One Quiet Day
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 1,206
With graceful, beauty and elegance, two young women entered the bright white and sterile laboratory. They appeared to relax as they gathered around the newly finished machinery after two hard years of research, trial and error. The green glow from a plasma screen illuminated the control panel and cast a weird tint over the smooth, plastic like faces of the two scientists. A rank odor, which might have come from a newly opened coffin, hung like a veil of death over the large circular room.
As her skintight latex uniformed athletic body bent low over the barrel of her pulse rifle, Charlotte said, “There is too much danger, Donna, in performing the final test.”
The woman she spoke to pushed her sharp, feline like face close to Charlotte’s face. She was furious that she would not listen to her valid concerns and stop the final experiment before it was too late. Now that the other three members of this research team had locked her in the high security test lab with them, there would be no chance of calling for help.
“How many times do I have to tell you that no life on the planet will be harmed?”
“Donna is right, you know. I have little doubts about the outcomes”
Charlotte shook her head in the sad resignation that nothing she could say would stop them now. She watched fearfully as the team of three other female scientists programmed the final instructions into the touch screen panels of the multimillion-dollar plant.
Then she slowly arose from the secondary control panel and shuffled to the main server, the sound of her high heels echoing loudly against the titles of the laboratory floor. So much for meeting that hottie from genetics on level six for dinner tonight, she thought. If her fears were right, there would be no chance of a second date tomorrow. Reluctantly, she keyed in her supervisor password, while her three colleagues waited with obvious impatience and frustration.
Finally, Charlotte could hold back no more and she sat down at a terminal, and lost herself in a last ditch effort to prove through her intricate calculations. The three fellow scientists assumed she was entering an adjustment due to the time difference from when the previous test occurred. They waited impatiently, keeping a close eye on her just in case, but said nothing. Then Charlotte glanced up.
“I have recalculated you last experiment, Donna. Much of your molecular theory I am in agreement with. However, there is a serious error in your nuclear physics equation. The complex radium reaction that you interpret as . . .”
“Enough of your pessimism, Charlotte. How dare you question our work; my competence in these calculations? I am the Nobel Prize Winner on this team, not you,” she screeched. She flicked her long, wavy blonde hair like a lion’s mane and added defiantly. “The final test will take place at once! I have secured the door and shut down external communications for the time being. You cannot call for help or try and ruin the test by leaving us one short of the four required.”
Donna stood upright under the sterile white fluorescent lights, her face baleful with a belligerent light. Then in a guttural voice of doom, she shouted above the winning of the multitude of plant and equipment covering every spare inch of available space in the laboratory. A flickering of the ceiling lights foretold the coming events with a pessimistic premonition.
“There will be no further delay. The time for the final test has come. We will stop time for one minute now!”
Charlotte shook her head involuntarily again; she could not believe that her three learned co-workers could not see what would happen once they took the experiment to the final stage. All of the evidence to date indicated that the results would be catastrophic.
“Ah, Charlotte, Charlotte, if you would only understand. Here in our hands we have the means of doing a wonderful thing. We will be able to prevent major catastrophes, hold time while we prevent deaths, stop wars. The opportunities are endless. These questions— think, man, just think—these problems, these unknowns, we can now answer.”
Samantha scrutinized the readings through her tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles.
“The revolutions and power are constant, Donna, and the electrodes are all behaving beautifully. Now—any time—you can apply the Reverse Brake,” she informed her supervisor.
“GOOD. The instruments that will measure our timeframe and stability of the planet are ready. They will activate as soon as I throw the switch,” Donna said philosophically.
Now, as if nature and time had suddenly become aware of these mites of women who were bold enough to tamper with the secrets of the universe, the power surged and cut out for a second. Not long enough to require a reboot of the computers or equipment.
Then without warning the time reactor pulsed in and out of existence! Charlotte gave a low cry and clutched her head; she was dizzy. However, when she turned suddenly towards her co-workers, she felt eased.
Laboratory was gone! In addition, outside the laboratory window was vacant, no signs of earth were to be seen!
“We have done it! We have done it! We have stopped time!” Donna’s voice was hoarse and the words came from her mouth, as if after great effort.
With a cry, Charlotte slumped to the floor. She had seen! That which she had feared had come true. The walls of the laboratory and all of the equipment were gone! In addition, with horror she realized that the very flesh of her hands was wasting away, even as she gazed at them with slowly dimming eyes. She tried to see her companions; though they were but a few feet distant, they were beyond the range of her vision.
“Donna, Samantha,”she called in a hoarse whisper for her throat was dry and it was agony to speak. Yet she knew that it was too late.
As if from far off came the faint answer. Was it Donna’s voice, or was it the voice of her own soul? She would never know.
“Charlotte. Charlotte, you were right! Did you not warn me that time obeyed but one law? We are outside of time itself. There is not equipment to make the return journey back to our present. We are outside of our very existence.
“You have truly evolved a stupendous theory. And I have unwittingly proved it for you, though there is none left to profit by it.”
Then as Charlotte reached out to grab Donna, she saw her body shrivel until nothing but the eyes seemed to be alive, those eyes flashed out for the last time over the world that had ceased to be. Those eyes had looked upon the breaking down of matter into its molecules, then the molecules became atoms, and as the chemicals of her flesh and bone united with the soft plastic substance that was once the earth and the fullness thereof, these atoms broke into their constituent protons and electrons and then like a puff of smoke under the open sky, these charges, too, ceased to be.
One Quiet Day
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