An implementation of mag.., p.1
MENTATION OF MAGIC
Kim J Cowie
Copyright 2012. Kim Cowie
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, real events, locations, or organisations is purely coincidental.
AN IMPLEMENTATION OF MAGIC
Derek's eye was caught by the glint of light at the window of the kitchenette. Something was hanging between the opened curtains and catching the light. He stood and took a single step before catching it between thumb and forefinger. It was colourless, transparent, throwing back the light between a dozen facets.
"What's this, honey?"
"It's my new power crystal," his wife said.
"What does this one do?"
"It channels the sun's energy into positive healing rays. And if I sit and look at it steadily it helps me meditate."
Derek snorted in derision. "Sally, how much did you pay for this thing?"
She frowned a little. "$4.95," she said.
Derek sat down again and lifted up a spoonful of Kellogg’s. "It could be worse. What do they say it's made of?"
"It's cut glass crystal. Made by hand. It's a long and very skilled process."
"I'll bet." Suddenly he put down his spoon and rummaged in a high cupboard. A moment later he lifted down a shot-glass, still wrapped in a wisp of tissue paper."And what's this?" he asked rhetorically. They had got the set as a wedding present, before flying out from the U.K.
"That's one of our crystal glasses; be careful!"
Derek explained that glass crystal was just a special glass used in binocular and camera lenses.
Her face showed her disappointment. Derek re-applied himself to his breakfast, his feelings divided between satisfaction at being right and a nagging shame at his wife's hurt. He leant forward and blew at the crystal, setting it moving so that flecks of coloured light moved around the walls.
"It is pretty, though," said Derek.
"You don't believe in anything, do you? " she said sulkily.
"No. Not unless it's real."
She rustled the pages of the morning paper. "Let me read your horoscope."
"Sure. Always good for a laugh." This was a daily ritual.
She read out the horoscope for Aries. Derek scoffed. "Yesterday's was dead wrong. Maybe you should have read what it said under Taurus instead; after 2000 years of precession their star charts are a whole sign out of whack."Derek rose, and pecked his wife on the cheek. "Bye, and don't buy any pyramids or sign up for any channelling while I'm gone."
Derek worked in the Briggs University research labs in their city. Funding was sometimes hard to come by. Derek sometimes said with a bitter laugh that it would be easier to get funding for Creationist studies than for real science. He hated Creationists and New Agers equally, and sometimes called them saboteurs of American science and tools of Tokyo to their faces. He wondered what had induced him to marry a woman who swallowed all the New Age guff uncritically.
"Did anything unusual happen today?" Sally asked him that evening.
"You mean the Creationists demonstrating outside the University admin block on account we don't teach Creation theory?"He stirred sugar into his coffee as though he meant to wear out the bottom of the cup.
Sally noticed. "Anything the matter?"
"You're going to love this."
"I wandered into the parapsychology research lab. They were testing some guy for psychic powers inside a set-up that subjected him to special electric and magnetic fields. And some really odd things were happening."
Derek's 'wandering' had been prompted by rumours of outside funding. Inside the starkly lit parapsychology laboratory he had found a strange scene. A man with hair tied back in a ponytail sat on a cheap steel-framed chair, his head surrounded on three sides by wire coils and metal plates. On a table before him were three playing cards. As Derek watched, the psychic clapped his hands and a small hole appeared in one of the cards. Three grown men set off running about the room like kindergarten kids. "Here it is!" cried one, stepping forward with a tiny circle of paper stuck to his finger.
He looked at her. "I know you believe in this stuff all the time. But as far as we know this is the first time it's ever happened in a lab. with four scientists watching, and no funny stuff. Hell, we saw the middle of one card blink out with our own eyes." He paused. "Funniest thing was, the guy who was doing it seemed as surprised as we were."
"So you believe in it now?" she said with a smile.
"Ha! I saw a real effect. We don't know what it is yet, but it's a real effect. I'm going to see if I can't transfer to that lab. We're losing the Navy contract; it could be a good time to move. Hey, remember when I did that conjuring, and all those kids thought I was a real magician? A magician should be able to spot any funny stuff better than those professors with PhD's."
Derek was pleased when his application for transfer was accepted. As he had told his wife, it seemed a career move the way things were going, with defence work being cut back because the Russians had folded up, and little money being spent on 'blue sky' science.
The small department was run by a Professor Boothby - assisted by young Dr McCall and research students Ted and Fritz.
Derek found the new work disturbing, though he hated to admit it. The telekinetic effect manifested rarely, and usually at the end of a long day of trials. The effect certainly seemed genuine, though he had his suspicions about the hyperactive human subject, Chenier, who spoke a kind of French and came from the Cajun country.
They were trying to prove a weight loss when the objects or parts of objects vanished. This had been Derek's own idea.
"There must be a weight loss when the objects disappear," he explained to Boothby at the weekly seminar. "We've tried to measure how quickly they go, but we only know they go in less than 500 nanoseconds, the gear won't detect any quicker change than that."
A few small reports of the work at Liverson got into the media, but like Sally, most of America seemed to believe this sort of thing happened all the time anyway. Sally was more interested in Chenier. "So he comes from the Bayou? That's a weird kind of a place? What does he look like?"
Derek had stared at the Cajun for hours, watching his every move, wondering how he might be fiddling the results. He described him; he could see Chenier's long face and black ponytail in his sleep.
At the lab Derek helped set up and monitor experiments, as the more senior staff tried monitoring for all sorts of waves, particles and other phenomena in an effort to get a grip on what exactly was happening. He grew to rather dislike Chenier. This longhair from the swamp country was mucking up the natural order of things.
Sometimes Chenier complained that Derek bothered him."Don't stare at me, Limey! You're staring at me all day. Why dontcha bring in some comics to read, loosen up?"
"I'm being paid to watch you, Chenier. We have to verify the experiments. I'm under orders to watch you and see you aren't helping things along."
"You suspicious bastards. You should be convinced by now."
The team found another person, a woman, who could do the same. It became boring. Objects were placed near the person. They disappeared. Holes were zapped in sheets of test material. Derek realised, as did the others, that positive hits were becoming rarer, and the startling original demonstration was not repeated.
"It looks to me as though the more rigorous we make our checks, the less often it happens!" Derek grumbled at a weekly meeting.
The implication was vigorously disputed by the young scientist, McCall, who had witnessed the original demonstration and was unshakeably convinced that the effect was genuine. He announced his intention to develop a telekinetic machine that would work without human i
"We've only found two people who can do it. Why them and not others? We need to find out," Derek grumbled over his breakfast.
Repetitive experiments continued for months. Meanwhile Dr McCall developed his theories and presented to his colleagues arcane concepts of how an object could slip through the structure of space from one place to another. They held seminars and scribbled equations on blackboards. They invented college-boy names for their concepts of how objects could slip through the dimensions to a different location: 'Neutral bounce', 'Ping-pong', 'Inertial vortex'.
The image that made most sense to Derek was a picture of a two dimensional universe in which a worm-like tube in the third dimension connected two holes in the surface. It looked great on McCall's computer screen.
It became clear to Derek that the team leaders backed McCall's theory about what was happening. Their experiments became more focused, and part of the measuring rig was dismantled and stowed away. They used the new TECH-NET to
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