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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mark II (A Tale of Earth 52.5)

The Mark I had disappeared into the darkness
The fact of which I couldn't get out of my mind

It had been in there while I was finishing up the Mark II
Which had been about 61% complete at the time of the first test
Or so my wall flowchart told me
And I had no reason to doubt it
As there were professional algorithms involved and everything

Now floating here against my nylon straps
Sweat condenscing in tiny droplet beads
That neither ran down my skin
Or cooled me in any functional way
I could not bring myself to press the button

There in the space of my mind hung the 'Daisy'
The name I'd given the Mark I upon its completion
Writ in large white cursive upon the side of her nose
A small twenty centimeter painting of a white daisy next to it

Not a soul was in the cockpit
The pilot's seat eerily empty and wrong looking
Though the set of controls that had been in front of me
Where I sat on the chase ship almost made me feel that I was there

Almost

I've told myself since
That had I been allowed to pilot the craft personally
I would have known that something wasn't quite right
A vibration
Or a whine
Or chatter
Something would have given away its off center condition to me

I had not hesitated that day
Surrounded by a small group of fellow technicians and tracking officers
With some top brass, funding angels, and family members watching the live feed
My confident digit had flipped up the guard over the button almost jauntily
Stabbing the button in expectation of the fulfillment of years of work

The telemetry skewed radically the instant I activated the fold
Indicating.......something
I still didn't know exactly what
Though I had theories

When the high speed imagery was slowed down
There are two still frames of interest

The first
Shows a distinct wrinkle in the backbone of the small craft
Running across the span of the backbone
Just above the gravity engine compartment

The second
Gives the distinct impression of peering into a funhouse mirror
With the fore and aft ends of the ship about six meters closer together
As if someone had divided the ship into thirds
Removed the center piece
And pushed the two ends together
But with an odd warpage to the area that they were joined

A third still frame 
From immediately after that
Finishes the story for all intents and purposes
Showing the emptiness of space as far as you can see

For the record
What should have happened
Was that the entire ship should disappear
And then reappear exactly ten meters away from where it started

I had done that same experiment in the lab hundreds of times
Seven hundred and sixty two times
To be exact
Using the scaled down table top sized version of the gravity engine
Which sat in a simple titanium framework
With rubber feet
To avoid scratching expensive conference tables during presentations

Of which there had been many
Accounting for thirty two of those test runs
For paying audiences as it were

Right now it was almost the opposite situation

I was out of money
No, more than that
I was technically homeless after leveraging everything to finish the Mark II
Having been told that 
"The concept needed refinement"

Now there was no chase ship full of people
Only a small recording satellite shadowing me at 1000 credits/hr
And me
Sitting in the primer black painted "Bones"
With the obligatory chalk drawn skull and crossbones on the nose
Finger hesitant
As if it had all the money and time in the world

My brain replayed those two horrifying still frames again for me
Just because it clearly cares

I held my breath and pressed that button

Nothing changed
It didn't even appear that I had moved
Everything was still green across the board
And I was..........exactly ten meters further from the recording sat