A moment in time
Jason cleared his throat and tapped the microphone to check that it was working before he spoke, rendering the huge crowd silent. The large screen above the podium showed a close up of him looking calm and focussed. He rarely smiled during public appearances and today was no different.
The monumental ten thousand seater King Wilbur Royal Auditorium at the University of Octavia was packed to capacity, full of scholars, scientists and important people from all over Carac, all eager to learn about the latest breakthrough in technology from Prince Jason, a technology rumoured give man the power to play God.
The turnout was much greater than anticipated and those who were not early enough to get a seat inside the building found themselves watching the announcement on large screens set up at the nearby sports stadium.
The event was also being broadcast live across the entire planet, over Carac’s brand new television network.
Jason cleared his throat one more time, for effect, and addressed his people.
“Greetings, good people of Carac,” he began, pausing to allow the applause to die down before speaking further.
“My esteemed colleague Doctor Vince Singer, and I, after many long hours of work have finally created a technology which now gives us the power to command the very building blocks of the universe, the atom.”
A murmur of excited voices within the large crowd broke the silence. Jason paused for a few moments and then continued speaking, slowly and deliberately so than everyone understood his words.
“What this means for you, the people of this great civilisation, is that life as you know it is about to change once again, for the better. With this technology we will be able to create anything, from complex computer equipment to hot meals and medical supplies almost instantly, out of the very air you are breathing. Now, while this may sound like magic or seem too fantastic to be true, I assure you, it’s simply science in action.”
He paused again for a few moments.
“Doctor Vince Singer is going to demonstrate this technology to you in a few moments, after which we will make the blueprints freely available to all the people of Carac, to be used for the advancement of our civilisation.”
He paused once more as the crowd applauded.
“I now hand you over to Doctor Vince Singer,” he concluded bowing politely and gesturing to a flustered Vince who was approaching the podium at a brisk pace amidst thunderous applause.
Following him and trying very hard to keep up were two men in white lab coats. They where wheeling a small waist high steel work table and a portable electrical power generator between them.
A rectangular dull grey metallic box, roughly the size of a shoebox, stood on the shiny surface of the table. The table’s four little castors rumbled and bounced along the stone floor tiles and the box threatened to fall off more than once as the men tried to keep up with Vince who was now already at the podium.
The crowd cheered and clapped again as Jason was captured on the large screens taking a seat between King Wilbur and Princess Jasmine.
Vince didn’t particularly enjoy public speaking unlike Jason who simply adored the limelight and was ever ready to pose for the cameras and make impromptu speeches.
He walked up to the podium looking very smart in his blue shirt and black coat, and appeared just a tiny bit uneasy. His long hair was tied into a neat ponytail. The brisk walk caused him to perspire so he paused to mop his brow without removing his metal rimmed spectacles and quickly returned the blue and white striped handkerchief to his coat pocket before speaking into the microphone.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began sounding just a little out of breath, “I present to you, the atomic manipulator!”
The camera shifted away from Vince and zoomed in on the little grey box which stood on the table. One of the men positioned it so that it stood on its longer narrow side. There was a shiny black rectangular window which appeared to be made of tempered glass on the one side.
The crowd watched in near silence while the men quickly connected a cable between the power generator and the grey box.
“Now that the atomic manipulator is powered up, I can control it remotely from an application on my hand held computer,” continued Vince removing a touch screen computer from the inner pocket of his coat.
“What we are going to do now is scan a hot mug of freshly brewed coffee, storing its atomic map in the device’s memory and we will then be able to recreate the coffee as many times as we like.”
One of the men quickly retreated from the table and returned a moment later bringing with him a transparent glass mug of steaming hot coffee which he placed in front of the black window of the grey box.
“I am now performing a scan of the coffee,” announced Vince as all eyes watched the table closely.
To those watching the proceedings on the screens, the entire grey box seemed to be glowing with energy, though no such glow could be observed by those looking at the box directly. This process took less than a minute to complete and Vince continued as soon as the mug was moved to the far side of the table.
“And now, we recreate the coffee,” announced Vince, running his fingers over the touch screen of his hand held computer.
This time around, the area in front of the box glowed brilliant white much to the amazement of the crowd. Gasps of astonishment could be heard as a steaming mug of coffee formed within the bright light, and another, and another, all perfect replicas of the original.
Vince walked over to the table, picked up a mug and took a sip.
“Delicious!” he exclaimed. “Coffee, anyone?”
