In Telfair’s sophomore year of high school, he developed a compound to aid lucid dreaming for a science project he titled Consensual Reality. It took six months of self-experimentation before he found his perfect chemical equilibrium. During trial runs Telfair often slept for days on end. Finding more of an allegiance with his unconscious mind, he eventually became addicted to the dream pills. Slowly he built a tangible existence in a dream state and a consequent permanent waking discomfort. Ever since Telfair’s bout with consensual reality, his scoliosis spine forced a crooked stance in almost every position he could contort his lanky body into; in fact, the only time he ever looked comfortable was while asleep.
The Telfair Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles had been dedicated in his father’s name. His father, Elliot Telfair, had pioneered the ‘self shrink’ theory, a concept that involved shrinking all living organisms on Earth in order to conserve resources such as food, fossil fuel, etc. Since this and most of his other theories had been labeled to radical for mainstream science in time he became discouraged and withdrew from the scientific community. With not much else to do, Elliot sought out a surrogate mother and nine months later Jack Telfair was born. In his early years, Jack excelled in school and was considered a child prodigy by most, if not all, of his teachers. But, he was not exactly a model student, Elliot often received phone calls from hysterical teachers saying that Jack had disappeared completely during recess, or lunch, or on a trip to the bathroom. Apparently, Jack didn’t like any of his classmates and wanted to be as far away from them as possible.
Telfair had graduated valedictorian of his high school and later his college. He went on the get his masters and his doctorate, his brain was overstuffed with college words and college concepts. But his synapsis synapsed to quickly and he felt a great disconnect from the world around him. Telfair finally retreated to the vast database of extraneous knowledge that was his mind, dedicating his time to what most considered bizarre projects.
He stretched conventional laws of science in every direction and his eccentric inventions often gained widespread press coverage. He turned city buses into hoverbuses and public staircases into touch-sensitive keyboards that played music for commuters as their feet made contact with individual steps. A local laboratory with loose ties to JPL noticed his small celebrity growing and asked him to work with them on some projects. The laboratory was a highly secretive satellite location and most, if not all, JPL personnel were unaware that it even existed. Their funding was listed under ‘Other’ in JPL’s yearly budget, with $19 million allocated to projects like ‘The Space Toilet’ or $26 million for ‘Massage Parlor on Mars’. Etc. Apparently no one noticed.
Years passed leaving Telfair a neurotic middled-aged man, the term consensual reality resonated during chit-chat around the water cooler while he stared blankly at the lines in his palms and dirt under his fingernails. Recluse was an understatement when referring to Telfair, he rarely spoke to anyone unless it was work related. As is the case with most introverts, strange rumors surrounded Telfair and were circulated throughout the office. I heard he was an android. I heard he was cloning himself. I heard he doesn’t like pizza. Partially out of curiosity, partially out of jealousy and partially out of boredom, his coworkers would break into his office and encapsulate his office supplies in Jello and steal his intellectual property and research. Every morning like clockwork Telfair would arrive to an office in which a colleague was unveiling whatever Telfair had been working on the previous night. And resentment grew. While most vent to a spouse, a friend or the guy behind the counter at the local liquor, Telfair’s nights ended in an almost empty apartment that housed only a mattress and an aloof cat. Finding no consolation in the cockroaches and white walls, Telfair was forced to create something that would lift him from his depression.
Embracerol is a white powder that when inhaled induces euphoria and acceptance; or the ability to embrace one’s surroundings regardless of what they are. Telfair had invented another addiction to further supplement the lucid dreaming pills. At first he used it rarely or in times of great need but by his third month into the drug he was snorting it every ten minutes. When the erratic behavior was noticed by his coworkers, they conspired. They had found the answer to removing him from the scientific community; they set up cameras and tape recorders around the office and under the ruse of genuine interest in Embracerol got Telfair to detail his creation and addiction to the substance on tape. The evidence was delivered to Human Resources and Telfair was fired that same day and was immediately blacklisted from his current employer and all other respectable scientific organizations.
After his dismissal from the firm, he walked the nine miles home over the pedestrian prohibited bridge back to his apartment. From under his bed, he pulled a box marked In Case of Reckoning which contained all of his savings (over onehundredthousand dollars), a gun, a lifetime supply of Embracerol, some photographs, The Inferno and all basic survival gear. He took the Embracerol and left it in a dish for his cat, walked outside and hailed a cab.
It took nearly ten years after Telfair’s withdrawal from society before he began to feel lonely. By this time he had bought a plot of land, built what by traditional standards would be considered a mansion powered all by Tesla technology. Since it was over a hundred miles to the nearest neighbor and over two hundred miles to the nearest grocery, Telfair built a chicken coop and installed an acre large garden which had provided nutritional sustenance for nearly a decade. He had never met his neighbors but the real estate agent told him they weren’t exactly friendly and had once threatened to shoot her while she was showing property. So, Telfair avoided them. The last conversation he had was over six years ago and was held in Morse code. Through a series of long and short beeps he contacted his old job.
