Isolated and lonely, Dr. Ralph Munich, in the long empty evenings in his basement lab, had created a machine to speed up evolution. Simply put, he could take an ape and make it into a man. Similarly, he could take a human—himself perhaps--and create the next step, a man advanced thousands of years into the future, a man closer to a god. And with the eye of a god, Dr. Munich believed, he could get the first glimpse of what we could be.
Or, so he posited. It was still unproven. He needed proof and he had none until he caught a toadstool groper and placed it inside the machine’s Teflon-coated chamber. The night he tried this he was very tired. Because he sensed he was close he had been working over 24 hours straight.
Hungry and a bit unsteady he turned on the machine and watched through the thick plasticine doorway as it softly hummed and glowed with a lambent peacefulness. After an anxious 30 minutes he shut it off and opened the door. The fish stepped out onto the carpet.
“What the hell?” it said. “Why am I out of water? I’ll die here, you understand? I’ll die! I can’t breathe air!”
Dr. Munich smiled at the creature, which was about as tall as a Munchkin. Its head was slightly convex and its limbs, awkward fusions of legs and flippers. It did indeed begin to gasp. Its red-orange head turned deep purple and suddenly the little thing fell over on the floor gargling its own spit. Dr. Munich kindly reached over and slit its throat with a razor.
He buried the little fellow in the soft earth outside his back door. Then he sat down in his cramped dark kitchen and ate a ham sandwich, not really tasting it, meditating on deeper realities, chasing phantoms, until he put his head on his arm and fell asleep, a half-masticated piece of sandwich in his mouth.
He awoke and it was morning. Light, the color of urine, filtered in through his dirty kitchen window. Dr. Munich spit out a soggy mass. He wiped his chin and stretched.
Then the realization hit him. He had succeeded. Last night was an unadulterated triumph. The next step, obviously, was to try it on an ape. How to procure one?
Never mind how he did it. It wasn’t quite legal but it wasn’t quite illegal but three days later he accepted delivery of a small Catarrhini primate. Its scrubby little head, with its baby thin hair, made Dr. Munich smile. He named him Lamarck.
He fortified Lamarck’s little system with vitamins and nutrients. The “procedure,” he surmised, was, perhaps, hard on the body’s various pathways and modes of life-support. He diapered the ape and tousled his wispy hair.
“Bon voyage, Lamarck,” Dr. Munich said. He almost felt affection for the wee beast.
Dr. Munich stood by while his invention went through its mechanical processes. He let the ape stay inside for a full hour. The little fish-man was on his mind. He wanted as much forward progress as possible, enough to start a new species, so to speak.
Switching everything off he approached the chamber and put his hand to the door’s locking handle. He took a deep breath and opened.
“It’s hot as fuck in there,” Lamarck said, stepping out.
“Lamarck,” Dr. Munich said.
“Phew, lost it in there,” the ape-man replied. “Thank God for the diaper, right?”
Dr. Munich looked him over. He was short and hirsute but these were the only clues that he was an ape a mere hour before. The formerly nearly bald head, covered in fine hair, was now a larger cranium with coarse dark fur. The glint in the apeman’s eye shone with awareness and his handsome mouth wore a most human smile.
“I’m hungry and horny as hell,” Lamarck said. “Fix me up, wouldja Doc?”
While Dr. Munich made another ham sandwich for his guest he felt a little light-headed, flushed with success, partly, and partly a little trepidatious. He turned around with the food and Lamarck was standing behind him looking around the dingy kitchen.
“You need to clean this place up some, right? How about it? What if we have people in? Hey, how about this? A maid. Hire a maid. You know, with those little short black and white outfits and thigh-high hose.”
Lamarck seems to have studied at the Hugh Hefner School of How to be a Human, Dr. Munich thought. He was a tad dismayed but also joyous. He handed the sandwich to Lamarck.
Lamarck ate the sandwich in two bites, folding it and cramming it into his maw. He went to the refrigerator and pulled out a half-full gallon jug of expired milk. He drank it down and wiped his mouth.
“How about it Doc? Eh? A maid?”
