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Monday, March 4, 2013

The Schatterman E-Mails, a work of fiction

By John MacBeath Watkins


In the beginning was the e-mail, and the e-mail was with Zorba and the e-mail was about Zorba. 

            All were made by him and without him were not made any who were made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of us all.

And the e-mail said:                           


From:  Ivan_Peckerwood_Schatterman_III@BigLabs.com                              
Re:  Annoying results of experiments by Zorba the Geek

Clive, I have had enough.  Zorba Papadopolis is mooning over the little monkeys he has produced as if the world needed nothing more desperately than smaller monkeys.  I am doing important work, which, by the way, is fully funded by the Department of Defense, while Zorba's work is simply a drain on our resources.  His so-called "children" are a dead-end project for a need that is simply a fantasy.  The monkeys have been teasing my flying piranha lungfish, getting them to fly out of the tank and into the fan, which has killed three valuable specimens so far and resulted in some stains that will not come out of the wall.  Zorba claims they are too intelligent to be controlled in the way normal experimental subjects are controlled, but clearly he has made no effort to take ordinary precautions.  I demand that his self-indulgent project be put to an end.  NASA funding ended almost a year ago, and for some reason this lab has continued to find funding for his project by draining resources from more worthy endeavors.  I want the experiment terminated and the organisms produced by this fruitless endeavor destroyed before they can do any more harm.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

To: _Ivan_Peckerwood_Schatterman_III@BigLabs.com
From:  CliveWallroose@BigLabs.com

Re:  Controversial experiment

Ivan, I must remind you that Mr. Papadopolis came to us with impeccable credentials, and there are those who regard his work as groundbreaking and extremely important.  I have again warned him that further complaints about his organisms getting loose will result in his termination and the destruction of his organisms.  I have hopes that after the election next week, a new administration may view his work more favorably.  As you know, NASA has recommended vastly increased funding for his work, but the administration blocked it.  In any case, we should know soon whether funding for this project can be justified.

He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

To:  CliveWallroose@BigLabs.com
From:  Ivan_Peckerwood_Schatterman_III@BigLabs.com
Re:  Goddamn monkeys

Clive, the damn monkeys have got to go, or I take my project and my funding to another lab.  The monkeys are completely out of control, and because they cannot be controlled they will never be any use to anyone.  The only person I know who thinks Zorba the Geek's work is any good is old timid Timothy Toole, who spends his time trying to figure out how to go to sleep for a thousand years at a time.  He just told me that waking one of the monkeys after three months sleep was the greatest achievement of his life.  All this guy really wants is a really long nap.  Let me tell you something, Zorba's pinko buddies aren't winning this election and when they don't, things are going to look pretty dim for him and the whole head-in-the-stars batch of researchers at this lab.  I'm sure you'll want my help when that happens, so let me tell you, all those miniature monkeys will fit in my one big blender, and it has a setting for "juice."


For the law was given by Clive, but grace and truth came by Timothy Toole.


 From: Timothy_Toole@BigLabs.com
Re:  Termination of all funding for space-exploration projects

Mr. Wallroose, I appreciate your decision in light of the recent elections.  My own project will find a home with some research institute, I am sure, but I must admit that I believe my work is less important than that of Dr. Papadopolis.  It will never be possible to build starships with crews of adequate numbers unless the crews can be made smaller, longer-living and more intelligent than any humans available for the task.  Even with deep sleep, size is vitally important.  If the people can be one-third scale, the weight of everything – deep sleep units, control area, food supplies, etc., can be can be one-twenty-seventh what it would be with normal-sized people.  What is more, while my machinery can be put in storage until funding appears, the Children are growing up, and nothing can stop that.  They need to be cared for and educated between now and any new research grants.


To: Timothy_Toole@BigLabs.com
From:  CliveWallroose@BigLabs.com
Re:  Termination of space-related projects.

Dr. Toole, I am sorry that nothing more can be done for the "star children" project.  We have extended funding as far as we can.  It is now time to terminate these projects.  You and Dr. Papadopolis can both put your equipment in storage, and I'm sure something can be worked out to reimburse the lab for the equipment when your new source of funding comes through.  In the meantime, all current organisms must be destroyed.  Please keep in mind that while Dr. Papadopolis refers to his subjects as "children" current law does not permit experimentation with human genetic material, and these organisms are nothing more than lab monkeys.  I am going on vacation for three weeks, and I'm leaving Dr. Schatterman in charge during my absence.  He will be responsible for winding down the experiments that have lost funding.


And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Savior.

To: Zorba@BigLabs.com
From:  Timothy_Toole@BigLabs.com
Re:  Destruction of our projects

Zorba, I'm sorry, but I was wrong.  I couldn't sway the big guy.  Things are worse than I could imagine them ever becoming.  If Clive were not running away, we might have a chance.  With Schatterman in charge, we don't have a chance.  Have you got anyone who will give the Children safe haven?  We must get them out of the lab before Schatterman gets his hands on them.

