Monday, November 30, 2015

Short, Short Story: They said it was a clock...

"SteampunkProp(byMollyPorkshanksFriedrich)" by Mark Harding
Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

They said it was a clock


The little green-complexion boy said the strange device was a clock. That he had brought it to enter into the science fair competition. The boy was a new transfer and had been attending the school for only a couple weeks, so he didn't really have friends or a track record.

The Principal didn't think it looked anything like a clock. There were several strange gauges and dials, and the thing was a mix of brass and wood. Although the colors looked nice together the device resembled some sort of plasma weapon that the principal had found in a book once.

“It really is a clock.” The boy said.

“Why is there a large clear vacuum chamber? Surely a clock doesn't need something like that.” The principal said, “It doesn't appear to be a water clock or any other kind I am familiar with.”

The boy shook his head. “It's not for telling time.”

“Then what is a clock for?” the man asked.

The boy closed his eyes and rubbed his face. “It is an astronomical clock. You've seen those maps of the stars with all the constellations drawn on them? You realize those stars aren't even close to each other, right? Some of them aren't even stars but other galaxies. It's been done all wrong.”

The principals face looked blank. “I see. I suppose you've worked it all out then?”

The boy sighed. “Yes. My device can measure the time differential between Earth and the other star systems.”

The principal was quiet a moment. “Look here, young man, we have radio telescopes and astronomy satellites that can tell us exactly the distance in light years to those stars. Sounds like you have re-invented the wheel.”

The boy nodded. “Someone has to invent the proverbial wheel on this planet, it's taking way too long.”

“Explain to me what this contraption is for.” The principal said, examining the device again, this time wearing his glasses.

“Using this device will allow human space travelers to chart the waves in the fabric of space that can be used to propel them on interstellar journeys.” The boy told the man. “This stagnant human civilization needs a kick in the pants to get anywhere.”

The man cleared his throat and opened a file. The boy gave the man a hard stare. “Where did you transfer from? Where are your parents? Says here, well, this is all gibberish. What did you say your father did again?”

Then the principal seemed to notice the boy staring at him. “It seems everything is in order, good sir.”

“It is. Once I win the science fair, the whole world is going to know about this device and humanity can join us out among the stars.” The boy said, picking up the device and opening the door, “Good day, sir.”

The principal didn't seem to hear, he was playing with his cell phone. “Can I play a game, mommy?”