“Imagine that,” marvels Dame Margaret when reading of her nephew’s accomplishments in quantum physics. “Finally, a member of the royal lineage, remote though he be, who is an actual genius besides myself.”
How am I supposed to react? This is really awkward. Margaret turns her head to me expectantly.
“What? No snide comeback?” she asks with mock impunity. “I am a genius, in the area of feminine independence. Come, I want to visit my nephew Stuart. I think his talents are being squandered. Before long they’ll suck him into their corporate infrastructure where he’ll disappear from public sight while being exploited to the full for the next two decades. They’ll use him up then toss him away like yesterday’s trash.”
Well, we wouldn’t want that, would we. Who the hell am I supposed to be?
Obviously I’m in the UK and I must be pretty darned close to this British woman having awakened next to her. She’s in her late 50’s or early 60’s or at least appears to be. She treats me as a familiar, even an intimate. She’s also getting suspicious.
“You’re mum today,” Maggie notes. “No opinions?”
I rub my neck. “Touch of sore throat.” Hmm. That came out like Thurston Howell the Third from Gilligan’s Island. A visitor is announced.
“Aunt Maggie!” Stuart shouts, greeting Dame Thrustfinger at our residence upon request. “You’re in rude health!”
“For an old codger?” she counters coyly, giving her nephew a hug.
“Good to see you again, ‘Uncle,'” he says disingenuously, looking me in the eye and shaking my hand with a cool indifference. Well a hoitie-toit to you too, buster. Whatever.
“Stuart,” Dame Thrustfinger inquires, “can you possibly use your engineering genius to make your Auntie Margaret a designer weapon? I will happily compensate you for your time and provide you with the laboratory, assistants and materials you need.”
“My quantum microspecs can power a computer so small it can fit inside a bullet,” explains Stuart. “What do you have in mind, Aunt Margaret?”
“Something that can only be fired by its owner,” Thrustfinger insists. “Something that can take down anyone. And something that is easy to lift and takes no skill to aim. Is that too tall an order, my brilliant boy?”
“That’s quite the challenge,” Stuart admits. But it’s one an ambitious molecular biochemist and nano-engineer cannot resist.
Using spare set-aside funds Maggie Thrustfinger, the impetuous fringe royal, encourages and influences research conducted by her brainy nephew Stuart Braminghouse III toward developing the ultimate security device for her personal use.
By the following week I accomplish a breakthrough in this mad journey through multiple realities. I set a new record for staying in one reality for seven days. Spending six nights with Margaret Thrustfinger I discover her unusual penchant for oral sex, both giving and receiving. She is practically obsessed with the penis. In other ways she is what one might expect of a mature woman. She takes 22 pills a days, three yoga classes a week and enjoys programs about clever murders and handsome detectives.
Astonishingly, Stuart has achieved his goal in this short time. Combining a number of previously unconnected nano-technologies with his quantum microspecs gives him a breakthrough. The result is a strange rifle that weighs almost nothing! Yet it can do almost anything! Dame Margaret Thrustfinger wields a weapon calibrated to operate only when detecting her heartbeat through dual grips. When the trigger is pulled it assesses the target, determines weakness, creates ammunition and zeroes in on that target within one-tenth of a second of trigger pull. “Brilliant,” commends Maggie, “it analyzes, manufactures and delivers. There’s a molecule factory inside this rifle. Brilliant, Stuart.”
“Aunt Margaret, consider it,” Stuart says, excited. “We’re quids in with this weapon!” Stuart is beside himself, marveling at the profits he could make from his invention until Aunt Margaret reminds him…
“That golden egg was laid under my employ. Indeed, all profits would be mine. But there would be no profits for there would be no sales.”
“What?” Stuart asks. “Then what are you going to do with it? Use it for noddy work around the yard? That’s not a bug zapper! Don’t you understand?”
“Stuart, please,” Dame Thrustfinger beseeches, “I will do whatever I like with my possessions. You will be handsomely rewarded, but I will be the sole possessor of this marvelous machine, this first and only molecular weapon.”
“Oh,” Stuart suddenly realizes, his tone turning solemn. “Oh I see. It’s her, isn’t it? Picking up the old vendetta, are we?”
“She killed your real uncle!” Margaret shouts, then turning apologetically to me. “Blood, I meant.”
“You think you can stop her with that rifle when military forces have failed?” mocks Stuart.
“This weapon is unique,” Dame Thrustfinger suggests, “even Menstra has nothing like this.”
“Quite right,” agrees Stuart facetiously, “she only has that Shiite Bubble with twin 5-point laser engines, a shatterproof dome with four modes: clear, mirror, tinted and radiant, a forward particle-beam blaster, a refraction net that deflects laser and heat-seeking attacks from behind, an extendable tri-legged walking mode, a methane torch blaster, and a gyro-balanced reinforced chair that keeps her level at all times relative to the horizon.”
He just described Menstra, that rampaging terrorist who levels entire districts by herself in that damned bubble. She almost killed me when I ended up on the edge of a 25 story collapse caused by her attack. Is that reality the same as this one? How can it be? That would mean that I…
“Stuart, she almost killed your American uncle as well,” Maggie says, pointing at me. “That was ten years ago and she’s still out there murdering the innocent.”
“The fucking Americans made her!” Stuart lashes out. “I won’t be cheated out of my rights to this discovery! I’ve created a miracle here! Yes, I created it with your money, you ridiculous old hag, but anyone could have supplied money. I’m the one who engineered this! Once I’ve sold manufacturing rights I’ll pay you back double your investment. Bloody hell, triple it! This is my chance for independence. I’ve earned it.”
“Then let me set you free,” Dame Thrustfinger says, activating the rifle in Stuart’s direction.
Moments later a small pile of minerals splays in a pool of water where Stuart stood.
Seeing my shocked expression, Maggie offers, “You know that I won’t let anyone else get their hands on this technology. I’ll keep it handy in case opportunity knocks. Like anything else, it will fall apart eventually. Be forgotten. Best that way,” she reasons, staring at the puddle of Stuart, “don’t you think?”
I think I’d better.
Stuart’s disappearance triggers a massive search effort.
We quietly tuck the rifle away in a closet for future convenience, labeling it merely a piece of ‘art.’