through thick lenses splashed with rosin, Phil Dobson touched the
Iron to the resistor he was soldering to the circuit board. Last time
he had put power on the project. It had taken the roof off his
garage. The wife wasn’t talking to him and he was still limping a
bit. It was a good idea to go over this in his mind for few minutes,
before powering up again. The previous experiment that wrecked his
garage verified that his device worked.
It was so simple. He
couldn’t understand why no one else had thought of it. Massive
colliding beam particle accelerators are not necessary. This device
operated by laser bombarding hydrogen gas at a near vacuum. He had
discovered the correct wavelength laser to trigger the energy
release. Phil was not sure what the name of the energy was. Gravity?
Strong Force? Whatever it was, the only use he had found for it so
far was demolition. If he could get control of the size of this
force, perhaps he could learn more about how to control it.
through the hole in the garage roof and then glancing over to the
rafter fragments, one, of which had nearly broken his leg. Phil
thought, “I’m going to have to fix that one of these days.”
He was hoping that he could get to it before it rained, but first
things first. He opened the garage door and took the project out onto
the driveway. There was no need for pushing his luck again with this.
The project was a steel beam with the laser, its power
supply, microprocessor, and batteries at one end, and the target at
the other end. The target consisted of a piece of heavy-duty pipe
with a glass window for the laser to pulse through.
Phil was going to activate the system with a remote control and stand
back, way back and out of sight.
He pushed the button to
activate, and then watched the results. The steel beam made a sound
like a sonic boom and then disappeared. Neighbors came running out of
their houses to see what had happened.
Phil shrank into his
garage and pushed the down button on the door. It was hard to believe
the hydrogen in the target had been hit with only a one
microsecond-modulated pulse and all that much energy had been
His project was down range, like a Scud Missile. He
would pay close attention to the news tomorrow, hoping it did no
Phil switched the light off in the garage and looked at
the stars through the hole. “I am going to have to fix that
soon.” He thought.
While opening the door to the house
he encountered his wife who said sarcastically, “Is any of the
roof left?” Phil lied, “That noise wasn’t anything I did.
It could have been a sonic boom. “Susan looked skeptical. She
had been hoodwinked before. After seeing no additional damage she
said, “You are going to have to get that hole fixed before it
rains.” Phil said, “Yes, Dear.” At least she was
The next day at lunch he was talking to his
friend Ralph. Ralph had been reading the newspaper and said, “Here
is a strange one, Flight 521, out of Seattle, got hit with a piece of
steel beam that nearly knocked it down. This thing hit the cargo
compartment and lodged itself in an aluminum container.
says here that the pilot, a vet of the Gulf war, thought it was a SAM
missile. He saw it coming and tried to dodge it. Some people were
thrown around in the tube when it hit. He was surprised that it was a
dud . . . no explosion.”
Phil’s reaction was, “Was
anyone hurt?” Ralph studied the newspaper some more and then
reported, “This old schoolteacher had to go to the hospital and
get her nose fixed, but she has been released.” Phil did a
silent, “Thank God,” and said nothing else.
weeks later, Phil had his newest version of the experiment together.
It had changed a lot. This time it was built into a four-foot piece
of six-inch steel steam pipe, he had obtained at the junkyard. One
end had a steel cap welded on it and the other had a threaded pipe
Communications with the processor were through a small
heavy duty antenna protruding from the cap. He would control it with
a device that looked like a TV channel changer via UHF Data Link. He
had some new program code in memory. He hoped the changes would make
the device function the way he wanted it to.
Susan went to bed at about one a.m.; he put the now eighty-pound
apparatus on his little wagon and wheeled it out into the driveway
again. He pointed the wagon way from the Anderson house and aimed it
in a westerly direction, “no more aiming at Seattle, for sure,
even though that had been unintentional.” Phil then entered the
garage and closed the door. The neighbors had been getting a little
unruly lately. If this thing made another big noise, he didn’t want
them to see him anywhere. He then pushed the power forward button.
