The Canapia Replicator, designed by Dr. Hughmar Emerson Blinklotz, was a contraption of two chambers. In the first chamber was the subject, and in the second chamber, the empty one, was, as Dr. Blinklotz liked to put it, the object. It was a versatile machine, and the fact that brother Anopheles, its very first subject, was an alien, did not at all create trouble for it.
The fact that he had purchased a set of false teeth from a dollar store and was wearing them at the time of the first run, however, did create trouble. The replicator for some reason produced not one perfect set of false teeth, but twenty-six . . . all inside of the object’s head.
From outside it looked satisfactory at first, from what they could tell by looking through the milky glass. A shape formed, grew, and then remained—“It’s in replica,” Dr. Blinklotz explained.
“50% . . . 65% . . . 75% . . . ” Dr. Vaina kept saying. And then they noticed that the milky walls of the object compartment were all splattered with blood and brains.
“Oh dear,” said Dr. Blinklotz, blinking.
“What is this?” Yumar Canapia shouted, and Grimmshaw stepped toward Dr. Vaina, menacing.
“I’ll just run some diagnostics . . . ” Dr. Vaina said.
“You’ll just explain to me exactly what went wrong,” said Canapia.
Trapped but alert, the Criten watched. He had a good view of the contraption, probably because he was one of the first in line. He realized that time was not on his side. He saw Dr. Vaina put on rubber gloves and carefully open the door to the object chamber. A hideous figure clothed in burlap and with an exploded head reclined in the seat. The Criten also noticed all the sets of false teeth.
Dr. Vaina picked one of the sets up and examined it. “Looks like false teeth, Dr. Blinklotz.”
“Why does the subject have so many sets?” Blinklotz asked, “and how does he keep them in his head?”
They opened the subject chamber. Brother Anopheles had fallen asleep with his mouth hanging open, as he started awake, his false teeth fell out and Dr. Vaina neatly caught them.
“What is this?” Canapia said.
“Uh, we have a slight—” Dr. Blinklotz began, and he turned on his assistant “Vaina! Did you calibrate the machine properly?”
“They’re a really cheap set, sir. Look at this stuff.” He showed the false teeth. Brother Anopheles was rather embarrassed to have his cheap false teeth exposed in this way. They looked at him in disgust.
“I’d say the machine is working fine,” Dr. Vaina said. “How can it be expected to process this?”
“Uh,” brother Anopheles mumbled, “can I have them back?”
He was told sternly to leave the subject compartment, and the cleaning crew was called in.