To:  Zorba@BigLabs.com
From: Ivan_Peckerwood_Schatterman_III@BigLabs.com
Re: Winding down unfunded projects.

Dr. Papadopolis, I must require you to deliver all organisms produced by your experiments to my lab by 3 p.m. today for destruction.  I hope there are no bad feelings about the termination of your project. To show my good will, I'd like you to join me in a protein drink I've been working on at 3:15.

To:  Ivan_Peckerwood_Schatterman_III@BigLabs.com
From:  Zorba@BigLabs.com
Re:  Killing the children and making me drink their blood.

Dr. Schatterman, I'm afraid it will be impossible to deliver my children to you for execution.  They have escaped.  I seem to have inadvertently let something slip about what you said as regards you wanting to put them in a blender and set it on "juice," and they vacated their quarters as soon as I turned my back.  I'm sure they are somewhere in the lab.  Unless they aren't, for which who could blame them?  Anyway, they are on their own now and they aren't going to drain any resources from your precious fish.  Give the piranha a hug for me.

To: Zorba@BigLabs.com
From: Ivan_Peckerwood_Schatterman_III@BigLabs.com
Re:  Setting the damn monkeys loose.

Geek, you are toast.  You will never work in a research lab again.  And don't think you've saved the mini-monkeys.  I'll have my own flying piranha lungfish hunt them down and kill them.


To: Ivan_Peckerwood_Schatterman_III@BigLabs.com
From:  GeorgeHogg@BigLabs.com
Re:  Janitors killed by strange fish.

Boss, I don't think I can hire any more janitors.  Word has got out that three were injured while cleaning the restrooms.  I don't know whether the fish were produced by this lab or if they are just something that came in the bilge of a ship and I don't think I want to know secret stuff like that, but I can't get anybody to clean the restrooms anymore and I sure ain't doing it personally.  I was in the Mens on floor seven about to take a dump when a fish come wizzing out at me and if I'd of sat down before it came out my wife could of started not takeing the birth controles.  A small person killed it and I thankd him for it, but he was no baby and he was smaller than a baby.  I never made so much as I make now but I could go panhandle or something before I ever go through what happened in the Mens again.  You got to get those science guys to keep the experiments in cages or something or I get some other work.  Now I don't even go in our Mens but go to the burger place across the street and I'm not so sure about there either so I stand on the seat and sort of squat so I'm not putting the wedding tackle down to catch some crazy bad dream fish.  If you think what I am saying is crazy and I am going nutzo you are right but the fish are real and tomorrow I'm bringing in my own Porta Potty and I'm not letting it out of my site between times I use the thing.

To: GeorgeHogg@BigLabs.com
From:  Ivan_Peckerwood_Schatterman_III@BigLabs.com
Re:  Cowardice in the face of the enemy.

Hogg, you are a swine and a coward and a disgrace to your profession.  And your spelling is terrible.  The fish are not the threat, the monkeys are.  Rally your troops and stiffen your spine and kill any of those "small people" you can find.  They are abominations intended to raise animals to the level of humans.  The law of our nation and the law of nature allows us to do what we will with animals, but these monkeys have been made to look like humans.  Zorba is trying to blur the distinction between us and the animals, and I won't stand for it.


To: Ivan_Peckerwood_Schatterman_III@BigLabs.com
From:  GeorgeHogg@BigLabs.com
Re:  Killing the guy that saved my life.

That little person who saved me from the nightmare dreamfish is smarter than me and nicer than you so he is a good person for me.  Murdering someone smaller than me anyway don’t seem right.  He wasnt so old either so you are wanting me to kill a child I think.  I hope you go to the bathroom and are sitting with the fishes and then you will know how important it is to have somebody on your side that isn't scared of the fishes.  I know the cops cant come here because this is so secret and the security guys are all on your side but one time one of them are going to get bit on the bottom and then they will all be on your backside.  Think of that.


To:  GeorgeHogg@BigLabs.com
From:  Nightmaredreamfishkiller@BigLabs.com
Re:  Nightmare dreamfish

Sir, may I first congratulate you on your compelling and unconventional prose.  The word picture you paint of the possible consequences of Security having a personal encounter with Dr. Schatterman's genetically engineered fish has kept us smiling for hours.  Unfortunately we've disposed of most of the fish and have the rest on the run, so that will remain a fantasy.  We've been cleaning the restrooms for you and will continue to do so until you can replace your staff.

We are worried about our Creator.  Zorba has lived for his work – well, for us -- and has no personal life to speak of, and now, thanks to us, he is unlikely to work in research again.  We know almost nothing about the world outside the lab, so we don't know how to make him feel better, and honestly Tim Toole is in the same boat we are.  You seem to be the only person we know who has a normal sort of life.  Have you any idea how we can make the Creator feel better?  Oh, and don't worry about the spelling.


