Judging by all the comments I got last week, putting this installment up wasn’t so much choice as it was necessity. I get the feeling that if I ever fail to deliver the Saturday installment, ducking reader hired hit-men will become my new hobby. Anyway, here is your weekly…
Chapter 2 – part 2
“I don’t know. All I’m saying is, it’s not possible. It says he gets logged in today and goes out tomorrow. That’s not possible!”
With only one ear to the door, Eddie couldn’t be sure who was speaking, but the voice didn’t sound like the doctor who’d examined him. He peered out the window into the examination room, risking a brief moment away from his listening post. There was a new guy standing beside the chair they’d strapped Vančura into, studying the computer and arguing with the doctor.
Eddie figured he didn’t look like the man in charge. Maybe just the doc’s coworker. Either way, the argument would be interesting.
”…is. It has to be; I ran the diagnostic five times. His log-chip is just fine, no damage and all the codes on it match the database.”
“There’s no chance someone reprogrammed it to read the wrong date?”
The doctor paused before answering.
“Not that I can tell. The scanning software is top tier and it didn’t find any inconsistencies. If someone messed with the bytes in that chip, it was someone who knows exactly how our systems work. Anyway, the insertion wound over the log-chip is cauterized and no sign that a new cut’s been made to remove the chip.”
“Look, the knothole let off another of those sparks this morning. Took out one of the technicians this time. We’ll have to scrap this version if the techs can’t figure out how to bleed off that static charge when it powers up and it’ll take us months to build a new one. This guy isn’t going through tomorrow, that’s for sure.”
Eddie glanced out again. The doctor had put down the computer and was checking Vančura’s pulse. Whoever the other guy was, he was nervous, shifting back and forth as he talked.
“Look, Benwright, I don’t know how it happened. How it happens, that is. I’m just the doctor: I check the candidates for eligibility, make sure they’re ready to go through, and run the tests on them if they get back. Well, one got back. You’re the quantum-special-relativity-techno-physicist here, you figure it how and why.”
Benwright didn’t answer for a while. He was probably still rocking nervously on the balls of his feet. Just thinking about that made Eddie tired. Moving all the time like that could make a man hungry pretty quick. He frowned. That vein of thinking wasn’t a good one, since he hadn’t eaten in ten, maybe twelve… Vančura’s rumble interrupted that dismal train of thought.
“Gentlemen, this conversation is getting boring. Benwright, tell your technicians to test the secondary reservoir capacitor bank. One of them is mis-wired and it’s feeding the static charge back into the chassis. Doc, blood pressure is normal, blood test will be within acceptable parameters, and my knee reflex arc is decreased slightly. Oh, and the eye test is going to show my focus time is a little slower than it ought to be.”
Eddie didn’t need to peek out the window to see what the doctor and Benwright were doing. They were staring at Vančura, of course. It was the only logical thing to do.
Vančura chuckled, the same wry, less-than-amused sound as before.
“Doctor, the log-chip is quite accurate; you know what that means. Exactly. Now, in one minute, Benwright’s boss is going to come through that door. He’ll want your ‘knothole’ up and running, in a time frame commonly accepted as impossible. I suggest you have an answer for him; he gets mad every time you don’t.”
Silence. Eddie scratched his head as he tried to puzzle out exactly what Vančura was talking about. Before he could get all the pieces in place, something crashed in the next room. He checked the window again; a fourth man had flung the door open and bounced it off the wall. Eddie grimaced when he realized the guard was saluting. That meant one thing; military.
“Benwright, I need the knothole up and running, and I need it yesterday! We’ve got problems.”
End Chapter 2 – Part 2
Go to Chapter 2 – Part 3
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