1 rewards familiarity with the Cthulhu Mythos and the show MacGyver.
“Lock him in the supply closet.”
Angus looks up. He tries to mask the hope on his face. The supply closet! he thinks. There’s enough duct tape, gum, and spark plugs in there to bring this whole operation down.
“It’s full, sir.” Mr. Minion says.
“The previous heroic scientist, sir. It was part of his escape plan. He filled it with orange-jalapeno foam.”
Mr. Boss frowns. He steeples his fingers. “He was a chef?”
“Ordinary engineering genius is passé, sir. In the modern world, a heroic scientist is a polymath who can apply physics and chemistry skills to unexpected enterprises such as cooking, skiing, or veterinary dentistry.”
Angus looks down. He tries not to show how much Mr. Minion’s words sting.
“It’s irregular,” says Mr. Boss, “but we can store Angus in the chemistry lab.”
Angus’ heart sings. When I was seven and I blew up my father’s study for the first time, I told him, “It’s not just a disaster—it’s also a valuable skill!” If their lab is well-stocked, I can show Mr. Boss just how right I was.
“The chemistry lab is kind of cold, sir.”
“Because of the skier.”
Mr. Boss looks Angus up and down. “We could just throw him in a large empty room,” he says. “And lock the door. In a way, it’s probably safer.”
“If you lock me in an empty room,” Angus says, “I’ll grow even more ingenious!”
Mr. Boss and Mr. Minion exchange glances.
“Why is he wearing a mullet?” Mr. Boss asks.
“It’s all the ingenuity,” Mr. Minion says.
Angus struggles, but Mr. Minion’s fist comes up and knocks him into the dark place.
Angus wakes in an open, empty room. He puts his hand to his jaw. Slowly, he stands up. There is a door in the wall and a skylight high above him.
If I could find an electrical socket, he thinks. I could pull out the wiring and use it to set some sort of trap.
He scans the wall.
Or a phone line, he thinks.
He scans the wall some more.
An Ethernet port?
The walls are blank and white. He pounds on one with his fist. It rings like metal. He pounds on it for a few minutes, hoping to establish a sympathetic vibration and tear the room to shreds. The relevant frequency appears to lie somewhere beyond human capacity.
“Damn it,” he says aloud.
He studies the door. He attempts to unscrew the hinges with his fingers. They’re too rusty.
“Bloody hell,” he says. He pounds on the door. “At least let me have some gum!”
There’s no answer save the distant laughter of gulls.
“Fine,” he says. He goes to the center of the room. He sits down. He takes inventory. “I have one (1) Angus, one (1) pair of jeans, one (1) ripped shirt, two (2) hinges, and sixteen (16) corners,” he says.
He glares at the door. What I am about to do, he thinks, would have horrified my old physics professors. But sometimes you need to use the resources you have.
With one sharp gesture, he cuts his arm against the rusty hinge. He lets the blood drip down into each of the four bottom corners of the room. Then, wetting his finger with saliva and blood, he traces a ritual circle.
Physics is all about action and reaction, he explains. The internal narration helps him keep his focus during strenuous exercises of mind and will. You push against the ground: it pushes back. You use a rocket to throw energy in one direction: it pushes you in the other. You drip blood into a corner, and it drips something back at you.
The air is full of distant singing.
Technically, you’re supposed to use a virgin’s blood for this, Angus thinks. But real science is all about improvisation. What I’ve figured out is that, since the hinge has never had sex, the sacrifice is almost certainly acceptable.
There is a furious bang and smoke pours out of the corners of the room. Then the hounds arrive.
“Took you long enough,” he says wearily.
The hounds sit down. Their tongues loll out the side of their mouth.
“Listen,” he says. “I need some screws, a fire extinguisher, some duct tape, and gum.”
The hounds bark.
“Ia! Ia! Wuf!” say the hounds.
Then they wag their tails and vanish.
A moment later, one hound is back. It spits screws onto the floor next to him.
“Good boy,” Angus says.
Another hound is back. It spits a fire extinguisher onto the ground next to him.
“Good boy!” Angus says. “Roll over!”
It rolls over. Angus scratches its belly. It pants happily. In a puff of smoke, the other two hounds return. They look at him.
“What?” he says.
The hounds are chewing.
“Spit it out,” Angus says.
The hounds attempt to spit out the duct tape and gum. Then they go back to chewing, and repeatedly licking their lips. After a moment, they attempt again to spit out Angus’ supplies.
This does not succeed.
Mr. Minion was right, Angus thinks bleakly. A veterinary dentist wouldn’t be in this mess.