A science fiction story about a loner researcher who stumbles onto a breakthrough find. It is my first attempt at sci-fi.
Some time between then and now I changed, my humanity forgotten beneath the sully of time. I have become a person without emotion or instinct or even social contact. Hardly a person at all. All that remains is my purest form of mind, and some time between then and now that became a profoundly bad thing.
When I first realized the implications of my discovery, I made an oath to myself that so long as I breathed I would watch over and protect them. Now, I sit in a familiar chair overlooking the vessel containing my creations--the vessel that soon will not be able to contain them. I am watching it fill with hydrogen. When the concentration has reaches a predetermined value, I will trigger a spark and destroy them.
I am a scientist. A good scientist, if I may say so. I was once considered a hero by many aspiring talents. I have never believed that I deserve that designation.
What made me a hero was a revolutionary discovery to them, an accident to me. It was a mistake. It took me far too long to realize that.
I mistakenly invented life.
My career as a physicist led me down many paths and as many dead ends. The last path, the one I walked before exiling myself , was the only exception.
I was trying to discover some sort of bridge between physics and biology. More specifically, I was looking for some sort of fundamental truth that applied to both biological behavior and the behavior of matter. Now I must say something to avoid any possible confusion: I was not looking for some impossible grand unification theory. Only a way to connect animal behavior with the lifeless actions and reactions of matter on any scale. I never expected that I would actually find something, and that the something I found would blur the line between physics and biology.
My first attempts resulted in either utter failure or some sort of disaster. The university that funded my laboratory was evacuated twice on account of my work.
I expected no less in my tests consisting of particles of iron in a suspension, exposed to an electromagnetic field. It seemed harmless, however, and that was priority number one at that point in time. By my logic, there was not any way for it to result in a small explosion or the generation of toxic vapor.
The experiment was unremarkable until I tuned the electromagnetic field to a specific range of frequencies. Not only were the particles of iron drawn to each other, but pulled themselves into snakelike forms which proceeded to either move around the dish or else remain stationary and pump water through themselves. When they moved around, they appeared remarkably lifelike.
The snakelike forms which moved around also had the unique quality of absorbing any smaller formation they came in contact with. Eventually, a rather vigorous clump of iron had managed to assimilate all of the others. Then, all movement ceased.
I had no explanation for why that happened and the university, true to its unspoken motto for researchers, "Publish or perish," let me go.
I won't get into the specifics, but suffice to say that the movement, the assimilation, and the dormancy that followed once there was nothing left to assimilate--mission accomplished, in other words--seemed almost like living behavior.
Unable to connect my findings with another, more accepted area of research, I abandoned the project.
Nearly three years later while I was moving into my fourth progressively smaller apartment following my dismissal from the university, I was approached by a very serious looking man.
He explained that he was contacting me on behalf of a private research and development firm that had interest in my little experiment. Unable to reproduce it themselves, they wanted my help.
Looking past him to the Bentley he drove up in, I made a few demands. Astonishingly, he accepted them. It is astonishing because I had absolutely no reason to believe my demands would be met.
One week later I was living in a temporary, albeit nice, residence and looking over my past research having to do with the iron snakes.
One year after than and I moved into my very own lab--one of my ridiculous demands. To be honest, it was a dream lab I had concocted in order to drive the man who first approached me away. I never expected to actually get it. They had blasted an area out of a rock face sixty feet above the ground below and built a state-of-the-art lab inside. My residence was at the top of it, accessible only from the inside. I had a view to die for.
I experimented further with my little pets. It was not long before I had another breakthrough--a convincing sign of primitive life.