David Gefflin did with modern science what Jack Griffin could only do with alchemy. The 18th Century is far away, though its fictional scientists still influence today’s scientists. And David wasn’t untouched. To prove Jack Griffin correct means David must see life is more than simple alchemy, and soon achieves a breakthrough.

After his breakthrough, he utilises a traditional method to test his discovery: mice. He doesn’t experiment in the typical sense, no; but his mice, Jeremiah and Obadiah, unharmed, serve to test his invention – a material that can both absorb and deflect light. The mice help him to make history in the field of optics.

However, Obadiah is the first to were the material and dies within 48-hours. David is mystified by ‘Obi’s’ death; can’t explain it. While he ponders Obi’s death, he wraps Jeremiah in the material unaware of its dangers, and the same thing happens to him. David’s girlfriend, Merredin, convinces David to get a toxicology report on Jeremiah’s death.

But David’s contract with Nanomattech is soon terminated, surprising him, and he’s accidentally left his discovery in his now inaccessible laboratory. If he is to enjoy the benefits of his invention, he must retrieve the material. The first attempt fails and his life is almost forfeit. And the second won’t be as easy, not now that his former employer knows what he has invented and wants it for himself. A struggle for life and the invention ensue, but no-one can predict the outcome, least of all David.

***

Here’s an excerpt:

David and Merredin were home around ten-thirty, had enjoyed the evening celebrating his breakthrough. They hung their coats and removed their shoes and proceeded upstairs to the bedroom to retire for the night. At the top of the stairs, David stopped; decided to check on Obi and say goodnight to him. He may, after all, be feeling a bit lonely without Jerry – Merredin stopped him, looked over her shoulder and asked who the hell was Jerry. He explained that he’d given his mus musculus colleagues individual names.

Mus musculus? She queried the Latin term as she stumbled over the correct pronunciation, and frowned at him. What the hell was that?

He explained, and she smiled and said he was a charming man. And that he had better not spend too much time with Obi tonight because his lightsaber (she looked at his crotch and poked him in the belly) was already spoken for. He groaned at the joke and behaved as if he’d heard the worst joke ever. He said she may be a great trial lawyer in the making but she was definitely not a great comedian in the making, and shouldn’t ever try to be in the court room. Just a warning, he said, and winked at her.

She crossed her arms and leaned on one hip and gave him a look – arched brow and chin tucked in – that might have said “hurry up”.

He descended the stairs, groaned all the way over the joke, and soon entered the living room and switched the light on as he did.

He spoke Obi’s name as he went to the cage on the low table and crouched beside it. He soon found Obi, and, at first, thought he was sleeping. But the more he studied him, he realised Obi wasn’t breathing and hurriedly opened the cage and carefully drew him out and cradled him in his arm like Obi was a new born babe.

He spoke gentle words to Obi as he tried to rouse him. And failed.

Then he let out a loud wail, which made Merredin rush down the stairs. She wore a look that said he must have hurt himself or something, oblivious to the true situation. She drew close to him and sat on the floor as he gently rocked back and forth.

‘What? What the hell is it, David?’

He struggled to get it out, but finally did, and told her Obi had died.

‘What?’ She looked down at Obi cradled in his arm and back at him, surprised. She soon asked whether it was due to old age? Well, they didn’t live that long, did they? Maybe two or three years, yes? How long had he had Obi?

David looked at her and said Obi had only been with him since just before the start of his new contract. That put the time around ten or eleven months. Too young to die of old age.

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