Sci-fi: Conversations with an Extraterrestrial – (1)(i)

1. Alan Quinn’s Quest (i)

Alan Quinn unwound in a long walk after another absorbing day at his ‘cubipit’. Felix trotted merrily alongside, his tail wagging unstoppably. His master’s buoyant spirits of late had an all-uplifting, all-invigorating effect on Felix. The spaniel, now five years old, had been with Alan since he was a week old, the two having an intimate understanding of each other.

It was the discovery of the Higg’s boson that had really put a bounce in Alan’s stride. It had taken those scientists thirty years and they had finally zoomed in on that elusive particle. Alan’s project was just under seven years young. (Aha! Don couldn’t complain now.) He was more convinced than ever, his elusive find was lurking around the corner too. A faint, faint whiff of victory approaching was pumping his adrenalin.

Luckily Alan didn’t need government funding; surely if he did, this project would have seen the same fate as the ‘God particle’ project and been taken up by European scientists. No, Alan was fortunate – blessed indeed, to have had the backing of his angel investor who was banking on his success. Don Valentini applied considerable pressure on Alan – he was an impatient guy, full of anticipation for his mega-buck returns. This genius, Alan, was an absolute gem of a find for Don – rare and priceless.

There was no Hadron collider, no need for the elaborate set-up as at CERN. This was different. Alan’s project (called ‘Chocolate’ for reasons of secrecy) was mostly done in the ‘cubipit’. The ‘cubipit’ was a mobile cubicle, but looked inside, like an aircraft’s cockpit (hence the name ‘cubipit’), with dashboards, dials, electronic sensors, electrical wiring and levers; it could fly like an airplane if required.

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