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Friday, March 25, 2022

F³ Stakeout Interruptus

             I rubbed at my eyes as I squinted through my car window. I had a small piece of cardboard jammed at the top that did a passable job of keeping the drizzle off the window. Raindrops played hell with trying to get a decent photo, especially at night.

            Across the street from me, the light had gone on in the bedroom. I was at a bad angle since the bedroom was in the back corner of the house, but I could just make out a corner of the bed. I checked the viewfinder in my camera. A tie draped over one corner, tossed there haphazardly.

            I’m going to have to go back there. I really hate these kinds of jobs.

            There were times, and I strongly suspected this was one of them, that some people hired me to track down something supernatural going on with their spouse, when it was just an ordinary affair. Not fun, but easily proved with a couple of snaps.

            I settled my hat, ready to bolt from the car when I got a text message.

            Nikki? No, she has her own sound, so do Jen and Jessie.

            Having run through my usual suspects, I checked the message, which consisted of one word: “Incoming!” So I checked who it was from, and sighed again as a flash of lightning split the night and rolling thunder echoed in the clouds.

            Behind me, I heard a knock on the passenger window. Kate waved at me, pointing at the door lock. “I brought food!” she said.

I sighed, knowing I wasn’t going to be getting those pictures, tonight.


Friday, March 18, 2022

F³ The Final Insult

             “Ah, good,” Ursula said, clipping the end of the word in her German accent. “You are all here.”

            We were still in the dining hall, finishing the dregs of our fondue meal.

            “Lay it on us, Doc. You won’t find us in a better mood,” I said.

            “Well, I have excellent news. We have confirmed that you both are producing positrons and the annihilation reactions with ordinary matter are producing high energy photons. This is very exciting.”

            The four of us looked at one another, then back to her. “Still waiting for the good part,” Nat said.

            “The two of you present a nearly limitless potential for fueling our experiments. We will finally uncover the secrets of antimatter thanks to the two of you. We may even be able to realize new sources of unlimited, clean energy!”

            “Great. So, how do you fix us?” Jack asked.

            “Fix you? I do not understand.” Ursula appeared genuinely confused

            “We don’t want to shoot positronium—”

            “Positronic,” I corrected.

            Jack flipped me off, but didn’t stop talking to Ursula. “—Lightning. I want to shoot regular lightning, like they can.” Jack pointed to Nat and Anna Maria.

            The girls spread their fingers and created spiderwebs of electricity between their fingers.

            “I am always amazed at that.” Ursula gushed. “Would that we fully understood those processes. Perhaps we can start some experiments with you, too.”

            “How. Do. You. Fucking. Fix. Us?” Jack said.

            “I have no idea. We do not want to fix you. You are far more valuable to us shooting the antimatter than lightning.”

            I could feel it, kind of like how the charge changed in a room before shooting off lightning, but it was sharper than that, much more tense, so I grabbed Jack. “No, Jack. Definitely no. Let’s just go.”

            Slowly, Jack turned away, and we moved toward the exit.

            “Good, Joaquim, good,” Anna Maria soothed. I will throw lightning and disrupt their experiments for a time.”

            Just before the door, Jack turned and yelled out, “Belgian chocolate is better!”

            “And the French make far superior cheese,” Anna Maria added.


Friday, March 11, 2022

F³ Bringing The Weirdness

             I was on the verge of unleashing a positronic lightning bolt to destroy all of CERN when Nat and Anna Maria showed up with fondue takeout. We quickly took over two tables in the CERN dining hall. They unpacked a small cauldron of molten cheese and laid out varieties of bread and meat that would satisfy a dozen people. So it had a small chance of satisfying the four of us. Fortunately, they also had a dessert fondue of chocolate loaded with liqueur.

            Scientists and others would occasionally come by, but an evil eye from me or Jack sent them on their way. Nat and Anna maria regaled us with what they had been doing. Kate had come in from the Pacific Northwest to help Nat cover my area, while Anna Maria got help from Stavros from Greece to cover Jack’s side of the Med. Fortunately, both the Plains states and Europe were fairly calm, weather wise.

“Except for this weird cyclone that just popped up in the same area where you first exploded,” Nat said, dunking in half a baguette into the cheese. “It was barely an F1, though, so we just let it peter out on its own.”

“’s weird, right?” I said, devouring half a sausage dripping with cheese.

I considered dipping the other half in the chocolate, but decided against it. Maybe later. “Only if we call every tornado in the Alley weird.”

“They’re weird,” Jack said.

“Joaquim, must you stir up trouble?” Anna Maria said.

“Never seen an F1 that small, though. I’d call it a dust devil but it reached the clouds. Don’t know. Weird shit is always happening to us.”

“Case in point,” Jack said, gesturing between the two of us.”

“The two of you, bring the weirdness on yourselves,” Anna Maria said, and shoved a chocolate dipped strawberry in Jack’s mouth before he could reply.

“She has a point,” I admitted, dunking part of the sausage in the chocolate.

“Oh, God, I think you just ruined fondue, Reilly.” Nat tossed the rest of her baguette on the plate, looking away in horror.


Friday, March 4, 2022

F³ Limbo

             The loud thunking sound made me lose count of the holes in the ceiling tiles, so I started over. I got to 37 before the thunk sounded again, this time a double. I sighed, and began again, this time only getting to 18 before another thunk.

            “Do me a favor, Jack,” I growled. “Put a divot in your skull. Really cause some brain damage.”

            “Wouldn’t change my charming personality.” He thunked his head against the wall again.

            After five days in Switzerland, and at least two dozen tests, we were bored out of our skulls. Nat, Kate, and Anna Maria had to go and respond to weather threats since Jack and I were out of commission. We didn’t even have our phones as a stray static charge along the outside of the phone could react with the positrons Jack and I produced. Jack was still furious over losing progress in a game he had been playing.

            Ursula came into the room, looking cheerful as she flipped between pages of a report. “I have good news,” she smiled. “The latest test results are clear.”

            “So you know what we have?” I leaned forward.

            Jack paused his head thunking.

            “Hmm? Oh, no. I still don’t know. What I mean is that we do not have to repeat that test again. The readings are clear, so we can proceed to analyze them, now.”

            “Oh, great.”

            “Yes, I thought so. Well, it should only be another hour until we’re set up for the next test.” With that, she turned and walked back out of the room.

            Jack resumed his thunking.

            “Hey, you think you’ll reach level 30?” I asked.

            “Bite me, Reilly. Just bite me.”


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