The agonizing scream startled Marty making him slosh hot tea all over his hand and leg. Marty heaved himself up and hobbled down the hall of the University’s Science wing as quickly as 62-year-old legs could go. The scream had come from Harry Parker's lab two doors down. He shoved the door open and found Harry lying in the middle of the floor convulsing as waves pain coursed through his body. Harry’s hands covered his eyes but he could see the flesh darkening on the rest of Harry’s face.
Marty couldn't move. He stood gaping at his friend. Shattered glass littered the floor around him. The workbench was covered in half-empty bottles and containers with odd colored mixtures in them connected by tubes. Some were bubbling and some were dripping. His eyes came back to Harry writhing on the floor. Finally, Marty snapped out of a shock induced paralysis and called 911.
Marty followed the ambulance to the hospital and waited. The doctors did their best to stabilize Harry but they had no idea what was wrong with him. Harry had no family, so Marty stayed. He talked to different doctors and waited. Specialists came and went. Marty sighed and waited. It was just like all those years he spent with his wife fighting cancer. Talk and wait. Finally they told Marty to go home and wait. It would be more comfortable they said. Marty knew it would only make him crazy just like it had years ago waiting for his wife’s doctors to call.
Instead Marty returned to the lab and try to find some clues about what Harry had been doing. The janitor had already cleaned up the mess on the floor. Marty rummaged through the bottles covering the table. He couldn’t tell what any of them contained. He then turned to scan the walls. There were some notes scrawled on the marker board walls and a few equations. Marty Collins had been Biology professor for 37 years, and yet none of the equations made any sense to him.
Over the next few days some of Harry’s students tried to decipher the equations then finally gave up. Marty spent evening after evening trying to understand what his friend had been working on but had no luck. Several days after the incident, Harry’s doctors called saying they were relatively sure that he was going to recover and would finally be allowed to have visitors.
Marty opened Harry’s hospital room door cautiously fearing his friend was sleeping. Harry was awake and staring out the window. A streak of white showed at his temples that hadn’t been there before.
“Harry? How are you doing? You gave us quite a scare.” Marty stepped forward.
Harry’s head slowly turned toward his old friend.
Marty involuntarily sucked in a breath. The person looking through Harry's eyes wasn't Harry. A strange fire glowed in his eyes and his gaze was unearthly steady. Marty shivered. He told himself that it must be the shock that he'd gone through. That sort of thing would change anyone.
"It's alright,” Harry inclined his head.
“What is?” Marty frowned.
“I understand it all now!" Harry spoke slowly.
"Understand what?" Marty took a step closer.
"All of it, from the dawn of time to the end of eternity." Harry’s smile shook slightly, as if he had been let in on in a private joke.
Marty frowned in confusion.
Harry leaned forward.
"I've done it, Marty, I found a chemical combination the releases all the pent-up knowledge that Adam discovered from that Apple. God locked it away, but I found it." Harry's eyes were glistening with frightening power.
Marty just stared at his friend. He didn't know what to say.
Harry had always been ambitious. He was always in a hurry to find out the answers. He lived on espresso and snacked while waiting for his experiments to finish. To Harry, time was of the essence. He always thought that everything was going too slowly. Ever since high school Harry had been adamant about his theories. There had been many times when Marty had to prevent Harry from starting a fistfight when someone hadn't agreed with his ideas.
YOU ARE READING
The Apple's BiteScience Fiction
When a scientist discovers a chemical formula that allows him access to all knowledge left behind when Adam bit into the Apple from the Tree of Knowledge, it all goes wrong.