Three Go In, Two Come Out, and a Squirrel Follows
"Next up is Professor Donald Sumpertratt with his amazing nose-powered bicycle."
Cam Reicy yawned. The annual science fair was boring as hell, but at least it got him out of school for a day. Next to him, his best friend Robbie Trakis absently pinched a lady scientistís behind, and Zizzy Baker craned her neck for a better view at the stage. Cam leaned over. "Not worth it," he whispered to her.
"I hate you," was Zizzyís only reply. She was still mad at him. Otherwise she wouldnít have been pretending to care about the damn bicycle, Cam thought.
Cam checked his watch. Still three and a half hours before the convention broke for lunch. "Come on," he murmured to Trakis. "Letís split."
"But I havenít had any sex yet," Trakis complained. Still, he followed Cam as he edged his way toward the back exit.
"Hey, wait up!" Zizzy cried, a little too loudly. Several scientists turned and shushed her. Zizzy grew red.
Cam sighed and snatched Zizzy by the collar, dragging her towards him. "What are you trying to do, get us caught? You know they wonít let us out if they notice our student passes."
"Screw you," Zizzy replied petulantly, unclipping Camís student pass from his shirt.
"Good idea." Cam wondered why he hadnít thought of it before. Zizzy had--she wasnít wearing any ID.
If only Zizzy hadnít called attnetion to the whole group, they probably would have made it out. But a security guard stopped them on their way out. "Do you have scientist or reporter ID?"
"You let us in, didnít you?" Cam demanded.
"Iím not denying that. But I have strict orders not to let out any students before the school dayís over."
"Do we look like students?"
"Frankly, yes. If you donít have proof otherwise, Iím going to assume youíre students."
"Iíll have you know Iím very well-respected in the science community--"
"Shhh!" A scientist was hushing them fervently. Cam and Zizzy stuck out their tongues at him, an instinct left over from their shared childhood. Trakis licked his face.
On stage, the skeevy host was introducing Dr. Trinald. "...And now, without further ado, it is my pleasure on behalf of the entire science community to welcome Dr. Cosanna Trinald." He winked superfluously. "Dr. T. is the proud party responsible for such scientific advances as the jet-powered oak tree and the latex implement. Letís see what new invention the good doctor will grace us with this year!" The host stepped back, licking the corners of his mouth compulsively.
There was a smattering of applause as a pair of middle-aged Siamese twins advanced toward the podium. One of the twins was wearing the symbolic white robes and funny hat of the science community; one side of the robe was sewn to the overalls the other twin wore. The non-scientific twin was chewing on a piece of wheat.
"Thank you," Dr. Trinald smiled. "This yearís invention promises to be my finest. I consider it my magnum opus. After all I did spent eight months out of the allotted year on it!"
She seemed to expect applause here, but none came. She signalled to some lackeys offstage who began wheeling a large item onstage. It looked like a double porta-potty in a white sheet.
Dr. Trinald switched her index cards. " ĎFor hundreds of yearsí," she read, " Ďman has struggled for an answer to the age-old question: out of my two friends and I, who is squirrelliest?í"
Scientists throughout the room began looking at each other and nodding. Cam sent Zizzy a sideways glance.
"Now," said Dr. Trinald, looking up at the audience, "with my invention, this question can finally be answered!"
The applause for this statement was deafening, and it only increased as the One-of-Three Squirrelling Device was unveiled. Dr. Trinald had to shout into the microphone to be heard: "May I have three volunteers, please!"
All noise disappeared. Cam could have sworn he heard crickets chirping in the silence.
"In that case, my sister and I will have to test the invention for ourselves," Dr. Trinald said firmly.
"Chirrup no," said the doctorís sister.
"Bearing in mind that this device has never been tested." Dr. Trinald snapped her fingers. "Francis!"
One of the lackeys approached her.
"Francis will join us. Three are required in the booth." Dr. Trinald and her sister and the lackey Francis all entered the booth. Green light erupted from the crack in the door and some various "whirr"ing noised were heard. After a few moments the light faded and Francis emerged unharmed. The crowd went wild! Another moment passed and a squirrel scampered out. The audience was held in suspenseful silence, broken only by Trakisís moans as he got it on with a lady scientist (a different one) on the convention room floor. Finally, Dr. Trinald herself, minus one arm and parts of the left side of her body, emerged from the booth.
"All the doctors in France were unable to separate us! It seemed that I would be forever connected to a squirrelly sister--um--forever! But thanks to my machine, my sister was squirrelled and therefore became her own entity!" Dr. Trinald explained. "Of course, now she is a squirrel, and there is no way to turn her back. Ciao!"