(A short story inspired by Don Quixote, the famous work we learned in World Literature.)
Donny, a college student who was obsessed with chemistry, found it interesting to synthesize some new materials for pragmatic functions. However, he had always dreamed of being immortal in order to enjoy the fun from scientific explorations as well as his favorite Chinese literature. To get help, Donny told this idea to one of his friends called Bubbles. “Donny, are you crazy? There is nothing for people to get immortality. Remember what we just learned from the Epic of Gilgamesh?”
“Calm down, Bubbles.” said Donny, “You see, I am just like the wizards, creating a lot of fun stuffs for good use. If you help me with this, you will receive a big prize!”
“Well, what prize?”
“I will get you all the chemistry essays done. You know, those prompts are so easy for me that I just have to take several moments to finish them. By the way, you have to be an enchantress and treat me as a Taoist alchemist.”
Bubbles meditated for a while, “These essays are really distressing and I am even hard to keep up my schedule. Wow, it is kind of supernatural aid! So, deal.”
“All right. Let’s go to the mine for those metals.” said Donny. “Wait, where is the mine?” asked Bubbles. “It’s very close to us, and I will take you there.” They went out of the classrooms and sneaked into another building where the metals were presented.
Bubbles was stumbled. “Wait, you said this is a mine, but it’s just a laboratory of metallurgy.” Donny felt surprised, “Don’t you know that a Taoist is always going anywhere searching for something?” As they approached the reagent storage, Donny saw a material labeled “Hg” and picked up. “Hold on, you should know that mercury is extremely toxic.” Bubbles was shocked by Donny’s stupid action. At the same time, Donny picked up another heavy metal named “Pb” and said “Set a thief to catch a thief, this is what Chinese intellectuals tell us to do when it comes to medicine.”
After the expedition, Donny led Bubbles back to their building and went to the organic laboratory, where he created a lot of materials for his reputed successful research projects. “Now, inside the temple, I am going to grab some herbs and make these things into a pill of immortality.”
Bubbles was still obfuscated, but she began trying to appease Donny. “Yeah, this temple is filled with fairy’s blessing. Let’s get the pill started.” As Donny grabbed some leaves and mixed them with mercury and lead inside the pestle, Bubbles prepared for heating the “forge” – actually a crucible – to eliminate the impurities.
“The pill was refined, and I will to put it inside the forge. At the same moment when I eat the pill, you are going to incant for the input of supernatural power.” Donny threw the ball-shaped mixture into the crucible. About ten minutes later, he used tongs to pick up the pill, cooled it down, and slowly put the pill inside his mouth. Simultaneously, Melissa started to enchant, reciting the ancient text with gibberish English accent: “Hail to the Emperor of the Sky, I beg you to come down the mundane world for a little giving…”
Donny swallowed the pill, and started to relax: “The god and fairy’s humor began swerving around my body, making me feel like a paper in the air.” Suddenly, Donny fell down and lost his consciousness.
Two days later, Donny opened his eyes and found himself inside the hospital. “Oh, I am so worried about you,” said Bubbles.
Donny, was a little suspected, “Am I supposed to be immortal?”
“You are immortal?” Bubbles was astounded, “Those heavy metals almost killed you.” She paused for a few seconds, “Fortunately for you, I fed some egg whites and specific oxidants to eliminate those toxins inside your body after you fainted.”
“Oh, no. I remember that our chemistry essays are due today!”
Bubbles smiled, “It’s great that you retrieve some of your memories. But you don’t need to worry about essays now, I already have them done. Besides, I reported this case to our professor and he granted you a month off the campus. Maybe I need to rely on myself for these essays.” Her face was strung up again, “I feel sorry for my superstitions that make you a lot of troubles. However, I still want to remind you of those outdated ideologies. Even Chinese people themselves do not believe in the pill of immortality.”
“Don’t worry.” said Donny, “I guess I learned a lesson from you that these ideals are corrupted for us human beings, and I will never touch Chinese literature again.”
“Well, you do not have to be too absolute about this matter.” Bubbles said sincerely. “Some aspects of the culture may be too far from the present generation, but the remainders are still useful for dealing with many life issues. Keep your rational eyes on, and you will eventually extract the beneficial parts of the civilization.”
“Yeah, your saying is reasonable.” Donny accepted Bubbles’ idea with great admiration. “I will still keep loving Chinese literature again. This time, however, I am going to go deeper into the subject with objective eyesight. Farewell, pill of immortality!”