Chapter 6: Tom
Tom jumped up, carrying his invention, an engine that ran on the polarity of magnets, to the front of the academy auditorium. He proudly displayed it on the pedestal, hoping the academy heads would give him his chance. It was the year 2099, and at the age of 20, Tom had created the fuel-less engine, or at least he hoped he had. After several mistrials, and disastrous mistakes, he prayed he had gotten it right this time as the academy heads might not listen to him again.
“Thank you, professor,” said Tom. He dropped a folder with his papers and specifications of the engine. In his desperate attempt to catch them, Tom scattered them around his feet, some flying off the stage with each movement of his hands. Embarrassed, he crawled on the floor, picking them up, hoping it didn’t reflect poorly on his performance. Judging by the academy heads’ faces, it did.
“Are you ready, Tom?” asked the headmaster.
“Yes, sir.” Clearing his throat, Tom started again. “As you know, we have had many advancements in motor technology within the last 250 years. First with the steam engine of the 19th century and internal combustion engine of the 20th century. Later, in the year 2032, that engine was replaced with the hydrogen one. But such a conversion was not without its risks.
“Today, I propose a new way of powering our vehicles, with the new, fuel-less engine. This prototype does not use fossil fuels or hydrogen. It uses magnets.”
Laughter echoed throughout the room. Tom felt what every inventor who had attempted to do the unthinkable and untried felt: irate frustration.
“No, really,” he said, “this engine runs on magnets. It works according to the principle of perpetual motion. Over the past 85 years, others have tried to produce the fuel-less engine, using magnetic theory, but each of them failed. I have succeeded where they could not. The field produced by each magnet generates enough molecular energy to not only power this light bulb, but our cars and aircraft. Think about it. No longer will we have to worry about pollution or fuel shortages. This engine is clean, efficient, and affordable. It could even generate enough electricity to power one household for a month.”
Irritated, Tom lost his temper. “I don’t appreciate your cynicism.”
“Tom, you have been here several times in the past with this engine, and each time, it proved a disaster.”
In response, Tom plugged the light bulb into his engine and flipped the switch. A soft whir filled the room as the engine vibrated, jostling the table it sat on. The bulb flickered to life, slowly at first, before shining bright, illuminating the stage area and reflecting off Tom’s ebony skin. Amazed, the eyes of the academy heads widened; they leaned closer, placing their elbows on their armrests. A satisfied smile crossed Tom’s face. He had done it. He had achieved the impossible.
A prickling sensation touched his skin as the room became electrified. Not sure of what to do, Tom stood helpless as a yellow and orange light surrounded him, cutting him off from the others in the room. It grew and grew until he could stand it no more.
Tom, and his engine, had disappeared