“Certainly,” Dr. Munich answered. He was dazed. “Take me a few days…”
“Hell with that. Get me some walking-around duds and I’ll go find someone.”
Wearing Dr. Munich’s clothes Lamarck resembled a child playing dress-up. It didn’t faze him. He was a cocky ape-man and he went out the door rolling up the sleeves of one of Dr. Munich’s old, worn dress shirts.
“Back soon, Doc,” Lamarck said, breaking wind noisily. His grin spread across his blackly stubbled face like an oil slick.
Dr. Munich began to fret. His thoughts grew dark and he began to formulate some way to get rid of Lamarck and try again, perhaps moving more slowly.
A couple hours later Lamarck returned. The young woman with him seemed dazed and, beneath her fresh, white skin, she blushed when introduced, briefly, to Dr. Munich.
“Lucille,” Lamarck said. “We’re gonna use your room.”
Dr. Munich watched them, crestfallen, breeze by him and travel down the hall to his bedroom door. Lucille was smiling but there seemed to be concern knitting her brow. She might have been slightly stoned. They closed the bedroom door and Dr. Munich heard it lock.
He sat at the kitchen table. He was tired, worried, disheartened. His work was everything to him. He needed to start over. He needed to get rid of Lamarck and start over. After all how wrong was it, really, to kill an ape? He convinced himself that as soon as the young woman was gone he would have to take care of Lamarck.
What at first sounded like reverberations of raucous passion were now becoming stifled screams of distress. Dr. Munich rose and tried the bedroom door.
“You okay?” he asked.
There were sounds of a struggle.
“Go away,” Lamarck said.
Dr. Munich fumbled with his keys. He opened the door.
Lucille was spread eagle on the bed, naked except for her shoes; her slim white ass seeming as vulnerable as an eggshell. Kneeling between her legs Lamarck was also naked and his pizzle was engorged. It was enormous, black and dangerous.
“Lamarck,” Dr. Munich said.
Lamarck turned to him. His face was distorted with rage.
“I said go away,” he grunted.
“Help me,” Lucille said, before Lamarck struck her mouth with his hand.
Then Dr. Munich noticed the red scratches on the poor woman’s arms and shoulders. She had been…clawed.
Lamarck proceeded as if Dr. Munich had disappeared. He inserted his organ into Lucille’s vagina and began to pound away at her viciously. Dr. Munich fled.
He forgot to close the door and the noise from the room came near driving him mad. He retreated to his basement lab but he could still hear the muffled din through the floorboards. It lasted an hour or more. Dr. Munich sat sunk in his chair. His hands shook.
“Where are you?” Lamarck called out. “I’m starved.”
“Down here,” Dr. Munich said, weakly. At least it was over. At least now the woman would go and he could figure out what came next.
“I need a lot of red meat,” Lamarck said, and he laughed the way hyenas laugh, hungry and without humor.
“Where is Lucille?”
“Well, I guess she’s still in your room.”
“Is she staying—“ Dr. Munich’s voice caught—“for dinner?”
“I don’t think so. As a matter of fact I guess you should take care of her before you take care of dinner.”
“What-what do you mean?” Dr. Munich asked, but he knew.
“She wouldn’t keep still,” Lamarck said.
That night Lamarck went out again, apparently after food. Around 10 p.m. Dr. Munich snuck upstairs and sheepishly looked into his bedroom. The place was a mess and there was a red smear on the sheets but the woman, Lucille, was gone. Dr. Munich retreated and returned to the lab where he spent a restless night on a broken-backed couch.
A few days passed, a week. Dr. Munich could not act on his plan. He was afraid of Lamarck. Now they would pass in the kitchen or hallway and neither would speak. Lamarck wore a superior smile. He was also growing taller and less ape-like. He wore his hair slicked back with brilliantine and he sported a pencil-thin mustache. Some nights Dr. Munich heard him in the bedroom with new women but he never asked what transpired.
Sometimes Dr. Munich took walks around the hilly fields near his home. He spent so little time in the daylight that the sun hurt his eyes and his skin turned red. During these walks he tried to forget about Lamarck and his plan to do away with him.
