IT HADN’T WORKED. Tens of thousands of man-hours, billions of dollars and trillions of computations all culminating in a big, fat nothing. Professor Palmer’s senses returned to her slowly, almost reluctantly. For what felt like a long time her entire awareness had been filled with one overriding thought—the project was over.
She was uncomfortable, lying amongst broken glass and twisted debris, and as this discomfort began to register she tried to rouse herself. A klaxon was howling and she grimaced at its closeness as she struggled into a sitting position. The lights were out and the lab, or what was left of it, shimmered behind a thick veil of acrid, grey smoke. Coughing and gasping for breath, Palmer reached out for a shattered computer housing and used it to pull herself to her feet. There was a deep gash on her forehead and something sharp was embedded in her left shoulder, but apart from that and the headache she was fine. An involuntary laugh sprang to her throat, where it caught and mutated into a racking cough.
“Hans!” she called out, as soon as she was able. “Hans! Are you there?”
There was no answer from the wreckage, but the klaxon was too loud to hear anything else and the smoke and darkness made it impossible to see anything but the broadest details. As she called her colleague’s name out again, she caught sight of the looming bulk of the transmitter in the centre of the devastation. Half of its outer plating had been blasted away and it seemed like the core had shattered.
She cursed. Radiation. End of story. Continue reading