Comments are shut down. I’m up to something.
The heart-warming adventures of a young dog whose exploits thrilled a nation.
Coming this Christmas.
The assignment for last Monday’s class was to write a short story (5 pages, double spaced) in which the main character is dealing with a conflict of some sort. (It was at that point when I realized that most of my stories tend to be about the plot and much less about the characters.)
What I came up with is “Breakfast” which is filed in with the rest of my musings. Keep an eye out for a cameo by a certain fuzzy-faced denizen of these pages.
Laying on a lounge chair, Helen was enjoying the warm afternoon sun on her face. The chair transmitted vibrations from the deck as the boat raced across the lake. As the engine lulled her to sleep, Helen smiled to herself, “I’m glad we bought this boat. Wayne definitely likes his toy.”
Twenty minutes earlier, Wayne had looked toward the back of the boat and, seeing Helen napping, decided she’d had a good idea. Shutting down the engine, he’d stretched out on the other lounger. Now, feeling the deck’s vibrations through his own chair, Wayne smiled, pleased that his wife was enjoying herself and drowsily decided not to interrupt.
Standing on his hind legs, with one forepaw resting on the steering wheel and the other on the throttle, the family dog was enjoying the feeling of his ears flapping in the wind. Reflecting that this was much more fun than curling up on the deck, he resolved that next week he would teach himself how to drive the truck.
Somehow I doubt we’ll ever see anything like this on the evening news.
News Anchor: Good evening, I’m Greg Daniel and this is Evening News Tonight. Today’s big news story comes from Long Island, New York where physicists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory have stunned the international physics community by creating neutronium in their relativistic heavy collider. For breaking details, we take you to our On the Spot Witness News science reporter, Candace Barr. Candace?
Candace: Hello Greg. I’m standing outside the Brookhaven National Laboratory. With me this evening is Doctor Edith Von Secondberg. Doctor Secondberg, thank you for joining me this evening. Can you please explain to our audience what neutronium is?
Dr. Secondberg: Good evening Candace. Well, simply put, neutronium is the densest form of matter possible in our universe. It usually forms under circumstances of extreme gravity when a star collapses and all the electrons, protons and neutrons are forced together.
Candace: (laughing) But you didn’t collapse a star, did you?
Dr. Secondberg: (also laughing) No, no. What we did was to accelerate a collection of atoms to 20 percent of the speed of light and then cause them to smash into one another. This collision caused them to come together with a force similar to that in a collapsing star, allowing them to form the super dense material we call neutronium.
Candace: When you say this material is “super dense,” can you give us some idea what you mean?
Dr. Secondberg: Well, if you were to picture a block of steel a foot on each side, that would probably weigh several hundred pounds, right? Neutronium is so dense that a mere thimbleful would weigh more than Mount Everest.
Candace: A mountain! You didn’t use a mountain for your experiment, did you?
Dr. Secondberg: (laughing again) Oh no. All told the piece of neutronium we produced is only the size of a grain of sand. I doubt it weighs more than 20 or 30 tons.
Candace: I see. And where is the neutronium right now?
Dr. Secondberg: Oh, we shipped it out to California about half an hour ago so our colleagues at Berkeley can verify that we’ve created what we think we’ve created. You probably saw the truck leaving as your news crew was setting up.
Candace: No, we must have missed it. The only truck we’ve seen since we arrived was the mail truck.
Dr. Secondberg: No that was it all right.
Candace: (puzzled) A mail truck? But you said it weighed 20 or 30 tons. Wouldn’t that require some sort of special equipment to move?
Dr. Secondberg: Not at all. People think scientists have no concept of economy, and I suppose it’s true that some of our colleagues can be spendthrifts at times. But no, we just sent it out through the mail. All told, it cost less than $10.
Candace: How is that even possible?
Dr. Secondberg: Oh, it was easy. My lab assistant Carl had a flat-rate envelope that he’d picked up a few weeks ago. The post office will deliver anything you can fit into one those envelopes to any address in the US for a very reasonable rate, no matter how heavy it is. And this was only the size of a grain of sand.
It’s been many years since I committed my crime and it will be many more before my life-long sentence ends. There’s a saying that confession is good for the soul. Perhaps it would be best if the truth got out now. The recent explorations by Spirit and Opportunity indicate that the truth is about to be revealed anyhow, so there’s certainly nothing to lose…
We were stationed on a scientific outpost on the planet you now call Mars and one night, after ten of your centuries, the stress got to us and we threw a pretty wild party.
One of the other engineers (you wouldn’t be able to pronounce her name) got rather reckless with the mass driver and to make a long story short, that’s how the fifth planet got destroyed.
Over the next several of your decades, we all periodically took turns shooting the mass driver at some of the debris. At some point, it started getting more and more competitive to see who could come up with the fanciest shot (the “three dimensional billiards shot” which ended with two debris fragments orbiting Mars as moons with retrograde orbits was particularly spectacular).
On my last turn, I planned to fire a shot that would “slingshot” around your planet before traveling back out to the debris field where the fifth planet used to be. That’s when “The Accident” happened. The mass driver misfired, and instead of grazing your atmosphere, my shot hit your planet dead on, hitting it square in the middle of the large ocean.
Many of the dinosaurs perished from the initial shock wave, many more from the resulting mile-high tsunami. Most of the rest died in the long winter that followed.
The review board found the entire team guilty of negligence and sentenced us to live out the rest of our lives on your planet, face to face with the consequences of our actions. As humans measure time, that was 65 million years ago.
I’m so sorry.