The wagon moved slowly toward the end of the driveway. He pushed the
reverse button and the wagon backed toward the house.
experienced a moment of panic so he powered down immediately. He was
definitely going to have to continue this experiment somewhere else
but it was starting to look like he was going to be able to get
The new plan involved his old 1968 Buick. The
motor was pretty well gone in this old car and it could use a little
boost. Phil decided that if he could push the old Buick around for
free that would be a good deal. He had always loved that old car.
Fitting the project into the trunk turned out to be a bit of
a problem. The pipe was just a little too long to fit in lengthwise
like it had to be. Cutting a hole through the back of the trunk was
no problem but the back seat had to go. After some thought, Phil
attached the device securely to the frame of the car, using
heavy-duty I-beams, bolts, and a few strategic welds. He didn’t want
the thing coming up in the front seat with him. He wanted it moving
He was just finishing the job, including a control
system in the cab, when his son Dan happened by. “What ya!
building now dad?” he asked. Nothing, Phil answered, needing no
help at all from his son. If it was green, his son spent it. If it
drove, he wrecked it and now he was here. This was not a good sign.
“Is that some kind of a new fuel tank back there?” he
asked. “Nope, its air-brakes son, I’m going to fix this thing up
so even you can stop it,” Phil lied.
There had been a
recent incident where Dan had rear-ended a pickup with the Buick.
Phil was thinking that the kid would want dad to fix up the old Buick
so he could drive it again.
Dan knew how to get points, “You
want me to fix that rafter for you?” he asked. “I’ve been
working as a roofer and can get the stuff to patch that hole for you.
My boss will help.
Phil was starting to feel trapped. He was
going to have to deal with Dan. He knew there was no way he was going
to get up on the roof in this heat. And considering heat, this would
get him back in Susan’s good graces. His reply was, “How much it
going to cost me?” Dan said, “Naw, don’t worry about it
Dad. It won’t take but three or four hours.” After that, Dan
spent some time working off a ladder measuring rafters and plywood, a
list was made up Dan said he would do the job on Saturday. That
worked out okay because Phil was planning on being gone testing his
Buick on Saturday morning.
At 4:00 AM Saturday Morning Phil
headed out for a remote spot with some good, long, straight stretches
in the Buick. He drove for an hour or so to a section of state
highway 12. There he found a good spot for his test. First he stopped
where he could see a section of highway that gave him a good mile of
visibility. Turning off the motor and waiting until there was no
visible traffic, he then he turned on the power to the project and
eased the lever forward.
The old Buick started moving slowly.
He pushed the lever ahead a bit more and the Buick went faster. Phil
very carefully continued pushing the lever forward until the
speedometer read 80. He had a magic marker in his shirt pocket. With
that, he made a mark on the console at the point the lever had
advanced to. Then he cut the power on the project, turned on the
ignition and put the old Buick in gear starting the motor. Pleased
and happy, Phil returned home. Yes, he definitely had something here.
Phil pulled into his driveway at 10:30 a.m. Dan’s boss was
there helping unload the roofing, plywood and 2×6’s for the rafter.
Dan’s boss and Dan started fixing the roof. These two were
pretty good buddies, working together they finished the repair with
unbelievable speed. Phil asked Dan’s boss what he was going to
owe him. The guy said, “You’ll have to furnish the beer.”
There was a six-pack of beer in the fridge so no problem meeting that
“Did your new braking system work on the
Buick?” Dan asked. Phil told him the truth, “Not worth a
damn! I’ll have to work on it some more.” There was an idea
here, perhaps you could reverse thrust on the project and use it for
brakes. Phil would have to look into that.
