Mark Budman

The Amazing Adventures of Macro-Microbe

Macro-Microbe parked his car and proceeded on foot, which was a misnomer because he had no feet. Typical for Manhattan, no one gave him a second glance except for a homeless woman who tried to sell him hand sanitizer.

“I’m here for a job interview with Mr. Smith,” Macro-Microbe told the receptionist once he entered the building of NextDrug Corporation. He didn’t face her because he had no face. She didn’t face him because she didn’t care.

“Good morning,” Macro-Microbe said upon entering Mr. Smith’s office. “Sorry I can’t shake your hand.”

“Because you have no hands,” Mr. Smith said pleasantly. “Not to worry. We don’t discriminate against the handicapped.”

He had the beady eyes of a rat well versed in the labyrinths of corporate politics, and Macro-Micro liked him instantly. But not enough to ruin his plan.

Mr. Smith pulled out Macro-Microbe’s résumé. “I just noticed that your name is hyphenated. Are you foreign-born? Do you have the right to work in the U.S.?”

“I was born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey,” Macro-Microbe said.

“Sure,” Mr. Smith said. “Sure. Let me introduce you to Dr. Novitsky, the head of the antibiotic lab. Should we hire you, she would be your boss.”

“What do you think?” Mr. Smith asked Dr. Novitsky three hours later after Macro-Microbe had departed.

Dr. Novitsky smoothed her skirt. “He seems well-qualified. A Ph.D. from Harvard. Fieldwork at McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King. Well-cultured. Pretty smart for someone who has no brain and pretty handsome for someone who has no eyes. And he’s so funny.”

Mr. Smith sighed. “Let’s see if he passes the drug test.”

A month later, Macro-Microbe and Dr. Novitsky, his new boss, shared a table at La Banlieue.

Piano music, perfume and the aroma of expensive cuisine laced with very few bacilli filled the air.

“I feel so safe with you in this crazy city,” she said, placing her hand on his flagellum.

He finished the last drop of his chicken bouillon and chuckled. “A knight in shining armor is nothing to sneeze at.”

She laughed but then turned serious. “I adore you. Let’s go to my place.”

“I’d love to,” he said. “Nothing toxic to be released. I promise.”

“Then I won’t feed give you any PermaCillin. This antibiotic is very promising, by the way.”

The next day, two men in black suits entered the lab.

“Mr. Macro-Microbe?” the taller one asked.

“This is he,” Macro-Microbe said, turning away from the microscope. “What can I do for you, gentlemen?”

“FBI. You are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent.”

“What’s going on?” Dr. Novitsky cried. “Macro! Darling! Don’t hurt him!”

“Oh, shit,” the other man said. “How am I going to handcuff him?”

Two hours later, Macro-Microbe sat on the bench in a cell, which was a misnomer because he had no buttocks. His universe was collapsing all over him, compressing to the point of a hypodermic needle, and he was still far from his goal.

The bench creaked, and he saw a gorilla dressed in tattered jeans and a shirt, unbuttoned all the way down to his navel, sitting next to him.

“What are you here for, butch?” the gorilla said.

“Industrial sabotage,” Macro-Microbe said.

“What the hell is ‘industrial sabotage’, sweetie?” The gorilla placed his paw on Micro-Microbe’s flagellum.

Macro-Microbe felt a wave of toxins rising inside him, but at that very moment a cop came and took him away. In the next room, Dr. Novitsky was waiting behind the glass wall.

“Tell me that you’re innocent, Macro, and I’d believe you,” she said through the receiver.

“Your PermaCillin would exterminate my race,” he said after a pause. “What choice did I have?”

Without waiting for the answer, he returned to his cell, straight and proud, ready for anything that the human race had at its disposal. And he remained straight and proud until his dying day, which came swiftly. While he was sleeping, his cellmate cut his outer membrane with a razor, splashing his cytoplasm all over the walls.

They buried Macro-Microbe in an unmarked grave. Soon tall grass grew on it, and drug-resistant bacteria frolicked on the blades, waiting for passersby. They had all the time in the world on their hands, naturally, which was a misnomer because they had no hands.

Mark Budman

Mark’s fiction appeared in Huffington Post, World Literature Today, Mississippi Review, Virginia Quarterly, The London Magazine, McSweeney's, Sonora Review, Another Chicago, Southeast Review, Mid-American Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere. He’s the publisher of a flash fiction magazine Vestal Review and the author of My Life at First Try.