Friday, April 13, 2012

The Announcement - Part 2 of 2

© 1981 by Henry Melton

Time crept in the deserted old physics hall. Outside the windows he could see students still wandering about the campus, even though it was past midnight. In two days there would be many more, even if the team should happen to lose. Football nights were always long. There was nothing like it, not since the days when Lyndon Johnson was a demon and Che Guevara was a saint.
But tonight he needed to concentrate on the problem at hand. Jerry was right. There had to be an emergency. A clear and present danger. A real fire in the crowded theater.
But was he right about everything?
Was there no problem except in his, mind?  Was there a real need, right now? If not, he should get some sleep himself, or else work on the randomizer.
Glen leafed through several file folders and pulled out a set of block-diagrams. At least he could work up the parts list for the randomizer. Maybe something would come to him as he worked. If not, maybe there was no warning to give.
It was well past three when Glen was startled from his work by a sudden shout from dozens of voices outside. He felt a stab of panic--paranoid fear. He went to the window, and relaxed a bit. The placards told him politics wasn't dead on this campus; some midnight rally was breaking up. He went back to his work.  It had nothing to do with him, or the amplifier.
Strange, he still shook. He hadn't realized he was so paranoid. Not enough sleep. A large empty hall. It was enough, he decided, to feed his imagination.
But the thought nagged him. There were many radical groups on this campus. How many would quail at grabbing some real power, especially if the randomizer design was lost, or burned in the process. He had sent that test click. Neither Jerry nor he had made any secret of their research project. How many people who knew Heinrich's ideas could put two and two together, and what kind of political beliefs did they have! Did he really have the two days they would need to get the randomizer in operation?
What a terrorist weapon the amplifier would make! Even without the propaganda, the induced accidental deaths would be a horrible threat. And what power group would forego the propaganda?
Terrorists weren't the only threat. Uncle was notorious for grabbing new developments in the national interest. Sure bet there would be no published randomizer design if that happened. If a secrecy lid was put on Heinrich's theories, what would come of all the other spin-off developments? Was that fated to happen as soon as they submitted their paper for publication? Or had Heinrich's work already started them looking? How much time was left?
Glen shook himself, wide awake. "Okay, Jerry," he spoke to the air, "there is an emergency."
He walked over to the workbench and started the power supplies up in their sequence. He scraped a clear area on the bench and set his diagrams there.
He unbuttoned his shirt and positioned a gel-smeared medical electrode to his chest and two more to his head. There was a microphone. He tested it with an oscilloscope.
Panic and the night chill fed his shakes.
It's a gamble. Suppose I'm wrong.
But suppose I'm right!
Clear your mind. Remember, it's the thoughts behind the words that are sent.
He picked up a diagram. He moved a switch.
"This is a world-wide telepathic announcement. Please take notes. This is the design for a jammer against this type of broadcast. Build it quickly...."

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