Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Month: September, 2015

Factory Recall

We interrupt this regularly scheduled programme to issue a warning from the Department of Trade and Industry.

The warning is a follows. If any member of the public has recently purchased Joy Brand Farms black pitted olives we ask you to IMMEDIATELY take them and place them in a fire or an oven at at least 200C (392F) until such time as they have been completely converted to ash. Before you do so, please make sure that you have counted the olives and that they are all present and accounted for. If any of the olives are not accounted for, especially if you or a member of your household has eaten one, please DO NOT leave your home, lock all your doors and windows, contact the us Toll free on 1800 96873 382533 and await a specialist team.

Above all we would like all members of the public to avoid needless worry by stopping the spread of false and malicious rumours about the appearance of certain strange creatures across the country in recent days. They are completely untrue and only serve to spread panic and alarm. Rest assured that everything is under control and there is nothing to worry about.


Copyright SunnyS
Written for the Grammar Ghoul Press Mutant 750 challenge number 53.


Picture it and Write: Close to Reality

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write for Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine, I am only using it for inspiration. Anyway, enjoy.

Close to reality

Uuuuugh!!!! Toby could feel his head spinning. It was difficult to focus and he had a blinding headache. “What happened?” He asked himself, “I was driving home from the cinema when there a light and…” there was a blank. He had no idea what happened.

He was in a bed but when he lifted the sheets he found that the room looked different. Subtly so, but definitely different. The colours were off as were the size of various objects as if it had been measured using a fish-eye lens. It was all very confusing.

Toby lifted himself off the bed, his feet finding it difficult to find purchase on the sloping floor. There was a noise at the door of his room, he looked up and nearly collapsed at what he saw. There, standing slumped at the door, was his girlfriend, or at least someone who looked like her. There were ropes, or maybe strings attached to her limbs. As if on queue some of the strings jerked and she lifted up and began to speak.

“Greetings fellow human. Would you like me to provide you some animal protein or chopped plant matter for consumption?” That was beyond weird. The voice was not even coming from her mouth. “Er. Alice? Are you okay?” She lifted her head up and down in what might have been a nod then said “I am perfectly functional. Do not be concerned. Are you in adequate health?”

“Ummmm!” Toby scratched his chin, “I’m not sure. I think I may need some more sleep.”

“That is an excellent observation” she smiled “Would you perhaps need some assistance in getting to sleep?” She pulled what looked like a flashlight out of her pocket and started to advance. “Simply look into this and you will lose consciousness very quickly.”

Toby suddenly got very scared “Er. Maybe not. I think maybe I’ll take a pill.”

“Negative.” ‘Alice’ said “Medications could contaminate your results. I will have to insist that you do as I say.” She advanced towards Toby, “I do not want to physically force you.” She leaned forward, Toby leaned back. She stepped forward, Toby stepped back and tripped over the side of the bed, collapsed head over heels and hit his head against the dresser.

From outside the room Blaznarg let go of the strings keeping the human puppet and shifted to the one-way mirror to get a closer look at the new specimen. “Do you think it’s dead?” Asked Cosphuts, his colleague “It better not be. We don’t have the funding to gather a new one.”

“No. I think it’s alive. I can see it breathing. I don’t think we got it’s environment close enough.” Blaznarg looked again at Cosphuts “I told you we should have gotten more photographs.” He looked at the puppet now standing drooped on the lab floor “And we should have made sure that was more lifelike. Exactly like, not close enough.”

He thought for a second “Maybe an animatronic.”



Susan liked working for the Earth Embassy on  Sopceq. The Sops were not only incredibly adorable, they were really friendly.

There was only one problem with the natives. Like moths, all Sops, especially the younger ones, were attracted to open flames, dangerously so.

Still; that only really caused problems on her birthday.


Copyright Jen Brunett
Written for the Grammar Ghoul Press Shapeshifting 13 challenge number 20.


“Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday to you!! Happy Birthday dear Noah. Happy Birthday to you!”

There was a surfeit of hoorays and Noah leaned over and blew out the candles on his cake. “Thanks guys!” He said “This is the best birthday ever.” Noah leaned back as the porter took the cake back to cut it up. The entire ward was around the table, drinking lemonade from plastic cups, paper plates waiting the return of the cake.

Jimmy, A.K.A. Napoleon asked “Are you really 200 Noah?”

Noah nodded “As far as I know. Records were a little sparse back then. It was either June or July 1815 that I was born. We always celebrated June so that is that.”

