This is the 133rd in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
The Pitch, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 12th April 2013
Word count: 820
“This it?” the General asked looking at the stand.
“That’s what all the fuss is about,” the executive said.
“Its not very intimidating,” the General noted.
“This weapon isn’t a threat, if you pull the trigger while it’s pointed at someone, they will die. Armour, cover, none of that matters. It has a one hundred percent kill rate, and it’s spot on accurate. No loud bangs, not even the puff from a silencer. It does one thing kill,” the executive said.
“Can we wrap it in something more terrifying?” the general asked.
“A wolf dressed as a wolf?” the salesman asked.
“Something like that. The most important tool in a soldiers arsenal is fear, a gun isn’t any use if it could be anything,”
“The remit is for a weapon that is guaranteed to kill,” the salesman pointed out, “As set out by your government. This fulfils that in its entirety.”
The general realised this wasn’t getting him anywhere changed tact, “How is it going to kill everything?”
“Ah, I’m glad you asked, in fact I had expected it to be your first question,” the salesman said grabbing an electronic paper display, “You see we’ve been working towards a universal theory of everything.”
“The unified model, the holy grail of science ancient and modern? How’s that going?” the general asked.
“Oh fine, fine,” the salesman said dismissively, “You obviously think it’s a fruitless endeavour. Truth be told, so do we,” the salesman said, seemingly dropping the spiel briefly, trying to make the General feel he was a confidant, and therefore friend.
“Then why?” the general asked.
“Oh that’s an easy one, healthy grants for such noble undertaking, Nobel prizes when you make a significant discovery, and most importantly it yields up plenty of solutions to weapon demands,” the salesman said. “Now, our scientists in the course of their work discovered a new field, a wave of energy that can be generated easily and quickly. That wave obliterates the forces of attraction, upon contact.”
“Atomic forces of attraction?” the general asked dubiously.
“Absolutely, just breaks them down in the briefest of instances,” the salesman said, then he held up the electronic paper, “See field hits, atomic structure breaks down.”
“Sounds rather dangerous,” the General noted.
“Its safe. Your thinking of sudden fission or fusion, but the atomics pull themselves together in the briefest of instants. It’s miraculous really,” the salesman said. “Nothing stops this field, within twenty metres of the emitter.”
The general looked down at the golf ball sized device. “Well there’s two things wrong with this, three if you include the design.”
“I can assure you there isn’t, I’ll grant that it could look a little more obvious, but technically it’s sound.”
“If the atoms instantly reform, how does that change anything,” the General asked.
“The damage is total and systemic, the atoms don’t just go back exactly as they were. You know the saying, you can’t unscramble an egg,” the salesman said, happy to have a question he could handle.
“Well that just leaves one question,” the General stated, “If nothing stops this thing for twenty metres, how in all that is holy do you think a space marine can use it?”
The salesman looked perplexed, “They’re quite simple, you quite literally just point and shoot.”
“At least twenty percent of combat operations occur in space, that’s usually where the bad guys operate, not to mention the risk to hostages, and by standers, but most ships are barely twenty metres wide. You fire that and you’ll space everyone. And while I’m sure it’ll probably has a one hundred percent kill rate, a trooper would be better off with grenades.”
The salesman was speechless, not sure how to turn the pitch around, it had very suddenly gone away from him. The techs at R&D had assured him few would grasp the complexities of a weapon like this, they didn’t mention the simplicities.
“We have an order from your government already,” the salesman said, “Your sign off is a courtesy. I doubt you’ll be popular, a lot of jobs rely on this project, and the fees for cancelling will be astronomical.”
“Politics interests me so very little,” the General noted, “However since all you really have is a letter of interest I’m sure my government will be fine. They’d have more than a few political problems with a score of several spaced Marines, don’t you think. And since you’ve just been bragging about grants for fake research goals, I’m sure your in a position to weather the financial impacts, unless the government were to put a stop to them. Good day.” The General immediately walked away, heading back to his shuttle that would bring him back to his ship.
With that, the weapon salesman’s hopes for a multi million commission were dashed, worst still he would have to explain to his bosses the failure of a project he hadn’t even been involved with.