The event eventually drew to a close well after midnight. Vince and Jason were both exhausted from answering questions and discussing possible applications for the technology with all the academics. Jason excused himself and headed off to the Equinox where he planned on spending the rest of the night by himself.
It was still an hour or so before sunrise and Jason once again found himself seated in the captain’s chair rather than in bed with the Princess. He felt restless and despondent even though he had no reason to feel this way. The mood swings would occur ever so often and without warning, and when they did, Jason usually retreated to the Equinox to be left alone, hiding from the rest of the world. He preferred his own company whenever he felt like this, rather than to allow anyone see him during his moments of weakness.
The soulful sounds of Luther Vandross flowed through the bridge at a moderate volume, the hidden loudspeakers perfectly recreating the artist’s velvety smooth and airy voice. As far as Jason was concerned, the greatest music ever produced hailed from the late twentieth century and Luther was one of his favourite musicians from that era. The song - “Now That I Have You” which played on repeat soothed and calmed him. He could listen to the same piece of music for hours on end revelling in the composition while his mind simply drifted off.
The main view screen played a video recording of the ocean, viewed from a pier near his hometown, Oceanview, the same pier where he’d spent many long hours during his high school years, just staring out across the ocean. Jason had found this footage in the ship’s archive while searching for images from his hometown. Closing his eyes, he could almost smell the salty ocean air and feel the salt crystals on the cool steel handrail.
“Luther Vandross! And, my favourite song! Where did you find this?”
Jason almost jumped out of the captain’s chair in shock.
“Eve!” he exclaimed. “What are you doing here at this hour?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” she replied, not really answering his question. “I haven’t heard this song in years. How did you?”
She trailed off, as Jason stood in front of her and placed his finger on her lips.
“Shhhh...” he said.
Now it was Eve’s turn to be taken by surprise.
“May I have this dance?” he asked, taking her hand in his, and pulling her close to him.
She nodded, still completely taken aback and surprised. This was so unlike the Jason she had come to know over the years.
He placed his arms around her and she responded by placing hers around him. Everything felt surreal, as if he was in a dream.
Her scent intrigued him. It was a mix of her perfume, her shampoo and just her, making him feel butterflies in his stomach. It felt as if a million volts of electricity flowed through him as they slowly moved to the music.
Time appeared to be standing still and all that existed right now was this magical moment and nothing else. Oceanview, Carac, Equinox, the Princess and his plans all seemed so insignificant now.
The song began to fade, nearing the end.
“No, not yet.” he whispered. “Don’t let go of this moment.” He held her even tighter.
“Ok,” she whispered back.
The song started up again.
Jason felt his spirit calm and he wished that he could remain like this forever, while somewhere within the deep recesses of his mind, he was patently aware that reality lay on the other side of this moment, and sooner or later, no matter how tightly he held on to Eve, this moment would pass and he would have to face reality and all its complications.
They danced until the suns began to rise, illuminating the red sands of Zalhar outside the ship. Another glorious Carac morning had dawned.
“Thank you, Eve,” said Jason. “Thank you for the most amazing experience I’ve ever had.”
Eve hugged him and left, without saying a word.
“I wonder,” Jason thought to himself, “I wonder if time could be manipulated?”
In the weeks that followed, the university had recreated the device and distributed it, along with the blueprints, to all the major learning centres across the planet, where the device was further recreated and distributed to the general public.
Vince’s research team at the university had dedicated their efforts to healing the sick and had made some major breakthroughs in replicating limbs and grafting these limbs onto the recipients using the device, eliminating the need for painful surgery and speeding up recovery to a mere two days.
Vince had taken the research a step further, attempting to replace internal organs without the need for surgery. This ambitious idea involved directing a force field inside the body and dismantling the diseased organ, while simultaneously recreating it.
For Jason, the device meant that he could have his fleet of faster than light star ships ready a whole lot sooner and create even more ships. He could also have his communications and defence satellites in orbit a lot sooner too.
Unbeknown to Vince and Eve, Jason had adapted his technology to create the ultimate weapon which he called the atomic disruptor. The weapon was capable of destabilising any matter which came into contact with its beam, on an atomic level. The mini handgun version could instantaneously vaporise a person while the larger, more powerful versions were designed to be carried by all his star ships.
Jason was ready to play God with all this power at his finger tips. There was no limit now to what could be accomplished, barring his imagination. He had the loyalty of all the citizens of Carac. He had, after all, improved their lives in so many countless ways, for the better, and he was their Prince, and heir to the throne.