Writing - The Scientist
We have blended our setting and character descriptions with speech to create narratives based on 'The Scientist'. The published versions really show how hard we worked.
“Come in,” purrs a smooth voice with no owner. “It’s stormy out there in the moors.” I turn around to see a dilapidated groaning shack which I could have sworn wasn’t there earlier. “Anyone lost should come in and reside for as long or short as they wish,” the disembodied voice rings out once more. I step into the ancient building … No one’s there.
As I listen, within the walls of the broken structure, eerie noises click and scuffle, like something’s in there. Several jars labelled “Do NOT open” are rattling madly on the shelves. Thunder crackles and something rushes past me in the gloom like a frenzied wild animal. Finally, the lights turn back on, and an enrobed figure stands beside me. This strange figure seems just as surprised as I am that I am here. The stranger fumbles their silky robe frantically for a few seconds before he whips out a purple canister and proceeds to vigorously spray the rattling containers; the tins stop shaking. As the Doctor’s frizzy hair bounces around as if trying to leap off his head, I finally speak up.
“Wh-What is this place?” I shiver as the scientist’s steely gaze falls upon me.
“This is a patapneumetic orhyclon reserve observatory,” shouts the stranger, who seems quite unaware he is doing so. Whilst I attempt to understand what this means, the Doctor, now seemingly running out of breath, babbles on. “If you want some hot chocolate, there’s some in the kitchen. I like hot chocolate; how about you?”
Ignoring my exasperated questions, the man jangles a white chain. Either the ceiling or the scientist groaned, startling a guinea pig in a cage labelled “Monty XIV.” Suddenly, the Professor pauses and flicks open his pocket watch, the candlelight gleaming off its golden lustre. Again he stops; the man flies past to a room that was barely visible through all the clutter and randomly strewn objects, and clanks around for a while muttering to himself. Whilst the man is gone, I take a look around – one solitary orb is swirling with the power of a maelstrom: purple, black and blue thunder rumbles and crackles within the ball of weather. Dismantled machines smoke despondently, occasionally puffing sadly or tinkling a bell.
Scattered drawings and diagrams cover the chipped walls, a forest of ink and paper: whales with ten tails, four headed snakes and a rocky hedgehog all sit on the shelves.
Grinning like a lunatic and stumbling a little, the Doctor returns with two steaming mugs of hot chocolate and a bar of Cadburys’, careful to avoid the cracks that cleave the floor like wooden lightning. Spilling the beverages slightly, the Doctor jumps a good three feet into the air, yelling, “YES! I’ve done it! I’ve done it!”
Snapping out of his daydream, the Doctor awkwardly stops. I attempt to make my exit, feeling I should probably leave now. “Um… really… you’ve been too kind, but I feel I should leave – the rain’s letting up and my coat has dried, but I feel I should, um, go?” Smiling warmly, the Professor replies,
“Sure you can – anyone can stay as long as they like, but first, try some of this hot chocolate, it’s delicious.” Maybe I’ll stay a little longer.
A traveller is lost in bad weather but finds shelter in an unusual room with many strange artefacts.
Squinting in the darkness, my eyes settled on a diminutive light; so I raced towards it, the rain drumming on my head with every stride.
The door was ajar, so I strode into the house. The dark, ominous corridor led me to the only room that had a light on – the dusty cellar.
It was an incongruous room, clad with shelves and desks. A musty, neglected typewriter stood in the corner, fast asleep among a pile of dejected philosophical instruments, littered around the floor. Before I was able to take everything into my head, the door flew open.
Fear pounding through my head, I hid behind the mantelshelf, which was cluttered with objects: organs in jars (and a few pigs’ stomachs), crucibles, curious eyeballs, staring in all directions, books on science, stuffed animals and heads.
I saw, looking through a jar with an eyeball staring into my face, a woman of about twenty, with ragged, sooty hair and fearful eyes. She reminded me of my deceased sister when she saw a spider, her greatest phobia.
Unfortunately, I almost tripped over a withered plant – and made plenty of noise. This meant that she started coming towards me. I had no choice but to reveal myself.
Stumbling towards me, my heart thundering more with every step, I realised that she had a crippled leg. Her clothes were unfitting, torn, and downright smelly.
She picked up her folio, skimming through the pages, and wrote something down (including the spelling):
Ho are juo? Vat do juo vant? Do juo now annithin abowt cadavas?
