Although he lived in New York his entire life, Ted had never intentionally seen the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. He did witness it on television many times against his will. He had no use for parties or crowds, but there was almost always someone around who would insist he switch off the marathon of his favorite show to watch the meaningless descent designed to reinforce people’s belief that time should be macroscopically perceived as quantized rather than continuous. Now, as the final minutes of the 2011 ticked by, Ted was on a roof above the reveler filled square, but this time there was no way he could observe the newly constructed, record breaking size, giant deluxe ball, for he was inside it. He knew that the crowd didn’t realize what a historic drop they were witnessing, but most of their minds were overtasked by trying to wave at the cameras, figure out how to see through the “2012” shaped glasses, and get drunk all at the same time.
It all began a little over a year ago, when Ted was on break from his graduate studies in Advanced Theories of Electromagnetic Fields. He took a summer job with his Uncle’s Construction firm, which among other things, assembled the New Year’s Ball apparatus. At one of his first union meetings "Genius Boy," as his crew called him with mock reverence, was approached by a group who identified themselves as masons. Ted went from being puzzled by the professional, if peculiar, appearance of these stone cutters, to utter astonishment at learning that nearly every conspiracy theory, cover up, and urban myth he’d ever heard was true. He was fascinated that it was JFK, himself, who had fired the shot from the grassy knoll, in order to add to the misinformation. The only exception was the Mayan 2012 Doomsday prophesies. He was thrilled they could finish work before the “predicted” Mayan end date. It amazed him that anyone could seriously expect a civilization that figured out:
but couldn’t summon up the brain power required to figure out the mystery of 2012+1, to actually forecast anything relevant. Ted was recruited to contribute to Project Countdown, never returned to college, and continued at the construction company as a cover to work on the new ball.
The theory and equipment were beyond human development, but he could handle his portion to produce the desired effect. The amount of electricity and psychic energy present on New Year’s Eve would be harnessed at multiple sites, and fed back, causing a worldwide Bio-Electro-Magnetic Pulse. The pulse would not only burn out all electrical devices, but also the active neurons of a conscious mind. Ted and the few other human project members were provided shielded areas in close proximity to their assigned job sites. They were also allowed to bring along with any magnetically stored information they wished to retain for mementos after Countdown.
Ted had heard the many rumors about the project being controlled by aliens, demons, genetic mutants or time travelers. He didn’t know which, if any, were accurate. (And would be completely unsurprised to learn the reality, which is they all were.) True to the ambivalence and indifference that got him recruited in the first place, Ted didn’t care at all. While running a final check on all of the seals of his protective sphere he hadn’t noticed the countdown had already begun, until he heard the final numbers:
Then the connection at the base of the tower was made. Ted was shielded from the pulse itself, but not from the sound of the keening death wail of sentient life on Earth, or the stench of fried circuitry mixed in with that of charred neural tissue. Ted ignored these, as he was famished after working nonstop through the day on the final preparations. He gingerly unwrapped his midnight snack, careful not to drop a crumb. As he savored each bite of the last Carnegie Deli pastrami on rye in all of creation, he sadly thought:
"Now these I’m going to miss."
While eating his mood lifted as he looked at the perpetual battery powered info-projector pad the organizers provided him with. On its hard drive was a vast supply of books, games and videos for his new, much less interrupted life, including the complete collection of his favorite series, The Twilight Zone.
"Yes sir, Mr. Henry Bemis,"
Ted’s soft voice echoed in the absolute silence,
"Time enough at last, and my glasses are shatterproof."
|HAPPY NEW YEAR!|