Never Ask Why
By Ezra T. Gray
“Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Here kitty, kitty,
kitty, kitty. Come here, Yoda.” Roger picked up the big
Norwegian Forest cat. “Hey, Yoda,” he said as he stroked the big cat’s
back, “I need your help, boy. Come on, you are going to take a
trip. Not far.” Inside his gut, Roger felt a
tightness. He’d raised Yoda from a kitten. He thought back
on the day that Yoda had come to live with him. He was going into
Wal-mart and some lady out front was giving away kittens. She had
one left when Roger peered into the box.
“He’s yours, Mister,” the older, overweight woman wheezed.
“I . . . ah . . . I can’t.” Roger said, as he smiled
politely. “I ah . . . I don’t have the time.”
“Well,” she said, under labored breaths, “if
somebody doesn’t take ‘im, he’s going to the pound to be gassed.
I gotta get home and get on my oxygen. I got the emphysema, you
know. This heat . . . ,” the woman wheezed again. Roger
smiled politely again and walked into the store. He had concluded
his shopping and was leaving when he saw the heavyset cat woman walking
toward the parking lot.
“Get rid of him?” Roger asked.
“Hell, no,” the woman said, “but I got to go, I
can’t breathe.” Roger looked into the box. The kitten was
cute and, quite frankly, Roger had both the room and the time for a
cat. What Roger also had were mice, lots of mice. A cat
would be a good thing one would think but Roger did not want his mice
killed. They were what are commonly referred to as lab rats, but
they were actually Canadian white mice. Roger had about a hundred
of them and he used them in a number of experiments in his lab.
He did not want a cat terminating months of his work prematurely just
because the feline was following its natural instincts. Roger’s
lab was in his home. It was his home, but, throwing caution to
the wind, he had taken the kitten. He’d named it ‘Yoda’.
Yoda, to date, had not killed a single mouse.
“Well, except that one time,” Roger said out loud as
he stroked the cat. “Yes you did.” He smiled. “You
killed the one that got out.” Roger opened the door of a strange
looking device. It looked very similar to an old style phone
booth, except it was air tight and there was an extremely large
transformer sitting on top of it. Yoda protested somewhat and
began to pace along the floor of the apparatus. Roger moved to a long
control panel. He flipped switches and made notes of gauges and
meters. He turned on audio and video equipment, his hands were a
blur of activity. Finally, one last switch was all he needed to
throw. “Yoda,” Roger spoke softly to the booth, “you’ll make
it. You’re not a mouse and you won’t run off like that damn
dog. You’ll be okay. I, ah . . . I promise.” Roger’s
hands trembled a bit. He took a deep breath and then quickly
flicked the switch. The booth lit up and Yoda disappeared.
Roger held his breath. A few feet from the
booth sat a wooden platform covered with carpeting. Roger watched
the platform. It was three feet high and four feet by four feet
on top. It was just a simple wooden box Roger had nailed together
and then glued carpet to, however, it served a purpose. Ten,
nine, eight, seven, Roger counted under his breath, three, two, one,
zero. No Yoda. Roger’s stomach sank. “Yoda,” he
whispered, “I’m sorry, boy.” Roger’s eyes dropped to the
console. Suddenly a flash of light appeared above the platform.
“Me . . . ow . . . ow.” The cat
appeared, giving Roger a start. The feline leaped from the
platform, landing on the lab floor. Roger approached his pet and
the big Norwegian Forest cat hissed, showing his formidable teeth.
“Easy, boy,” Roger spoke softly, trying to calm the
beast. “Come on, kitty,” he continued to approach the cat.
“I’m sorry big guy, but I needed you. I take care of you and now
you did me, us, a great favor.” Roger picked up his feline
companion. Yoda flexed his claws. “Easy buddy.” Suddenly
the cat appeared to recognize his master and calmed down
instantly. “There you go, boy. That’s my buddy,” Roger said
in a more relaxed tone. He had feared, for a moment, that
something had gone amiss, that in the transportation process Yoda had
been injured, damaged somehow, fried in the brain or something.
He breathed a sigh of relief as the cat relaxed in his embrace.
