I need a temp-orary dog … for a temp-orary job … on a temp-or-ar-y place like … Oh, hello! I was just singing to myself. I like to sing while I work. It helps me to focus.
You're here to learn about ununbium, are you? Well, keep your wits about you. It has a half-life of only about 240 microseconds. Think fast! It's gone.
The problem with ununbium is that it has an unstable nucleus. The center, as Yeats put it, cannot hold. But that's probably more technical detail than you want to hear. Let's cut to the chase. Ununbium is here today and gone so immediately as makes no nevermind at all. For most purposes it might as well not even have bothered showing up.
So if you want to work with it, like we do here in the machine shop, you've got to be efficient. Even before you shape the ununbium into something usable, you've got to have the chore it's supposed to perform all set up for it. Because the manufacturing, use, and disposal of an ununbium device are pretty much simultaneous. It's tricky as tricky can be. Before you begin, you have to have all your tools in place and all your motions swift and practiced and above all sequential. One step out of phase, and bam! Disaster.
That's why the machine shop is so empty. Normally there's two dozen machinists working here. Today it's just me and Gene. All the rest are recovering from what happened yesterday. If it hadn't been for Gene's quick thinking and that bottle of hair spray … Well, we'd all be dead now.
It's an interesting story. If we had more time I'd tell you it. But we don't.
© 2002 by Michael Swanwick and SCIFI.COM.