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The Laboratory

In a dank basement, riddled with cobwebs, thick bursts of smoke and clouds of mist bubbled from beakers, flasks and pipes. There were books on science and creatures and beasts stacked up everywhere, like mountains. In amongst the piles of papers and notebooks lay little trinkets and tools: a pen that was also a screwdriver and a ruler, a watch made completely of wood and even necklaces made of butterfly wings - probably intended for some minuscule flying device. In the midst of it all stood a young man: hunched over a table covered with notebooks and beakers and bunsen burners. His arms swung about frantically; it's a wonder he didn't slosh his experiments all over the place. Pencil in one hand and test tube in the other, this utterly mad scientist was concocting something insidious. 

  "Amateur academic they said...Doesn't belong in the Society of Science, ha!" His frantic movements became more focused as he poured an effervescent liquid from the test tube into a beaker, creating a purple mist and sickly-sweet smell, "They won't be able to doubt me with this."
  After some more stirring and mixing and bursts of smoke, he became still. 
"Finally, this is it!" He held a glowing, blue liquid filled beaker in his outstretched hand, the glow of the viscous mixture reflecting in his wide, excited eyes. Bringing the beaker slowly towards his mouth, his eyes closed in anticipation.
  "HENRY!" A shrill voice called out, "Henry are you down there?"
  He sighed, opened his eyes slightly and shouted back, with the beaker still halfway to his lips, "Yes, mother, and I'm somewhat busy at this mo-"
  "Darling, dear, are you hungry? You've been down there for such a long time."
  "No, mother, I'm not hungry. Is that all?" 
  "Oh, alright dear. Well if you want anything do let mummy know!" Muffled footsteps could be heard fading away from the basement door.
  Another sigh tumbled from his chest as the lad lowered the beaker for a moment to write a few notes in a notebook. 'Experiment 76: two adjustments made to previous recipe. Fervent stirring seems conducive to a more stable viscosity-". After a few more moments reflecting on the liquid, and many more written notes, he raised the beaker again. Closer, closer, only a few centimetres from drinking...
  "Henry darling!" 
  Almost jumping a foot in the air he shouted back: "Mother! I am busy!" But it was no use. She was already halfway down the rickety basement steps.
  "Oh, I know darling, but I've made some beef stew with dumplings and...well, you're such a skinny thing aren't you." She tilted her head slightly at the last part.
  "Mother! I have more important things to worry about than whether I am skinny or fat!" he spat exasperation between his words.
  "I will not be known up and down the street for not feeding my children enough! You're little experiments can wait; you need some meat on your bones. Besides, You've ruined too many of my gorgeous gold  Alex Monroe necklaces and earrings with your alchemical curiosity." 
  "These are more than mere little experime-" he protested.
  "Henry Joseph Jekyll! You will eat your dinner!" She erupted in a shrill shriek.
  "Fine! I'll eat. Can you leave now?" 
  "Now, that wasn't too hard was it darling?" With a smirk, she turned and returned up the stairs, "Oh and Henry, please don't let your friend - that Frankenstein boy - take any more of my handbags. A bag with eyes that can blink back at you is, can you believe it, not a fashionable thing to to be seen wearing. And it still won't give me back my Michael Michaud orange blossom earrings!" She added, shutting the basement door firmly behind her.
  "Nosy mother...little experiments pfft," once again he drew the beaker close to his lips, closed his eyes and-
  "Oh and I forgot!" The door swung open with a great clang, met with a matching smash of glass,
as his mother descended the stairs yet again, "I made rock cakes darling! Your favourite!"
  They both stood in silence, staring at the fresh mess on the cobbled floor.
  "Careful darling, you'll leave a stain on the stone" she said as she put down a plate of cakes.
  She was answered with a great exhale and a defeated: "I don't like rock cakes mother."
October 17, 2016 by Beverly Small
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