“Good boy, good boy,” Roger stroked the cat over and over, repeating
himself. “Well, ol’ boy,” Roger finally said, lifting the cat to
look into his eyes, “let’s get you looked at and make sure all is
okay. But first . . .” Roger set the cat on top of the
control panel and flicked off his video equipment. He then shut
down the transporter and the power supply. Yoda sat on top of the
control console, bathing himself with his long tongue. Roger
picked up the phone that sat on the desk adjacent to the control
panel. He dialed a familiar number. “Guess what!” Roger
blurted before the person on the other end even had a chance to say
“Rog, is that you? Roger?” The female voice said.
“Yeah, yeah,” Roger said, “it’s me and you aren’t going to believe this.”
“Believe what?” The voice said.
“I sent Yoda through,” Roger said nonchalantly.
There was a long pause and then the female voice finally asked, “Yoda, the cat?”
“Yes, Yoda my cat,” Roger said, irritated, “what other Yoda do you know?”
“And,” Roger replied, “he’s okay.”
Another long silence. “Roger, I thought . . .
well, I thought we agreed. Everyone at the office, I mean, well,
“Fuck Doctor Marshall!” Roger broke in. “I
built the damn machine and I send any fucking thing I want to
through. It, I mean, well . . . hon . . . I’m sorry. It’s
just that well, I’m excited and I thought . . . I . . . thought you
would be too.” Roger’s voice had calmed.
“Dear,” the female voice said softly, “sweetheart,
I’m very glad and I’m sorry. I just . . . well, you know
me. I worry. I ah . . .”
“I know, I know.” Roger said in a more jovial
tone. “I’m sorry for blowing up. It’s just well . . . I’m
tired and I was just glad that Yoda made it through okay. You
know what we need? A celebration. What do you say I take
you to dinner tonight?” Roger asked.
“Rog,” the woman’s voice replied, “it’s almost midnight.”
Roger looked down at his watch. “Oh,” he mused, “I’m sorry . . . ah . . . how about tomorrow night?”
“Tomorrow night is great.”
“Good,” Roger replied. “Good. Tomorrow night.”
“Roger,” the female voice said, “Rog, are you sure the cat is okay? Did you get it all on tape?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Roger replied, “I got it.”
“Well, great darling,” she replied.
“Great. Honey, I love you.” She hung up the phone.
Roger looked at the dead receiver.
“Ha, she loves me!” Roger blurted out to the
cat. Roger hung up the phone and picked up the feline. He
was examining the cat more thoroughly as the female voice he had just
talked to dialed the phone she had just hung up.
* * *
“The bastard did it,” she said, after the male voice said hello.
“Oh, really,” the male voice stated, flatly.
“Yes,” the female voice said, “he sent that damn cat of his through and apparently it worked fine.”
“Great,” the male voice mused. “Well, it’s time for phase two of our plan.”
“Thank God,” the female voice spat, “if I have to sleep with that prick one more time . . .”
“Whoa, whoa, Sweet Cheeks,” the male voice laughed,
“you will be well compensated and from now on you will only be bedded
by me. Bye, bye.” The male voice terminated the call.
The female hung up the phone.
* * *
“Who was that?” the beautiful young woman said as
she plopped down on the bed next to the man the female had just
“A bitch at work. A worthless bitch.” He
laughed as he cupped the young woman’s breast roughly in his left hand
and used her hair to pull her back onto the bed with his right.
“A little bitch, just like you,” he hissed, smiling. He forced
his mouth down onto the young woman’s and she squealed in delight.
* * *
The female caller slid in between sheets, thinking
gleefully of how surprised Roger would be in just a few days.
What she did not know was that at that very moment Roger was already
quite surprised. In his investigation he noted Yoda’s scrotum was
fine and healthy. The problem was that, before the
transportation, Yoda had no scrotum. Yoda had been cut, castrated.
* * *
The female voice belonged to Helen Richardson, and
the male voice was that of Dr. Winston Marshall. Both were
employed by the Department of Defense, however, both had their own
interests and their own agendas. Winston had suggested that Helen
keep a close eye on Roger and keep him posted on Roger’s progress with
the particle beam transporter. Helen, on the other hand, just
wanted Winston, his money, and a better life than what she could afford
at g.s. level 11 and never mind that Winston already had a wife.
Helen was willing to do whatever it took to get Roger to turn over the
secrets to his work. Winston was also willing to do whatever it
took, including killing Roger.
