A Dog’s Worst Enemy
by Terry J. Larson
Part 1 appears|
in this issue.
Randy Southerly was having a ball. Who would ever have guessed that after flunking out of college he would be making the bucks he was now, and having such fun doing so? He knew he had disappointed his parents by not hacking it in law school, but he also was aware they knew he had tried his best, but just didn’t have the memory to recall the details involved in all those silly law cases.
Anyway, his dad had loaned him a couple hundred grand to start his own business of his choice. When he had asked him when he had to repay it, his dad answered with a smile, “There’s no hurry, son. You can always pay it back to the estate after your mother and I are gone.”
It didn’t take long for Randy to come up with an idea for a business. He was going to hire himself as chauffeur and guide for rich people. When his parents had told him how much money they spent on some of their guided vacation excursions, he decided that was the business for him.
His idea expanded to flying vacationing people to various parts of the world and acting as their chauffeur, servant, information officer and guide during their trips. He spent most of his money on a six-seat amphibian airplane equipped with extra fuel tanks for long-range flights. He also acquired several hundred books and brochures on ideal places to visit throughout the world and became familiar with scores of web sites involved with travel. He called his one-man company, FlyCare Inc. and his seaplane, Hop Skip and Fly.
Now, Randy was beginning his third trip, having already made a nice profit from his first two. He was contracted to fly a Doctor Riegert to somewhere in the Pacific to find a man on some small island. He was to be paid by the flight mile with increased payments for takeoffs and landings.
In addition, he was to get $750 per day for his other services, of which food and drink during flight was included, as well as a cargo fee for all the equipment and belongings the man was bringing. They planned to sleep on the plane, which had exquisite living quarters.
“Why are you trying to find this guy, Dr. Riegert?” Randy asked.
They had left Los Angeles over an hour ago, and Dr. Riegert hadn’t uttered a word, although he showed much interest in the scenery, even though most of it was bland ocean.
“I can’t tell you the guy’s real name. It might get me into a heap of trouble. By the way, just call me Dan.”
“Great, Dan. But how could I get you into trouble by knowing this guy’s name?”
“If you knew his name, you could get both of us in trouble.”
Randy shrugged his shoulders and uttered,“Okay, all right — I don’t need to know. Sorry.”
They flew in silence for a few more minutes before Daniel said, “I might as well tell you his name. You’ll find out sooner or later, anyway. And if all goes well, it won’t matter. But would you please give me your word you won’t tell anybody who this guy is, no matter how things turn out?”
“Sure thing, Doctor... I mean Dan. You got my word.”
“His name is Professor Henry Addles.”
Randy grimaced and said, “Wow. He’s the weird guy who they think left the country so he could stay out of jail. Something to do with breaking some law prohibiting certain kinds of animal experimentation. Right?”
“I’ll keep my mouth shut, but now that I know who he is, why are you trying to find him? And if you do, why are you planning to stay with him?”
Dr. Riegert remained silent for a moment before saying, “Sorry, can’t tell. We’re working on a secret project together.”
* * *
“Look over there — two-o’clock. That’s Pacaoa Island for sure, We’re just a few degrees from the equator,” Randy said, taking his eyes off his notes. “Now the fun begins. There’s a lot of small islands around here. I think the first thing we need to do is to find a nice calm lagoon to do our search flights from. With the monsoon season beginning, we better find a safe place to tie down.”
Thirty minutes later, they had found a good spot. After donning their swim suits and securing the plane, they stretched a blanket on the white sand and placed the ice chest on it.
“How about a beer?” Randy asked.
“I don’t drink alcoholic beverages, thank you.”
“Well, have a soda then. Hope you don’t mind if I have a beer. I promise to have just one drink, since I’m the pilot,” he said, laughing.
“This is really a paradise. I hope you find Professor Addles. I think you would like living here. I might even join you,” Randy said, laughing again.
“I think I would enjoy it, but right now I’m waiting for the sun to go behind that cloud,” Dr. Riegert muttered, mopping the sweat running down his cheek.
As the weather still didn’t look too threatening, they took off minutes after cooling themselves in the surf. Dr. Riegert was assuming Professor Addles would still have his seaplane and it would be visible from the air. If that were the case, all they had to do was to inspect the shorelines of the islands in the vicinity and look for the Seaway.
Two hours later, after viewing mostly small, uninhabited islands, they spotted an island having a maximum diameter of several miles. On the west side were about two dozen houses and a possibly a couple of stores.
“Keep flying, I think Henry would prefer living away from everyone if possible,” Dr. Riegert said. A little later, they spotted a lone house and a barn-like structure at the end of a dirt road on the east shore. However, there was no evidence of an airplane in the lagoon.
“I think we should land and see what that place is all about, anyway,” suggested Randy.
“You’re right, it doesn’t look like we’ll see any more houses on the island.”
After landing and securing Hop Skip and Fly in the calm waters, they headed for the single-storied, unpretentious house, which badly needed painting. “Pretty quiet around here” Randy remarked as he knocked on the door several times.
When nobody answered, he tried the door to find it unlocked. Cautiously, he opened it and peered inside at what looked to be the living room. It was sparsely furnished with old wooden furniture. There were no curtains on the windows, just drawn shades. At the rear end of the room a door led into a plain kitchen with dirty dishes in the sink. Leading off from the left side of the living room was a hall.
“Let’s see what rooms this leads to,” Dr. Riegert said. They soon found a bathroom and two bedrooms on one side of the hall, one of them unfurnished. The other side had just two doors, one which was wide open, leading to a large, almost barren closet with a scant, inexpensive wardrobe. The other door was closed.