“Hello, Jack Telfair here. Thought you guys might be interested in a magnet powered teleportation device I am working on. Matter is guided through a small laser beam leaving little room for error, tremendous technology. Also, I haven’t touched Embracerol in over two years, been very productive. Very. I hoped that maybe my innovations might be needed back at the lab, if you wanted to reconsider my dismissal. Please get back to me soon, I have been getting very lonely. Over.”
“Telfair, we have absolutely no need for you or a laser guided teleporter. We do not have time to waste on decoding the diatribes of a recovering drug addict. Please do not contact us ever again. And if you do, please do it over the phone. If I could, I would bill you for the precious time wasted translating this conversation.
Over and out.”
Zinsser’s birth was anticlimactic at best. Forged from various homegrown and mail order organs and skin grafts, he looked like a jumbled, patchwork version of Telfair. One arm longer than the other, one grey eye, one blue, lumbering with a vacant stare. Telfair had taken a small sample of his own brain and grown a duplicate in an incubator. When he implanted it, he believed that Zinsser would awake to be his intellectual other and together they would change the landscape of modern science.
For the first year of Zinsser’s life he paced slowly throughout the expansive property, breathing heavily through his mouth. Telfair often sat him down for language lessons but it appeared that the homegrown brain had only developed to the maturity level of a fifteenyearold. During lessons he would chew gum loudly and throw bits of chalk at Telfair while his back was turned. By his fourth year of life, he had a decent grasp on the English language but nothing of interest to say.
“Telfair, hurry come into the backyard, I have to show you something!”
“Oh, yes, have you been working on the Van De Greer generator kit I ordered you?”
“No, three chickens are fucking at once! A fucking chicken threesome!”
Telfair put all of his efforts into expanding Zinsser’s mental capabilities. For his fourth birthday he gave Zinsser paint, canvas and a lesson on California Impressionism. After three weeks in the art studio, Zinsser emerged with a canvas covered in feces, he titled his great work of art A Painting by Zinsser.
Telfair’s gift to Zinsser on his fifth birthday was a rift in gravity. A slight alteration in Newton’s Second Law had allowed Telfair to create a concentrated area of what he called light gravity in Zinsser’s room. The lower gravity caused Zinsser to have a permanent erection. It was strictly nonsexual as Zinsser was a virgin, even to his own hands and thoughts.
Telfare’s gift to Zinsser on his sixth birthday was a satellite that used radio waves to transmit binary code into space, specifically to extraterrestrial life. Zinsser worked ceaselessly for seven weeks, two days and nine hours arduously formatting his ultimate human truth into the appropriate platform for its transmission across the lightyears. His final message read ‘As a long time cereal consumer, I believe I have found the most effective consumption method documented by our species thus far. To avoid excess milk toward the end of the bowl while conserving structural integrity (i.e. firmness) of our human breakfast food one must consume equal parts milk and equal parts cereal throughout the meal, adjusting the ratio for anticipated remainder quantities with each bite. I hope my revelations will optimize your morning experience when our species is hosting yours for sleepovers.’
Telfair’s gift to Zinsser on his seventh birthday was a puppy and a small black box labeled Canineversation. The device translated human language into a series of ‘barking’ noises that could be interpreted by a dog. After three days of being subjected to Zinsser, the dog hung itself with its own leash from the oak tree outside Zinsser’s bedroom window.
It took one whole decade before Telfair stopped giving Zinsser birthday gifts. Zinsser, too lazy to climb stairs and Telfair, no longer able to look at his failed experiment without tears of rage welling in his eyes, claimed their separate floors in the mansion. Now Telfair spent his time in the upper floor of his home, staring at the vast pristine beauty surrounding his estate and eating large quantities of a new stronger, strain of Embracerol he had synthesized. The only evidence that Zinsser was still downstairs were the occasional sounds of experimental noise music, made with a yardstick and saw, floating around the house. Telfair would scream and stomp wildly until Zinsser’s erratic orchestra ceased, then go back to his window and stare. Zinsser, having the backyard as part of the downstairs spent much of his time stomping on tomatoes in the garden. He would often wait for the chickens to have sex then piss on them. Sometimes he would paint Zinsser brand modern art with feces.
One day during an especially lengthy music session he noticed the absence of Telfair’s stomping. Under the assumption that Telfair had finally began to appreciate his music, he hurriedly finished the track and made a copy for Telfair. He drew a picture of three chickens fucking with his feces on the cover and excitedly climbed the stairs to deliver the gift.
A strong smell radiated from Telfair’s room as Zinsser pushed the door open. He found the old man stiff and pale in a chair facing the western windows. Hundreds of little orange bottles of Embracerol lined the bookshelves, floor, desks and window sills. Some empty, some full. He stood for a minute that felt like an hour, unsure of how to respond. Then, Zinsser pried the mostly full container from Telfair’s stiff right hand and poured the entirety of it into his mouth. Instantly he forgot the disturbing scene he had walked into and was over taken by strong feelings of euphoria and acceptance. For the first time he noticed the breathtaking view from the second floor, he walked over to the western window.