Sahara Light: a Novel. Part I. Chapter XIII.

5 Mar

Hermes spent hours manipulating the line of pulsators, fulminators, and reverberators he had set up for the activation of the quasiparticles that were the primary ingredients of the new kind of light he was trying to create.

He began to generate varieties of red light in the widest range that was possible in traditionally recognized hues and shades: crimson, vermilion, carmine, cerise, maroon, murrey, magenta, mauve, auburn, hematic, puce, minium, terra cotta, solferino, etc. At last he halted in frustration. The rays being projected onto a large white screen were the familiar ones, not the new ones he was expecting. Something different had to be tried, the physicist was compelled to conclude.

That afternoon, he turned to the blue section of the color spectrum. Many promising hues were generated with the inclusion in them of quasiparticles in various combinations of exitrons and polaritrons. Hermes noted the creation of rays that registered as cerulean, cyanic, slate, perse, cobalt, turquoise, beryl, indigo, glaucous, etc. On and on he went, varying the color with bombardment of quasiparticles in ever new balances. But try as he might, the shades produced were the old ones. There was nothing not seen before by chromatologists in the plasma that shined forth at the end,

Hermes took no time to eat or rest, but worked without interruption or pause. There was one last region of color for him to explore, the sector of the yellow. He switched to that territory in the rainbow, fearful of further failure. Lemon, canary, sulphur, topaz, citron, fulvius, luteous, ocher, tan, beige, saffron, and chrome were among the types of light that were generated.

The scientist was peering at the color screen on the wall when the door to his workroom opened and the Director entered in a rush. Her face was a dark taupe, fringed with angry red.

“‘I’ve discovered that you took valuable equipment without my authorization,” she excitedly burbled. “You have to know that such action is contrary to all our rules of procedure in the Institute. Your lawlessness constitutes serious infraction of our regulations and patterns. What am I going to do with you, Hermes? Why won’t you do what is required of you?”

He looked fixedly at her from where he sat, unable to speak or move. Hebe, wearing a heliotrope business suit, stepped closer to him before continuing.

“Whether you acknowledge it or not, I am your primary friend here at the Institute,” she murmured in a lowered voice. “You want to stay alone and work by yourself. No partners to speak of, no confidants or allies. In fact, I am the only person with the slightest idea of what you are pursuing. And I doubt whether my knowledge really goes very far at all.

“I have shielded you from scrutiny and judgment by outsiders, Hermes, but that cannot go on any further. I believe that you are your own worst enemy because of the strange, fantastic claims that you make about the connections between the quasiparticles and the color spectrum.

“Come to your senses, Hermes. Wake up to the unrealistic goals you have set yourself. There are no new colors out there. It cannot be done here in a laboratory. And even should you succeed, there are no practical applications for any such addition to our knowledge.

“I want you to start on a new project with specific limits and concrete aims. Do you understand? There must be an immediate end to what I term your extreme self-indulgence with new colors that do not exist.”

Hermes said nothing, but peered at her as if in awe, his face turned away from the wall screen and the equipment he had set up to generate light with quasiparticles in it.

He noticed how the Director was looking past him at something he could not himself see.

“What color is that?” asked Hebe in a tone of surprise.

The chromatologist swiveled around to see what she was talking about. In the time since she had come into his workroom, the pulsator, fulminator, reverberator, and other devices and apparati had continued in operation, uncontrolled and on their own. The unplanned hiatus of human direction had produced an unforeseen result, not at all foreseeable.

The rays of light being generated had received an enormous load of quasiparticles that had gone through echoing and reverberation. Something new and unexpected had come about during the Director’s interruption. The wall screen had become an iridescent plasma of something new, never experienced by anyone before.

Hermes, at first, thought he was gazing at a brilliant chatoyant hue, an ever changing cat’s eye kind of color. But this seemed to be something beyond that, What precisely was it? What label could be attached to it?

Two pairs of eyes, those of Hermes and Hebe, were staring as if mesmerized at a protean, unnamed color that no one had ever perceived before. It stunned the minds of both of them.

As seconds passed, both of them had the feeling of witnessing the miraculous. A new color in a new spectrum was registering in both their minds, but neither had words able to describe it. What they were witnessing was unprecedented.

Finally, Hermes turned to her, his lungs panting for breath.

“What do you think?” he asked in a rasping voice.

Hebe appeared to be in a trance.

“Beautiful, very beautiful,” she mumbled dreamily. But then she shook herself back into the present. “But you are a scientist, Hermes, not an artist. This is what you must now do: wind up all your work and write a final report that describes what we now see on the wall and how you have produced it.

“I will assign you to one of our product teams working on agricultural light applications. You will no longer be creating the beautiful rays we just witnessed. I am sorry about all of this. It must be a tragic disappointment for you.”

With that, she turned around and left the workroom with haste.

Hermes at once erased the Director and what she had done from his mind. He now had an opening into a realm of new light and coloration. It had to be explored at once, regardless of consequences. He could not afford to hesitate.

This was a new universe that he had to begin to map out at once. It was impossible for him to obey the orders given by Hebe.

The colors in the new spectrum were unnamed. He decided at once to refer to the primary elements of that light as alpha, beta, and gamma photic rays. That would be his shorthand for the fundamental ingredient of the new color spectrum.

All at once, he remembered Echo Syrinx. She would be happy when she heard this news, he was certain of that. But he had to talk to her face-to-face. No other way, it could not be communicated by phonic means from a distance.

Two more days remained in his work week. If he left this evening, he would be in Gamara well ahead of the next Heliosday. Echo would be overjoyed at his successful breakthrough. He could foresee his happiness in describing what he had achieved. She would have the opportunity of sharing his happiness.

He decided that he had to hurry to Gamara with the news about what he decided to call the Echolight.

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