Phil bolted a bar
across the point he marked. Now he believed that he would be able to
throttle the power properly. This would require some further testing
Phil and Susan had a trip planned for Monday. They
were going to go to Richland. He was going to work on a control
system at the Hanford Area. This type of travel was a good deal for
Phil, he had his per Diem and everything was paid for. Susan went
with him on these expeditions and they generally had a good time. He
told his son, “Dan don’t do anything with the Buick. I’m working
on it and it isn’t safe so just leave it alone.” “Ok! Dad
assured Dan.” Phil wasn’t completely comfortable with that, so
before he left he went out to the Buick and disconnected the battery
cable connection that was powering the project. That should keep Dan
out of trouble.
Monday, Dan returned home after working in
the hot sun all day. The folks were gone and he could lay back and
drink a few, kind of cool off a bit. He bought a case of Budweiser at
the 7-11 and was getting ready to tip a few when the phone rang. It
was his buddy Eddy, who had heard the news that the folks were out of
Eddie and dad didn’t get along too well. Long hair and
tattoos turned him off big way. So Eddied favored those occasions
when Phil was out of town. Eddie asked, “What about we take a
drive out to Ironwood and toss cans in the lake?” Dan said, “My
car is not running very well right now. I think it sucked a valve
last week when we were drag racing with the Slammers.” “To
bad answered Eddy, you’ll have to rebuild the motor.” “I
can’t afford it right now” answered Dan, “I had to pay all
those traffic tickets, before the put me in jail.”
an hour later the two young men each with a couple beers in their
belly were heading out of the garage in dad’s Buick. Lying on top of
Phil’s project was a couple of sleeping bags, the rest of the beer
and a few snacks. Dan was driving, he told Eddie, “You know
those new brakes dad put in? They don’t work at all.” Eddie
asked, “What is that lever for?” “It must have
something to do with the thing in the back seat”, Dan replied.
He reached for the lever and pushed it, nothing happened.
they got to the lake, they ran into the Slammers, motorcycles,
hotrods, leathers and all. The best part was the girls. Too bad the
gang was so stingy with them. The only one way to impress the
Slammers was to have a real fast machine, something that really
moved. The other option was to be big and mean. Eddie and Dan didn’t
qualify in either respect.
Dan had noticed the girls kind of
gravitated to the coolest and fastest machines with the ugliest
bikers, like it turned them on or something. There would be some
insults about the old Buick for sure. It didn’t work out that way
though, the bikers were pretty well wasted and in a foul mood. Eddie
thought it best to camp at the other end of the lake. They spent an
uneasy night hoping the gang wouldn’t mess with them. Every thing
turned out ok, those guys were already pretty well burned out and
they must have turned in early.
In the morning Dan was
checking the oil in the Buick, a wise thing to do in this old oil
burner, when he noticed that one of the battery connections was off.
Dan replaced the connection, but he was a bit puzzled about what it
was for. Oh! Well! One way to find out would be to connect it up and
see what started working. Could be the air brakes?
minutes later they were getting ready to go to town after some more
beer and potato chips. Dan started down the road, the old Buick
leaving its usual trail of smoke. He remembered the lever and reached
down and pushed it forward. He felt himself thrust back in his seat a
bit and saw the trees going by real fast. He also saw the corner
coming up fast. He jerked the lever back and hit the brakes hard, he
hoped those new brakes were good. Nearly losing it on the corner, he
came to a stop right in front of a bunch of the Slammers.
the biggest and meanest of the Slammers asked, “What is in that
thing to make it go like that?” Dan, thinking fast, replied, “We
have been tuning it up a bit.” Jake said I’d bet I could
take you in a quarter with my Harley. “Bet what?” asked
Dan. Jake answered, “You win and I won’t take your beer and
money or stomp your brains through your asshole, how’s about that?”
Dan was thinking that winning could get important.
the Buick around and pointing it down the straight stretch of road,
Dan’s hand was hovering over the lever. He hoped it would work again.
Dad’s projects weren’t always reliable.
Doris, Jake’s girl
was standing in front of the car holding a flag. Jake was revving up
his motorcycle and Dan’s hand was hovering over the lever. Doris
shook her parts a bit and then dropped the flag. Jake’s Harley made a
fearsome roar and leaped down the road leaving the Buick pretty much
setting there. Dan was thinking, maybe it would be a good idea to
turn around and run.
