Louis absent-mindedly twirled a pen, a shade of anodized blue the color of a summer sky, and stared at the plaque on the wall featuring an image of a scientist holding a kitten. Amazing to think that the Kilometer Cat was once that small.
A door opened and Herbert Swisher came out, dressed in a lab coat.
Louis adjusted his tie, grabbed his briefcase, and offered his hand.
"You must be Mr. Swisher," Louis said, shaking the man's hand.
"Dr. Swisher, actually."
Louis glanced down at his clipboard. "It says here that you never have never earned a doctorate," Louis said.
"I received an honorary doctorate in life science from the University of Lourdberg."
"Correct. I said that you have never earned one."
Mr. Swisher regarded Louis severely. "Yes, well, I'm a busy man and I don't have much time for you today. Let's get this over with quickly."
Mr. Swisher led the way into a sprawling office. A desk occupied one corner of the room, with a small chair in front. Mr. Swisher sat in his chair and rocked backwards in it, gesturing into the cheap, hard chair in front of his desk.
"I prefer to remain standing," Louis said. He opened up his briefcase and handed Mr. Swisher a sheaf of paper.
"As you know, I am the Public Scrutinizer from the governor's office. I am here to get information related to your so-called Kilometer Cat and your facility."
"What about Rodney?" Mr. Swisher asked.
"Do you know, Mr. Swisher, that the daily deliveries of meat to your facility has caused an estimated six million dollars of damage to the municipal roads?"
"I did not."
"And that the water table in this region of the state has dropped to the point where water rationing has been enacted?"
"I did not."
"And did you know that the nearby housing developments have filed multiple complaints with the state over the, and I qoute, 'heart-breaking stench' which emanates from your facility?"
"I did not."
"You must be either a dullard or a liar, Mr. Swisher," Louis said, "because you have been informed of each of these charges several times, and you have demonstrated a systematic disregard for the governor's office. That is why I have been sent."
"Why don't they arrest me? Why do they send a sniveling shell of a man to leer at me?"
"Because, Mr. Swisher, it doesn't look good for a governor to shut down a science facility, and we must be absolutely certain that your facility conducts no research of significance. We have been assured that is the case by several former employees but the governor's office needs expert scrutiny."
"Interesting. So they sent you?"
"Indeed, Mr. Swisher."
Louis heard a thud in the walls and saw that Mr. Swisher had pressed a button on a small panel atop his desk. Then the office cut away from around him as he slipped into a secret panel in the floor that had just opened. He slid down a metal chute in pitch blackness, until he landed in a cage in a dimly-lit cave.
A hidden loudspeaker blared. "Mr. Public Scrutinizer, please don't assume that I'm somehow stupid. My research is important and will continue. And in your own way, you shall assist me!"
The stench was awful. He gagged. Removing his suit jacket, he tore off a sleeve and tied it as a crude mask around his face.
He heard a loud gurgle, but he couldn't see anything beyond the light cast from a bare bulb hanging above him. The bars of the cage receded into the ground. He shivered.
A gurgle issued from the blackness, like a growling stomach.
Suddenly, the chamber was flooded with light. He stood in a long, wide chamber with walls of roughly-hewn rock. It looked like a mine. Towards one end was a cat that was a kilometer long, tremendously fat and which shuffled towards him while wheezing pathetically. The Kilometer Cat!
"Rodney," Louis breathed, able to the read the cat's collar, the size of a billboard, even at a distance.
The cat fell asleep for a moment and its breathing became even shallower, then it seemed to remember what it was up to, woke up, and let out a meow.
Louis crept closer to Rodney. The cat didn't seem to be able to move very fast. Perhaps he was supposed to starve to death and the cat would eat his corpse. He walked along the walls until he found a small utility door. Locked. He checked his pockets for the blue anodized pen. There it was! He pointed it at the door and clicked the pen. A thin line of blue light lanced from his pen to the door. With a shriek from the hinges the door shrank to a size no bigger than a plate and crashed to the ground. He about to ascend the stairs beyond when he looked at the cat. He couldn't leave it here.
The shrink-pen was issued to all employees of the governor for shrinking text on printed material. Although it wasn't officially sanctioned or supported by the technical team, most of the Public Scrutinizers also used them on inanimate objects. None of them had ever tried it on a living organism before.
Getting as close as he dared to the Kilometer Cat, he pressed a button on the pen. A blue ray shot out of the end and hit the cat.
With a long, loud, shuddering noise like all of the air being let out of a balloon, the cat began to shrink. Soon it was the normal size of a housecat. It meowed at him, and leapt onto his pants. Louis arranged the cat on his shoulder, collected his briefcase and set out up the stairs.
Now to deal with Mr. Swisher himself. Louis carried his Public Scrutinizer badge before him like a standard. Mr. Swisher had no employees who were loyal enough to stand in Louis' way - most of them even helped him find his way.
Louis stood in the waiting room outside of Mr. Swisher's office. He glanced from the Rodney in his arms to the Rodney in the plaque and nodded. He set the cat and his briefcase down upon a chair, and pulled out a red pen and a clipboard. He stepped into Mr. Swisher's office.
Mr. Swisher glanced up from some paperwork with a bored look on his face that erupted into pure rage. With a choked yell he pulled a revolver from his desk and aimed at Louis. Louis pressed the button on his pen and a bright red bolt hit the clipboard, which grew into a huge metal shield. Mr. Swisher fired but the shield easily stopped the bullets.
Louis advanced while safe behind the shield and plucked the revolver from Mr. Swisher's hands, his jaw hanging open.
"You attempted to duplicate results, Mr. Swisher, and that is not what I call research of significance. Your lab is hereby shut down. You assbag."
The Moral: before you embark on any research project, make sure that it hasn't already been developed and miniaturized into a set of really nifty pens.