His methods and motives were neither known nor
sanctioned by the D.O.D. As a matter of fact, the D.O.D. actually
knew little of Roger’s work or progress. Dr. Marshall had known
early on that Roger was on to something. He had kept Roger’s
successes under his hat and turned in reports stating that, while
Roger’s work was very promising, it was in the theoretical stage only
and would take many months, if not years, to reach an applicatory
level. Roger was a nerd. He didn’t care about the fame or
fortune, he only cared about the research and the success of the
“And now,” Winston whispered to himself, as he lay
naked next to his pretty young assistant, “I will have it and I will
use it for my own designs.” Winston rose from the bed. The
hotel room was cheap, but it would serve him well. The young
assistant had rented the room and Winston had snuck in. “We have
to be careful,” he told the girl, “my wife, you know.” The truth
was Winston’s wife had long known of his illicit affairs, of which
there had been many. She had also long ago stopped caring.
Winston had been so stealthy for another reason. He showered,
dressed, and then removed a .38 special from his bag. He forced a
pillow down on top of the sleeping young lady’s head, she squirmed
slightly. He then placed the muzzle of the gun to the pillow and
pulled the trigger. The report was muffled but louder than
Winston had thought it would be. The girl’s dying body quivered
for a few seconds and then went limp, still. Winston moved to the
window and looked out. No movement. “Good,” he said out
loud. He removed the pillow. A neat hole had been drilled
through the back of the beautiful young head, but most of her face was
gone, taken when the bullet had exited. The air in the room was
filling with the smell of blood, urine, and feces. Winston
slipped the gun into his pocket and left the room, locking the door
behind him. He wasn’t too careful, he didn’t need to be.
Before morning he would have what he wanted and he would pin the murder
on someone else. “Roger,” he chuckled. But first he had to
go see Helen. He looked down at the .38 as he walked toward his
car, which he’d parked three blocks from the cheap motel. “Two more
times,” he smiled, “two more times.”
* * *
“Yoda, what the hell happened to you, boy?” Roger
mused, as he examined the cat. “You got your manhood back, aren’t
you the lucky one.” Roger stroked the cat as he reached for a
headset that hosted a number of magnifying glasses. He slipped
the apparatus on like a ball cap and flipped one of the medium range
magnifying lenses down over his right eye. “I know you’re not
going to like this, old boy,” Roger said, “but I’ve got to have a look
at this.” Roger examined Yoda’s nether regions. “No scars,
it’s as if . . .” Roger then spent the better part of two hours
examining a reassembled Yoda, the machine and the video tape. It
all seemed good.
“Yoda,” Roger smiled, “you appear to be the first
success. Well, there was the dog . . . ,” Roger had sent a lot of
things through the transporter. Spoons, forks, a belt, all sorts of
inanimate objects, they all moved through the transportation process
quite well. It was when he attempted to send a living thing
through that he had problems. He’d started with a plant, which
had gone through fine, but when he’d graduated to animals, well, let’s
just say, the results were not so good. He’d tried to send
through mice, lots of mice, about fifty. None had reappeared, not
one single mouse. The coordinates of the transporter were set to
only send the traveler a few feet from the booth to the carpeted
platform, but each time the mice had dematerialized in the booth and
never reappeared on the carpet. Roger had to assume one of two
things, either they had materialized somewhere else or they had been
vaporized in hyperspace, he was just not sure. The ‘living
factor’ as he had begun to term it, was puzzling. Why could
rings, keys, plants, anything but an animal, go through? Atoms
were atoms. But the mice, Roger had suspected the problem might
lie in the mice themselves, something about their genetic makeup.
It was then he’d found an old stray dog and sent it through. The
dog had made it. Roger’s theory seemed correct, but before he’d
had a chance to examine the dog, Helen had entered his lab. The
dog bolted through the open door into the alley and was gone.
Yoda became his only alternative.
Roger was looking again at the cat’s regenerated
area when the door opened. The sudden movement startled
Yoda. The big cat twisted in Roger’s grip, clawing his wrist in
the process. The scratch was deep and blood began to drip onto
the sleeve of Roger’s lab coat. “Damn cat,” he hissed as he
pulled off the magnifying harness. “Bad kitty!”
“Bad kitty is right,” a female voice said from
behind Roger, startling him. Helen and Dr. Marshall had entered
the lab without Roger knowing it. Entering like they did upset
Roger greatly, but what upset Roger worse was that the Doctor had a gun
pointed right at his chest. A bright flash erupted from the
barrel of the revolver and a deafening roar rocked the lab. Roger
felt a burning sensation in his chest and his knees went weak.