Eddie was busy doing something to the
controls that is when he wasn’t ogling Doris he was. Dan thrust the
lever forward and felt his self being slammed into the seat hard, the
trees turned into a blur. Eddie said, “I took that stop off of
the throttle. You had best ease off a bit.”
weren’t looking quite right. The trees were gone. Dan looked out the
window and nearly had a heart attack. It looked like the old Buick
was at about two thousand feet off the ground. Eddie started
whimpering about how he didn’t want to die. Pulling the throttle back
wasn’t a really good idea either. The Buick turned its nose toward
the ground and started acting like an anvil. Dan pushed the lever
forward and noticed that the front of the Buick went closer to
He screamed at Eddie, “Get in the back seat
it might bring the hood up some more. Eddie jumped in the back saying
something about how he wanted his momma. Dan pushed the lever forward
some more and the Buick started to go up. He eventually found a point
that kind of trimmed out.
Looking out the window made Eddie
gasp! He was at about ten thousand feet and headed toward Seattle in
an old 68 Buick. This would make a great story if he could figure out
a way to live through it. Right now the prospect for a long life
wasn’t looking all that good.”
November 121 Charlie,
This is SeaTac Control, how copy?” This was over the radio in
F14 N121C, which was headed toward Tacoma. “There is an
unidentified aircraft closing on SEATAC they won’t answer their radio
can you identify?”
N121C replied I have a radar target
at 30 NM Vector 252, no transponder. I’ll intercept and identify. A
few minutes later the pilot answered, “I have what looks to be a
68-Buick heading 282, at about 380 Knots airspeed.” “Say
again,” replied SeaTac. “You heard me right the first
time,” replied the pilot in N121 Charlie. “I am in inverted
flight and looking down into the windshield. I see two kids that look
like they are going to have to change their shorts as soon as they
figure out how to land a 68 Buick.”
A long silence at
SeaTac was broken by an inquiry, “What is the mode of flight?”
N121C’s reply was, “Your guess is as good as mine. The wheels
are turning, but I doubt that’s what pushing it. No visible
propulsion system. No propellers, No Jets, No Rockets, No wings, If I
didn’t see those kids in there, I’d think it was a UFO with a
confused alien trying to look disguised. This is the weirdest thing
I’ve ever seen. Just a minute, one of them has a magic marker and he
is reverse writing on the windshield.” “What does it say
asked SeaTac Control?” “Help us, is the message sir.”
Secure communications in the F14 came alive with a message
from SATCOM, “Major Richards, This is NORAD, General Maximilian
speaking, identify the unknown aircraft.” “Sir the aircraft
appears to be an automobile. To be precise it is a 1968 Buick the
color is green. Sir, do you have the track on your console?”
“Yes,” answered the General. “Do you have an
explanation for this vehicle being at ten thousand plus, 380 knots?”
“No Sir,” was the response. After a pause, “Escort
this 68 Buick until Delta Flight relieves you. Upon being relieved,
proceed to Fort Lewis. You will be met there by a Civilian who will
debrief you.” “Thank you Sir,” Was the response.
Just what he needed a debriefing from a shrink, this was much
worse than a flying saucer? Now he would be suspected of being
psychotic or something.
Delta flights two F14’s arrived and
trailed the Buick in close formation. Major Richards received a radio
message, “You are relieved Sir.”
Delta flight was
on a different channel with NORAD incredulously confirming that the
Unknown was indeed an automobile. NORAD asked the Flight leader
Colonel Norris to take a close look.
Colonel Norris inverted
his F16 Aircraft and put his bubble about 25 feet away from the
windshield of the Buick. “What do you see inside Colonel?”
Came over the radio. “I see a couple of young men looking very
frightened. The words, Help Us are written on the windshield.”
