When Eugene thought of sardines he thought of the time Elisa, having grown tired of scratching table legs and drawing whiskers across her cheeks, had decided she was not a feline but a mermaid. Determined to look the part she had ripped the shower curtain off the rail above the bath and enlisted Eugene to help her stitch it into something resembling a fin. Once this part of the costume was complete she had raided their mom’s dresser and reappeared with a pale pink bra slung over her t-shirt, the cups stuffed with socks, and swirls of red lipstick smeared across her face. Eugene had thought she looked fierce but Leo had taken one look at his little sister flopping along the carpet and sniggered, “Mermaid? More like a suffocating sardine.” Eugene had laughed, Elisa had not - which should have been a sign of things to come. But both boys had been surprised to roll into bed that night to find half-defrosted fish sticks piled inside their pillowcases. Eugene had been glad for the midnight snack but the string of curses coming from Leo’s bunk suggested he was not one for suffering rumbly tummy pains at night and so Eugene had helpfully devoured Leo’s fish sticks as well. Today, however, he would not be munching on any aquatic creatures despite what the bowl of sardines resting under his arm might suggest.
Eugene was going to do something even better than eat an un-eatable amount of fish. He was going to create life, he was going to become a god. He knew that some people might think this plan was too ambitious, that he should aim for postman or mouse surgeon before setting his sights on becoming a god, but Eugene was actually overqualified for the role of a god. Besides, once he was a god the ghosts would work for him and all this ducking around corners at night, wearing boring black or big floaty sheets could cease once and for all.
Even before Eugene had read (okay, skimmed) Frankenstein he had known lots and lots about death. He had watched re-runs of ALL the CSI’s and therefore knew about two billion ways to kill people - like with a stiletto or a laser gun or a wand jammed into an eyeball. He even knew how to summon dead people, knew how to stalk them, and be stalked by them. He knew what death smelled like because he’d spent so much time in thrift stores and had a dead aunty. He was basically Hades if Hades had been a thirteen year old American with glasses and neon pink sneakers.
But it was Frankenstein that gave him the idea to shock some sardines back to life. There was just one teensy problem: Eugene did not have electricity. But even if he had had access to the zappy energy that kept refrigerators across America basking in a pale yellow light, there would have been the slight problem of electrocution. Electrocution was one of a billion ways to die, and even if you didn’t die, Eugene knew from experience that it could REALLY sting. So he was going to have to try the magical way. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t much about reanimating the dead in RMI’s library, and after fifteen minutes of running between bookshelves, Eugene had decided to just wing it. Eugene had a good track record with winging it. He hardly ever did any prep work for class and it was always much more exciting with that approach. Eugene had chosen the rec centre for his experiment because he wanted his fish babies to live considerably more than sixty-seconds after reanimation so it was important to be close to a body of water - and Leo had bought him new purple swimming trunks which, in Eugene’s opinion, looked very cool.
With the bowl of (very) dead sardine’s settled snugly on his lap and his ankles dangling in the pool, Eugene was ready to take the first step towards god-hood. He picked up his wand and poked the fish around a bit and...nothing happened. Eugene frowned and grabbing a sardine in his left fist, flung it towards the pool where it hit a passing swimmer with a loud SLAP. Yet, still this action did not appear to have shocked the fish back to life. "Huh," Eugene blinked in dismay. It turned out becoming a god was actually quite hard. Maybe he should have given mouse doctoring a go after all.