Originally published on 365Tomorrows.com on June 27, 2010.
The Great Doctor
In the world beyond tomorrow, Dr. Gregor Lustovicz would be remembered for his greatness, his ingenuity, his wit. There were things that the doctor would invent that were beyond the imaginations of the people of St. Rustof. They would wonder how they had never noticed him.
The great stacks will belch out their black, soot-laced smoke and in the belly of his laboratory the great doctor will work tirelessly. His work desk, his table, his floor will be littered with tools and scraps of metal and half-finished projects. In the center of the room – the very core of his operation – will be the greatest of his inventions.
One time, it will be a great, iron automaton, defending the countryside from the marauding army of the vile Duke Ivanovski. The people will be grateful (indebted beyond reparation) to the doctor's great invention and his genius.
The countryside around the town of St. Rustof is rich and fertile, and there is much to desire in its green pastures: the sheep that graze its fields are full and healthy, and the cloth that comes from the town is sought after. It is a quiet place, and the people enjoy their solitude. It is no small wonder that Dr. Lustovicz is a strange sight with his tall, lanky gait; his moustache moderne; his long, trim, street coat with trousers and leather loafers. The rustic cottages and glorified hovels would look strange alongside the looming brick and stone laboratory with its towering smoke stack and wide, metal doors.
Another time, the great center invention will be a ball made of pure brass, the size of a man's head, and inside with be a collection of fantastically-worked cogs and wheels and whirligigs that drive the contraption. Its purpose: to sit inside a ship and act as a balance, to give it stability, and make certain that it never sinks in a storm. The fishermen and admirals will want them in great quantities, and the great doctor will provide.
What really goes on behind the doors of the great doctor's lab? Why does he come out so infrequently? The rumors that abound about him would be quiet and harmless. He has done great things, they would say. Don’t bother him; don’t anger him. The people would be skeptical, but they would be proud to have him. He has done much for us.
One time, an unfortunate time, there would be a death. In the greatest of times, there is death. Inventors are great people, but they are not perfect – they are not god-like – and their mistakes can be costly, though the reward will be great. And when there is a death, the people will become enraged; they will question Doctor Lustovicz’s motives, his abilities, his greatness. His invention, while great, will be rejected.
The great doctor – Gregor Lustovicz – will be looked upon with fear. How can such a person craft such marvelous contraptions without some contract with the devil? What is the price that people have to pay for such greatness? Who has to die in order for such things to be successful?
They will force him from the town; they will burn his laboratory; they will delight at the sight and cheer. The great doctor will watch from afar and weep for his loss. Their fear was too great, and he sacrificed his work for his own life.
When they read of him in the papers – the newest communication marvel produced by the last great Lustovicz machine – they will nod resolutely about his institutionalization. It was no wonder. He was mad the whole time.