transluminary: (an improbable fiction)
[personal profile] transluminary
Characters: Calvin O'Keefe ([livejournal.com profile] a_sport) and Adam Eddington ([livejournal.com profile] transluminary)
Chronology: Some time after Polly is found by her Item
Contents: Calvin and Adam derp around a lab discussing fish anesthetics
C...ondition?: Incomplete and unposted

“How does one even determine what would be a fatal dose of fish anesthetic for a human being? I can’t imagine it was trial and error.”

“The same way you’d work it out for any other poison, I guess,” Adam said absentmindedly. “Taking into account the variability of human systems and exposure times and such.”

“Hm, you’re right, of course. Though I doubt that a 12-year-old Polly did quite that much experimentation” Calvin tipped his chair onto its back legs. “I’m sure there have been stranger weapons used in the course of human existence. It is just strange to see a switchblade knife all fancied up with what amounts to shark knock out gas.”

“Don’t ask me where your daughter got it from.” Adam shrugged, not looking up from the stack of old procedures he had been sifting through. “I didn’t ask.”

He laughed and put down a book filled with page after page of charts describing anesthesia agents for everything from guppies to orcas. “Apparently it is mine, because in the future the carrying a switchblade is the mark of a good and peaceful marine biologist. Or something, who knows.” He sighed and shook his head. “Also there is only so much I can read of how to anesthetize an animal when we only have a tiny amount of it to work with.”

“Honestly, just the amount we have already makes me nervous. It was a very fierce looking shark. And Poly’s no pushover either. Okay, I need a break.” Adam surrendered the pile with a groan and looked over to see how Calvin was doing. “I don’t know if I’m more relieved or frustrated that there are no easy synthesis instructions for MS-22 in any of these.”

“We’ll find something eventually. And if this won’t work out, then we can go with one of the other ones the books talk about. It will just take longer.” He sighed and scrubbed a hand through his red hair. It would have to get cut soon; it was getting longer than he liked it and falling into his eyes all the time.

“So what should we start with, once we have our fish knock out drugs and can start dissecting in earnest?”

Adam grinned, unconsciously mimicking his gesture. “Whatever we can get our hands on, I’m thinking. I mean, I’ve done some of the basics back home, but the kind of fish you get around Woods Hole, Massachusetts are usually going to be pretty different from the kind you’d find on a - magical - tropical island.”

Calvin glanced over at him and grinned. “Are you telling me that Massachusetts does not have coral reefs and sharks and giant squid that occasionally attack beach-goers? Because if so, whoa, my understanding of the eastern seaboard is seriously altered.”

“Well there are some sharks, some times, but there is probably a Massachusetts out there with all of those things.” Adam stood and stretched before gathering papers off the counter to sort back into the mess of the lab. “Between Global Warming or a Nuclear Ice Age, the eastern seaboard could potentially experience the full range of marine diversity the world has to offer.”

It wasn’t so strange a thing, anymore, to speak of home as though it was still there, only, perhaps, a flight away, as opposed to a separate reality with a specific temporal component.

Calvin’s shook his head and grinned. “You have a point, though I don’t want nuclear war or climactic disaster and keep my temperate forests. I miss autumn.” He rubbed a hand over his face and then tilted his head to glance around at the lab’s equipment. “I think we should start with something like mahi-mahi, one of the common fish, maybe? They can get pretty big, but they’re not super delicate or difficult.”

“Sounds good. I haven’t done a practical in... oh, in long enough that not super delicate or difficult sounds just right.”

Instead of pulling down more reading, Adam cracked a blank page in his notebook and started sketching a table. “I think what we need is a spreadsheet for, hm, the more common fish, and the dosages required, so we’ll be able to work with what we run into.” In the first box, Adam printed with careful letters, ‘Mahi-mahi.’ “Or we’ll know which ones we definitely won’t have enough for, while we’re out there.”

Nodding, Calvin stood up and walked over to the stack of notebooks he had filled up over four years on the island. I have lists, somewhere, of all the average weights of our island sea creatures. That’ll help us work out approximate dosage.” He stopped and looked over his shoulder at Adam. “Is it strange that I’m really looking forward to getting to dissect things? I’ve been wanting to for ages. We’re real scientists now.”

Adam hid a smile. “It’ll get old after the first fifty,” he promised, recalling working summers with Old Doc. Even vital intern work could get boring as temperatures rose and hours dragged on, but everyone had to start somewhere. “That’s not true,” he added, “But I don’t think it’s strange. For now, dissections are one of our best tools for learning. And you’re right, it... it’s legitimate research stuff, we’re doing. Dr. O’Keefe.”

He laughed and flushed a bit as he flipped through first one notebook then reached for another. “Yup, I’ll fall back on my years of experience and PhDs to get me through this. Just you wait, I’ll teach you everything you know.”

“That would have been pretty exciting,” said Adam, biting the end of his pen thoughtfully. “Even without international politics, shark attacks, and switchblades loaded with MS-222. Lots of echinoderms, but exciting.”

There were some things neither of them would make light of, but forgetting to laugh at the darkness was one way of letting it win. Dr. O’Keefe had not wanted to put his family in danger, but it was as he said: there were enemies. You didn’t have to go around making them. And, as the island seemed intent on showing them all, there wasn’t any way to be truly safe.

“And if we add in time-travel and extra dimensions, I think we have the start to a spectacular novel.”

Calvin laughed and shook his head. “I shall leave you to the novel writing, how about that? Mine would just have pages and pages of scientific gibberish occasionally broken up by lines of dialogue.”

“Pass, I think. My efforts would probably come to the same. I mean, I would read a log of dissection observations for organisms of a magical ecosystem, but I wouldn’t expect it to win awards for brilliance. Especially if the actual organisms aren’t magical.”

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Adam Eddington III

April 2011

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