The last thing he remembered was Helen and Winston dragging him toward
the transporter, laughing. He knew one thing for sure, he was
dying and dying fast.
* * *
Roger awoke slowly. Where was he? What
had happened? He remembered . . . Yoda. Where was
Yoda? Dr. Marshall . . . Helen? They had shot him and
laughed while they shoved his dying body into the transporter.
Helen had betrayed him, but why? “She said she loved me,” Roger
“Ah, love,” a voice said. Roger flinched, a
bit startled. He was lying in a bed constructed of logs and big
sticks. The walls of the room were limestone, and the floor was
slate. A single open window was set back into the wall. The
room was furnished with the bed Roger was laying in, a very primitive
looking bed-side stand and a longer table that sat in the middle of the
room. At the table sat the man who had spoken. Roger rose
on one arm.
“You are awake,” the man observed. Roger’s
head had begun to clear. The man that sat at the simple wooden
table was not old, he was ancient. He wore a long dark blue
garment that ran from his neck to his ankles. The robe hosted a
giant, turned up collar. On his ancient head he wore a hat, made
of the same material, that fit loosely and tapered to a point. He
wore no shoes. A full white beard ran well past his waist and if
he had hair on his aged head it was tucked under the funny looking cap.
“Where am I?” Roger asked, as he sat up in the
bed. No pain, he thought. I should be in pain, I was just
shot in the chest. He looked down at himself. He wore a
long crisp white night shirt that was not his. He tore it open,
no hole, no scar. “How?” Roger gasped. “Who?”
“Questions, question, questions,” the old man
chuckled. “Who, what, when, where, and of course, the most
difficult, why? Who, first,” the old man said with laughing
eyes. “I am I, and you are you. What happened? I
don’t know, you were injured. When? Two weeks ago, well,
two weeks by your time. Where? At that primitive thing you
call a lab. And of course, why? Why, why, why, you people
always want to know why. Why? I do not know why. No
one knows why. Things happen, it’s not for you and me to know
why. Your science, if that is what you want to call those
primitive tinkerings you perform, always has to know the why. It
is, you know, where you, your people, skewed off. The why is
unimportant. Why does a seed grow? Why do birds fly
south? Why does moss grow on the north side of a tree? It’s
not important why. That’s not science. That, young man, is
your feeble attempt to try and explain the unexplainable because you
believe if you can explain it, you can control it, when in fact, to
control it, you can’t explain it. You have to accept it, accept
it without question. For example, why are you here? Why
doesn’t matter. You are here, that is enough.” Roger lay
back on the bed. The old man was right. Roger had spent
much of his life trying to find out why.
“Okay,” Roger said, as he sat up again, “who are you and where are we?”
“Now those are proper questions,” the old man said
showing a row of perfect white teeth. The teeth looked out
of place. “My name is Cedrick, well, it’s not my real name, but you
could not pronounce my real name. Where you are is, well, it’s
your lab, sort of. It’s hard to explain. You actually did
not go anywhere. You are still in your lab. You see . . .
,” the old man told Roger a long and wild tale. Cedrick had been
human many years ago or many years in the future, “depending on how you
look at it,” he chuckled. His civilization existed on a land mass
that was no longer on the globe, or would not be for many millennia to
come. Cedrick had been a scientist, of a sort. He, like
Roger, had chosen a life of pure research and had ultimately
sequestered himself far from his people, here, in this place.
“Speaking of which,” Roger asked, “where is this place? You said it was my lab.”
“It is,” Cedrick replied. “You see, you grow
up believing the world is this way and that way, but, in fact, it is
wonderfully different, with uncountable possibilities. Have you
ever been walking along and all of a sudden things looked
different?” Roger nodded. “But you look desperately for
something familiar. You force yourself back to that which you
know, that which is acceptable, that part of the realm where you know
the why. This place is outside the why.”
“Another dimension?” Roger questioned.
Cedrick laughed. “No, no, no, boy! You
are wrong headed! Look, imagine a large castle . . . a large
house, and you live in two rooms, but the house has thousands, tens of
thousands of rooms. Just because you haven’t been to those rooms
doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And just because you don’t know
how to get there . . . Look, you’re on earth, that’s all.”
“So, I got here through the particle beam transporter. It transported me here?”
“After a fashion,” Cedrick said. “Your toy,” he
chuckled, “allows you entry into this room of the big house. Son,
it’s not really a particle beam transporter. You opened a
door. I just sent it all back to you.” Cedrick’s eyes
“The mice?” Roger questioned.