One afternoon he returned from his stroll to find Lamarck at the kitchen table with another young woman. They had filled a bowl with Hershey’s syrup and they were painting each other’s faces and neck with the viscous brown sauce. The woman’s shirt lay beside her chair like a chalk outline. Her breasts were enormous, the nipples a vivid dark brown.
She looked rough; she was hard like a back-country road. Lamarck didn’t even introduce her. Instead, speaking around the cigar-sized joint in his mouth, he said, “Doc, wanna play finger paints with us?”
Lamarck, for all of his crass and vulgar behavior, now spoke more smoothly. His voice had lost some of its huskiness and he was a good foot taller.
Dr. Munich sighed. He felt the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Dr. Munich sat in the only other kitchen chair, which was by the wall.
“Lamarck,” he said. “Let’s be reasonable. I think the evolutionary process which I began in you is proceeding on its own. You are already further along—further along—the path—toward whatever we may become.”
“What the fuck he talking about?” the woman asked. She had a voice like milk curdling.
Lamarck smiled. He grabbed the woman’s arm and pulled her into his lap. He began fondling her ample breasts in front of the doctor.
“Doc, see this? This is Dawn. Isn’t she a lovely woman? Aren’t these the best tits you’ve ever seen? Of course that’s probably a limited sample, am I right?”
Dr. Munich put his hands over his face. “What have I done?” he said aloud.
“Okay, let me fess up,” Lamarck said. “I’ve been upping the ante, so to speak, on my own.”
“What do you mean?” the doctor said with a weary, frightened tone.
“A few minutes in your magic chamber every day and I feel like a million bucks.”
“You—you didn’t. You didn’t touch my lab.”
“Your lab? Doc, I figure it’s part mine, too. We’re roommates, right? Compadres, right?”
“How dare you? How dare you touch my things, you—you—ape! You reconstituted brute!”
Lamarck was out of his chair so fast Dawn fell to the ground. He hit Dr. Munich quickly, three, four times. The doctor folded like a cookbook cake.
When he awoke his eyes hurt and he couldn’t move. Where was he? What was happening?
Dr. Munich was inside the Teflon-coated chamber. It was locked on the outside. Through the semi-transparent glass he could see Lamarck and Dawn, as if in a circus mirror, drunk and high, laughing hysterically. He could hear the dampened but horrible clamor of music from their iPod. They were sprawled on his couch, both now shirtless. It made Dr. Munich queasy to look at them.
Then the whirring hum began. He felt pressure in his head as if his brain were going to explode. It was painful. He didn’t know the process was painful. The pain was base-level; it was protoplasmic. He began to pass out but instead of blissful coma he experienced the sort of twilight sleep that Halcion produces. He was awake but helpless.
He suffered his entire body in the throes of change. His organs, his bones, his vision, everything was simultaneously erupting. His heart burned in his midpoint like a bolide. He thought he was going to be sick to his stomach and then, just as suddenly, he was fine. He began to ride the transformation, to let it happen, to let it thrive. He lost all track of time. An hour passed, a day. His mind was forming new shapes, was, itself, being reshaped.
Dr. Munich felt weightless. He was amorphous.
Nonetheless Dr. Munich’s brain was precipitously alive and flushed with its own future. New life energized him.
Outside Lamarck and Dawn were watching the show through the glass. Their stoned expressions were more apelike than human. They could see Dr. Munich’s face elongate, his forehead expand, his skin stretch. They watched as his physical body changed as rapidly as cloud cover. Then there was too much light generated inside and they were cut off except for the sounds coming from within.
Lamarck was curious enough now to take his hand out of Dawn’s pants. He listened like the RCA dog. Dawn’s head lolled on his shoulder.
“My God,” came the doctor’s voice.
Then some grunting, animalistic, supranatural.
“It is God,” then.
“I am inside.”
Then, “No, it’s inside me.”
“He was right.”
“Stanley was right.”
“Love. It’s all love.”
A long silence.
And then they knew a hush like a mountain lawn, spreading outward in concentric circles, a peaceful silence like the tides following the moon, and the moon as silent as a mirror.