Catalyst Of Chaos by John Lavernoich

Inspired by the 1953 Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon Punch Trunk directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese

With deep respect for the creations of Sid and Marty Kroft

Much has been said about the African bull elephant who secretly boarded a cargo vessel that sailed across the ocean to America and caused a lot of chaos and confusion not long after arriving – the same elephant that was the size of a mouse. In reality, elephants were not born the size of mice – or for that matter, the insects that roamed the earth. The people who saw the mouse-sized elephant were already aware of that fact, even as they questioned their own sanity.

But there was a reason why the elephant in question was the size of a rodent – but the world would never learn that particular explanation, and with good reason. And it is here that our story begins.

A week ago: The African jungle was a dangerous place to be – where nature in nearly every form could strike at any given time, without warning and mercy. Only the brave and courageous who entered the jungle knew of what they might face at any given moment – and were prepared just in case they faced the dangers that were unavoidable, and a fact of life in this corner of the world.

On this hot and sunny morning, in a nearby lake, a full-sized male bull elephant was cooling itself off with water that was both pure and clean. The elephant's mood was a combination of bliss and content, while unconcerned about the problems that the outside world faced on a daily basis. It was a mood that wouldn't last forever.

Two feet away, hidden in the bushes, an elderly Caucasian man watched the elephant relaxing in the lake. The man was in his mid-seventies, with gray-colored hair and a beard – he wore a white-colored short-sleeved collared shirt, a pair of tan-colored cargo pants, a black-colored ascot scarf around his neck, and a pair of brown-colored leather boots that reached up near his knees. The elderly man had a good reason for being in the jungle – and while he didn't carry any automatic weapons, he did view the elephant as a target, but not the kind viewed by those visitors who once came to Africa to hunt wild game.

Within seconds, the elderly man reached into the front right pocket of his pants and removed what seemed to be a penlight flashlight, a device that one hardly used in the daytime unless he or she was in a dark building. Soon, the elderly man pointed the device's light beam directly at the unsuspecting elephant, as if he was about to eliminate his target. The elderly man pushed a button on the device, which soon fired a powerful beam directly at the elephant, hitting it within seconds. The beam didn't kill the elephant – instead, it shrunk it down to the size of a mouse. As a result of what happened to it, the elephant's mood became a combination of panic and confusion – within seconds, the elephant scurried out of the lake and headed into the jungle. It would be several days before the elephant, who had temporarily lost control of its senses, reached civilization near one of the continent's coastal cities and boarded the cargo vessel that would eventually take it to America, where the now-mouse-sized creature would cause nothing but chaos. What happened to the elephant was of no concern to the elderly man who was responsible for shrinking him down to the size of a rodent.

"It works," said the elderly man in a raspy voice, "My invention works! And thanks to it, I'll be a rich man – one step towards realizing the greatest dream of my life!" But the elderly man would never realize his personal ambitions, mainly because he was unaware that someone – or something – was sneaking up on him.

Within seconds, a Beretta 92FS pistol clubbed the elderly man in the back of his neck, rendering him unconscious as he fell face down on the jungle ground, his right hand still holding on to its invention. Soon, emerging from the bushes was Silas Coltrane, a tall and muscular British criminal who was on the run from the law, and the man who kayoed the elderly man with his pistol – Coltrane, who was in his mid-thirties, and had blond hair, wore a blue-colored short-sleeved collared shirt, a pair of faded blue-colored jeans, and a pair of brown-colored work boots.

Coltrane knelt on the jungle ground long enough to remove the elderly man's invention from his right hand. The invention was now in the palm of Coltrane's right hand, as he looked at it for a few minutes – while greedy and sadistic thoughts were forming in his mind. Coltrane wasn't present when the elderly man used his mini-shrinking ray on the elephant – but he was in the area when he heard that the elderly man's invention would make him rich, which is why he knocked him out cold.

"I don't know how your little gadget works," said Coltrane, "But I'm sure I'll figure it out sooner or later. One thing's for sure – you won't be needing it at all, and especially after I get rid of your corpse." Coltrane thought that the elderly man was already dead – when in truth, he was still alive. But just barely.

Within seconds, Coltrane put the mini-shrinking ray in the front left pocket of his shirt and his pistol in the front left pocket of his jeans before picking up the elderly man and carried him on his right shoulder. Soon, both men disappeared into the jungle forest.

Several minutes later: Coltrane, carrying the elderly man, approached a nearby river. Seconds later, Coltrane threw the elderly man into the river, as it floated downwards – where he ended up was of no concern to Coltrane. "Have a nice swim, chump," yelled Coltrane, as he laughed mockingly, before he headed back into the jungle forest.

