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The War Is Over
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 2

"You’re back," the bluecoat said neutrally.

BP nodded. "As you see." He had no idea who the bluecoat was – he wasn’t from BP’s own department – but it wasn’t any surprise that the man knew him. Greencoats were few, and very well known to everybody by sight and name.

"How’s it outside?" The bluecoat seemed to have lost his desire to enter the lift.

"As usual. You know, spring, blue skies, the leaves are coming out on the branches." BP glanced at the bluecoat, whose little eyes were gleaming avidly. "You haven’t been out in a while?"

"Not since the start of autumn," the bluecoat said. His moustache quivered. "Ever since the autumn I’ve been down here, without a sight of the sky!"

BP didn’t know what to say. "Well," he managed, "if the rumours are right we’ll soon be done with the work here."

"I’ll believe that when I see it." The bluecoat suddenly remembered his urgent need for the lift and jabbed the button, halting it before it could rise again. "I’ll bet I’m still here when..." His voice was cut off as the lift door slid shut.

A whitecoat was waiting for him outside the door of his laboratory. "The Director wants to see you, Doctor."

BP regarded her with disfavour. Now that he was back down here, in the world where there was no day or night, he was eager to get back to work. On the other side of that door, his banks of equipment would be humming, ready to do as his mind had shaped them. Instead of which...

"Right away?" he asked.

The whitecoat only nodded. She was so pale that she looked almost as white as her coat. BP wondered if she’d ever felt the sun on her skin, or whether she’d been born and grown up in the bunker. Like all whitecoats, she resented the fact that she’d probably reached as high as she’d ever get. Unlike browncoats and bluecoats, whitecoats seldom rose higher in the ranks.

But her message wasn’t to be disregarded, so BP went to the Director’s office instead.

"You’re going to take over the new department at once," the Director said. "You’ll have carte blanche. Budget, personnel, whatever you want."

BP leaned back in his chair, frowning. "While I’m not in any way disregarding the honour and responsibility," he said drily, "I really would like to know why. All these years I’ve been starved of funding and resources; I’ve been working in spite of, not because of, the department. So why am I being given all this help now?"

The Director shrugged, his pudgy shoulders moving under his brown coat. "The war’s still on," he said. "The cyborg programme is obviously not moving fast enough. So..."

"...they’ve finally decided to give my matter disruptor a chance." BP sighed, half with exasperation and half satisfaction. "If they’d listened to me earlier..."

"...we’d have won by now," the Director replied expressionlessly. "Yes, we all know that. Well, you’re being given your chance now."

"It’s not as though we can guarantee overnight results," BP said. "You know what the disruptors do? They increase the energy levels of molecules in closed systems until they begin to disintegrate giving off heat energy."

"Yes, and so?"

"We’ve had good results in being able to generate the effects at a distance," BP said. "But we can’t focus it. It’s like taking a sledgehammer to a..." he tried to think of an appropriate comparison. "To a bacterium," he finished.

"Send me your results so far immediately, and update me on a daily basis of your progress from now on." The Director tapped a forefinger on his desk. "So how long do you think you’ll take to refine it, now you’ve got all you need?"

BP shook his head. "There’s no way of telling. It may not even be possible at all, or not possible in a short enough time. But what’s the hurry? We’re winning, aren’t we?"

The Director stared back at him levelly. "Are we?" he asked.

[ Continue to page 3 ]

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Genre:Science Fiction
Type:Short story
Rating:7.57 / 10
Rated By:9 users
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