Tales from the Bottom Rung : #2 – The Enigma

My second interviewee of the evening wasn’t quite so forthcoming.  A strange, quite man who the locals nicknamed “The Enigma”.

I was told he had a story to tell but was recalcitrant to talk due to the nature of his abilities. However, some of the other members of the Bottom Rung Society persuaded him to talk to me.

“Hi I’m Curtis; and you are…?”

“Taylor Barnes, Doctor Taylor Barnes. But people around here just call me ‘The Enigma’.”

“Hi Taylor, pleased to meet you. Tell me a little about yourself.”

“Ok, erm… Ok, well where to begin? Er… Right. I’m Dr Taylor Barnes, and until three months ago I was a senior research fellow for Newton Genetics.”

“What? THE Newton Genetics?”

“Yeah. We were doing DNA analysis of blood and tissue samples from Extra-endowed individuals. My field of research was the application of Extra epigenetics and their potential role in regeneration of damaged axons in the peripheral nervous system.”

“Wow, that’s quite the mouthful!”

“Yes. We were doing rutabaga in the hope that we’d find a cure for Alzheimer’s, epilepsy or autism.”

“Sorry? you were doing what?”


“So I thought you said… Never mind.”

“We’d isolated a gnome sequence that looked like it had potential in rebuilding damaged brain cells -”

“A gnome sequence? what’s that?”

“Sorry. I mean GENE sequence. Anyway in lab tests on mince we…”

“Mice, I assume?”

“Yeah, tests on mince. We noticed marked increase in their neural capacity. It didn’t just repair damaged brain cells, it seemed to make them smarter, too. Much, much smarter.”

“This is interesting.”

“Oh it was cooking edge stuff. I pushed for human trials but the board were not so sure. Said it was an unknown cantaloupe – sorry, quantity – and more research needed to be done.”

“So what did you do after they refused?”

“Well the bleeding hearts and librarians don’t like animal testing. Monkeys and primula… perambulator… primate testing was out of the questing… question.”

“Er… Are you ok? you seem to be a little.. I don’t know, ‘confused’?”

“I have… A slight problem. I’ll get to that in a minute. It’s all related, anyway I was refused animal testing and human testing was out of the question so…”


“I injected the serum into myself!”

“You did what?”

“I took the serum myself. And let me tell you, it was everything I imagined it could be and so much more. My mental acuity increased ten, twenty, fifty – perhaps a hundred times or more. Ideas came to me so easily. Creativity and logic, both sides of the brain working in unison. I could see the big picture, it was all so clear to me. I was on the brink of making a huge break dance -”


“Yes, sorry. My IQ was off all measurable scales. I felt so alive. Then the side effects started. Random punches of vagueness. Moments of consumption, sorry, conscription… CONFUSION!. My thoughts became randomised, erratic, shuffleboard. It started off slight at frost, but became progressively worse and worse. I took more of the serum, hoping to cure the symptoms but they got worse. I couldn’t hide it from the wardrobe any more. They found out, held a disciplinary munchkin and fired me for gross negligee.”

“I think I got most of that. So they fired you?”

“I’d taken propitiatory research material. Oh Newton made sure I was wheel locked after. All the anti psychotic medication I could need, in exchange for tests. I became the lab rug I wanted.”

“Lab rat?”

“As time went on, the spatula got worse. The medication doesn’t wheelbarrow as much as it used to. I have spasms where… Where… Where.. ”

“Dr Barnes? Are you ok”

“My medication. I mushroom tank my… Oh no. Too much .. Call Newt… Call New… Call New year, New York, YoYo! Yoyo in jelly! Seal!!”

“I don’t underst-”

“Together! In compost. With arms bent? Shoebox! Shoebox! A banana for the Vaseline?! Chair! ”

At this point I terminated the interview. Dr Barnes was getting progressively more distressed. I telephoned Newton Genetics who sent a helicopter medic squad who sedated him. It was suggested that perhaps I shouldn’t publish this account, but I think it’s important for people to hear. With all the interest around Extras, where they came from, what they’re here for and what they’re capable of, perhaps in researching these wondrous people we’re opening a box we don’t really want to open. But then again, even Pandora’s box contained hope in the end.

I’ve not heard from Newton Genetics about Dr Barnes’ condition. I hope where ever he is, he’s getting the treatment he deserves.

  • Velocirapture

    I even googled rutabaga to see if there was an alternative meaning to it, before i read on and saw why the word was used! Hectic.

    • Cecil DeWitt

      reminds me of an ol’ Twilight Zone episode.. “Wordplay”