And so it came to pass that Dr. Roy Bradley called his best friend Dr. Mick Fuckface into Laboratory 18, the dangerous chemical facility in the heart of the classified military research centre where they both worked.

Mick had been bullied relentlessly at school, due to the fact that his name had been Ramsbottom. That was until, with uncharacteristic logic, he renamed himself Fuckface, and all bullying subsequently stopped in accordance with the 'escape through excess' rule.

Roy was standing over a workbench covered in dirty lab equipment. Beakers, tripods, bunsen burners, all lying discarded exactly where they had been used. The scientific detritus seemed to revolve around a thin collection of papers, being held in place by a beaker half-full of a mysterious yellowish liquid.

"Drink this," said Roy when he saw his friend enter.

"What?" asked Mick.

"I did it," said Roy in a monotone, slowly taking off his protective goggles. "I have created the Universal Elixir."

"The what?"

"Many years ago, my father discovered on the internet a formula for something called the Universal Elixir. A substance from which life, thought and the human soul derive. Apparently, the entire universe is surrounded by a gigantic halo of this stuff, frozen solid. He printed out the recipe, but he could never summon the courage to mix it up. But where he failed, I have succeeded." He held the beaker up to eye level. "I have created the Universal Elixir. The material which birthed all life."

"What're you going to do with it?"

"Experiment. I'm going to see what happens when a human being drinks it. I was thinking of you, actually."

"Me? Why can't you drink it?"

"'Cos I'm not stupid."

"Fair enough. But what would happen to me?"

"Elementary theory on the subject dictates that the drinker would experience an incredible feeling of omnicogisance. Their mind would be expanded to encompass all the knowledge in the collective mind of all life. In an instant, the subject would be everyone, every creature that swims and walks and flies and slithers, they would know every experience that has ever been experienced."

"Sounds like fun."

"But on the other hand, it is not known if the human mind has the capacity for such a thing. It could result in a sudden moment of ultimate clarity, then immediate death. So, have a sip and let's find out."

"Fuck you," said Mick matter-of-factly.

"I can understand your reluctance, my friend," continued Roy, "but please consider what I am offering you. You will be everyone, know everything. Your mind will simultaneously witness things that Einstein would have torn his eyes out to see. Is such a thing not worth the price?"

"I wouldn't think so."

"Well then, I'm just going to sit here until you do think so."

Roy lapsed into silence, frowning at the beaker in his hand, completely still. Mick stood and watched, fidgeting restlessly from foot to foot. This tableau continued for a long time.

It was during the sixth hour that the first rebellious thought extended its tendrils through Mick's innocent mind. It joined forces with his sense of scientific curiosity, and soon it was flashing in neon at the front of his hypothalamus for all to see. Why not? it said. Okay, maybe you'd die, but in that one brief moment you would experience more than anyone else does in a hundred years.

Sentient life has always been about the pursuit of higher truth, of understanding. It's what sets us apart from the animals. Here is your chance to know the answer to conundrums that have plagued mankind for millennia. So what if you die? If you knew all of this, there would no longer be any reason for you or anyone else to live.

By the time this mischievous thought had extended to every corner of his consciousness, Mick was staring boggle-eyed at the beaker held before him. A thin trickle of drool escaped his mouth and thumped noiselessly upon the workbench below. In one fluid movement he grabbed the glass, held it to his lips, and tossed the entire contents greedily down his throat.

For a moment, he stood completely still, waiting for the first fragments of knowledge to explode into being inside his head. A great fog of expectation filled him, bringing tears to his eyes and a joyful smile to his mouth. He had only a vague sense of the actions of Roy at this point.

"HAAAAAAAAAAAA!" screamed Roy, running down the corridor, waving his arms. "MICK JUST DRANK MY WEEEEEEEEE!"

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All material not otherwise credited by Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw
Copyright 2002-2004 All Rights Reserved so HANDS OFF, PIKEY