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by Richard K. Lyon

Late at night somebody broke into Sam Prior’s General Store, ate everything edible, and smashed everything else. A simple case of vandalism — I’m Sheriff of Mosquito Corners, Alaska — except that no human being could eat that much. And this unnaturally hungry individual left fingerprints behind, those of Charles Starkwell, a murderer who’d supposedly been executed in Texas.

Was somebody in the resurrection business? These days Texas executes a man’s brain rather than his whole body. Starkwell’s still-breathing body was taken by Apollo Research Corporation. Apollo’s major stockholder is a Professor Druckheimer, formerly of Stanford University and the newest resident of Mosquito Corners.

When he left the University, Druckheimer said he was quitting science because of the Animal Rights Act. Getting permission to do an experiment meant explaining to a committee why it was necessary, but if an experiment was so obvious that you could satisfy a committee, it was trivial.

Since Professor Druckheimer admitted to being a mad — or at least very annoyed — scientist, I suspected him; but before Apollo got Starkwell’s body, the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines, eyes, and just about everything else were taken out for use in transplants. If Lazarus had died in Texas, even Jesus might have had some trouble raising him.

In all this weirdness there was one clue that made sense. That night Sam had left a large box of fresh donuts open, the kind of thing a bear could smell from a considerable distance. To keep out the bears, Sam kept the store’s door closed at night but he didn’t lock them because someone might need to get away from the bears.

I got some fresh donuts and left them in one of my jail cells, the cell with an automatic door. Midway through the Late Late Show I heard something. Clicking the remote to slam the cell door, I switched my TV from cable to monitor. There, locked in the cell, was a big brown bear with human hands.

In hindsight it was all pretty obvious. Professor Druckheimer had invented a way to use animals as donors for organ transplants to humans. To demonstrate his invention he had to transplant human organs to animals, and to avoid interference from the Animal Right Activists he’d come to Mosquito Corners and grafted human hands onto a bear.

When, however, I arrested Professor Druckheimer for violating the Animal Rights Act, he protested, “But my experiment was perfectly legal. If you’ll look you’ll find there aren’t any scars between the hands and the front legs. I didn’t cut off the bear’s front paws and sew on hands. The scars are between the front legs and the shoulders, because I found a way to make transplanted organs adapt genetically to their host. Except for the hands, both of the arms I attached have become normal bear front legs.”

“Okay,” I said, “but you’re still under arrest for violating the Animal Rights Act.”

“Nonsense,” he replied, “under the Second Amendment I have a constitutional right to arm bears.”

Copyright © 2009 by Richard K. Lyon

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