Bob, who received messages from the CIA, said “Get off! You can’t be that old; it’s impossible. You can’t be more than one hundred and fifty.” There was laughter.

Derek, reincarnated Buddha, replied “How do you know what’s impossible? If he says he’s two hundred.” He nodded at Noah “I believe him.” There were cheers of support from around the table.

Chuck, reanimated ghost, put in “But I was talking to Bill the nurse and he told me that Noah’s birth cert says that he was born in 1972, not 1815. I think someone is lying.”

Alan brought right back “Birth Cert. birth schmert! My Birth cert says that I was born in New York. We all know that is a lie. I’d trust Noah’s word above any document.”

The back and forward quickly silenced by the return of the porter with the sliced cake. The table descended on the confection and spent a few happy minutes eating away.

Noah liked it here. He could be himself with these people, they were his friends, they liked him, they accepted him. Compared to Jesus, Julius Cesar and Zxrtpt from the plant Spong, a two hundred year old man was positively common place, boring even. It didn’t matter that officialdom didn’t believe him, they could be for given for thinking he was forty three, he


spend a lot of money on that fake birth cert after all.


Copyright Ruth Black


Written for the Grammar Ghoul Press Mutant 750 number 52.


“Sorry! We hit a cow.”


“Yeah! Crumpled engine. Waited an hour for a replacement.”


“You never had that with the old Train. It was solid. All you got when it hit cows was an anatomy lesson.”



Written for the Grammar Ghoul Press Shapeshifting Thirteen number 19.

Picture it and Write: Henry’s home

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s Picture it and Write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again the picture is not mine, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway, Enjoy.

Henry’s Home

My Aunt Grace never really had a job, not as such. Sure she pottered around a bit, worked the odd day in the grocer’s or the post office. But those were never permanent, more helping out when there was a need. The thing was, money was never an issue. She had inherited a whole row of houses in the town that she rented for below market rates, more than enough to cover her needs. She was generous to a fault, always willing to drop a meal to the hungry or buy a round in the bar. She was an angel of mercy to many and everyone in the town had a soft spot for old Grace.

When you’re that loved, people are inclined to forgive most of the less profane eccentricities. In Grace’s case it was her ranch, about ten miles out of town. She had inherited it along with the other properties but didn’t seem to have a farming bone in her body and it quickly went to seed. What had once been prime agricultural land became a twisted mass of bushes and strong saplings. It was into this world that Henry was.

Henry was a Labrador pup that Grace had found in an alley behind a dumpster when she was helping out at the diner. She had given him some scraps that he wolfed down and after her shift was up she found he was still there. Henry had no tags and when Grace put the word out that she had found him no one came to claim him. She surmised the he must have been thrown away, another refugee from Christmas two months earlier. Well; if no one else wanted Henry, Grace was going to give him a home.  

Henry loved the semi wilds of Graces ranch. He sniffed around the hedges for hours bringing back sticks and stones and God knows what else for his new best friend. But it soon came to pass that Grace had the feeling that Henry was in need of a companion.

So Grace made the trip down to the pound and brought back Jasmine, a red setter. Followed a couple of weeks later by Colin the Collie. It began to become abundantly clear that Grace had found her calling in life.

The three dogs she had soon became ten and then quickly enough thirty, all of them strays. Both the pound and the Sheriff had her number on speed dial since she was always willing to take on another friend. They were all looked after by the local vet and, after one too many incidents, all neutered. Every single one of them happy.

That was now my Aunt spend the rest of her years. Inside a maelstrom of tail-wagging, tongue waving, and nose nuzzling. That is not to say things were all plain sailing. There were one or two bad apples as bite-marks would testify not to mention the sad attrition of old friends including old Henry who left to chase squirrels in the sky at the grand old age of eighteen. There were some tears then.

But it was worth it and in the end Grace left the ranch in trust, to all canines who would have need of it, Henry’s home for Dogs, into perpetuity.



Day Release

Mark waited in the foyer, security guard keeping an eye on him. The clock had passed ten in the morning and he could feel a pang of nerves starting to bubble under the surface. He took a deep breath and surpressed it. Things were going to go well, he just knew it.

There was a screech of brakes as a car came to a sudden stop outside followed by the slam of a car door. Then David, Mark’s brother bustled in. He shot across the tiled floor, grabbed Mark in a hug, and said “Great to see you out again brother!” Mark was too overwhelmed to say anything, but he did return the hug, the contact helped the nerves go away.