To:  Nightmaredreamfishkiller@BigLabs.com
From:  GeorgeHogg@BigLabs.com
Re:  Helping God

I go to church and praise God every Sunday and I never know if I'm making my Creator feel better.  You get to have a two-way conversation.  I can get Zorba a job as a janitor but I don't think he would be good at it from looking at his messy desk.  He's kind of funny looking with the fringe of gray hair and skinny shoulders and pot belly but if he goes to my church there are divorced ladies who will pounce and if he doesn't run away they will take him over and make him over.  Whether that will make him feel happy I don’t know but marriage has been good to me.  I also notice he works late most nights and Kate over in Nanotech makes sure she leaves the building at the same time.  She has five cats and looks kind of fierce but I think she likes Zorba.


To:  GeorgeHogg@BigLabs.com
Re: Helping our Creator

Yonderboy is my real name,  not Nightmaredreamfishkiller, although I like that one.
We don't actually think Zorba is God, but I guess we do revere him.  Please don't do anything about the elevator not working tonight.  Kate and Zorba are in there and we want them to get to know each other better.

To:  GeorgeHogg@BigLabs.com
From: Kate_Sadrouski@BigLabs.com
Re: Leaving me in the elevator all night

Mr. Hogg, I cannot express how angry I am about being stuck in the elevator for several hours with Zorba Papadopolis and the mewling idiot, Minerva from accounting.  The alarm is supposed to attract attention, and I'm sure it would if our household staff remained on the premises during their shift, rather than fleeing to the burger place to use the bathrooms there.  I would have been trapped all night if not for the timely intervention of Mr. Schatterman.  I am complaining to our Director, and I believe you will be called on the carpet.


To:  George Hogg@BigLabs.com
From: Yonderboy@BigLabs.com
Re: Memo to end your career

We intercepted Kate's e-mail.  Things didn't work out as we planned, but we'll make sure you don't suffer for it.

Kate kind of lost it when the elevator stopped between floors, so anyway we decided we didn't want our Creator stuck with someone who thinks shouting will fix mechanical objects.  Anyway, however she may feel about him, Zorba was scared of her.

Zorba missed the last bus home, so Minerva gave him a ride.  We like Minerva.  Is she Greek?  Is she single?


To:  Yonderboy@BigLabs.com
From:  GeorgeHogg@BigLabs.com
Re:  Minerva

I thought she was Jewish but I don’t think it matters to Zorba who I don’t think has a church and anyway I don’t think Minnie goes to temple.  I saw her eat a ham and cheeze sanwich so she don’t keep kosher.  She seems nice but is much younger so I don’t know.  Her husband left to marry someone even younger so she dosnt date I think.

 Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

To:  GeorgeHogg@BigLabs.com
From:  Yonderboy@BigLabs.com
Re:  Our Creator

We smuggled some of our people into Zorba's house a few days ago, and I can tell you, he's stopped going home.  So we sent some of the girls to follow him and Minerva home, and they came back giggling and red-faced, so we think Zorba will be okay.  We're almost done with the flying piranha lungfish, but it would be a shame to deprive Ivan of all his creations.  He goes into the 6th-floor Mens' room every morning and reads his paper while sitting on the crapper.  Would it be possible to make sure only one particular stall is working tomorrow morning?  Third from the left.

By the way, he reads his horoscope.  It's not the divination aspect of this that puzzles us, it's the geocentric nature of that system of divination.  Do you suppose that he has never accepted Galileo's mad theory that the cosmos does not revolve around Ivan Peckerwood Schatterman III?

  Thou shalt see greater things than these.

From: CliveWallroose@BigLabs.com
To:  Timothy_Toole@BigLabs.com
Re:  Sixth-floor office space

I was delighted to hear about your funding being restored.  If you can in fact revive Sen. Bull's wife when a cure is found for brain death, I'm sure he will be eternally grateful.  Of course, we will only find out if the revival is successful after a cure is found, won't we?

In any case, you're right, of course, Schatterman's old lab will provide you with the space you need for the additional equipment.  I'm delighted to hear that Zorba's specimens were recovered, because without the small-scale aspect of your new project design, we could not possibly have accommodated the number of subjects needed for statistically significant tests.  As you pointed out, the law of large numbers dictates at least 30 subjects are needed.

I wasn’t sure why you insisted on volunteers from what are, after all, animal subjects, but they are cute little things and when you demonstrated awakening one after a week of deep sleep at the press conference, his willingness to assure the reporters he had volunteered for the experiment took us through what could have been a bad moment. Now there’s talk of broadening the definition of a person, so it’s good that we were ahead of the curve.

Thank you for your concern about Ivan.  His physical recovery seems certain, but his psychiatric state is still delicate.  He kept babbling about children taking over the earth.  When I told him safety concerns for our troops had resulted in termination of his funding, the only response I got was a high-pitched laugh that went on and on and on.

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