A Message Of Apology From The Commander Of Undersea Envirodome 25-B Launch Project

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Originally published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

I know that our current situation is rather bleak, trapped in this EnviroDome miles beneath the sea without supplies and under constant attack by genetically-modified smart eels. When I became Commander, I took an oath pledging to protect the residents of EnviroDome 25-B, and truth be told, I realize now that perhaps I failed in that oath with several questionable judgment calls.

If I had it all to do over again, I would have killed the first cloned eel I made that was capable of performing lower-level mathematical functions. But I was intoxicated by the thrill of science, at last doing exciting, meaningful research. I worked my whole life to be a professor of biotechnology, but found myself first grading papers in an adjunct position at a third-tier college, then cataloging kelp in this EnviroDome. I don’t know how familiar many of you are with the field of biotechnology, but cataloging kelp is to biotechnology what airbrushing bald eagles on conversion vans is to abstract expressionism.

So once I created my first smart eel, I continued making more and more, until at last they became clever enough to trick my lab assistant Robert into taking them out of the smaller tank and putting them where they were one access code away from our water system and the sea outside. If poor young Robert’s girlfriend is still alive, I would like to offer her my sympathy and the not-entirely-insignificant consolation that his death at the hands of the smart eels was almost certainly quick.

Sidebar: I know not why the smart eels decided to take such a malicious stance. Neural biopsies aside, I treated them with nothing less than the utmost kindness. A puzzle, the brain.

Perhaps it was wrong of me to requisition most of the food for said experiments. I certainly thought there would be enough food for everyone and we would complete the experiments in half the time. As we all now know, that was not the case.

And I certainly did not make things any better by accusing then-Commander Lewis of gambling away the food I squandered. I panicked and did not want to draw ire. Truth be told, I doubt then-Commander Lewis would ever have bet all our rations in a high-stakes Texas Hold-Em match with other commanders, as I claimed. But by the time I was standing before all of you demanding he be shot out the airlock, well, it seemed too late to do anything at that point.

But afterward, what could I do but take his role as Commander? All of you seemed so intoxicated by my leadership in the airlock lynching of Commander Lewis that I would have been letting all of you down if I refused. I couldn’t look all of you in the eye and tell you that I’m merely an Adjunct Professor of Biotechnology. Besides, in your hunger-wracked hysteria, many of you also began to regard me as a mid-level religious figure. To be fair, that is largely due to a misrepresentation on my part. So I took the oath in then-Commander Lewis’ bloody quarters, the oath I’ve so terribly violated today by allowing us to starve and be held hostage by genetically modified smart eels.

One could say that perhaps the thrill of acting as God with the eels is what drove me to convince you in a time of crisis that I was not merely a man, but a divine leader. It was certainly exploitive and wrong of me as I am no prophet and have not even attended church in fifteen plus years. Looking at this whole situation, I wonder if this is how Oppenheimer felt. But of course, while we both unleashed great scientific evil on the world, to my knowledge Oppenheimer never claimed to have direct communication with Abraham and probably never took an undersea harem.

Of course I know that one thing a commander and/or prophet should not do is encourage cannibalism before it is absolutely necessary. All of you wanted answers: what do we do now that the supplies are out? How are we to live? Well, I made a snap judgment and told you to eat the weak. Perhaps if I had taken a moment, I would have realized the proper thing to do would be to share the plentiful reserves of food still being used for my experiments and avoid a shameful and horrific descent into mankind’s final taboo.

So I stand before you, not as a commander, demagogue, or mid-level prophet, but merely as an Adjunct Professor of Biotechnology at Nebraska State Technical College–Stromsburg Campus. I wish I knew how to correct our course, but half our party has been eaten by the other half and the eels appear to be learning how to use basic welding tools found from scuttled undersea wrecks. Perhaps with more certainty than many in history, I can say that hindsight is indeed 20/20. If I had it all to do over again, I would certainly have made better decisions, but who among us wouldn’t?