“The mice. Wh- why?” Cedrick mocked.
“What happened to the mice?” Roger said, correcting himself.
“You are a quick learner. I eat them,” Cedrick
said, in a matter of fact manner, “whole and alive. Watch this,”
he said. He pointed to the table and, with a flash, a cat
appeared. It was Yoda.
“Yoda!” The cat arched it’s back as Cedrick
stroked it, then leaped off the table and jumped up on Roger’s
bed. Roger looked at the big cat’s scrotum as he picked it up.
“That’s a nasty business,” Cedrick said, knowing
what Roger was looking for. “I can’t believe you people do that,
cutting off something’s manhood.”
“That’s wh-” Roger started, and then corrected himself. “That is the reason you restored Yoda’s balls.”
“That and other reasons,” Cedrick replied.
“Now, watch,” Cedrick pointed at the table again. Another flash
of light and a dog appeared. He pointed again and, flash, it
disappeared. A spoon, a fork, gold, silver, a glass of water, a
rock from the moon -at least Cedrick said it was from the moon- a
snake, a set of keys. “You see, I can produce all I want and all
I need, except one thing, mice.”
“Wh- That is peculiar,” Roger mused. “I have 100's of them at my lab.”
“I know,” Cedrick smiled, “and I thank you for
it. You see, I need mice or rats to survive. I can get by,
but it’s hard. What prevents me from producing them, I don’t
know, but I can’t.” Roger lay back on the bed. He
remembered his wound.
“You healed me?” Roger asked. Cedrick
nodded. “Wh- I know, don’t ask why. How long have I
been gone? I mean, have I been gone from the lab two weeks like
“Well,” Cedrick began, “you’ve been here two weeks, but you can go back to the exact second you left.”
“Cedrick, can you transform and transport yourself?”
“Sure,” Cedrick chuckled, “but once again, why would I?”
Roger laughed out loud. “We don’t ask why,
Cedrick!” Roger laughed deeper. He had forgotten how to
laugh, the years in the lab had made him a recluse. “Tell you
what, you do something for me and I will do something for you.”
“Why would I do that?” Cedrick’s eyes lit up.
“Ah, no, no, no, Cedrick, we don’t ask why.”
* * *
A flash of light appeared above the small carpeted
stand. A split second later Roger appeared. Helen and
Winston were quite shocked. Not only was Roger apparently healed,
he was also oddly dressed. He wore a long blue robe with a
pointed hat. “Roger!” Helen gasped.
Winston raised the gun and pointed it at Roger’s
chest. He pulled the trigger, but instead of a deafening roar
there was only a crisp click. He squeezed again, click, click,
click. Winston lowered the gun. “What the . . . ?”
“Well, well, well,” Roger mused, as he stepped from the platform, “it’s been a long time.”
“What do you mean, a long time?” Helen spat.
“We shot you just a few minutes ago and now you’re fine, and where did
you get those silly clothes? You are-” Roger pointed his finger
at Helen. Suddenly she was gone and a white mouse appeared in her
place. It was a normal white mouse except that it was huge by
mice standards. But Roger didn’t want it too big, Cedrick
couldn’t swallow it.
“What the hell?!” Winston ejected. Roger
scooped the mouse up and placed her in a cage. He then set about
collecting all the other mice, placing them in groups of twenty or so
in large cages. Winston wanted to move, he wanted to kill Roger,
again, but all he could do was watch, held fast by some unseen
force. When Roger had finished stacking the cages onto the
platform he pointed at Winston and the strange power that had held the
doctor was lifted.
“Winston, old boy,” Roger began, “the young girl you
killed . . . ah, yes, I know about that.” Winston looked
shocked. The shock turned into horror as Roger continued.
“Anyway, the police know of it too. I have pinned a number of
other crimes on you as well. You will be tried, found guilty, and
publicly humiliated. And ah . . . well, I’ll check in on you from
time to time in your cold gray cell.” Winston could hear sirens
outside and car doors slamming in the alley.
“Police!” a voice yelled. “Open up!” A pounding sounded at the lab door.
“Gotta go, Winston,” Roger laughed. He raised his hand as if to snap his fingers.
“But why . . . why me?” Winston whined. Roger stopped in mid-movement.
“Never ask why, you silly man.” With that, Roger was gone.
E-mail: Ezra T. Gray
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