Within minutes, the elderly man's unconscious body, already floating on the river surface, reached a steep cliff that served as an impressive – and in most cases, dangerous – waterfall, as water from the river fell downwards at a rapid pace and into a stream nine feet below. Soon, the elderly man's body fell downward, as it headed for a group of large rocks that rested on the shallow floor of the stream – within seconds, the elderly man hit the rocks on impact, thus killing him instantly.

The elderly man now rested on the very rocks that played a role in his unexpected death – his dreams shattered beyond repair, just like his body. It would be a hour before a pair of black teen-age boys who belonged to a local tribe approached the stream and found the elderly man's corpse – almost a hour after that, the deceased was delivered to the local police; a half-hour after that, his body ended up in the local morgue. The deceased was never identified, neither by the police or the coroner who performed the autopsy on him – mainly because he was a cypher in this part of the world.

And yet, the elderly man did have an identity – only the world paid little attention to him during his lifetime. His name was Dr. Shrinker, the criminal scientist who lived up to his name, by creating a ray that could shrink anybody – and anything – down to six inches tall, then sell it to a corrupt authoritarian country that would use it for its sinister purposes. The money that Dr. Shrinker would have gotten from the rogue country would have gone towards building more shrinking rays that would have been sold to other authoritarian countries – with them eventually conquering every free democracy worldwide, including the United States and Great Britain.

But as the decades wore on, the super-criminal cartel that secretly funded Dr. Shrinker's scientific experiments was dismantled by many of the world's law enforcement agencies. Luckily, Dr. Shrinker had several secret bank accounts that were scattered throughout Europe and Asia that helped to sustain him financially and totaled $900 million, which he used to continue his secret criminal experiments. However, nothing lasts forever – including financial fortunes. In the past few years, Dr. Shrinker used the last of his money to build the mini-shrinking ray that he used on the bull elephant a little while ago, hoping to revive his criminal reputation – while oblivious to the fact that many of the rogue countries who might have benefited from his inventions not only ignored him, but also fell apart as a result of its dictatorships being overthrown by those who saw the ugly truth behind the facade.

Only several days after his death, Dr. Shrinker was buried in an unmarked grave – a man who sought power and wealth, whose life was snuffed out by another who also had the same aspirations, but whose soul proved to be more murderous and ugly than that of his victim. Nobody would mourn Dr. Shrinker's death – not only because the world paid little attention to him, but also the fact that he threatened its very existence. Dr. Shrinker died a small man, a victim of the delusions that defined – and ultimately doomed him.

Postscript: Silas Coltrane never got a chance to examine and use Dr. Shrinker's final invention – mainly because he never got out of the African jungle alive. Only two hours after he got rid of Dr. Shrinker, Coltrane came across an African black panther who saw him as an intruder – within seconds, Coltrane fired his Beretta 92FS pistol at the panther several times, missing him. The panther, further angered by Coltrane firing his pistol at him, ran after the now-panicked criminal, and as he headed further into the jungle forest. Several minutes later, Coltrane tripped on a small rock and fell into a quicksand bog. Not long after that, Coltrane, still panic-stricken, drowned in the quicksand bog – with Dr. Shrinker's mini-shrinking ray still in his front shirt pocket; the quicksand would end up damaging the mini-shrinking ray's mechanisms, making it totally useless. And perhaps it was for the best, given what might have happened to the world, had not both Dr. Shrinker and Coltrane died.

And the bull elephant that was shrunk down to mouse-size by Dr. Shrinker's mini-shrinking ray? Only forty-eight hours after he arrived in the United States, the elephant was walking on the grass in New York City's Central Park when the effects of Dr. Shrinker's mini-shrinking ray wore off – within seconds, the elephant reverted to its normal size, resulting in mixed reactions from those human park visitors who witnessed it. A half-hour later, both New York City policemen and animal control officers managed to capture the bull elephant – and with the aid of some of the Central Park Zoo's veterinarians, placed the elephant in the zoo's hospital so that the veterinarians could give it a thorough physical examination; several days later, the elephant was transported to his very own cage at the Bronx Zoo.

The tourists visiting the Bronx Zoo to see the bull elephant that mysteriously appeared in Central Park – including those from other parts of the world – would never learn the full story of that mysterious occurrence. And perhaps it was better this way. Even in an already-troubled world like ours, there were some mysteries that were never meant to be solved. And with that comes another lesson, one that men like Dr. Shrinker and Silas Coltrane failed to learn during their lifetimes, and which brought about their unexpected deaths: nobody – and absolutely nobody – has the right to play God, now and forever.

Dedicated to the memory of Dick Giordano.