NORAD told the Colonel to reverse-write on his canopy, “Can you
cut Power?” This was done and there was an answer. One of the
young men was nodding his head up and down.
So the vehicle
was under power and the mode of power could be controlled. “What
else are you seeing?” “Sir, the gasoline engine, is
running, the wheels are turning, and exhaust is coming out of the
tail pipe.” NORAD asked for the Colonel to communicate to the
Unknown that they would like for them to shut off the gasoline
In the Buick Dan said to Eddie, “They want me to
turn off the motor.” Dan thought this over for a while. The
gizmo in the back seat was hooked to the battery, if the battery
discharged whatever it was. It would quit working. The Old Buick
would plummet to Earth when that happened. On the other hand there
was a limited set of options here. If he didn’t do what these guys
asked. They could shoot him down. It was a good idea to cooperate and
not make them mad. He chopped the motor and as a second thought set
the emergency brakes and foot brakes holding them tight with his
Dan’s next request was for Eddie to hand him a beer. He
needed it. Flight Delta 2 Reported to the Colonel, “He has cut
power to his wheels and no more smoke out the exhaust Sir.”
NORAD picked up on this. “Ask them if they can land” The
answer was, “No Sir, whatever is pushing that thing they don’t
seem to be able to control it other than to shut it off.
asked, “What are our option’s Colonel?” The Colonel
replied, “If we had a big aircraft with a ramp that could be
opened in flight perhaps we could maneuver it into the cargo area and
have these guys cut power. The vehicle seems to be in fairly stable
flight. They report that they can cut power. Otherwise, we may not
capture this thing to study it. In about fifteen minutes we are going
to be over the Puget Sound. We’ll never find it when it crashes.
There is a lot of debris about that size in the Sound. Locating it
will be tough. The other option is to drop it over land where we can
recover it. I don’t like the idea of wasting those kids. The crash
could destroy whatever device is moving that thing. I for one would
like to know what it is”.
The command set in the F16
passed this message to Colonel Norris, “We are going to try an
in-flight pickup. You will rendezvous with C130 aircraft Foxtrot One
over the sound in ten minutes. Foxtrot one is presently airborne near
Tacoma. Get this one for us. We would like to solve this puzzle.”
Dan had just finished chugging down his beer and was thinking
about asking Eddie for another. Eddie wasn’t much use for anything he
was in the back setting on the device looking like it was the
electric chair. Since Dan looked pretty much catatonic, Eddie figured
he would have to get his own beer. He started climbing over the front
seat into the back. He climbed back quickly when he realized that the
car was starting to pitch up. In a minute or two the car drifted back
to level flight.
He started reasoning with Eddie, “Eddie
if you don’t snap out of it, I’m going to climb back there and throw
you out the window.” At this Eddie started whimpering again, “I
want my Momma.” Dan said hand me another beer, “Eddie did
it.” Amazing, thought Dan.
The Fighter turned upside
down, and the pilot was writing on the canopy again. The message
read, “Cut power when in aircraft.” This puzzled Dan for a
while, and then he saw the big airplane in front of him. It was
obvious what was in the works. Dan said to Eddie, “We might live
through this after all, they are going to try to pick us up with that
airplane.” It didn’t have any effect on Eddie who was too deep a
panic to hear it.”
The huge aircraft opened a door in
the back. A gigantic ramp came down. Eddie could look into the
cavernous hole inside the airplane and see some men in green fatigues
wearing helmets. One of them was gesturing to Dan to hold it steady.
He could tell the universal meaning of both hands extended to the
front with both hands down. Dan shook his head up and down to
indicate that he understood there was very little he could do to help
anyway. He was just along for the ride.
maneuvered its self so that the entrance was right in front of the
Buick. Dan could see one of the crewmen talking into a headset
obviously directing the pilot. Soon the Buick was actually entering
the opening. Dan’s eyes were riveted on the crewman with the headset.
