Dr. Optera’s Intelligent Bugs

1800-word sci-fi
Dr. Cole Optera’s experiments in teaching insects how to communicate has unexpected consequences which force him to re-think his idea.

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Acidic Fiction
published online March 2, 2015


Dr. Cole Optera leaned in toward the tiny, six-legged creature. Its unblinking eyes stared back at him.

“Come on,” he whispered. “Say something.”

The creature sat silently. Its leg twitched. Not precisely the sign of intelligence he’d been hoping for, not after all the time and effort. Not after all the ridicule.

Optera sighed and set the beetle back in its enclosure. There was still something wrong with his methods… some factor he wasn’t considering. He rubbed his head. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to concentrate. When he opened them, he caught sight of the digital clock, its bright red numbers chastising him for being up so late, for skipping dinner (again), and for drinking too much coffee past sundown.

Resignedly, Optera stumbled to the hotel room bed and threw himself upon it, still fully clothed in the slacks and button-down shirt he’d donned so many hours ago for his conference presentation. He flicked the light off on the beetle sitting perfectly still in his enclosure.

If he’d stayed awake a moment longer to tidy up his workstation, then he might have heard the bug, with a voice no louder than a whisper, say “Hello?”

If he’d have paused for another moment to double-check the lid on the beetle’s enclosure, none of it might have happened.


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