Sunday, November 2, 2008

Part I, continued

  • OK, this is going to be harder than I thought. I'm struggling with tense and point of view. I also can't use tabs here to make it more readable. I'm hoping something clicks, but for now you are stuck with some pretty raw material . . .
Through the open barn doors, a circular object set upon a pedestal is visible. The object, eight feet in diameter, looked like a soccer ball with no covering. It was a truncated icosahedron, to be exact, a buckyball formed of three inch shiny black tubes connected, three at a time, to a triangular metal boxes with bundles of multi-colored wires streaming out and dangling toward the floor. The various wire bundles slithered along the floor like snakes, writhing one over another, meeting at a console on one side of the ball. The object and the immediate area shown like daylight under the harsh glow of banks of florescent lights dangling at a level just above the top of the ball.
Sam, a full week unshaven beard on his face, was kneeling in front of an open panel at the side of the console, one hand full of wires, the other pointing a flashlight inside the opening. The handle of a small screw driver was perched precariously between his clenched teeth.
"We are going into town Sam," came a voice from a dimly lit figure outside of the glare in the center of the barn. "Do you need anything?"
Sam, startled at the intrusion on his intense focus, flinched visibly. "No mom, I'm fine," he replied. "Thanks."
"We are taking John," she said in more of a question than a reply.
"O.K., thanks," came the reply from Sam who had already gone back to concentrating on the wires.
"You know, John is probably old enough to help you with some of this," said mom, looking at the clutter of equipment and tools that ringed the object. "He would love to help."
"I don't know mom," Sam replied. "It is not real safe in here."
"Mmm, you might be right," said mom, shaking her head in agreement. "Still, it wouldn't hurt you to spend some time with him." She paused, hoping for some sort of agreement. After an uncomfortable moment, she changed tack. "It looks pretty good. Are you getting close?"
"If I could get the wiring right the first time, I'd have been done a week ago," Sam said bitterly. If I can get all the servo controllers on-line, I should be able to start the calibrations. I'll have a better idea once that is done."
"O.K., there are some leftovers in the fridge if you are hungry," mom offered as a final outreach. She was torn between her desire to see him succeed and the hope that failure would bring him back to a reality that included his son.
"Thanks mom" Sam replied.

"Here goes nothing, Sam said to himself, "again." He typed a few commands into the keyboard and the simultaneous click of relays accompanied a flicker in the lighting. The low hum of motors under strain filled the quiet of the barn and several of the black tubes began slowly rotating. The pitch of the motors raised as the tubes slowly gained momentum. Another set of relays click, and another set of tubes begin rotating. "Two," Sam murmured, eyes intent on the moving numbers on the screen in front of him. Another click, and another set of tubes begin to rotate. The din created by the motor grows larger as each set of tubes begin turning and the pitch raises as the tubes gain momentum.
"Come on baby," Sam murmurs under his breath. I final set of clicks and the last of the idle tubes begin to rotate. "Yes," Sam exclaims. "We are going to make it." The pitch inside the barn has reached the point where the loose boards on the west side of the barn begin to vibrate, adding a lower, more organic sound to the medley. With all the tubes up to speed, Sam is still glued to the monitor. "Rotation synced," he whispers, "time to put the fuel cells on line. Another set of clicks on the keyboard is answered by another flicker in the lights. From beneath the low pedestal, a low hum emerges. Sam continues to watch the monitor as the rapidly changing number signal the progress. "And now for a little EMF," he says, typing a final command sequence. A loud pop and flash of light emanating from the center of the spinning tubes breaks Sam's trance at the monitor. "I hope that is good," he exclaims. A shimmering disturbance has appeared in the center of the ball, a bubble with rippling waves making it appear to be rotating slowly. "That is it," Sam exclaims in disbelief. "I can't believe it. It works." Sam's gaze goes from the center of the ball to the picture taped next to his monitor. "It works baby, it really works."
A large electrical crack breaks through the deafening noise of the room, and the overhead lights go out, leaving the barn bathed in an eerie blue light emanating from the shrinking bubble in the center of the ball. The hum of the rotating tubes immediately begins to lower, and the glowing ball slowly shrinks and is gone. Sam raises his fist as he rises from the chair he has been sitting. He brings it down on the desk with a metallic thump as he emits a primeval scream of anguish. A pencil rolls of the desk and hits the floor. The acrid smell of overheated electronics fills the air.

1 comment:

Eldon and Janeil Olsen said...

Wow, you're really building up the suspense.