradigms to transform. Planetology will no longer be a big-boy science to have big-boy fun with stars and planets; it will comprehend an entirely new kind of creation.

“I am sorry, doctor, but I see no reason why your project should receive any funding from me.”

“Do you not fathom the significance of such an undertaking?”

“I do not see how it will benefit either myself or my company despite how significant it might be.”

“Please, Sinclair, understand the ramifications of my project… can you not imagine the benefits this can offer to our race? Imagine the additional research that it will actuate: entire libraries worth of literature will be written, owing to this single endeavour. Such scientific progress should not be inhibited…”

“Even if this project could force the whole damned world to stop and give us eternal sunshine or literally make every person immortal, I’ll still not earn any revenue from it. That’s just bad business, and bad business means that I can kiss my company goodbye.”

“Sinclair, please, I beseech you in the name of science and the greater good.”

“I am sorry to tell you, doctor, but there is no greater good to me than the financial security of my company. The world of capitalism is as harsh as the Darwinian world. If you are not fit to survive, you will surely perish.”

“I understand.”

“Is there anything else I can help you with, doctor?”

“No… thank you.”

I hastened to my office as soon as I arrived home. I needed the time alone to think and plot, and fortunately my wife was not at home. “Probably out on an errand or with one of her friends”, I thought to myself. “How serendipitous.” I tried clearing out my mind lest my indignation should rankle within the deepest chasms of myself. I glanced askance at the schematics of my project and I felt contempt surging inside me. “How dare they impede me from finishing my work? From consummating my project? How dare they?…” I found myself smiting my desk with my fist. It stung a little but not as much as the embitterment within me. I breathed deeply until I finally felt sedate. This hindrance will lengthen the project’s completion by a few months… No matter. I will finish it eventually. I can get the money somehow or other. Nothing will stop me.

“Er, Will, yer don’t ‘appen to know where we hafta take this massive shipment, aye?”

“Lemme check, Dave… Says ‘ere it’s for a Dr Cornelius Jahveh.”

“What he order? These crates are bloomin’ mighty!”

“Would ye believe me if a told ya that a can hardly read these words? They look like sciency stuff, mate.”

“Lemme have a look-see. What the bloody ‘ell is all this? Cannot understand a bloomin’ thing! What the hell is an aquifier?”

“A haven’t a clue, mate. Heard of the guy though. He’s one a them sciency types. You know how they are.”

“What do you reckon he’ll use it fer?”

“Haven’t the faintest idea. Let’s get it delivered before we get sacked for slackin’.”

I sat mumbling to myself in my study; numbers, figures, formulae, equations: calculations to assess the suitable conditions for my project. “If I take the pressure of the atmosphere to be the depth and density of the fluid… I must calculate the appropriate density of the ground. The soil will have to be…”Just then my wife entered the room, the sound of her entrance stifling my barely audible rambles.

“Darling, why can’t we go out tonight? Don’t you know it’s Valentine’s Day?”

“I know, my sweet, I know but work keeps me so occupied these days.”

“Can’t you stop working for just this one night? For me, please?”

“Baby, I’d love to but you know how important this is to me… to us. It’ll make life so much better for us.”

“I don’t care about that for now. I want you.”

“Martha…”

Deciding between the two was like choosing whether I would prefer drinking venom or lye, being immolated or flayed or have both of my arms chained and choose which one I would prefer to keep.

“Get dressed. We’re going out.”

Another damned setback! How many more impediments must I suffer? I must continue…

“Do you know what time it is?”

“No.” I replied abstractedly.

“Seven in the morning.”

“I worked well into the night.”

“Clearly.”

“Would it be the small hours of the morning or the long hours of the night?”

“Excuse me?”

“Never mind.”

Silence fell upon us like a sable pall; she always told me I have an odd sense of humour. She was about to leave when I calmly enunciated: “it’s finished.”

“What is?”

“You will see.”

I activated the Graviton Imbuer and, almost instantaneously, my project took flight. We both stared at a floating sphere of cerulean liquid and verdant land. Several tiny silhouettes, traversing through the verdure, became extremely noticeable as they contrasted with the verdancy of the land; it was as if the globe was overcome by several minuscule organisms.

“What’s all that, Cornelius?” For some reason, I sensed fear in her voice.

“I created life.”

Written by

Sean Fenech

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