END OF DAYS SERIES: Mylar
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Photo by David Nadas
Geri!.. Don’t do that. It will be political suicide and end your career. It’s not that bad—”
“NOT THAT BAD! Are you kidding me, Dave? You need to pull the plug on this! We’re talking about the end of days here. They have no clue what they are about to do… All the data… All the research I’ve conducted points to the fact that this experiment will be a run-away process–”
“Just listen to me, Geri. I’ve read the data and it’s….” he said coming to a halt.
“It’s what… Dave? Inconclusive? Is that what you want to say to me? I can understand these button pushers up here not taking me seriously…” she said with a snort, catching the irony of the situation. “But you Dave! You of all people…” and she stopped, a pointless end to it.
He could hear the sadness in her voice as much as the pain felt in his heart for what he was about to say to her.
“Yes… It’s inconclusive,” he said from the hammock in his backyard. There was silence on his connection to Geri who was orbiting 250 KM above him. His phone was resting along his shoulder as he looked up through the tree branches at the sky, so blue and crisp on this Indian summer day that he never wanted it to end.
“It’s inconclusive because no one has ever lived through the consequences to make the data conclusive. I’m sure this same scenario was played out on Mars eons ago…. There’s your conclusive evidence, Dave. All you need to do is look at Mars. It’s scorched.”
“Geri…. I promise… nothing is going to happen. I know you’re the smartest person on this project and everyone on the team up there has read your report and they feel the same way as I do. Trust us on this. I’m sure some folks on the Trinity Project in ’45, including Oppenheimer himself, must have had some worry in the back of their mind that what they were about to do could end the world. But it didn’t happen. They trusted their research.
“It’s not the same, Dave. They weren’t trying to open a wormhole with a so called controlled singularity.” He could hear the mock in her voice. “And it’s my research we’re talking about here!”
“You’re right, Geri. It’s not the same thing, but it is the same level of research and much more. We’re not calculating these models with slide rules; we’re using quantum computers on this, Geri. We’re about to make a gigantic leap for humanity and you will stand among history’s greatest scientists that has ever lived.”
There was more silence between them.
“Geri? You still there?”
“Then we’re good on this?”
“Dave…” she said ignoring his question.
“I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me—”
“No need to thank—”
“Just hear me out, Dave,” she was running short on time. “Don’t talk. I would never have had this opportunity without you in my life. I would never have had the chance for this opportunity had it not been for you on that cold morning, seeing me in the shadows outside, Alley Bakes, as you strolled by with that bag in your hands.” She let out a saddened laugh. “I don’t even know how you picked me out from under that cardboard box…. and now that I look out from the portal of my bay, I can see all of New England below without a cloud in the sky there. I bet you’re out on the hammock, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Good.” she said.
“I look forward to seeing you upon your return,” and he held up his wrist to see the counter ticking down. “T minus 1 minute, Geri. How come you’re not with the team?”
“No view there and I wanted to see Perkins Cove for the last time. Dave, It should be beautiful. You’ll see a bright flash and although you won’t see the X-ray projecta, it will bore a silent hole through the atmosphere creating a brilliant circular rainbow… a halo around a spot of emptiness…. I’ll have been gone by then and you will have about a minute to reflect on the life this world has had. Nothing lasts forever.”
“Geri… come on.. don’t think that way,” he said with a chuckle in his voice. “I thought we were good on this one?”
“Geri….” but he stopped short when a flash blinded him from above and he turned his head to shield his eyes. When the overload on his retinas began to clear he looked up and could see the partial circular rainbow through the branches and got up from the hammock and moved out into the clearing of his patio along the cove. The sun was low in the sky behind him, but above, at the center of the rainbow he could make out a black dot. He stood there, looking up until he felt the skin on his arms begin to crawl and the hairs on his forearms were curling into ash and drifting away. His eyes sparkled, but this time like melting Mylar, and everything went dark. His heartbeat was pounding in his chest and he could hear the blood boiling behind his ears as he dropped onto the pavers and pooled there as bird after bird thudded to the ground around him with the sound of flesh and earth sizzling before a shockwave of dark fire swept over.
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