Lost & Found

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (“CERN,” somehow) recently announced the discovery of a new elementary particle with properties consistent with the heretofore-only-theoretical Higgs boson. Scientists had been looking for evidence of the so-called “God particle” since 1964. It was, really, just a matter of time before it was found; it took nearly five decades only because researchers had been looking in the wrong places—to wit: within other elementary particles, such as electrons and quarks. As it happened, where they should have been looking is the western Pacific Ocean, inasmuch as the Higgs boson turned up among certain effects now known conclusively to have belonged to Amelia Earhart.

Researchers seeking to determine Earhart’s fate once and for all, 75 years after she vanished over the Pacific, had set sail from Hawai’i to the remote island Nikumaroro where many have long believed the famed aviator died after her plane ran out of fuel and crashed in 1937. Previous expeditions to Nikumaroro had turned up tantalizing but merely circumstantial evidence—a jar of anti-freckle cream popular in the 1930s, a clothing zipper from the same decade, a bone-handled pocket knife of the kind that Earhart reportedly had carried—but neither Earhart herself nor any part of her Lockheed Model 10 Electra. This time, however, the search party tried something new. Remembering—as most people don’t—that Earhart was traveling with a navigator named Fred Noonan, when they came ashore the uninhabited 6-kilometer by 2-kilometer island, the searchers called, “Fred! Fred!” until a very old man emerged from a cave, identifying himself as Fred. “Fred Noonan?” the lead researcher asked. “The same,” Mr. Noonan confirmed. He confirmed as well that he and Ms. Earhart did crash on Nikumaroro in 1937. Mr. Noonan also informed the search party that while the zipper might in fact have come from his own flight suit, the anti-freckle cream absolutely was not his, and it was also completely ineffective. He could not say whether the knife belonged to Ms. Earhart or not. Mr. Noonan had not been aware of the presence on the island where he had survived as a castaway for 75 years of any bosons, Higgs or otherwise, but he told the search party that if they had found one and it was of some use to them or friends of theirs, they were welcome to it.

The organization that found Fred Noonan—The International Group for Historical Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR)—was much relieved to have finally solved the mystery of Ms. Earhart’s disappearance. Many others interested in the case have over the years been critical of TIGHAR’s methods, some even suggesting that its search parties would be incapable of finding their ways into or out of wet paper bags. The head of TIGHAR (who wished to remain anonymous) issued this public statement: “We are of course thrilled to be fully vindicated by our momentous discovery, and we would be remiss not to thank the one who insisted that we return to Nikumaroro once more: Bigfoot.”

Indeed, it has also recently come to light that the fabled creature known as “Bigfoot” does exist and had been following the Earhart story with no small amount of fascination. Bigfoot ended a prolonged, self-imposed seclusion in order to send a message to TIGHAR headquarters. Living as he does deep in California’s Six Rivers National Forest, without a telephone or reliable Internet service, Bigfoot was compelled by necessity to dictate a telegram from the Bluff Creek Ranger Station. The National Park Service has not yet issued any official——

THIS JUST IN: A CERN spokesperson has announced that earlier today God Himself appeared at CERN headquarters to retrieve His particle. “He muttered, ‘There it is...,’ as He plucked it out of our safe. No explanation, no apology. He just reached into the closed safe and took the Higgs boson. And then He just left, as abruptly as He had arrived. Oh, wait: He did ask if we had seen His anti-freckle cream.”

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

Read more humor here. Or read some fiction here.