Author : Rick Tobin
“Hey, Doc. How’s it going?” Mike Compton, freshly tanned, popped his head into the geneticist’s offices. His counselor remained seated, turned toward the window overlooking the campus quad featuring coeds being tempted to indecency on manicured lawns by the early spring heat. He remained in his high-backed chair, with only shoulders of a white lab coat visible to the student intruder.
“So much happened while you vacationed in Sydney.” Dr. Nellis remained behind his leather throne. Compton could smell pungent aftershave uncharacteristic of Nellis. “Yes, it’s part of your scholarship for rugby overseas. Just as well. You might have interfered. Now you’ll take over the Lambda S gene and lysis reconstruction research. I’m retiring. You and Dr. Cranston can continue the metabolite study for your masters.”
“You okay, Doc? Did you make breakthroughs on the cancer study? Is that why Thurgaurd pharma reps were here this morning? Everyone’s talking about it?” Compton looked around the atypically spotless office. “Oh, Dr. Kilborne at rehab asked about the portable bariatric chamber. She needs it for patients. Dr. Gillespie wants his meteor samples back, too. He’s miffed about you keeping them all winter.”
“Everyone’s talking, are they? Kilborne gets her contraption tomorrow. Gillespie can piss on a live wire. No, I didn’t find a cure for cancer. Who wants that? Salk got screwed on his polio patents. If I threatened billions in grants with a cure I’d be assassinated.” Nellis remained secluded from Compton’s view.
“So what’s the story? Why leave me with the lysis experiments when we’re close?”
“Do you read your Bible, Mike?”
“Weird. Okay. Yes. So?”
“There were giants before mankind, not just Goliath. Every culture has them. The megalithic structures are evidence. So, I investigated the possibility of behemoth bipeds in prehistory. A Smithsonian colleague sent me an ancient giant femur with productive DNA. My testing matched with new ancient climate data. Before the last ice age the oxygen levels weren’t higher, they were lower. Additionally, the air was rich in clouds of rare earth elements from billions of years of meteor barrages. Although we knew many of these elements were present in us, we didn’t know their purpose. I discovered that minute concentrations of niobium isotopes, inhaled in a lower oxygen environment, can stimulate the pituitary to safely increase human growth hormone in the hGH-N gene somatotrope. I had to be careful about lung scarring, but it had immediate effects on bone growth and calcium uptake.”
“That’s a huge leap, but if any of this was true, why isn’t everyone gigantic?”
“There are dysfunctional genes that cause acromegaly, but they are mutated remnants. After the great floods of legend, rare earths were washed from the air, becoming useless salts, with some becoming toxic to giants. Oxygen levels increased. Giant mammal days were numbered.”
“I wish you’d stay, but if you’ve made up your mind to retire, is there anything I can do before you take off?”
“Yes, Mike. I’d like your Carousel Club membership card. They restrict their clientele.”
“That’s a twist. You rarely go anywhere…and now a gentleman’s club? Sure, here’s the card.” Compton pulled the black plastic identification from his wallet.
“Thanks, Mike,” Ellis said, turning his chair, standing and towering over his student to accept the gift. Compton froze, aghast, staring into the face of his majestic seven-foot professor, sans thick glasses, sporting thick, long hair and a booming mustache. “I’ll remember you in my will.” Ellis threw his lab coat off, revealing his chiseled torso, as he grabbed a bulging duffel bag, heading for his first jaunt at the Carousel.