I don’t know where I pull this stuff from sometimes but if you’ve got a little physics background you might find it mildly amusing …
The punk was hiding down the alley, caught between three sheer unclimbable walls. I knew exactly where he was and that he’d stopped dead. Which was exactly the problem, it was all too neat. Some would say convenient, but I knew a man who would beg to differ. A little someone called Heisenberg. The law wasn’t a matter of convenience, it was the law and you had to obey. Even a little street electron like our friend down in the alley.
The darkness hid me well. Ensconced in my trench coat, hunkered down against the interminable mist that hung in the air, I was dry and calm. A fedora, pulled low over my eyes, made my get-up replete. Looking the part was essential in this game. It wasn’t enough to enforce the physical laws, the trick, nay the style, was in making it look like you’d done nothing at all. Blending into the prevailing history was what added that element of panache that made it all worthwhile.
Drawing on my cigarette, I frowned as I contemplated my options, the subdued red glow highlighting the creases lining my brow. How should I handle this punk? No doubt he was scared, in a street-wise way. Adrenaline fueled anxiety coupled with a violence based self-esteem makes a potent cocktail. Unlike the brightly coloured variety served in the various establishments nearby, this was not a cocktail you wanted even a sip of. Not if you wanted to live with your valency intact. I needed a solution that would draw him out peacefully, leaving everyone alive and well.
My radio crackled into life. “Albert, what’s your move? We still know exactly what’s going on down there”, barked a gravelly voice. “Get a move on or these researchers will be bogus results and it’ll be another ‘Cold Fusion’ debacle all over again!” It was my boss. A hard grinding, no nonsense, 20 millennia veteran of the equations. Hating snake-oil with a vengeance, he bore a grudge against the world in general ever since that fateful day in ’89 when his team had stuffed up and let Pons and Fleischmann detect a batch of heat being smuggled out of their experiment by the neutrino mafia.
He’d copped the political heat that day too, but it had been made clear that I would be the one holding the can if it all went wrong today. It was time for action. The measurement was coming soon. Pulling out my hand gun, I stepped into the mouth of the alley silhouetting myself against the skyline. It made me a perfect target to my little electron friend, but in this game you often had to take risks. Lining up my sights on the center of his forehead, I squeezed off a shot.
His profile exploded in a blur of activity. Limbs flailing, his body twisted in a truly Matrix-style avoidance pattern. To him, time slowed to a crawl as he dodged my slug. From my perspective however, he’d simply disintegrated into a probability wave of potential, my bullet passing benignly through to damage the brick-work behind. Bingo! The ploy was working. Slowly advancing down the alley, I started emptying my clip into him in a measured un-suppressive firing pattern, his body taking the form of a continuous probability wave, bucking and weaving, never exactly anywhere in particular as he worked his magic to avoid my shots.
About halfway down the alley, I felt the change as the measurement was taken. The physicists gathered the data from their experiment. The electron not quite anywhere exactly but almost in many places simultaneously, behaving in awesome mimicry of the laws of physics. And then in a moment it was over. The walls collapsed as the energy was drained from the rig and the electron capered away into the surrounding ether. My job was done – and done with panache. The journals were once again safe from the corrupting influence of those who would thwart the laws of physics.
Taking a final drag of my cigarette, I let it fall, grinding the smoldering stub into pavement as I turned. With my fedora adjusted lower over my eyes, I started a slow swagger back to base. The boss hadn’t called, I knew he wouldn’t. Not when everything went right. In some ways I almost felt guilty robbing him of the opportunity to ball me out for failure because it was his only pleasure – or so it seemed. But only almost. In every way that counted, I felt on top of the world. And so I smiled and took my time enjoying the victory as I wandered on into the night.