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Only A Test

by Jeffrey J. Lyons © 2005

The phone rang. Gyan Mercier glanced at his watch and sighed. That time of the afternoon again. "Hello?"

The soft-spoken, raspy voice of his egghead neighbor Doctor Vincent Batanson responded, "Gyan. I have scheduled but one test tonight."

"And you think this will be the one that counts," Gyan said as if reciting from a script all the while chuckling to himself.

"That is my hope," Batanson said. "So please relax and it will be over soon. I appreciate your understanding. The test will begin in approximately one minute thirty-eight seconds…thirty-seven…thirty-six…"

"I get your point," Gyan said, "Just get it over with and let me read my paper in peace." He hung up and begrudgingly turned to the real estate section.

"For Sale: Land. 8 acres surrounded by trees and ponds. Peace and Quiet. $75,000."

It wasn’t long before Gyan heard the faint rumble of machinery from the modest two-story house next door. Seconds later the Gyan felt the light vibration on the floor. He buried his nose further into the newspaper.

The decibel levels doubled, tripled, and then quadrupled until the machinery sounded as if it were right in Gyan’s own living room. Just then a huge gust of wind pushed his front door open. "Dammit Batanson," Gyan growled.

The roar of the wind deafened Gyan’s ears as the pages of the newspaper swirled violently around the living room. His brass lamp flickered and tore itself from the electric socket and crashed to the ground as the pull from the wooden framed portrait of his parents ripped the wallpaper off section by section.

Gyan felt himself being sucked toward the front door with nothing to hold him back. His arms flailed for anything to grab to stop this uncontrollable yank toward oblivion. Each time he heaved his body forward the intensity of the gale pulled him two steps back.

Gyan weakened. He didn’t know how much longer he could take it. Just then a small corner shelf banged him on the forehead. Distracted and in pain he lost his concentration. His legs arched upward and like a rubber band stretched to its limit, he snapped abruptly backward.

Incredibly, Gyan’s hands found the fireplace. He stubbornly ignored the brutal pain, which burned in his wrists and he willed himself to hold on like his life depended on it.

The plate glass window near the splintered front door shattered. "Damn," Gyan shouted. "They told me it was unbreakable."

His ears popped and he struggled to catch his breath. The air around him grew cold and the pressure pounded his brain. The unending howl of the wind ravaged his ears. Gyan became dizzy and heavy-eyed. He knew he could not give up now. His grip on the fireplace loosened and he felt his clutch on the crumbling bricks slipping away.

Then everything stopped. A second later Gyan fell about three feet to the floor with a thump.


Gyan welcomed the magnificent effervescence of fresh air pouring into his lungs. He shook his head free of the light-headed sensation of near unconsciousness and smiled. He maneuvered his body into child’s pose and then pushed himself to his knees.

There were three soft taps on the remains of his door. It was Batanson. He cleared his throat said softly, "Gyan. Are you safe or otherwise unimpaired?"

Confused, Gyan could only grunt a faint acknowledgment.

"My experiment in quantum mechanics went awry but I feel I am on the right track. The error was in the solar output inhibitor again," Batanson said in hushed tones broken with nervous laughter. "I might need to run a few more tests but I remain optimistic for success."

"What about my house?"

"Its molecular structure became tangled within the parameters of the artificial black hole that I was attempting to initiate," Batanson giggled. "Fascinating isn’t it?"

"No, you jerk. The damages?"

"Oh, I’ll compensate you for the damages," Batanson said, "That’s one of the benefits of a government grant."

"Can’t your government grant buy you a new laboratory too?"

"All moneys are appropriated for applicable equipment," Batanson said. "Besides, it might be problematic and prohibitive to secure a zoning variance."

"The politics of science," Gyan said sarcastically.

"Quite," Batanson said with a weak smile. "Don’t worry Gyan. As soon as I perfect my time machine we’ll go back and fix everything right up for you."

"I can’t wait," Gyan said as he trudged to the door and slammed it shut. It immediately toppled to the ground in a dozen pieces. He wondered if that acreage was still available.

x x x

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