Thursday Threads: The Scientist

Thursday Threads is a flash fiction competition that Siobhan Muir is hosting on her site. She gives a line and participants tell a story around it in 250 words or less.


“I heard this joke once. Or a parable, maybe…”

The bloodshot ghost paused to drag his smoke. He had manners, tilting his head back to blow his cancer straight up, rather than right at me. They were comical even; the smoke in this dive was so thick that I had needed the glow of neon to find the bar. He put his foot on the metal case beside him and slouched with his smoldering hand draped over his knee.

“You have five monkeys in a cage. The cage has a ladder to the top, and from the top hangs a banana. When any of them touch the ladder, you spray them all with water. When they give up the banana, you swap out a monkey. He doesn’t know about the water, goes for the prize, and the others will beat the shit out of him. Repeat. At the end, you have five monkeys that have never been sprayed with water, and yet, none of them will ever touch the ladder.”

I watched the next plume of smoke curl above his head. It had been so for centuries, Rachel said the last day he recognized her, but it had not always been so.

“The men upstairs like ‘the way things are.’” Ash flew as he flicked his fingers. “It allows for grunt armies and plausible deniability.” He pushed the case with his boot.

“The water hose?”

“No.” He tapped out the cigarette and collected his payment. “The scientist.” He left.

249 words


For more Thursday Threads, visit the comments section of today’s post on The Weird, The Wild, and the Wicked.

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