Author : Patricia Stewart, featured writer

“Hey boss, can you come down to the lab? Ah, the prototype has disappeared.”

“It’s supposed to, you idiot. That’s what stealth technology does.”

“Sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to say it disappeared. I meant to say it’s gone, as in, we can’t find it. Hello? You there, Boss?” All he heard after that was the sound of the phone bouncing onto a desk, followed by footsteps quickly fading away.

Two minutes later, Drake Griffin burst into the lab. “All right, Kemp, where’s my ship? Start from the beginning.”

“Well, sir, as you know, this was the first manned test. Tom Marvel, the test pilot, entered the prototype 45 minutes ago. He activated the start sequence in accordance with the test plan. The ship disappeared as expected. Then, Tom used the antigrav system to elevate from Alfa Stand. We know this happened because the weight sensors dropped to zero. He was supposed to hover for 30 minutes, then fly to Bravo Stand. But according to the sensors, he never made it.”

“Maybe the sensors are defective? Have you checked them?”

“We tested them prior to securing the hangar. But we cannot enter the hangar again until the ship reappears, or we get approval from an S-Level Director. That would be you, sir.”

“What are the risks?”

“Well, for one thing, the ship could be hovering directly above your head when it lands.”

“Can’t you radio Tom, or instruct the aircraft to decloak?”

“No, sir. Visible light and radio transmissions are the same thing, except for wavelength. All electromagnetic radiation curves around the ship. That’s how the cloak works.”

“OK, Kemp. Here’s my plan. You’re going into the hangar with a hard wired camera mounted onto a 20 foot pole. Then you poke around in there until the camera disappears. If you’re killed, I’ll make sure you get a big fat raise. Now, go find my ship.”

After 40 minutes of very tentative “poking,” Kemp located the ship on the floor, approximately 100 feet from Alfa Stand. The camera revealed that the area inside the stealth bubble was pitch black, except for the feeble glow of the instrument panel. Marvel was on the cockpit floor, curled up into a fetal position. Kemp hastily jury rigged a transmitter onto the end of his pole, and pushed it through the cloak. He then instructed the ship to power down. The ship materialized, and instantly frosted over. Kemp sheepishly touched the hull. “It’s ice cold, sir. I wasn’t very good in thermodynamics, but my guess is that the cloak is endothermic somehow, and it sucked all the heat from inside the bubble. It looks like poor Tom froze to death.”

“Why didn’t the earlier test reveal this endo-thingy?”

“We never engaged the cloak for more the 15 minutes. And those tests were run by the onboard computers. The electronics are not sensitive to the cold. I guess Tom’s core body temperature dropped so fast he didn’t have time to abort. What should we do, sir?”

“Well, the first thing is to get Tom’s body out of there. Then, I’m going back to my office and write a directive to the effect that after the research boys say they’ve solved this problem, they all get to ride in the next test flight.”

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