Thomas Wictor

Why we had to kill Charles Darwin

Why we had to kill Charles Darwin

I’ve had unbelievably strange dreams. Volume Three of the Ghosts Trilogy—Hallucinabulia: the Dream Diary of an Unintended Solitarian—will be available next month, I think. It’ll show you the mess inside my head. As I say in my sales pitch, Volume One is how my life was, Volume Two is how I wish it had been, and Volume Three is the chaos created by the tension between reality and fantasy.

This is one of my most bizarre dreams. I’m sure Joe Cady could interpret it for me. I’ll drop him a line when he gets back to Paris.

Technically I guess this is a nightmare, though it’s also pretty funny. During the dream I was going to pieces, but as soon as I woke up, it made me laugh. I’d like to get to the point where I can control what I dream. Though I often experience lucid dreams, I’ve never been able to say, “Tonight I’m going to be married to Naomi Watts” and have it happen.

Now that I think about it, I’m glad I can’t control my dreams. I’d spend all my time asleep, mired in pretense. Instead, I’ll settle for being able to control every thirtieth dream. That seems reasonable. Married to Naomi Watts one night per month? Heck, one night out of the year would be fine with me.

Why we had to kill Charles Darwin

Tim and I sat in the Rat Palace, waiting for a UPS delivery. We’d had Charles Darwin exhumed from Westminster Abbey and sent to us in his coffin.

“This is gonna be so cool,” Tim said.

All I felt was foreboding. Catastrophe was imminent.

The doorbell rang; it was the UPS driver. We signed for the giant cardboard shipping box standing on the porch next to him and carried it into the living room. It weighed about three pounds. After we laid it flat on the carpet, Tim got a box cutter from the kitchen and sliced off the top. The casket was made of pewter.

“Great!” Tim said. “I was worried it’d be wood. It’s going to conduct the electricity perfectly!”

I was very confused, aware of our plan and completely ignorant of it at the same time. Whatever we were going to do was really stupid.

Tim went back into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator, and took out an aquarium full of fish and green seawater. He brought it into the living room and dumped it into the cardboard box holding Darwin’s casket. Then he took an orange extension cord, attached it to a cord coming out of the casket, and went over to the wall socket.

“Cross your fingers!” he said and plugged it in. I felt terrible dread and exhilaration.

There was a long electrical zapping sound. The lid of the casket flew open; Charles Darwin leaped out and landed on the carpet. He was young and virile, with bushy sideburns, the way he looked when he took his five-year voyage on HMS Beagle.

Shirtless and sweaty, he wore snug breeches that showed off his muscular legs and rear. He stared at us with a tiny, ambiguous smile.

“How are you, Mr. Darwin?” I asked.

His eyes widened, he grabbed my shoulders and shook me, he roared with laughter, and then he started trashing the living room. He was like a berserk ape, pulling down the bookshelves, smashing furniture with both fists, and throwing glassware against the wall.

Stop it!” I shouted at him. “Are you insane? What’s wrong with you? We brought you back to life! Why are you doing this?”

He just hooted. When Tim tried to restrain him, Darwin threw him across the room. Tim hit the wall upside down and fell onto his head.

In one corner of the living room was a modern-art sculpture of a bird in flight, my most valuable possession. I loved it more than any person.

“Watch this!” Darwin yelled. He ran over to the sculpture, grabbed one of the wings, and—grunting like a pig—bent it almost ninety degrees out of kilter. I burst into tears.

“You rat-shit motherfucker,” Tim said to him. “Why the fuck did you do that?” He’d gotten up and stood with his fists balled, ready to fight.

I wanted to die. Everything I touched turned to crap. I’d tried to do something nice by resurrecting Darwin, and now he’d ruined my beloved sculpture.

Darwin patted me on the shoulder.

“Don’t cry, me old son,” he said. “I can fix it. With this!

He pointed to a muzzle-loading cannon that’d suddenly appeared by the UPS box.

“No, please! Don’t!” I wailed. “You’re just going to make it worse!”

He flapped his eyebrows, laughed, and touched a burning brand to the vent. The cannon fired, emitting a gigantic gout of flame. The explosion was so powerful it made us all fly several inches up off the wooden floor. While I was still in the air, the cannonball hit the wing of my sculpture with a loud g’dang! As I knew would happen, the wing was now bent too far in the other direction.

“See?” I blubbered. “I told you!” The stink of gunpowder made me want to throw up, and I could barely breathe because of the dust and smoke.

Whoopsie!” Darwin yelped. He laughed in my face, danced a brief jig, and raced through the kitchen into the fireplace room. As he ran, he yodeled like a Bavarian.

“Shit,” Tim said. “We have to kill the bastard. This really pisses me off. How were we supposed to know he’d be totally unreachable? Do you have a gun?”

“No,” I said. “I don’t think I can kill him.”

Listen to what he’s doing!” Tim shouted. “We have to stop him!

A continuous series of crashing sounds came from the fireplace room as Darwin destroyed the entire rear part of the house. He laughed and yodeled as he wrecked everything we owned.

“This was your idea too,” Tim said, “so you have to help me.”

“All right,” I said, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it.

We went into the kitchen, and Tim opened the knife drawer.

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