The Unicellular Detective

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Cartoon depictions of anthropomorphized unicellular organisms in a line. From left to right, three filaments of cyanobacteria, a Stentor, a paramecium with flagella who’s wearing a fedora, a slime mold, and a dinoflagellate with glasses.

There’s something you should know about me, and it’s not that I’m a plankton.

I mean, aren’t we all?  Plankton, floating around in the great pond.  Except, I don’t just float. 

See, I was born with some pretty powerful flagella.  What is that, you ask?  Flagella, they’re like…like long limbs, protruding from all over my body—hey, don’t make that face, they’re not gross.  At least, my parent told me they’re not.  Some days, I show ‘em.  Most days I don’t.  But they’re not just for show.  See, I’m a paramecium.  We’re only supposed to have cilia, short little hairs that let us kind of get around.  We’re not supposed to have flagella.  They let me do what most plankton can’t do.  They let me decide where I want to go.  Instead of letting the Drift decide for me.

What is the Drift, you ask?  Boy, you multicellular organisms sure are curious.

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What Is Permanent Damage?

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Digital image. Front view of the top two-thirds of a closed door bearing a plaque on top that reads “Permanent Damage.” A hazy glowing light emanates from bottom left across the face of the door.  Scattered bits of redacted text appear over the and around the door. The visible words are as follows: Science…in its current state. Project Manager. Project No. Existent…charge and…key…fakery. The first letters of “project” and “existent” are cut off.

Every day on my way to my desk, I passed by a door with the words “PERMANENT DAMAGE” written on it.  

No one ever went in or came out—not that I’d seen anyway, and I’d been working at the firm for about a year.  I asked people about the door, and the sign.  They said there used to be another firm occupying our floor and the two below it.  That door supposedly led to a defunct elevator that shuttled executives between the floors, leading directly into what used to be their fancy offices.  Or it led to a laboratory space.  Or some sort of obstacle course?  The rumors abounded.  Now those spaces were claimed by other firms.  The words referred to the project that resulted in the shuttering of the company.

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Laser Beam Ice Cream

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Digital image. Foreground bottom, a bowl with three scoops of ice cream. The center scoop has little lightning bolts surrounding it. Behind the bowl are three figures. Center, from waist up is a smiling young man facing forward, with his curled hands on his hips. To his left is a young woman from waist up in three-quarters profile, her head tilted up. A beam of light shoots from her eyes. She holds the first two fingers of her left hand to her temple. To the young man’s right is a black-and-white dog, seated, who is also looking up and shooting beams of light from his eyes. He wears a collar with the name “Percival” on it.

“I’ve done it, Percival. I’ve really done it.”

Arthur strode into his kitchen with the black-and-white mutt following.  In his right hand, he held the cause of the grin on his face.  The fist-sized device looked like an ordinary gate clicker or car alarm controller. 

“I wonder if the name ‘Bandage Beam’ is taken,” Arthur said, as he reached for the freezer handle. 

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