Unknown Power (short fiction)
Occasionally something is discovered that has the potential to change life as we know it. Not all discoveries are welcome.
I’ll refer to him just as John, a neighbour and a good friend, divorced four years ago, no children. Two years ago he took early retirement from the engineering firm with whom he had been employed for many years, engineering was his life; he was always tinkering in his garage, designing gatgets, Heath Robinson contraptions, which in my opinion many were simply, entertaining.
A couple of weeks ago John text me an invite to join him for a few beers, though his true intention, as usual, was for me to take a look at some contraption he’d made and maybe give an opinion, something he did quite often, I always obliged.
Grabbing a four pack from the fridge he led me into his garage “this will amaze you” were his words as he unveiled his latest invention. I just smiled as he pulled off the covering dustsheet to reveal what I can only describe as two small engines linked together with some complex pipe-work and connected to a motorbike wheel. “It doesn’t run on petrol or diesel” he proclaimed, intent on bringing out a reaction from myself, I just nodded in interest “it’s chemical, doesn’t even have an exhaust, all self contained, everything is re-circulated”. He opened a couple of valves and gave the wheel a gentle nudge to set it in motion, the sound from the device began as a low pitched whistle that became higher as the wheel accelerated to an alarming rate. John made adjustments to decelerate the wheel to what I considered a much safer speed.
“It will continue running until I stop it,” he stressed, making sure that I fully understood what had been created, “it’s basically perpetual motion”. I had to admit, this was the most intriguing invention that John had built, and I was truly amazed. “Built to size with the right control, its limits are endless, it could power transport on the roads, in water, even in the air, and it could drive turbines to produce electricity” he paused for a while; “it could change the world as we know it”.
John stopped the motor and tossed the dustsheet back over it, we continued to drink our beers sat in his garden enjoying the last of the evening sun. During conversation, John mentioned that he had wrote to the energy minister giving a detailed write up on what he had created, though obviously without the fine details of how it actually works, he had also began the process of applying for patent.
Since then, I haven’t seen or heard anything from John, until a story on the local news caught my attention, “Inferno in Wickford Tunnel” was the headline, stating that around 5.25 am this morning, there was an unexplained explosion involving what was believed to be a BMW vehicle, one unidentifiable body being discovered in the aftermath. John’s BMW was not on his drive, no answer at his door and his mobile dead?
Deep in thought now; whilst pottering around in my garage, I noticed things had been moved, burglars was my initial thought, but I was wrong. What I did discover was much more shocking, John’s engine, hidden amongst my collection of half used paint tins. With it was a book full of diagrams and formulae, a CD and a note. The note simply read “Sorry to involve you. I don’t feel safe, they think I am taking my engine and all my work to them, it’s yours now, show it to the world”.