It looked as if she was foreign (Father ranting about `j` being pronounced `y` in Germany)
The note actually stated:
Who are you? What do you want? Do you know anything about cadavers?
Spinning to the desk, I noticed a putrid smell coming from… a corpse?
She seemed to have forgotten me but then she finally spoke.
“Hallo!” she said (almost screamed) in surprise, “Who are you?”
I stepped back, straight into the desk. Knives dropped to the floor, blood spraying everywhere, as I vomited into an empty jar.
In my haste, I had completely forgotten the lady, who was staring at me as if she had never laid eyes on me before.
“Th-there was a storm outside,” I hurriedly explained, hoping for redemption, “I-I needed shelter.”
“Oh. I must have forgotten to close the door. I can be very forgetful. Now what’s that?” she said, pointing to the jar of my vomit, almost like a five – year old. I gestured towards my mouth and mimed vomiting – it almost happened again. Cautiously, I edged around, trying to find a place to sit down. I ended up plonking myself (in a very unladylike manner) on a pile of what looked like twelfth – century artefacts.
She was wringing her hands and muttering to herself. I remembered what I was about to say.
“What I don’t understand,” I proclaimed, hoping not to cause offence, “Is that, while your verbal English sounds like Queen Victoria’s, your spelling is… less than adequate.”
“Well,” she replied, “My Father and Mutter only taught me to speak English. My spelling is still Deutch – German. I am from Berlin.”
“I see,” I said, “And you study cadavers?”
“Yes,” came the obvious reply, “But I find few.” If I looked close enough, the knives did not look so bloody – it was a thin layer spread over each and every one of them. Creepy, but worth knowing.
I, a traveler lost in bad weather, found an unusual shelter with an unusual man and his strange possessions inside.
I sat at on a cold rusting bench, my stomach tied in a knot. Rain poured down onto my face ferociously followed by a soul shocking strike of lightning, BANG! I had to find shelter as soon as possible. I got up from my seat and wondered down a narrow path, the sound of a strange creaking noise flooded my ears. A door: a door that holds many secrets.
Leaving the cold London streets behind, I carefully opened the strange door with a creak and a crack; a long, shadowy hallway stood eerily before my eyes. As I wondered inside, my footsteps echoed endlessly down the never ending hallway, the sound bouncing of the whitewashed walls. Suddenly, the scent of decaying body-parts were intertwined through the air, rows of old, lumber shelves were dangling of the walls, only hanging on by one single rusting nail that had been forced into the wall.
“H-hello?” I whispered down the hall expecting a reply, but the only the dripping of the rain from outside could be heard. Without thinking I crept deeper into the mysterious hall. Candles all different sizes were wedged into all of the dirty nooks and crannies; still burning bright fames and drooping with wax. Smashed crucibles and retorts were scattered along the bare floor, bubbling liquid still flooding out of them. The shallower I went in the more interested and puzzled I became, so for the second time I whispered “Hello?”
This time a shadowy figure crept out the darkness, with something mysterious in their gloved hands. Who is this person? And what are they doing? But all I know is that I have to find out who they are. Again, I tip-toed even deeper than before; the sunlight slowly fading away from me. Nailed into the walls were revolting bones of animals I never dreamed of being real; there was test tubes, here and there, bubbling and hissing with every chime of the ancient grandfather clock shoved into the corner of the grubby room. I could just about make out the stranger’s silhouette I had seen a-couple of minutes ago, “Hello?” I shouted down the hallway, “HELLO!” Reveling his dirty face, the stranger turned around and stared straight into my eyes. A stained lab coat, as grey as his hair, was hung loosely around his skinny body; flapping up and down with every step he took. His eyes were a sinister dark brown and the glasses he pushed back onto his nose every couple of seconds were a gold rusted colour. The lenses of the circular framed glasses had cracks scattered along them, blocking some of the sight.
“WHY ARE YOU HERE BOY?” snapped a voice back at me, “AND STOP CLICKIG YOUR HEELS!” it was the man whose silhouette I had followed down the hallway. His whole face was drooping like the wax on the candles .His white wispy hair was sent out of his scalp at all different directions, up, down, left, right. Red, yellow and blue stained stationary were poking out of his grubby lab coat’s pocket, falling out as he walked. “T-the storm” I muttered quietly, “I-I had nowhere else to go!” a strike of lightning echoed loudly down the hallway. “ONE NIGHT!” Snapped the stranger as he turned around and stumbled back into the darkness, leaving me alone in the eerie laboratory.
