Author : DarlingDante

Dr. Hammond mopped the sweat from his forehead, his round red cheeks heaving in labored breath. He’d maintained a manicured composure during countless conferences, lectures, and even the couple of morning news shows he’d smiled through, but on the day of the test, a beaded crown of anxiety hung on his brow.

Newspaper headlines around the world read: “Hammond’s Miracle Machine”, “Energy from the Air”, “A New Beginning”, and so on. He knew the technical aspect of his work was lost on most of his colleagues, let alone the average individual, but as long as he flashed a chart or a diagram on TV, and the people who were supposed to know what they were talking about agreed with him, that was good enough for everybody.   

A smiling head popped into his office from the hallway “Almost show time Dr.!” Dr. Hammond barely nodded in acknowledgement. The flimsy familiar office chair that he’d grown old and fat in creaked as his weight shifted slowly off its edge. “Showtime” he muttered to himself.

He could see the machines busy with activity. Engineers checked over every inch of the mechanisms and, from the distance of the observation window, looked like ants swarming on a stick jabbed in their nest. The Nevada sky was clear, and although he couldn’t see them, he knew that there were thousands of spectators from around the world huddled in a half circle behind the safety mark. Little villages of onlookers had popped up out of the desert around the testing site in the weeks before. He had been so angry that a member of his staff had been careless or stupid enough to leak the location then, but now that the day had come, he knew it wouldn’t matter. His life’s work was framed in the long glass in front of him, as if some grand or mad painter had seen the whole of him and spread it out on crystalline canvas. The observation room was private by his request. He wanted silence at the climax of his life.

Dr. Hammond’s moment of reflection was interrupted by a hasty knock, followed by the door to his sanctuary being flung open. Robert, his chief assistant, dashed inside with a bundle of computer printouts tucked under his arm. Robert was the only other man alive that had understood some of the critical workings of the project, and in some minor ways contributed to its fruition.

“Dr. we really need to talk.” Robert sputtered, catching his breath. His words sounded discordant in the vacuum of Hammond’s haven.

“Well what’s so important?”Hammond spat back with a look on his face as if he’d been struck.
“I know you’ve told me to relax and enjoy myself, but I couldn’t help going back over the numbers, and some things just didn’t add up.”

He turned his back to Robert, again fixing his gaze on the edifice that was preparing to activate.
“The numbers are fine.”

“Doctor, I really think we should take some time to look this over…” Robert trailed off, and after a moment’s hesitation said: “We are going to have to reschedule the test.”

A small smile crept across Dr. Hammond’s wide cheeks.

“The numbers are fine.”

The countdown blurred into a hum of syllables sounding to Dr. Hammond like a backwards count into anesthetic sleep. There was a brilliance that seemed to darken the crystal sky, then a violent shake that split the awful image of achievement into fragments. As the concussion rushed toward his outpost, Dr. Hammond pressed his palm to the glass.

“It’s finally finished.”

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