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The Madame Curie Look-A-Like Contest and Other Failed Diversions

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Edible Olympics

It was a dismal flop, which was a bad way to start the term. Chris looked down at the pathetic sight of what should have been a glorious triumph and heaved a most dramatic sigh.

"Ick!" he called. "Ick! This is not what I asked for!"

"You said you wanted the pool to be full of Jell-O," Ick pointed out.

"Yes, but I meant lime. This is... Not lime."

Chris crouched down and prodded the gelatinous surface. It jiggled. Which was pretty cool and all, but the fact remained that it was lemon-flavored and looked like something decidedly not delicious. Not that it tasted bad. He scooped up a little and popped it in his mouth. No, it was perfectly good. It was just so very yellow.

"Well you should have told me," Ick said somewhat peevishly. "I couldn't buy that much Jell-O so it's my own design."

Chris froze, Ick-designed not-Jell-O still in his mouth unswallowed.

"It's not poisonous," Ick assured him. "But I couldn't get the red flavor to taste right and the orange never solidified. The lemon worked, so..." He trailed off and really looked at the swimming pool. It was Olympic sized. With a diving pool attached. Every cubic centimeter full of yellow gelatin.

"Ick," Chris said after swallowing and going back for some more. "Ick, we need to do something a lot better. No one is going to want to have swim laps or have a pool party in this. And besides, it was a ridiculous idea anyhow. We'd have had to throw Kent in and that's just no good. We need to go bigger."

"Bigger," Ick said, nodding. "Yeah, okay. Bigger. Will you need me for that?"

"Maybe. I don't know. I'll tell you. Listen, who do you know in the AV crew?"


John Elliot Smith

"Did you do that problem set from Professor Gallagher?" Milton asked.

Fenton nodded. "Yeah. But the lab from Physics II needs typing up."

Milton sighed and dug through the trunk full of books and notebooks and papers. Lab data in hand, he went to work on the report. "You know, this isn't even our prank," he pointed out to Fenton. "It's Chris Knight's. Why can't he do it himself?"

"Because this way it's harder to track this stuff to any one person," Fenton explained. "Least, that's what he told me. All we have to do is get this guy through the semester."

"Yeah, a guy who doesn't exist. This is twice the work, Fenton! I was already stressed!"

Fenton sighed the exaggerated and over-patient sigh of a math major rooming with a computer scientist who should have known better. "It's not twice the work, Milton. It's half again as much work. That's not nearly so bad."

Milton glared at him. "It's still Knight's prank. Why's he want to get an imaginary friend through a semester here anyhow?"

"Because I thought it would be amusing to see you two do it?" Chris suggested from the doorway of their room. "So gullible. Are you sure you guys didn't sneak into this school?"


The Madame Curie Look-A-Like Contest

Things were not looking good. Chris flopped forward over the table and groaned. Things were really not looking good. And after they'd gone to all the trouble of decorating the auditorium with astronomically accurate constellations of glow-in-the-dark stars and Ick had mixed up a batch of something that he promised wasn't radium but which glowed brightly all the same.

"This stuff washes off, right?" Milton asked from the end of the table.

"Course it does," Ick assured him. "Just don't use any soap. And keep it away from an open flame."

Everyone at the table turned to look at Ick. He shrugged. "You just said it couldn't be toxic with skin contact! You didn't say non-flammable and non-reactive! You can't have everything on short notice!"

Apparently Ick was right. As of five minutes prior to the big Radium Runway they still had no entrants in the contest. They had an audience, but no contestants. That didn't bode well.

"Maybe we should have been broader," Jordan suggested. "Any Nobel winner? Or maybe just the chemists? Or we could have allowed Pierre?"

Chris shook his head. "No. Marie Curie was the only logical choice. If no one enters, I'm going to have hysterics."

"Chris! Chris!" Cornell came running up the aisle. "We've got one!"

Everyone at the judging table scrambled to their feet and hurried backstage. A student stood there, dressed in a high-necked dress and a grey wig. He waved at them. "Am I late?"

Thanks to Chris' promise of something even better the following week, a fight with Ick's glow goop and Jordan's set of miniature musical Tesla coils, it wasn't a complete flop. They brought out their one and only contestant and had him walk the runway before being crowned Miss Madame Curie. But when the lights went out thanks to someone over in the physics labs (Chris blamed Kent) they realized they had to disqualify their only choice.

"Sorry," Chris told the dejected freshman, who really did bear a striking and honestly somewhat eerie resemblance to Marie Curie. "But you can't be Miss Madame Curie if you don't glow. Try again next year, okay? Or come up with an entry for the mutant hamster races next week."



Jordan had been talking nonstop since she'd arrived. Chris nodded every few minutes to let her know he was listening. And he was listening, but he was also watching Professor Linden, who, every semester, tried to instill a love of poetry in a student body mostly comprised of cold, hard scientists. The man really needed to find a new job.

"Get it?" Jordan asked, grinning at Chris. He looked at her.

"Yeah, definitely. Let's do it." Not that he'd heard absolutely everything she'd said, but he knew where she'd been going with it. If he listened to her intently he got exhausted.

Two days later they had trenches dug around the basement of the Humanities building. They only got one since well, this was Pacific Tech. What did they need Humanities for? The English department was in the basement, which made them the perfect target.

"I always thought this would work," Jordan said as she dug, hard hat slipping down on her forehead. "But I never had a chance to try it. I mean, I could have done this myself but it goes faster with three and you're better at faking being part of the grounds crew than I am so I never bothered and besides I needed to figure out the resonant frequencies for the building and that took some time since we don't want to shake it to pieces or anything we just want it to wibble. That's what we want, right?"

Chris nodded. "Yup. Wibbly like Jell-O."

Ick, digging further down glanced at him and rolled his eyes.

Three days later, with the enormous speakers they'd liberated from the AV department buried down against the Humanities building's foundation, Chris, Jordan and Ick watched as they played a cassette of ghostly wailing and moaning. First, Professor Linden opened his basement window and looked out. An hour later one of the history professors upstairs let his class out early. By the end of the day the whole building had been emptied and campus security had been called.

Chris shoved a handful of popcorn into his mouth and put in a new haunted house sound effects cassette. He waited a moment, then turned it on. They could hear the creaking and groaning all the way from the dorm while they watched with binoculars and telescopes.

"Chris?" Ick said after a moment. "Chris, I'm pretty sure that's not 'wibbling like Jell-O' anymore."

Chris leaned forward to look through his telescope. The building definitely wasn't wibbling. It was vibrating. If he looked carefully he could see the glass in the windows shaking.

"Jordan?" he asked, calm and collected, as if the Humanities building wasn't in danger of imminent collapse. "I thought you calculated for this."

Jordan looked, then dove for the stereo it was all hooked up to. "You didn't give me this cassette!"

She got it off and out just in time and the three of them sat back and looked at the equipment.

"We should probably pack all of this up before we leave for break," Chris suggested. "And Ick?"

Ick looked over at him. "Yeah?"

"Think you can make me some ice? I'm thinking we should have a Winter Carnival in the dorm next term."