When the Buick was completely in the cargo hold, the crewman made a
slashing motion across his neck. Dan understood the gesture; he
pulled the lever all the way back to cut the power. The Buick dropped
to the floor of the cargo hold.
There was a flurry of
activity. The GI’s were wrapping big nylon straps over the Buick and
securing it to the floor. One of them motioned Dan to roll down the
window. Dan did that.
Eddie came to life and asked him, “You
want a beer?” The GI’s reaction was, “Get your ass out of
there. Now! He had his pistol drawn and was pointing it at Dan. At
this point Dan was really more afraid of the Buick than the pistol.
He shot out of the Buick like a pea out of a pod.
however wasn’t so fortunate. When he jumped over the seat to climb
out, he bumped the lever with his knee. That was when the shit hit
the fan. The Buick lunged forward, the strap in front crushed out the
windshield but eventually held. Eddie was pinned by the strap and the
seat. The lever was under him and he was trying to pull the damned
thing back. He could barely breathe and couldn’t move the lever at
Captain Curtis, commander of Foxtrot 1, felt himself
thrust back into the seat. His eyes went to the airspeed indicator,
which showed that at the present rate of acceleration he would soon
be supersonic. C130’s don’t go supersonic they go into pieces first.
Captain Curtis grabbed hold of his throttles and pulled the
levers all the way back. As an afterthought he stopped the engines.
Not much help, the old bird was starting to shake, she was going to
break up soon if something wasn’t done.
Holdings started to hit the flaps lever hoping the drag would slow
her down then he realized that it would just yank the wings off.
Dan was nearly thrown out the open cargo bay door by the
sudden acceleration. He struggled over to the Buick and saw that the
big straps had buckled up the hood. He could see the battery. Dan
knew that the aircraft wasn’t going to stand up long to the kind of
stresses it was taking and the way to shut it off was the battery. He
struggled over to that side of the car and reached out to unloosen
the battery cable.
Dan was looking down the barrel of a 9MM
Pistol the airman told him, “Spread Eagle.” Dan looked him
right in the eye and screamed, “If I don’t shut this thing off
we are all going to die.” He went ahead and removed the battery
Up in the cockpit the Captain was suddenly flying a
600 MPH decelerating glider. He calmly said to the First Officer, “We
have lost that thrust, now start the engines.” The flight
engineer and the First officer began to start the engines. Captain
Curtis was trying to get a fix on his location. A quick check of the
satellite navigation system showed he had went in a big arc during
the emergency and was now entering the Hanford Area.
flight engineer reported that the engines wouldn’t crank there was
something wrong with them. So they tried an air start and again no
luck. The airspeed was now at 150 Knots altitude 3000 feet and things
were starting to look grim. The flight engineer reported a start on
the Number 3 engine. The first officer throttled it up to 80% right
away. Not enough power they were still losing altitude.
captain realized he was going to have to set this bird down so he
lowered the landing gear. He was on the intercom to the crew in the
cargo bay, “Raise the ramp and prepare for an emergency
landing.” There was a flurry of activity in the cargo bay. Then
he told the Engineer 100% on #three. Keep trying to bring #two up.
Phil was having a great day. He had just exited the main
building at the Vitrification facility for a break. He had just
solved the problem that he had been brought out here to fix and was
feeling pretty good about himself. Time to go out and grab a bit of
sunshine. There was a group of engineers and technicians outside the
building enjoying the nice weather. They were watching a C130
aircraft that was getting closer all the time. The aircrafts landing
gear came down and it had only one propeller going. It looked like it
was in trouble.
They could see that the aircraft was lining
up for an approach to the access road to the Plant. It was going to
land. A few minutes later Phil was looking in the cargo bay of that
C130. It was a shock to see his Buick in there all crushed up from
the straps. No doubt that this was it, the trunk was open and he was
looking at his device. It was even more of a shock to see Dan and
Eddie. Dan walked down the ramp looked at his dad all he could think
of to say was, “Hi, I’ll bet you’re surprised to see me?”