A traveller is lost in bad weather but finds shelter with an unusual man and his many strange possessions.
As I wandered through a metallic door containing a slither of light, a bent floor board creaked below me. A large nail sprung itself into the air, skimming my face. Steam overlapped my vision as a stepped further into the mysterious room.
Upon the walls were unscrewed mahogany shelves riddled with cracked beakers and test tubes. On a sturdier shelf were few incongruous microscopes with a different variant f dead bug beneath each one. Another shelf had smashed glass under it, hanging vertically on a single nail.
Before I could see him fully, a slim, short man brushed passed me. I caught a glimpse of straightened hair, few frizzy strands falling from it. The hair blended in with the shelves making it invisible and bald. His expression was extremely concentrated, as if a vein in his forehead would burst. He was muttering something, sounded like gibberish to me.
“I’m concerned, why on Earth would you ever want a room so, dare I say, old and rickety?” A large creak echoed beneath my feet as a small flower pot fell on to a rusty pile of screws and nails. “I see no issue with the matter!” he scowled, “If you don’t like it, you may leave!” The scientist arched his back and his rough eyebrows angrily.
Under a table was hundreds of crinkled pieces of torn paper containing intricate ideas made into a mountain of creases. The table was placed with a blanket of glass jars over it; one contained fireflies for light source while others empty with nothing inside but a dead wasp. I looked around and heard swift footsteps echoing towards me.
Suddenly, he brushed back, swooshing my trouser leg in the draft. I could see him now, a long, white cloak drenched down to his ankles with few red stains haunting it. Reaching his shin was a pair of dark grey trousers; un-ironed and cuffed, one side had a murky maroon sewn patch stitched to it.
I was attempting to talk to him when, something caught my attention. On his feet, he had extremely large shoes, sometimes I saw him receive small bits and pieces from under the laces. I’m not one to blame him though, every nook and cranny of his storage units were full to the brim.
My arm reached and I managed to tap him lightly on the shoulder and catch his attention. Swiftly, he turned and stared at me. “Say I’ll only be staying until the storm passes, will you let me do that sir?” I requested. I glanced at the floor then glanced at the scientist, looking as sorry for myself as possible. “If it’s entirely necessary, you may stay but don’t push your luck! I already have to put up with you.” Rolling his eyes, he turned back, proceeding to mutter and walk away. His lips were small and tight with dry lines covering them while three streaks wrinkled his forehead as he moved his single brow in frustration.
It was small, the room. With only three corners living in it: one full of steam making it invisible to my eyes. One containing a snapping Venus fly trap with an amber heat lamp towering over it. Lastly, one had a low roof and seemed to be cowering, as if to turn to rubble.
But even with very little room and very little space, anything could occur in there for a scientist. Even the unthinkable!
As I walked into the crooked cabin, the floor boards creaked and cracked, shelves filled with arrays of jars and powder pots filled my view. Every corner was heaped high with books. On the wall ahead of me hung 5 certificates, I couldn’t read them clearly as dust covered them like a blanket. My mind bubbled with questions as I spotted a royal blue telescope slotted neatly into the wall.
A gust of wind filled the room as I spotted a lonely shelf, upon it sat a glass jar holding a vibrant gold ball – bouncing around happily – surrounding it ; many maps of constellations were stuck on the wall, each one different than the other.
Finally, my eyes were drawn to a mysterious shadow in the middle of the room “Hello?” I said slowly as I stepped slightly closer. A flash of lightning sprung to the ceiling and my head shot to the old oak table. Four bubbling test tubes filled with: blue, green, yellow and pink gelatinous liquids lay in front of me. Behind them a maze of test tubes twist and turn at every chance each one leading to a single jar. “What are you doing?” I said timidly. Plop. A drop of purple substance lands in a fascinating plump jar.
Two hands grasp it like gold, holding it up to their face. “Hello!?” I said again this time more determined to get a response. I could now see her fully. The scientist was wearing lab coat covered in colorful splodges, her hair was tied in a messy bun and two pens: one red and one blue, sat proudly in a small pocket, they were accompanied by a small strip of thin yellow posit notes. Her face was stern as we finally make eye contact.
“Who are you?” I said, suddenly wanting to take it back, I slowly step back to the half open door.
Why is she here? I think to myself, why in the mountains? Slowly and carefully she brought the purple liquid over to the bouncing gold ball. Soon, it began to fade and the scientist began to pull the liquid away. A mischievous grin arose on her face as she placed it back down within the maze of tubes.
