…those whose grasp of physics, chemistry, politics and other arcana is too wide for their own good. (from the WIP)
The band was straggling in and various folk were fiddling about with the stage and the props, so I raised a glass to the living and the dead, so we could get out of there before Fintan got distracted. Fortunately, he was busy doing some calculations in the moisture off the glass on the table top, so he didn’t notice, and, as usual seemed to somehow inhale the drink. He was quite cheerful to leave. That should have made me very afraid, so it did.
Didn’t stop me from following Fintan down into his cave. I’ve never actually seen all of it. I’m not sure Fin has either. That’s the trouble with messing around with space-time in your own backyard. Whatever happens, your own backyard is likely to get a lot bigger than it used to be.
“This here is a tokamak,” said Fin, picking it up off a stool and handing it to me. “You can think of it as a donut.”
“Quite easily. It has a bite out of it,” I said, inspecting it.
“Oh. Then that probably is a donut. Is it warm?”
“Ah. Then you have got the right one after all. That’s the problem with High Energy Symbolic magic. Reality gets quite upset with it and does strange things. Bring it over here,” he said, picking up a beaker from the rack next to the wall, and tapping some fluid from a condenser next to it. He tasted it, wrinkled his nose. “Should do,” he muttered and poured into a funnel leading to an array of glass tubing with several retorts, surrounding a large copper globe, onto which the various continental outlines had been etched.
“Get the text message up, put the mobile on top of the tokamak, and balance it on top of the globe. You are wearing rubber soled shoes, aren’t you? There’s sometimes a residual charge.”
I did as I was told. It’s best that way with Fintan.
“Right. Turn this crank,” said Fintan as he lit the burner, and went on sipping from the liquid left in the beaker.
I did. For some time.
The result was a fair amount of sweat on my part, and a high-pitched whine. The occasional lightning discharges I paid no mind to. That was pretty standard when you played around with divinitive magics.
Fintan slapped his forehead. “You can stop. I forgot the satellite dish.”
I stopped, sat down, swore gently, while Fintan wandered off.
He came back with a pietre dish. “Couldn’t find the satellite. This’ll have to do. Where did I put the hexaflourophoshoric crystal? Ah. On top of the malemdela there. Pass it to me, Euchaid. Use the tongs.”
Anything Fin recommends tongs for will probably eat your arm from seven paces. I took the small crystal from the squid tentacles, and I handed him the tongs carefully, and he took them with equal care.
He used the small crystal to scratch something into the petrie dish medium. “I can’t believe I forgot this. Forget my own head next. It’s too little alcohol, I tell you. I hope I have the chirality right,” he said, as he dropped the glittery crystal back among the writhing green tentacles.
Fin never forgot anything. Never has. He hadn’t this time either, I’d bet. But the demons in the machine need to believe the magician could make a mistake. I wasn’t fooled, but hopefully they would be.
I got to balance the pietrie dish on the mobile, a small bell-jar on top of that, and then crank again.
This time we got a result. The pietrie dish started smoking, and the Bell-jar quietly crumbled into dust. The whine intensified and there, with the lightnings arcing through it hung a small glowing mosquito.
“Much better. Last time it was a wasp,” said Fintan beaming. “There you are boy. A mere three megavolts too.”
“I thought glowing little bloodsuckers were quite easy to get off the best-seller racks,” I said, retrieving my phone and dropping hastily it, before it burned me too badly. Slag dribbled through the molten plastic. Another item for the bill for Simone. I hoped those trustees were good with her money.
“Ah, but this one is special. Look how it hangs above the globe. Shortly it will alight on precisely the spot from which the message had its origins.”
I looked at the mosquito, slowly settling on the copper-plate of the globe, hind legs up, proboscis down. This was divination at its best, as usual. It was aiming for Northern Europe. Fintan looked at it and shrugged. “The law of unintended consequences. The global positioning stinger got your messager’s place of origin, at a guess, rather than where he sent the message from. Hmm. I’ll try reversing the polarity.”