I first discovered the Hopeless Maine Scientific Society back when I was working on the obituaries. And for those of you who weren’t reading the Vendetta then, let me explain. We did a kickstarter, with obituaries as a perk for the first 100 backers, so I spent an autumn killing people here on the blog. Fun times!
It turned out that the Scientific Society had a high mortality rate for some reason. Hopeless may not be a good place to live if you have a profound attachment to rationalism, confidence in conventional physics and an interest in biology that cannot accommodate random detritus posing as life forms. Further, the pursuit of reason, across a misty cove towards a jellyfish woman, is not a pursuit that tends to end well.
The above image shows some of the gentlemen of the Hopeless Maine Scientific Society, and features in the Optimists volume. All of the gentlemen featured are, in the loosest sense of the term, real. On the right hand side, we have Keith Errington and Keith Healing, both of whom are heavily involved in all things Hopeless. On the left we have James Weaselgrease and Robin Treefellow. These two anarchic scientists will be involved with the Hopeless Maine online festival as they attempt to recruit new members for their society.
Most years we lose someone to the trees. Or to what lurks among the trees. Most of us do not venture further than the edges of the woods and rightly so – the heart of this island is a heart of wooded darkness and those who go seldom return.
Lizz-Ayn Shaarawi was, depending on who you ask, either a remarkable pioneer or a total idiot. The Hopeless Maine Scientific Society described her as ‘a tireless seeker of truth, an absolute stalwart whose work has greatly enhanced our understanding of the woods.’ Having survived for nine years as a member of that notorious society, Lizz-Ayn bucked the trend for rapid demise in the name of science. Ignorance may not be bliss, but knowledge so often proves fatal.
For the past three years, Lizz-Ayn had been studying evidence for strange, humanoid life forms living in our woods. She made many forays into the trees, coming back with stories that were troubling, entertaining, wonderful or terrible, depending on who you ask about it. On her last foray, two gentlemen of the Hopeless Maine Scientific Society accompanied her – Jethro Necropolis and Newtonian Jones (previously Godfearing Jones). Only Newtonian survived.
Newtonian Jones told me, “We were attacked. Jethro Necropolis tried to defend us with a new weapon he’d been developing, which blew up and killed him outright. Lizz-Ayn was saved from the blast by a massive, hairy creature that swung in and carried her off. I expect by now it will have eaten her.” He could not absolutely confirm her death, but it seems a fair inference as it took Newtonian a week to make it back to the town and there has been no sign of her in that time.
The Hopeless Maine Scientific Society calculates that a person who goes missing for a day has a fifty percent chance of reappearing. For every day that passes, the odds of survival radically diminish, and after seven days, there is a one in six hundred chance of not being dead. This is the second time Newtonian has managed those one in six hundred odds, and it will be Lizz-Ayn’s third time beating the probabilities if she does return.