The car down the steps was the same one that David had owned before. One of the doors had a dent that he didn’t remember but it was nice to see something familar. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there waiting for you Mark.” David said as he got into the driver’s seat “But Cathy is after bringing her new baby over from London” Mark said that he didn’t know his niece had  been pregnant. Cathy had been sixteen when he last saw her. By the time they allowed vistors she had moved to England for Uni, details after that had been fragmented. “Well you’ll get to see her at the house and your new grandnephew. Oh! I tell ya! It is going to be a veritable family reunion this afternoon what with all the phone calls Marian’s been making. Everyone will be there.” then he paused for a second “Well.. Maybe not everyone. But you’ll still have a great time.”

But Mark wasn’t really paying attention to David. They had reached the gate between the towering walls and he felt a momentary fear as he saw the traffic pass by on the street. What if someone saw that he was coming out and copped what he was, even what he had done? But none of the anonymous drivers even made to look at him as they passed. Quickly; they were away from the high walls and out in suburban Dublin.

Mark’s brother had always been a talker. A conversation with him usually involved a lot of listening. Mostly it was about Cathy’s new baby “The first time he ever saw me, he smiled at me. She said he hardly ever smiles at anyone new.” and being a grandparent “It’s a great feeling being a granddad but I have to say, Marian’s a granny now too, that feels a little weird.”, and then to “So I told him, right. I told him to his face ‘These doctors, they have more brains in their little finger than you’ll ever have in your fat head and if they say it’s going  to be grand then it’ll be grand.’ so then I just walked out and I haven’t had a drink there since.”

“Will Gloria be there today?” the question came out of Mark’s lips unconsciously. David stayed quiet for a minute, as if uncertain what to say. Then “You know how it is Mark, it’s been hard for her and Sally, what with what happened. We see them every now and then, not as often as we’d like, they’re doing great. But you know; they’re still nervous. Maybe the next time. Provided.. you know.” Mark knew what was being said by that pause. Provided you don’t do something. “But don’t dwell on that!” David regained his cheerfulness “You’re only out for a day. It took longer than that to build Rome.”

It took them twenty minutes to reach David’s house, there was a banner,  Welcome back Mark, and bunting on the walls. There was no one outside to greet him but when David opened the door there was a chorus of welcome. Nearly everyone was there. There was Marian, David’s wife, his son, Robbie and his new fiancee, Cathy, the daughter, with her husband and their new son John, named after Mark and David’s departed father, Mark’s widowed mother , a smattering of aunts, uncles and cousins as well as a couple of friends from the neighbourhood his former workplace.

It was good to see them all again. Many had visited him over the years but this was different, happier. Everyone wanted to talk to him, the conversations ranged from from the supportive “Glad to see you’re out Mark. We knew you’d pull through.”, to the wildly inappropriate “So. What’s it like in there? Can you tell me?”, to the mildly indignant “What do you mean you can’t have a drink? Not even a shandy?” He had been arguing with that particular questioner, one of his oldest drinking buddies when the rest of the room went suddenly silent. A voice from behind, a voice he had not heard in a long time “Mark”.

He turned slowly and there she was, Gloria, a woman he had pledged to love and protect but whom he had failed miserably. She looked exactly as he remembered, save for the scar on her cheek, very faint now, it had healed up well.

Mark made a move towards her but she shrank back, fear filling her face, the kind of fear you saw a lot of inside. He stopped himself, instead saying “It’s good to see you.”

Gloria wavered for a second, as if conflicted between moving to him or running away. Marian, by then close to her side placed a hand on her shoulder, this seemed to calm Gloria and silently placed her hand over it in thanks. Her eyes were starting to glisten with tears as she said ” I’m not going to stay here long Mark. I just came to say… To say that I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not coming to see you.” She sniffed, her voice breaking, but there was a smile on her lips “They tell me you’re getting better, that, maybe, you’ll be able to come home. That’s good. It’s hard for us. You have to know that. But I wanted to tell you that if you’re back. If you’re really back then we’ll try.. For you.”

By then the tears were flowing uncontrollably and Marian had wrapped a hand around her to lead her out of the room. David at the same instant had his arm around Mark, who was also starting to cry and took him out a doorway into the back garden. When they were away from from everyone David stopped and turned Mark to look into his eyes “Did you hear that Brother? Did you hear that? You have a chance, a second chance to get it back. All you have to do is get well again. Do you think you can do that?”

Mark didn’t know. He had been a long time before he even admitted that he was sick and even then it was a long road to get just this far. “I don’t know.” He said “But I’ll try… For them.”