Shandon McMurray was worried. He knew something wasn't quite right
with the weakness in his left leg and arm, but wrote it off to ordinary tiredness;
possibly stiffness from driving 30 minutes to work each day. But just
tonight after dinner, he saw the just-breaking televised medical report
on ZBC news: the genetic and inherited cause of much of the
Asymmetrical Chronic Fatigue that had been cropping up lately.
Something to do with parents and an artificial flavoring used in the
70's. Now he knew what was wrong with him.
Shandon left the doctor's office with the unwanted confirmation of
his darkest terror: he would eventually be in a wheelchair, and then
bedridden until he took his last gasp. "Gasp," he thought almost
outloud, "I'll grasp at something first." A plan started spinning and
then coming together (a portend, if you will...) in his anxious mind.
Preying on his parents' sympathies, he cut back his hours with the
job at the water treatment plant so he could do all the studying he
could on this debilitating health problem, and maybe find a cure. He
had seen the special on the search for specific genes on the DNA
that caused various diseases, he was going to work on finding the
marker for his particular damaged part of the strand, and then
correcting it. Margulis's endosymbiont hypothesis gave him a great deal of hope. If a hydra could take in algae, and not eat its little symbiotic 'friend', maybe he could tweak the chloroplast organelles to restructure his decaying cells. His trembling hands typed away literally like there was
no tomorrow ordering on credit all the items he had researched since
his despair-filled revelation.
"Over there, easy, Ok." He instructed the SDS (Scientific Dispatch
Services) delivery men bringing his
Cray computer into his parents' basement where he finally
relocated. His apartment would not do for the computer and chemistry
lab he was setting up. FedEx and UPS brought other ordered items, and
they were nagged too. Bookshelves abounded with reading material such
as: Nature, Recombinant Techie
Journal, PC Lab Entrepreneur and others. He also had letters to and from lawyers, tort cases to food
chemical companies, (all legalese rejections:'statute of limitations',
blah, blah, blah...).
After everyone was gone, and his parents were asleep, he wasted no
time getting to work. The farmers' large feed tub was perfect to use,
size-wise, (like an old western bathtub) and fabricated totally in
metal, thus allowing electronics to be easily attached. Starting with
his pail of raw "goo", or more scientifically considered: Primordial Algae-based RNA Assembly Composite,
souvenir from the treatment plant, he attached all the wires tubes
probes and apparatus to the computer, lab equipment and this soupe de jour.
Finally, the big moment came, Shandon was ready to baptize his
withering body within the mix. In he went, all the way down, even
dunking the top of his head in the now glowing, swirling blue-green
Next thing he remembered was not being able to move and hearing
someone say, "Is there a generator back-up for this sunlamp, so he
won't die if his new protist chlorophyll cells aren't replenished?"
(Thanks also to David Bowie!)