There are many ways to distract a man; to fill his mind with something that prevents him paying attention to something else. One is to give him an unmistakable sign that a woman he has been secretly interested in would like to reciprocate. That is a very good way, but there are many others, some pleasant, some unpleasant. The morning post could bring a summons for an undeserved traffic offence, or a bank statement could give the first unwelcome indication of identity theft. He, or worse still, a member of his family, might receive a false diagnosis from a routine medical check or be involved in a mishap, from mild to severe. Then again he might receive the ultimate distraction. All of these and more occur in the present story, although they may not be mentioned.
It began when a group of important people realised that there was one possible invention which, were it ever to be made, could remove their power and that of many like them and plunge the world into an unimaginable period of instability and confusion. They realised that even the thought that such a development might be possible would appeal so strongly to the liberal masses, who could have no idea of its possible consequences, that the development would be unstoppable. A small working group was selected from the world’s most powerful nations, not by the leaders of those nations who necessarily remained in ignorance of the affair, but from a shadowy layer somewhere beneath them where real career-
They were to establish conditions where the probability of the discovery ever happening was reduced to the lowest possible level. Unless apparently watertight proof could be obtained that the feared invention was technically impossible, the strategy would be to deflect. This would be quite easy if scientists in a public body were to apply for funds to work on the problem. The real danger was that a maverick, working alone, should chance upon the solution and announce it before it could be suppressed and should this happen it would be necessary to eliminate the event itself and all traces leading to and from it.
A plan was devised. They would embed a ‘listening’ programme in the world’s electronic communications networks so that certain combinations of words pointing to a specific achievement would activate a widening circle of response until a dead zone cordoned the off the whole ‘area’ and it was appreciated that the size of the dead-
It stalked the undergrowth, grey in a grey background, unseen and un-
An obscure engineer, well respected by the few who understood him, became obsessed by the idea that means might exist to detonate fulminating explosives at a distance, no matter what means were used to protect them. The consequences were obvious. Bombs, and perhaps more importantly, bullets, would cease to be serious weapons. He had many ideas for possible approaches, writing outlines of the details only in his private notebook. Then the experiments started to work. He knew that the aim could be achieved. Unable to contain his excitement, he e-
The email did not arrive. Neither did he survive the accident on the way home. The putative recipient of the e-
It was still now. Nothing to do but wait until another of the threads started to vibrate. The thought that there might be a different world, a different set of dimensions, where grey could not exist, had hardly started to unfold.