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Human Trials -- Short Story

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Human Trials -- Short Story

Postby Scriven » Mon May 14, 2007 7:10 pm

Pacific Northwest FBI Headquarters
Tuesday March 11, 2003

Any way Scott Sullivan did the math a dead woman could not kill six people in three states. Two college professors, a waiter with a PhD in physics, two grad students and a certified genius all killed in the past two months with bullets from the same gun. The gun Sullivan had kept in a locked evidence room for the past six weeks.

“I understand that Gamble knew all of the victims and that explains why her DNA continues to show up at the crime scenes, but that doesn’t explain the finger prints,” he said, looking at his corkboard pined with pictures and layered with police reports. “How can a dead woman’s finger prints be on top of the victims?”

Two interns had been assigned to help him. So far most of their duties had consisted of runs to various Starbucks for iced chai lattes.

“Maybe the killer is using her hands,” Jim, or maybe it was Jake, said.

Sullivan slammed his drink on the desk; the plastic cup lacked the physical sound he desired, making a small pop. Why did I ever switch from coffee, he asked himself.

“Maybe that would have been a viable theory if we DIDN” T HAVE HER COMPLETELY INTACT BODY IN THE BASEMENT!”

Yakima Washington
Friday, April 22, 2005

Fresh halogen lights bathed the freshly painted hanger in an ultra clear white light. Generals and admirals rubbed shoulders with members of the Senate intelligence committee and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Days ago the hanger held a socially stunted professor’s boondoggle now stood as the center of the military complex.

“I don’t understand why more scientists aren’t here. Where are the representatives from MIT, Harvard, Georgia Tech? Why is it all military?” Dr Jacobs tied his striped tie for the fourth time in as many minutes. “This is the most powerful invention since man harassed electricity, why is this not an event for the whole world.”

“You know the military, if they can stick a gun on it, shoot from it or transport men with it they want it first,” Kate Gamble had heard this same question from her professor nearly a dozen times in the last week. He didn’t want to hear the answer so much as to be reassured that he was not Oppenheimer and this was not the atomic bomb.

“I’m going to introduce you now, do you think you can keep your tie knotted for five more minutes?” she asked.

He nodded. She briskly walked from the white-curtained enclosure near the makeshift stage and stepped in front of the podium. Eyes by the dozen began falling upon her with a weight like a thousand stones.

“Ladies, gentlemen, Mr. President,” she couldn’t see him in the crowd but could almost feel his presence. “We apologize for the lateness of the hour but I believe you will agree that with the security precautions in place this is the only way to hold any sort of large scale demonstration.

“What you are about to see represents more than 40 years of research by one of the most gifted, and solitary minds in our lifetimes. Ladies, gentlemen, Mr. President, I give you Dr. Dan Jacobs.”

In the smattering of applause Kate stepped away from as Dr. Jacobs, holding an unstrung tie in his hands, emerged from the curtain.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you folks,” he gripped the podium with both hands, the tie hanging listlessly from his right hand. “But I cannot remember the last time I wore one of these. So if you don’t mind.”

He tossed the tie aside with his hand. It barely made it off stage and coiled in the dressing area like a drunken snake. Several of men laughed, which seemed to calm him down.

“I’ve never been particularly good at explaining my science to ordinary people. That’s why I decided to spend $978.8 million of the tax payers’ money instead of going into teaching,” again he received some laughter. “I guess the easiest way to explain it is that a Quantum Gate is a complex mathematical problem that represents the flow of subatomic particles.

“For decades we have known that these particles affect how electrons and neutrons move, but have never been able to view them. My original intention was to build a device that would allow us to see these particles, a quantum mirror, but what we have created is much more.

“Grant, if you would please.”

The lights dimmed as Kate pulled back the theater style curtains in front of the large proscenium arch like structure. A steel structure twisted with heavy wires in thick surge coating running through it like the veins of the human body dominated nearly half of the hanger. Large clear sheets of acrylic hung from the gate, slowly moving back and forth. Thin sliver coatings glazed each sheet casting back funhouse style pictures of the men gathered in the room.

A hum formed in the back of the room followed by a sudden lurching sound as electricity crackled through the gate. The panels began to hum and then glow, which blended and formed a rich, somewhat opaque white glow.

“As you can see we cannot see the quantum level, but have in fact created a field where non quantum particles can interact with the quantum plane. These allow a person to step into the field, move through quantum space and emerge at a different point in space and time.”

“We recently entered our human trails stage and by using a quantum locater we have prepared a demonstration for you today. One that I believe you will find rather interesting.”

During the speech Kate slipped into her space suit. Not a full EVA-capable space suit, but a leather pressure suit to protect her from a vacuum and provide her with air. She stepped out on stage. The glow shouldn’t have been reflective, but she could swear she saw something.

“My research aide Kathryn Gamble will now step through the gate and shortly be transported to the back of the room.

Suddenly a form materialized in the glowing mass in front of her. A small black speck expanded and formed a hand. The hand grabbed Kate by the scruff of her vacuum suit and pulled her into the glowing haze.

