Charisma in a Can
Often, we scientists discover, I prefer the word stumble on to, something that gets us thinking “If I can get this to work, maybe, just maybe, I could use this, to take over the world.” More often than not, it turns out that it was never going to work in the first place. After all there is a reason that there are no death rays, zombie hoards or evil half monkey-half robot armies running around wrecking the place. Most of us give up on the process before we have perfected our maniacal laugh or put in a small-ad for a hunch-backed assistant. The only person I know of who got close, and he got really close was a man by the name of Professor James Kaminski from the University of Delaware.
Now, if that name sounds familiar to you, that is because Prof. Kaminski was one of the world’s leading experts on insect pheromones. Now if you don’t know what a pheromone is it is a substance that creatures use to talk to one another and coordinate their activities. By making his own versions of these, he had been able to corner the market on bug traps and repellents. That was only the beginning however and Kaminski had developed whole series of concoctions that could make insects do what ever he wanted. His party-piece was getting bees to fly around his head in some sort of buzzing halo. The question he was always asked, at conferences and in parties, was could this stuff work on people. And he would always answer that people were far too complex to lead around with chemicals. But he was lying.
You see, Kaminski had been working surreptitiously on unlocking the pheromones that humans generate. He found quickly that human pheromones don’t have quite the same hold on people than had been noted with insects. Except in one case. He found that, all great leaders, politicians and other successful people had a secret weapon in their dealings with others. This chemical aid, he found, was the source of their charisma, their ability to get their way in arguments, their general likeability. Kaminski isolated it, unlocked its secrets, and set about improving it. He called it ‘Charisma in a Can’. He tested it on an undergrad and the results were, to say the least, impressive. The poor young man became enraptured with the Kaminski, would do anything that he had asked. What’s more, through some dosage experiments he found that over a certain limit the effect was permanent, effectively a slave for life.
Kaminski, unsure of his new power, started small. He made sure that he never had to worry about funding again, the university gave him space in the most up-to-date lab building, all the office space he wanted and he never got a parking ticket again. But this was only the beginning though and through his contacts with DARPA, Kaminski started to get meetings with people up the chain of command in the Department of Defence. The plan was devilishly simple, get to the secretary of Defence and through him, the President, then spend the rest of his life as the power behind the throne, the real ruler of the world. It couldn’t go wrong.
But there is always a fly in the ointment. In this case it was a gifted Post-Doc in Kaminski’s group by the name of Xie Chen. He had grown suspicious of his bosses night-time activity and one night Kaminski was leaving his office when he was confronted by Chen, with his secret journal of his work and his stock of ‘Charisma in a Can’. Chen admonished his supervisor about how unethical it was what he was doing. He told Kaminski that he was going to go straight to the police and warn them about everyone who he had compromised then make sure that he would answer for his actions. “As for this” he said as he looked at the sealed bottle of clear liquid “This can’t be allowed to remain in your hands, or with anyone who could abuse it.” Then quickly, before Kaminski could do anything to stop him, he got to the large waste solvent container and poured the precious contents into it.
Chen left Kaminski devastated, but he had not finished fighting yet. Firstly, he had been smart enough to take a small sample of his formula, enough to dose, twenty people for life, and hide it at home in a secret hiding place. Secondly he had ways of dealing with the likes of Chen.
He reopened his office and immediately made three phone calls, the first was to the DoD rescheduling a meeting with it’s head for later in the week, the second was to the enslaved undergrad, telling him about Chen and to deal with him ‘by all means necessary’, the third was in order to place himself away from any unpleasantness that was likely to occur, he called his wife telling her she was going to take her out for dinner.
This had come as some surprise to Julie Kaminski, James never took her out, he was always too busy at work for that, too busy for her. Maybe this was a new change in him? Maybe it had something to do with the bottle of perfume that she had found behind the drier? As she changed, she couldn’t resist trying on some of it, it smelt odd, but it was from James. She was ready for the night, the first night of the rest of her life.
Nobody is quite sure what happened next but there was a phone call to the DoD the next day cancelling any future meetings with Kaminski. Over the next month, he resigned his professorship, sold all his stakes in insect control and moved with his wife to a vineyard in the south of France. He is by all accounts, a most devoted husband to Julie.
So once again an evil scheme was defeated. Not by some hero, or by the cops, but by a quiet housewife, seeking only more time with her husband. I wonder how long more will providence protect the world from the genius of evil men. My guess is, not long.