Monday, 25 April 2011

Episode 77

Moon stopped his car at the entrance to a non-descript campus on an equally unimpressive business park. A uniformed guard emerged from the little hut next to the security barrier, clip board in hand, and motioned for Moon to lower his window.

Moon turned off his car stereo, cutting off the sound of Mitch Carpenter, lead singer of Chip off the Old Block, going on about how his heart felt like it had a great big Charley Horse now all his happiness had fled because of old ladies' gossip or some such twaddle - at least that's what it had sounded like. That was one CD that was definitely going back to its lender without being copied!

He gave his name and showed his id to the guard and was waved through quickly enough.

Now that he was actually here, he could feel the excitement building inside him. The phone call last evening had been most intriguing. If the project had actually come up with some real results, he wouldn't be the only one with cause for gratitude. The implications were staggering,

Haines was waiting for him in the Spartan little reception area. Moon signed in and the two men walked wordlessly to the laboratory where the demonstration was to take place.

As they entered the lab, Dr Flowers stood up behind her desk and greeted Moon warmly.
"Welcome, would you like some coffee or something before we get started?"
"No thanks, I had one just before setting out," Moon gazed around the room in bemused interest. There was a definite Heath-Robinson look to a lot of the equipment - a sort of mix and match approach, connecting all kinds of disparate bits of electrical and electronic components had been adopted, by the looks of it.

Flowers saw Moon looking.

"At this early stage, we're still trying to figure things out." she said, "Obviously, once we've refined our techniques, we can build something a little less messy-looking. Shall we start? If you take a seat here, you'll get a good view."

Haines sat down on a stool next to a large, blocky piece of equipment, encrusted with lights and dials and with numerous wires coming out of it. He then proceeded to pull onto his head what looked for all the world like a swimming cap. The cap was covered with round metal clips.

Flowers moved in and began to connect the wires from the equipment to the clips on Haines's swimming cap. When they were all connected, she flipped switches and the large box hummed to life.

"All set?" she asked.

Haines nodded.

Flowers picked up a telephone that lay next to the blinky-lights box.

"Pilkington? Switch on number three, if you please."

She replaced the handset and moved to where a lumpy shape lay under green surgical cloths on the bench.

She twitched these aside and Moon was surprised to see the body of a small monkey lying underneath.

Noticing Moon's startled reaction, Flowers smiled. "Don't worry," she said, "it's not dead, just anaesthetised." She lifted another cloth to reveal a surgical tray and instruments. Quickly donning some rubber gloves, she swabbed an area on the monkey's arm with antiseptic. It looked to Moon like a patch had been shaved in the monkey's fur. Flowers then took a scalpel from the tray and with deft precision, made a two-inch cut in the monkey's skin. Immediately, blood flowed out onto the green sheets. Flowers stepped aside and motioned to Haines, who stepped up to where Flowers had stood.

"Watch closely," said Flowers, and Moon leaned in, transfixed.

Haines reached over to where the little monkey lay and touched its arm, Moon wasn't sure, but he thought he saw the most minuscule flash or spark of blue run from Haines's finger to the animal. Haines then stepped back, a strangely euphoric look on his face.. With the blood covering the area, Moon could not see that anything had changed. He looked at Flowers with a quizzical expression. She grinned, stepped forward and swabbed the blood away.

"Amazing!" breathed Moon.

There was no sign whatsoever of the cut Flowers had just made.

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