Stories from a Dublin Scientist


The frothy mess bubbled furiously around the view port of the copper still. Professor Jennsson took an appraising look and then let his apprentice Philip see.

“The distillation is the most important step.” He said to Philip, “It is the only way we have to extract the essence of the wormwood root. Its spirit if you will. Once we capture it we will be able to proceed with the next step of making our formulation.”

Philip was still looking into the view port his voice muffled by the protective robes he wore “Is it meant to move so violently?”

Prof. Jennsson looked over Philip’s shoulder to say something reassuring but saw how the froth had started to extrude through the seams of the view port. “Down!” he shouted and pushed Philip hard making him fall over.

Within seconds of them hitting the ground there was a loud band as the glass circle of the view port shot out and smashed into the wall of the workshop. There was a roar of escaped gases and scalding froth which caused the two men to make a rapid retreat to the relative safety of the filing cabinet.

From behind the pile of books and old notes they looked as the seething mass of noxious vapours hung angrily in the air. Slowly, it formed the shape of a head filled with menacing teeth and then faded into nothingness with the distinct impression in the silence of evil laughter and shouts of “I’m free! I’m free!”

Prof. Jennsson and Philip looked at where the apparition had been and then at each other. Silent for a second Jennsson was the first to speak “I was hoping to wait longer to start this part of your training but I suppose now is as good a time as ever.”

“What is that?” Philip asked “Some new spell? Something to make everything alright?”

“Close.” Said Jennsson “I will now teach you the dark art of blaming the still maker in front of the safety committee.”


Six Word Stories 240618

The president now rules the cinder.

It turned out, God hates lawyers.

Tortoise and rabbit race, Vegas madness.

Voices demanded Murder. I decided who.

Whale watching. They’d seen Moby Dick

Alien contact mishap. Translation only swearwords.

The wrong kind of love

General Sorcerer Daniel Victor raised his head as his latest patient, a young man, came in through the door. He was holding a long stick with large dog at the end. The dog was struggling to get around the pole at him.

Daniel thought a second then said, “I need you to show this. Let the dog go.”

The young man, reluctantly, released the dog. It took a bounding leap towards the young man, knocking him down, licking and nuzzling him. Daniel had to paralyse the dog with a quick spell.

Embarrassed, the young man got up and said, “I don’t understand. He’s never acted like this before. Must be bewitched.”

Daniel asked, “Have you bought any love potions recently?”

The man made to protest then said resignedly, “Yes I did. What of it?”

“I’ve seen this before, most potions don’t make someone fall in love with you but rather amplify any existing feelings for you. The thing is they can affect anyone, and anything” He gestured to the dog.

“What? Him!”

“Do you give him treats? Talk to him.”


“Well that’s your problem. You’ve fostered an affection. The potion made it stronger”

“But what can I do?”

“It will wear off after a week.”

“A week!” The man gestured at the dog. “What am I to do until then?”

“There is one other way, but it may not work.”

“I’ll try anything.”

Daniel rolled up a newspaper and handed it to the patient. “You know what to do.”

Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle 27

Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle, knows how much wood a woodchuck can chuck*.

Dear Doctor Joe,

I write you a man distraught. I had been having problems in my marriage over the last few years but nothing at all that would lead me to believe that things had gone beyond hope. I figured that all I needed to do was leave work early, buy a nice steak, bottle of wine and some flowers and come home to give my wife a little TLC.

No sooner did I get home but I heard some noises coming from the bed room. I walked in and found my wife in bed with José the gardener.

I was in shock. Without letting anyone say anything, I walked out of the room, the house and back to my car. I been driving around the city for the whole evening and  have booked a cheap Motel for the evening where I am now.

Doctor Joe, I don’t know what to do. I loved my wife, but I don’t know how I feel about her now. Can you help me?

Distraught Derek.


Dear Derek,

I have to say that I had to read your letter a few times because I just could not believe what I was reading. The horrific acts described in your words brought a pause to my breath and scandalized my heart. I don’t know what to say, what I can do to help alleviate the situation but I will try my best…..


How could you. Was it a T-Bone a tenderloin? It doesn’t matter, any man who can’t take care of his meat has no business being involved with a woman. With your slapdash approach to animal products it is no wonder that your wife found solace with another man. Who could blame her?

You say you want her back, that you don’t intend to abandon her like a rib-eye in the sun. Not that I totally trust your convictions in this but there may be a way for you to prove yourself.

Look after some meat.

Maybe not a steak, not as first, that may be too much for you. Perhaps a couple of porkchops or some chicken breasts to start with. look after them, take care of them. DON’T ABANDON THEM. Don’t leave them on their own with no one to eat them. and maybe, just maybe things can turn out alright.

