Science had prevailed over nature once again.
We called it the Darwin Accelerator. If I had to describe it, I'd classify it as a cross between a holodeck and a time machine, or more precisely as a device for controlling evolution.
You placed a sample population of the base animal in the machine and turned it on. Decades or even centuries passed inside as seconds passed outside. Whatever climate the user desires could be simulated within the machine, and by then the species's descendants would have evolved to suit it.
The possibilities were endless. Almost any kind of animal at all could be created by the Darwin Accelerator. Even long-extinct species had been rebuilt.
Then the accident happened.
I don't even remember what sort of creature we were trying to evolve. One of my colleagues, Professor Kale, was accidentally shut inside the Darwin Accelerator when we started it up. We noticed our error and hit the emergency shutoff almost immediately, but by then the damage had been done.
Professor Kale was delirious. He was alive, but he'd become an old man in the few seconds the Accelerator had been running. His hair was unshaven and pale, and he smelled horrible. The lab was now alien to him, as were we.
I couldn't even imagine what he'd had to suffer through. Completely isolated from human contact for what to him was decades, with no company other than whatever animal we'd intended to evolve. Almost like a backwards Rip Van Winkle.
One thing's for sure. When the public hears about Professor Kale, the Darwin Accelerator project is almost certainly going to be canceled for "ethical reasons".