This is the 64th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
AVC, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 3rd February 2013
Word count: 552
“Analysis complete,” the computerised voice read out.
The gaggle of scientists in the seating area of the lab rushed back to the computer. A young scientist called Hugo Cliff reached the computer first and nabbed the seat in front of the mouse and keyboard.
There was a bit of kerfuffle as four people all tried to take control at the same time.
“What’s the result,” one of the scientists at the back of the group demanded eagerly.
“Give me a moment,” Hugo said having gained sole control, “the results are coming out now.”
“Come on, come on!” another scientist said.
There was an intake of breath from those that could see the screen. “Shit,” Hugo said, first to break the silence.
“What what?” someone shouted.
“It’s real,” Hugo said, “It’s really real. This is alien technology. Seventeen percent of it is made of a series of elements not present on Earth, even man made elements.”
“Fuck,” someone else said.
“Are we sure?” Professor Patrickson asked, he was nominally in charge of the group, brought together by stiff suited military men, and Italian suited politicos from the government.
“We could spend months retesting, doing different tests,” Hugo pointed out, “But seventeen percent is pretty significant. It’s thirty seven uniquely identifiable elements.”
“I’d best call the Generals,” the Professor said.
“Well we’ll get noble prizes,” another young scientist piped up.
“Are you not right in your head?” one of the older ones,a Brummie, asked. “We all signed non-disclosure agreements, and the official secrets act. No one will ever know, even this beautiful machine we’ve built is top secret.”
“Oh,” the young scientist said, dejectedly.
Everyone had a turn looking at the results on their collective genius, an new form of spectroscopy that could distill the atomic structure of a given object through emitting eighteen thousand different frequencies of light at it, and then analyzing the result using an extremely powerful computer, and a very complex series of algorithms.
“I’ve spoken with the Generals,” the Professor said, “The facility is being cleared. We’ve been given the go ahead to turn the device on.”
“Really?” Hugo asked, “Isn’t that kind of dangerous?”
“Anyone that wants to leave is free to go with the next transport. I’m staying, I want to see this through.”
“Yeah, me too,” Hugo admitted. The decision was universal, having spent four months building the machine, looking over the alien device, no one wanted to miss the end.
They waited until the following day, giving them to clear the military base in the middle of the desert, and set up a suitable testing area.
It was noon the next day when they were finally set to turn it on, if they could be certain they were turning it on.
“Okay, Hugo, you drew the short straw,” the Professor said, “When you’re ready.”
The twelve scientists huddled behind thick transparent pieces of perplex. Hugo stepped past them, walking slowly. He reached over the device, and carefully pushed what was identified as the on button.
“Hello, and welcome to AVC, your interplanetary shopping channel. Just place your order, and select your local distribution planet to collect your goods.”
“Oh,” said Hugo.
“Ah,” said the Professor.
Everyone else remained silent. The sales itch was broken only by the sound of a phone ringing in the back ground.