Good luck. I know you’re going to need it.

Doctor Joe

*Editors note: Eight.

To read more from Doctor Joe or leave a question check out here.


When the Tel’krit embassy in New York was first opened it was expected that they would, like all their interstellar compatriots, staff themselves with natives of their home planet. But it turns out, it was just too expensive for the planetary government to pay for transport of sufficient staff and instead decided to hire locals.

This was, of course, looked upon as a mild case of madness by the rest of the diplomatic community and dire warnings, hushed gossip and no small amount of currency wagered on when things were going to go balls-up.

The Tel’krit though were having none of it. They’re a stoic race and were certain that any problems caused by hiring humans could be sorted out a few days “Cultural Training” and good old fashioned “common sense”.

And they were right, at first, that was until Sandra Kulinski came into work one morning and was instructed by the ambassador’s chief aide that they would be requiring a human dish specifically an omelette for a breakfast that would be held for some human business executives that morning and that she was to check the pantry for whatever they had that could be used and to buy the rest.

She quickly found the vegetables, spices and oils for cooking but was short only one ingredient, eggs. No matter, she was about to set out to the local store to buy a dozen when she saw through an open door, a half dozen just lying there on a bed of sand. They were a little big, slightly grey in colour, but not far from the norm. They would do nicely.

What the embassy staff would later find out, after quite a deal of consternation, is that common sense didn’t always cross species boundaries, things that every Tel’krit child knew like red lines should never be crossed, or how doors left open signify something inside that owner wants to display but certainly not take.

Most importantly, however, they found that while Sandra had been learning Kritian for some weeks she still had a lot to go and, for example, did not know the prominent sign on the door she entered said “nursery”.

The memory of White

The man was old,  his body shriveled by years of hard work, his skin the colour of leather from too much time under the harsh sun. He stood on a the porch of his modest home, surrounded by the parched dust of what had once been his garden.

“Yo recuerdo los cumbres blancos de la cordillera.” I remember the white peaks of the mountains, he said, “Yo recuerdo los como el pelo blanco de mi abuela” I remember them like the white hair of my grandmother.

He pointed to the mountains in the distance, the grey of the rock, shaded blue by the haze. “Yo recuerdo el nieve, y el agua corriendo por todo el año” I remember the snow, and the water running all year. He looked at the dry pit that had once been a canal, “Yo recuerdo una tierra verde, una tierra llenado con vida, flores, arboles, mariposas.” I remember a green land, a land filled with life, flowers, trees, butterflies.

“What happened?” ¿Que occurido? I asked him. His greying eyes watered up and his voice crackled with dry emotion.

“Mi madre me dijo que lo estaba ira de Dios” My mother told me it was God’s wrath, he said, “Construyamos ciudades demasiado grande, suciamos el aire y el agua. Dios no pudo permitir el nieve blanco puro en un mundo malo. Tampoco aqua puro.” We built cities too big, we polluted the air and the water. God could not all pure white snow in a dirty world. Pure water neither.

“How did you survive?” ¿Como sobreviviste?

“Trabajo duro. Vida dura. Mucho muerto en mi pueblo. Perdi muchos amigos.” Hard work, Hard life. Many dead in my town. I lost many friends. There was a tear in his eye. “Perdimos mucho, perdimos todo, cuando perdimos el blanco en las montañas.” We lost a lot, we lost everything when we lost the snow on the mountains.

He grabbed my arm with his hand, a grip stronger than his frame suggested. “Recuerda nuestra historia.” Recuerda nuestra avisa.” Remember our story. Remember our warning.  

“Si tengas blanco nieve en tu pais. guardalo, protegelo. Los cumbres blancos salvarán tu pais.” If you have white snow in your country. Guard it, protect it. The white summits will save your country. 

“Nunca les permitas morir.” Never let them die.

Six word stories 15/08/17

Finally swam alone, shark came calling.

The wedding rocked, the divorce too.

He took his own life, twice.

Never ignore a witch’s friendly warning.

Revenge, best served at her wedding.

Hide and seek master, never found.

El Humo

Cuando La Moneda quemó, yo lo vi con mi madre en la televisión. Despues diez minutos, mi madre salió y yo quedé, viendo las noticias, el humo subiendo al cielo.

Yo estaba pegado la pantalla, mirando el imagenes de la ciudad. Luego, yo olaba humo. Caminé a fuera y vi mi madre tirando libros en un fuego. Ella había formado una pila de libros de historia, filosofía, poesía, y literatura.

“¿Que estás haciendo?” La pregunté.

“El país esta cambiando.” me dijo, “Ellos van a venir por el gente que leer mucho.”