Kate had stepped into the quantum haze before and remembered to close her eyes as the blinding light washed through her. Her vision burned red as the light almost burned through her eye lids. We must improve the light blocking on these shields, she thought absentmindedly.

She crossed over the gate’s threshold and stumbled to the ground. She was somewhere outside, outside with blue grass?

“Now listen up because I’ve gone through this 14 times already and I’m tired of explaining myself,” two hands grabbed her helmet and pulled it off. “You are going to have to go through the gate and kill everyone you know related to the Quantum Gate Project.”

The world blurred around the edges and Kate felt like she wore a clay mask on her face, but she was starting to see more clearly. She looked up and saw a pressure suite that looked very much like her own.

“I know this is hard to hear, but you have to trust me,” the face was beginning to come into clearer resolution. “You really don’t have any choice about trusting me at any rate, because you’re me, or I’m you, something like that, it doesn’t really matter any more.”

It reminded Kate of the time she had died her hair blond and looked in the mirror for the first time. She saw her face, but it wasn’t her was it?

“I’m sorry that your, I’m, the one who has to do this, but I’ve run through every scenario and it works out the same. Kate I’m you from five years in the future, well a future at any rate.”

“Alright, this is technically possible I guess,” Kate sat up looking at her alter self, she could see the beginning of crows feet and a few stray gray hairs. “Dr. Jacobs theorized it would be possible to move through time. So why do I have to kill everyone?”

“You’re going to want to take a walk with me.”

They were in a small valley between several rolling hills. The older Kate began walking and Kate followed her up the small rise. When they reached the top Kate fell to her knees.

A small town lay out below them. Seamlessly constructed buildings sprawled out before them on perfect grids. Each building flowed perfectly with the other while incorporating natural features like trees, rocks and in one case a stream like they had been grown out of the dirt.

Silence crushed down on Kate like a hammer on an anvil. Small pale humanoids lay everywhere, contorted from the pain of a violent death. It reminded Kate of pictures she had seen of one of the genocidal dust ups in Africa.

“It looks like they ripped each other apart?” Despair and loss rushed into Kate like a dam bursting. “What happened?”

“I don’t even know their names, what they called themselves,” a tear fell down older Kate’s face. “I’ve been trying to save them for 10 years and I still haven’t found a way to save both them and us.

“What you’re feeling is the last remnants of their power. They were a telepathic and empathic race. The idea of violence or hate was completely unknown to them. When we first stepped through the gate we had no idea what the consequences would be.

“They felt our hate, our violence, and it spread like an out of control fire. This is the 10th time I have stood here, and it always ends up the same way, an entire world destroyed in a matter of hours.”

“They killed each other?”

“They sense our nature and are overcome by it,” older Kate knelt down to look Kate in the eyes. “I think you can stop it with one bullet.”

Older Kate extended a hand clutching a pistol by its barrel.

“You want me to kill myself?”

“No, no, that wouldn’t solve the problem,” the pistol stood firm in her grip. “I need you to go back to the first test and end everything before it begins.”

“There has to be another way.”

“Believe me sister, I tried everything, you know I, you, would never resort to this unless there was another way. I’m sorry, but you’re just the version of myself caught holding the bag.”

“Why can’t you do it?” Kate asked.

“For me to go back means I’ll have had to been here with my time in the first place,” the older Kate said. “I’ve tried it, but it has to be one of the Kate's who hasn’t been here, and you are the only one I can grab.

“So I’m going to ask you, even though I know you’re going to do it. Will you save these people?”

Kate sat on the hill, knees near her chin, arms wrapped around her legs she felt crushed, completely and utterly crushed. She sat longer than had in years, until her rear ached and her body burned with lactic acid.

“I’ll do it.”
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Postby Bmat » Mon May 14, 2007 7:54 pm

Good ideas.

In the first section, the writing comes across as more of an outline than a narrative. Work needs to be done on punctuation and grammar.

But putting these criticisms aside, the story is intriguing, fascinating!

A couple minor points of confusion:

I don't get the problem with the tie. A tie would hardly come unknotted several times in a few minutes, unless it were not knotted but just twisted, perhaps. But the tie thing is distracting and not needed. If you want to show that the man is unsophisticated or casual there are other ways than that he can't keep his tie knotted.

I also questioned the lactic acid building up in the girl's muscles. Isn't lactic acid a byproduct of muscle motion? So sitting still, perhaps where she was straining there would be lactic acid, but is lactic acid a result of isometric exertion?

This is an impressive story, well done!
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Postby clknaps » Tue May 15, 2007 9:08 pm

I read this and enjoyed it. It had a good catchy beginning that sucked me. I thought it dragged a bit in the middle but that might just be my impatience.

One sentence caught my eye: Eyes by the dozen began falling upon her with a weight like a thousand stones.

I stumbled over it. I'd suggest a rework to: ...with THE weight OF a thousand stones....

Just a suggestion.

Overall you have a real talent for writing, well done.

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Postby Ariel » Tue May 22, 2007 3:59 pm

It drew me in and kept my attention. Well done!
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