Dr. Helber came from a long line of slightly whacked out inventors; men and women who were geniuses in arcane manners altogether different than playing baseball or having spouses. Professors and hermit writers mostly, with the occasional sensational madmen and drunks.
As a child looking over one of his family gatherings, it had seemed to him that only the children were sane and at least nominally average in their socialization (he was always having thoughts like that, even as a child). Hank Helber had thought he would be different. In the first rebelllions of his youth, when the hypocrisy of the world was almost too much to bear, he had promised himself that he would never fall in love with the idea of something that only a few people on the earth would care about.... like his uncles who only really came alive when they were discussing their fields of study. The older they got the less they noticed things like wearing socks and brushing their teeth. A lot of the women were on anti depressents.
His family tree was full of people who climbed so high that only a couple other humans on the planet could follow them. He despised them until he was 20 and getting his masters degree, and realizing that there was no way he wanted to spend the rest of his life supporting himself dealing weed and living to surf. Economic realities forced him to leave hawaii, quit smoking weed and surfing, and start working at one of his uncles labs. His moving advance was more money than he had made in his entire life.
The huge salary stole his soul. Within six months he developed needs that he didn't even know existed when he was poor. A bidet that he could no more go without than deoderant, his shirts had to be perfectly fitted... pants had to be creased --he would have once rolled up the legs
and ignored whatever little kasnivel that was wrong with them purely to make his usual second hand purchase.
Now, here he was, finishing up twenty years of work in his own lab, after aprenticing for another ten with other top scientists in the fields related to his field of study -- inserting vocal capabilities into otherwise dumb animals, so that they could express their wills, and thus have more say in the affairs of the earth. Once long ago when the juices of youth were spurting out of his every pore he had believed that he could really help the world, save a few species from extinction.
He was pretty sure that he had.
In his biography, he wrote:
'As my lights up stairs dim and some go out entirely, I suppose that now is the time to tell the darker side of my experiments. That which is too embarrassing for me to allow to come out within 100 years of being alive. I drew up a contract based on the one Mark Twain used to keep his darker poet from effecting those he loved.
I want to tell the tale of Buk, most controversial of historic figures. As a revolutionary leader, his image has been mythologized so much that sometimes I barely recognize the cat that was, the real feline who lived. He didn't say a lot of course, but what he did has become something of the mantra of our critics,
After the surgeries and the nanotechs increasing his language abilities and the thousands of hours of being read to and lectured and all the other little surgical nuances that it took to insert the proper vocal cords in his furry throat, after giving us no indication that he could utter a sound for three months, Buk suddenly looked up at me and said, in a voice clear and modulated to perfection, "That you think you have done me a favor shows me that you are truly lost."'
He died then of course. Well, he might as well have. He wouldn't speak, eat. Withered away."
As he read over the first page of his biography, he thought, 'I kept doing the research, even after that. SO maybe this is when I lost my soul?'
For twenties years, his experiments never really got any better results. Thinking back over this, he realizes that he is kidding himself if he thinks he can take the mental pain of writing his biography... He had somehow thought he could find a little bit of redemption by offering a cautionary tale to others. The concept never really had a chance to get off the ground.
Later that afternoon, his car seemingly missed an exit off the Kennedy Expressway and slammed into a huge concrete post, tearing him into four distinct piles of flesh. His last thoughts took place in the pile where most of his brains were. He was aware of a fire waging around him and
had a feeling that there was a hell... and indeed, seconds later, from far off at first and then getting closer and closer, is a horrifying laugh that could only come from Satan.
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