Yo vi un pilar de humo levantando al cielo, un humo de ideas y sabiduría. Fue exactamente el mismo como los imágenes de la televisión.


English Translation

When La Moneda burned, I saw it with my mother on the television. After ten minutes, my mother left and I stayed, looking at the news, the smoke rising to the sky.

I was glued to the screen, looking at the images of the city. Later I smelled smoke. I walked out and saw my mother throwing books on a fire. She had made a pile of books of history, philosophy, poetry, and literature.

“What are you doing?” I asked her.

“The country is changing.” she told me, “The are going to come for the people that read a lot.”

I saw a pillar of smoke rising to the sky, a smoke of ideas and wisdom. It was exactly the same as the images of the television.

Waiting for it to Work

The bedroom still smelled lived in, a heady mix of farts and sex as I lay down on a bed that was now too big for me. The doors of the cupboards were still open, vacant, in a taunting symbolism, less than half filled with the battered remnants of my life.

Still, no matter. It isn’t important. The case of sleeping pills were slowly working their way through my system. I only need to wait, just a little bit more, and nothing would matter any more.

A man’s Story

Breaking news: A man in his mid thirties has committed suicide by hanging early this evening, more details to follow.

The rope, hempen roughness, ticklish bristles on soft palms, slides amiably into a hangman’s knot, a loop wide enough for a head, a brain filled with despair, a face stained with countless tears, a mouth silent in the search for help. The loop tightens around a thin neck, hard cord in soft skin, a final discomfort. High from his podium, in uncommon elegance he speaks his farewell soliloquy, the room as silent and despairing as the world he sees. Then one final step. Rope taut, loop closes in, bones snap. All gone. Save the body, legs and arms twitching, the puppeteer gone, comical. Bowels and bladder empty, a final humiliation.


Breaking news: The man’s wife has been informed and taken to see and identify the body. By all reports she is inconsolable.

She sees him, she sees him dead, skin pale grey save for a bruise around the neck, head at an unnatural angle. It’s him even so, she nods, the white sheet reclaims its ghostly form. One word fills her thoughts, betrayal. Why? Why now? There’s bills. Life comes with a price-tag. Money makes the world go round, without it you might have to get off. Without him she will have to provide. Get a job, get some welfare, get cash, however you can. Sell the china, sell the house, sell yourself. That last thought jarring. A tear comes loose followed by a torrent of siblings. A comforting hand on her shoulder. She nods in thanks. Nobody’s the wiser.       


Breaking news: The man’s six year old son is reported to have been away at the time. Sources have it that arrangements are being made for his care as his mother is unable to cope.

Daddy’s gone, Mommy is unwell, too final for young ears to hear. Daddy’s gone, the man, the sweets brought home on Fridays, the sneaky coke on a Sunday shopping trip. Slowly sinking into a past not yet consigned to memory. Mommy’s situation frustrates in lack of remedy.  Where hugs heal and kisses take away pain the smiling clerks and those who declare to care only frustrate a noble naiveté. Tears well, anger ferments, the seeds of social disfunction takes root in fertile ground.


Breaking news: The man’s funeral mass is to be held on Saturday next. Family flowers only please.   

Priestly vestments hide old, decrepit body. Sonorous psalms boom out from the alter. Beautiful blessed but bland beatitudes. Prayers a plenty for the preservation of the poor penitent. The those who know him know the priest knows nothing. Generally generic are the words used in the sermon, platitudes wrenched from forty times ten funerals ‘fore this one. Two themes of consolation,

The practical: Death as loss, to be dealt with. Lean on us for support.

The hopeful: Death’s not the end, rebirth through the Lord. Follow to be saved.

Hundreds pack the pews. Black the dominant colour, on clothes and on moods. Scattered sniffs denote those still reeling. Relatives, long unnoticed, sit at the front. The widow, surrounded by so many, is alone.

The prayers spoken, the rites fulfilled, he takes his wooden conveyance on his last journey.


Breaking news: The man is to be buried in a local ceremony with the bodies of his deceased parents and baby sister. Be advised of possible road closures in the area.

Two grave diggers, hard and sweaty, suck on fragrant cigarette fumes as they await the deceased. Some of the resting places around them are prim and tended, others disheveled and forgotten. The body arrives, held on the backs of six men, It is lowered six feet down. There are final words, the mourners leave and final job of filling in the trench is begun.

Ashes but not ashes, dust but not dust, more a mulch, a horrific foulness of decay and corruption. Food for worms and germs until only the complex simplicity of fertiliser remains, set to become new life, the circle of life waiting for one more turn.

The gravediggers are the last to go. Some who were there return in time, keeping him alive in memory. Many will not. Soon memory, like the body, will fade and decay and he will rest, in his place in the ground, for all eternity.