Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD (08/03/17)
TITLE: All the King's Horses
By Graham Keet
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“Snug as a bug in a rug,” he said with satisfaction. “Let’s test to see if she’s okay.” With that he removed a very sleepy rabbit from the basket and handed it to his colleague, Charlie Cairns.
“She certainly seems to be perfectly normal, I’ll run some tests and if everything checks out, I’ll test it on myself. Boy, this is big. If it works on me then the sky’s the limit.”
“Don’t forget President Reid is our main sponsor and he’s watching this project very closely,” said Mike. “He wants to be the first head of state to be transported using a digital transport vehicle.” He removed the rabbit from the test scanner. “Bunny has passed the all tests, so let’s transport you between the two capsules—you sure you’re ready for this?”
“After all our hard work on digital transportation, of course I’m ready,” said Charlie. With that he climbed into the steel capsule and pulled the door closed. Mike walked to the other side of the laboratory, where a similar capsule stood, it’s LEDs flashing. A few minutes later a buzzer sounded inside the capsule and the door opened. Out stepped Charlie grinning from ear to ear. “It works,” he said, “I transported myself between the two capsules and have come out in one piece.”
Just then the laboratory door burst open and a flushed Stanley Simms, the presidential aide, burst in. “President Reid wants to know how the tests went today. He says if everything’s ready he wants to surprise his Russian counterpart, President Medledev, by stepping out of a capsule at the grand gala evening in Moscow this Saturday. That will be one-upmanship like the world has never seen before. He says he’ll make that day, which will be the 12th August 2088, a national holiday forever.”
“But Saturday’s too soon,” objected Mike, “we still need to do months of testing.”
“You know what President Reid’s like; if he wants something it will happen…” said Simms. “Just get everything ready. He’ll do one test run in the laboratory tomorrow, and if that works, he’ll do the Washington to Moscow trip in the Mark 1 on Saturday.”
The next day Mike and Charlie held their breath as President Reid climbed into one of the capsules in the laboratory. They programmed the control console, then stood back. Presently the LEDs on the other capsule stopped bouncing, the door opened and out stepped a smiling President. “How do I look, boys?”
“You look just fine, sir,” said Mike. “But let’s give you a full check-up just to be sure.”
“Sure thing, let’s do the tests. Have you arranged my booster shots, Stanley? You know I always take my energy shots before meeting other heads of state?”
“All set up, sir.”
“I can’t wait to see Medledev’s face,” said the smiling president.
Saturday evening came and a portable terminal capsule was wheeled into the gala reception hall in Moscow prior to the event and placed behind a curtain. Mike Nesbitt was at the Russian terminal while Charlie Cairns manned the Washington end. At the appointed time, with President Medledev and all the dignitaries at the gala function watching with puzzled looks on their faces, Mike contacted Charlie on their high-performance radio link. “All set on your side?” asked Mike. “Is President Reid ready?”
“Sure thing, he came early and is raring to go.”
Mike looked at his watch. “Time to roll; everything’s set on this side.”
“Roger that. The president’s going in now.”
Nesbitt pulled the curtain aside at the Mocow end and President Medledev and the guests stared at the flashing LEDs. The flashing stopped and the door opened. Everyone gasped, some ladies screamed. Back in Washington Charlie Cairns stared in horror at the images on his screen. “Oh no,” he stammered, “the position of his eyes, nose and mouth are all mixed up. Mike, what went wrong?”
“Could be the greater distance, sunspots or even those booster shots he had,” reasoned Mike.
“I reckon we’re in the…”
“Don’t say it!”
“Okay, but I guess it’s back to the…”
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