Sunday, July 12, 2009

Daily Story 88: P is For...

This is another that was first published at 365 Tomorrows.


Ah, Mr. Knight! Thank you for coming, sir. Doctor Dave Ewing is going to be calling you at some point to tender his resignation, and – oh, has he? Well, after this meeting you’ll want to call him and get him back, tell him the charges are dropped – hopefully before he commits suicide or something... the poor bastard is despondent.

Yes, sir. I know he used the fuel cell, and I know we only had four. I can understand your anger at hearing that an eighty billion dollar power source was used to fuel an unsuccessful experiment without permission, but you need to know that Doctor Ewing wasn’t crazy – just... near-sighted. He genuinely believes that his project was a failure, but – well, watch. Pay attention to the mouse, and that empty chamber on the other end of the device. There!

Yes, that’s what I thought at first too but it’s not a teleporter. The matter can’t appear any further away than that, and it has to weigh less than seventy pounds – actually it’s based on mass, but it’s easier to think of it as seventy pounds for our purposes. Yes sir, I agree that that sounds useless, but the point is that the good doctor wasn’t trying to invent a teleporter anyway. It’s a time machine.

I know, I know, but let me slow the video down – the lab cams can do some crazy slow-motion – and watch the part where the mouse moved. There it is! For just a fraction of a second there’s two of them. The bad news is that that’s as far as it’s possible to send anything back – not even as much time as the machine itself takes to warm up. That’s why Ewing thought it was worthless, the readouts from this test run confirmed he’ll never be able to go back in time far enough to do anything interesting.

Yes, sir, I’m getting to that. I played around with his device – I don’t understand the time travel stuff but I know the mechanical aspects and then I took the other three fuel cells and – sir, no, calm down! Look at the box next to you. See, it turns out you can put a real hair-trigger on the killswitch, link it to a sensor on the “receiving” end... and a fuel cell weighs less than seventy pounds.

Don’t worry Mr. Knight – it took me a while to stop giggling too.