What would you do?
If you could . . .
“Who's to pay today, Lare?” she asked.
Her lab assistant, Larry turned to look at her. “Oh, Hello, Boss! Have a good weekend?”
“Why does everyone keep on asking me that?” Lucy muttered.
Larry stared at her. “I guess . . . because they're wondering if you had a good time?”
Lucy sighed. “Yes. I had a nice weekend. It would have been better if a few less mosquitoes had showed up, but still, we had a good time.”
Larry shook his head. “You and your mosquitoes,” he said, grinning.
Lucy made a face. “Can we please start our day?” she asked.
Larry coloured slightly. “Sorry, Boss,” he said.
He turned and picked up a delicate instrument. “I have been thinking and thinking all weekend,” he said, “going over the results of that final test we did on Friday, and I think I've figured it out. Initially, everything works. But we always seem to come to grief when we try to increase the power. The damper field erodes, spilling energy and causing the entire process to break down, system by system.”
He went on. “I filmed that last attempt and went over it frame by frame.” He held up the device. “I observed two weak joints in the whole process, here and here.” He indicated. “I have reinforced the shielding in those two places.”
Lucy carefully took the device from Larry's hands, cradling it gently in her own. “You think it could be that simple?” she asked.
“I do,” Larry said. “Who was it who said that the simplest solutions are often the right ones.”
“I don't know, but I think he – or she – is a genius.” Lucy grinned. “Or an idiot.”
“I'm going to vote for genius,” Larry said. “Shall we give it a whirl?”
“Lead on,” Lucy said.
The two of them crossed the lab.
“Oh, I had them replace the door in the booth,” Larry said. “Again.”
Lucy grinned. “We are rather hard on doors,” she said.
“Well, I think replacing a door now is a small price to pay,” Larry said.
“And I agree with you,” Lucy said. “But I don't know if the powers that be agree with us.”
Larry sighed dramatically. “Lack of vision, Boss,” he said. “Complete lack of vision.”
Lucy laughed and stood to one side as Larry opened a heavy glass door, then crossed a small inner chamber and pressed a recessed button in a console on the wall.
A door lowered slowly, revealing delicate and intricate wires and connectors. Lucy placed the instrument she held into the only clear spot and fastened it carefully.
Larry attached several connectors.
Then they both ran through the checklist mentally.
“One more time, and I think we're ready to try again,” Lucy said.
“I'll get the list. Let's do this right.” Larry ran to his workbench and came back with a clipboard.
The two of them checked off each item.
“Well?” Lucy looked at her assistant.
“Let's do it!” Larry said.
They both stepped out of the booth.
“I'll get the camera,” Lucy said.
“Starting the countdown,” Larry said.
“Give me ten seconds.”
Lucy picked up a small video camera and carried it back into the booth. “How much time should I give it?” she asked.
“Oh, I think we need at least thirty seconds,” Larry said.
“Okay, I'm going to set it for thirty,” Lucy said, pressing some buttons. She looked at Larry. “We can always increase it later.”
He laughed. “Yeah. If there is a later.”
“Hey! No pessimism allowed!”
Lucy set the small camera on a pedestal that she pulled to the centre of the booth. She smiled down at it. “Ready.”
“Okay,” Larry said. He paused. “Maybe you should join me on this side of the glass,” he added.
“Oh. Right.” Lucy stepped out of the booth and carefully closed the door. She took a deep breath. “Here we go again,” she said.
Larry flipped a switch and spoke into a small mike. “July 19. Process 486.2B. Trial 46.” He looked at the large clock on the wall. “Time: 9:49 AM.”
“Do it,” Lucy said.
Larry pressed the large, brown button in the centre of his console. “We're away!” he said.
Lucy reached out and gripped Larry's hand.
Ribbons of orange light began to swirl about the small booth. More and more. Faster and faster.
The booth began to glow.
“This is as far as we've come before,” Larry said.
“I know,” Lucy whispered. “Turn it up.”
Larry reached for a dial on the far right side. “Ready?”
Lucy nodded jerkily, not taking her eyes from the glowing booth in front of her.
Larry slowly began to twist.
The glow brightened. A high-pitched hum began.
And then, with a faint 'pop', the camera disappeared.
The glow died suddenly and completely.
Lucy looked at Larry, her eyes wide. “Did it . . .?”
“I don't know,” Larry said. He had his eyes on the clock.
For several seconds, both of them watched the sweep of the second hand as it made its way silently around the clock face.
Finally, Larry pushed a second button.
With another 'pop' the camera re-appeared. Sitting innocently on its pedestal as if it had never left.
Lucy caught her breath, and gripped Larry's hand even harder. She started forward.
“Wait,” Larry cautioned, pulling her back. “Let me shut everything down first.”
He pressed several buttons and turned a couple of dials. “Okay. That should do it,” he said.
The two of them made their way slowly to the door of the booth.
Lucy reached for the doorknob. She looked at Larry and grinned. “Ready?”
He grinned back. “Ready.”
She turned the knob.