“Hello!” I blurt out for the final time,
“What!” she replies quickly “Why are you here?” A not grows in my stomach as I slowly grab the rustic door.
“Spit it out!” she yapped at me
“The door was open …” I murmured “there is a big storm outside and when saw your cabin in the middle of know were, I… I thought it would be empty.” I carried on hopping for a better response.
“You have one night!” she snapped as she grabbed an old book of the shelf “Sit” she said as she pointed to a torn chair I hadn’t noticed before. I stumbled towards it, as I sit down the springs feel like needles against my skin.
“Read!” she told me as she shoved the dusty old book into my lap. The strange scientist paced back to the ancient table to carry on her intruding work. Her face was still stern as rock yet I couldn’t help but saying thank you.
“No speaking!” she said with a slight smile on her face as she turned back to the maze of tubes and bubbling liquids.
I began to venture down a set of creaking stairs, until the scent of fried wood surrounded the air beside me. I made my way further down. Mice chattered as they found their way to escape the dingy floor boards. I saw a lab.
“What is this place,” I mumbled, almost to myself but it bounced off all the walls echoing so whomever I was trapped with could hear too.
“This is my home, my lab, what did you think it was?” spoke a gentle voice no matter how gentle it startled me.
Silhouetted in a corner with dusty spider webs wedged into every nook and cranny was a scientist type of man. He wore a lab coat but that is all I can make out. Finally emerging from the shadows I saw his stuck up hair. It reminded me of a bone after dog slobber came, eyebrows like a baby caterpillar and eyes a dull blue.
“What are you looking at?” he snapped.
I couldn’t take my eye off him except when he paces the room like a mad man, then I look at my surroundings. Incongruous potions mostly knocked over from the scientists pacing. Carefully other liquids are placed in their categories taking up space on top of cabinets that scare the mice away. He brushed past me, his rough coat scraping at my skin. “Ow!” I screeched at the top of my lungs but the scientist didn’t look back at me.
Crouching down he picked up an abandoned folio, annotations and intricate sketches filled the pages that were chucked in. Another withered page, another experiment that failed to impress. Cupboards filled to the brim with other concoctions were it lay.
“Can I help you with an experiment,” I began “It will be fun, surely.” All he did was grunt rudely. I couldn’t wait till the storm passed.
“It won’t hurt” I boomed. I could tell he was thinking about it since he was pacing again.
“Please,” I begged him until he got so annoyed that the crucibles next to him were knocked over. I jumped so high in shock. When I reached the ground I stared at the ceiling; it was dented severely. ”Maybe, just maybe.” He muttered
I walked around the room, proud I could help but I didn’t know how I was helping.
“Son” the man began “Come, come, come.” I followed him presuming he was talking to me .I was the only one here. Wasn’t I?
“Stop!” I did stop, stopped being curious but I still wonder who he is.
“There; the wooden barrel” he commanded me to pull it out.
On the oak planks the experiment began, he yanked liquids out of their incongruous positions. Hoping for success, I was going to pour the liquid but the scientist stopped me.
“Look!” he signalled to the skulls and bones that nestled at the bottom.
I was astonished he didn’t get freaked out by the skulls beneath us.
“Come on let’s get started!"
I, a traveler was lost in bad weather but found shelter with an unusual man and his many strange possessions.
At the end of a dark and narrow corridor, there was a door. What did it lead to? Placed on its handle, was an ink stained lab coat. Pieces of equipment were proudly stood in its pockets, keeping eachother company. Suddenly, the door opened with a creak and a crack.
Smaller and less incongruous in its arrangements than the hall, this room contained, nevertheless to awaken my curiosity. In the far left corner of the room, was a large oak workbench sat facing the wall. Skulls and bones of dinosaurs were hammered onto mantelshelves. An array of jars, were crowded with eyeballs, brains and chemicals locked inside, filling my view. Taxidermied animal fur was hung on the ceiling growling at me as I entered, cobwebs acting as a blanket for it.
Paper was flying in the soothing breeze of the wind. Every chair around the ruff table, had its burden. The smell of smoke touched my nostril hairs from when experiments had gone wrong in the past.
Footsteps shook the wooden floorboards. A scientist entered the room. “What are you doing here boy?” He firmly asked. Silver, greasy curls shot out of his scalp in all different directions. His eyes were a light blue, filled with visons of ideas. Placed on the top of his head, were circular glasses with cracked and fogged up lenses.