“I wonder what that room is?” he said. Opening the door, he scanned the large room, filled with equipment. “Oh my God, it’s Henry’s lab — there’s no doubt about it.”
After they entered they were amazed by the paraphernalia, most of it entirely unrecognizable to Randy. But Dr. Riegert knew what most of it was. He went from one machine and recorder to the next, saying things like: “It looks like he improved his encephalo-analyzer,” and, “I can’t believe he’s still using this old eight-channel strip recorder.”
He stopped in front of two examining tables covered with straps and a myriad of electrical wires. “These are new. Looks like now his subjects are much larger than insects,” he said with a smile.
Inspecting the electrical controls more closely, he shook his head in disbelief when he realized that the push of a single button would disengage all the wires from the subjects after their electromagnetic hookups. “Henry has still got it,” he exclaimed.
Just as they were about to exit the room, Dr. Riegert saw the notebook included in the row of technical books on the small table in the back of the room. “Wait a minute, I want to take a look at this.” At the top of the first page were the words: Henry/Charlie Experiment. After scanning the many pages of handwritten notes for a minute or so, he almost shouted, “Oh no, I can’t believe it. He shouldn’t even be dreaming of doing that.”
“What are you talking about?” Randy asked.
“I’ll tell you later.”
As they left the room, Daniel said, “I wonder why he left the door unlocked. He never left his lab that way.”
“Well, he left the front door unlocked, too,” Randy reminded.
“I guess maybe since there most probably is no one else near here, he feels more safe these days. But still...”
The two of them then went outside and soon discovered the Seaway, safely stored in the modified barn behind the house. An old Toyota was parked behind the barn. “We’ve found everything but Professor Addles. I suppose someone could have driven him somewhere,” Dr. Riegert suggested.
“Maybe he’s got a boat and went fishing. Who knows? Before we get carried away, however, I suggest we give the island a good looking over. He might even be fishing up the beach somewhere. If he is, he shouldn’t be far.”
Dr. Riegert now looked worried. “Good idea, but let me spend a few more minutes before we go so I can study Henry’s notebook some more.”
“I hate to ask you again, Dan, but can’t you now tell me what was the project you two were working on?”
Dr. Riegert began heading for the house before answering. “Okay, I’ll tell you if you swear not to tell anyone about it.”
“Sure, sure Dan, you have my word.”
Daniel then explained how the two of them had been friends and worked together and were later arrested.
“What was it you two were doing that got you into trouble?”
“It was what Professor Addles had been spending the last thirty years on. He had theorized it is possible to essentially swap minds of animals. Not many people believed in the possibility, but I did, because of my experiments in measuring electromagnetic waveforms of various animals, mostly insects.
“When I joined him, we promised to keep our work a secret. Professor Addles, being a very rich guy, didn’t have to worry about making money from his work. I didn’t have to worry either, because he paid me a good salary. After much analysis and experimenting, we proved to ourselves we had accomplished his goal with Tom and Henry.”
“Who in hell are Tom and Henry?” Randy asked, looking surprised.
Daniel smiled. “They were two tarantulas.”
“Hey, wait a minute. How could you tell their minds were swapped? Isn’t one tarantula just like another?”
“Nope, their personalities and habits can be very different. To begin with, they each have their own territory or home. Right away, after we made the brain wave transference, Tom and Henry swapped territories. Of course, there were many other things they also did which proved to us beyond any doubt that our hypothesis was correct.”
“Amazing. But that experiment didn’t get you into trouble with the law, did it?”
“No. But some people were asking about the ethics of it at the time. No, we actually didn’t get into trouble until we began testing with mammals. By the time we started doing this, a federal law was passed, thanks to some over-conservative jerks, that forbids such testing. The worry was someday animal mind transference might be applied to humans.”
Randy’s eyes opened wider and his mouth gaped before he finally said, “Well, that sounds a little farfetched. But can you tell me what is the mechanism for swapping minds?”
“In simple terms, it is trading neurons between the two minds. These neurons contain all the memories and skills of the two beings. My goal is to help Henry to continue with this research on mammals. There could be some very interesting developments.
“But let me study his notes some more. I’m curious about who this Charlie is he has in the heading.”
“Fine with me. I’ll be out in the living room looking around.” Just then, the doorbell rang.
Opening the door, Daniel was met by a tall, thin man with long gray hair and beard. His face had a surprised and worried expression. A few seconds passed before the man said, “Hello, I’m Joe Parks. Is Henry home?”
“No, I’m afraid not. I’m Daniel Riegert, an old friend of Henry’s. This is Randy Southerly.” Peering over Park’s shoulder he could see a bicycle parked at the end of the road. “Come in and have a seat.”
After they were seated, Parks explained that he was a retired engineer and was helping Professor Addles with his experiments. The conversation immediately expanded after Daniel explained in some detail how Addles and him had been partners.
“The reason I’m here today is because I promised Henry that I would come help him. He had told me he was going to need me for a special experiment he was going to do. He also said I would be really surprised. But now, I’m really worried why he isn’t here, especially since his car is parked out there. He does take walks with his dog...”
Just then, there was a scratching at the door.
Opening the front door, with the other two standing behind him, Dr. Riegert almost fell over when he first saw Henry on all fours with his tongue hanging out. “Oh my God,” he yelled. “And there is... or was... Charlie,” he said without thinking as he looked at the dog figure. “Looks... looks like there is still work to do,” he stuttered when he saw its tail wagging.
Copyright © 2008 by Terry J. Larson