“I’m waiting?” He spoke again. My eyes started to blur as I had been gazing at the only clean thing in the room, a royal blue telescope.
“Well you see, there is currently a storm outside and this was the only nearby shelter.” I finally answered as I nervously bit my lip. There was no reply.
“I’m sorry sir, I will begin to exit myself out now.” I said disappointingly. Quickly, I stood up and began to walk out.
“Actually… an assistant would be useful… for the time being. I just need to finish my latest experiment.” He said, as he entered some hope into me.
That hope would not last long…
I am lost in bad weather but soon I find shelter with an unusual woman and her very strange possessions.
As I creaked open the door to my room, I checked around for the old woman dashing about. Nothing. I was not going to give up this opportunity to explore the house. Memorising every step I took (encase she spots me), I found one room with the lights on. Since I was bored of the mustard hallway, I opened the door. Inside a lab slept.
On every wall were scribbles of notes, formulas and pictures for the woman to remember. A rotten ladder went up to the rafters where metal pots hanged on chains, full to the rim (and a bit over) with candle wax. Most walls had shelves of chemicals in crucibles and containers, bits of animals, bugs, books about more boring science and other oddities. On the one wall that didn’t have shelves, had a hand drawn dusty, falling off chart and a very new freezer. This contained: Frozen blood, more coloured liquid and animal parts. I shut it. Since the candle pots were full, candles illuminated every corner they were wedged in. Above the rafters were spiders making their webs where they can’t be snatched and put in a jar. In the centre of the room, on a dusty old oak table lay multiple Bunsen burners below hanging beakers. Next to it was a notebook with more scribbles in it than on the walls.
I climbed the old ladder to get a better look of the musty scented room but it broke and I crashed hard onto the wooden floor. When I landed belly up, this exposed something new. Something brown. A box. It was on the highest shelf. In line with the rafters and on the edge of the shelf. But now that the ladder had broken, there was only one way up. I had to climb the bookshelf.
At the top, I sat on the rafter, reaching towards the brown oddity. But then she burst open the door with a bang and I retracted my hand, trying to hide form view. She looked round and I tucked my head behind the wooden post. When I peeked out, she had dropped frog from a container on the shelves into a beaker. She was about five foot, grey curly hair and dull clothing. What happened next shocked me.
As she poured the liquid over the frog, she took out a Bunsen burner and lit it. She put it below the frog. I don’t need to say any more. I had always loved nature and here she was doing this to a poor innocent frog. I felt sick and before I knew it, I fell from the rafter and passed out on the floor. Her boots were the last thing I saw until the darkness.
I awoke in a stone grey basement. No light but the beams through the crack in the door. She was laughing. Laughing crazily. Laughing angrily. Laughing evilly. After what felt like forever, I heard it. The sound made by metal hitting the ground. It was a paper clip. Then the hatch slammed open. The warm glow of the light from the lamp flooded into the room. Her yellowed teeth shimmered like stars. Waiting. After a long silence, she dropped her lantern and her smile turned to a frown. I grabbed the lantern as she pushed the hatch back into its old position. Little did she know I could pick the lock open. I waited for the cackling to fade away before I clicked open the lock. The lamp was left.
The old woman’s laugh stopped once I cornered her. “So you escaped,” she said. Her voice was low and gruff as if she hadn’t talked in years. She took a step towards me. “And you want to leave?” Another step. “I could show you the way out…”
“Just let me go and I will not tell anybody.” I said. “Go? Go? GO? NEVER! YOU ARE MY PRISONER! YOU ARE MY TESTER! YOU ARE STAYING!” The hag screamed as she sprayed me with some weird liquid. Suddenly I lost control of my body. She dragged me back to the gloomy basement and left me there.
Years passed. Days flew past like a bird. No rescue, no other life. All I could do was eat what she gave me. The side effects were hard, the taste was awful but it kept me alive so I had to eat. I forgot about the outside world and all in it. See, this story has no happy ending. Not here and not now. That’s not how this story goes.
We began our unit of work by thinking about what items can tell us about character in pictures. We analysed snippets of the painting The Ambassadors’ by Hans Holbein the Younger and thought about what the items in the painting tell us about the characters within the piece.
The children then thought about items that could be found in a Victorian scientist’s lab!
A traveller is lost in bad weather but finds shelter with an unusual man and his many strange possessions.