Something had gone wrong.
Professor Gertrude crawled out from the tangled mess of wires, shavings, plastic and electronics and stood glaring at them impatiently.
“Why won’t you work!” he shouted at them.
Prof. Gertrude was attempting to build something special. He hadn’t quite decided what it should be yet, but he knew that whatever it was would be amazing.
But it didn’t work. And without knowing what it was supposed to do yet, the Professor had hit the point of simply connected things to other things, and hoping that something might happen.
After the explosion at the last university had left him “in between” real jobs, the Professor had found himself in a period of self-guided experimentation. It wasn’t going well so far.
He needed a project.
There was a knock at the door, which the Professor didn’t answer (he never did – he figured if it was important enough the visitor would probably just come in).
In came Snooty.
“It’s been a long time, Professor” said Snooty, sitting comfortably at a chair after brushing the rubbish off it.
“Hmnph” said the Professor. He wasn’t being rude on purpose, but the Professor wasn’t known for his polite manners.
“It’s time, Professor” Snooty continued.
Now the Professor looked up. He knew that Snooty had been working on something big, but he hadn’t paid any attention to the details.
“The team is ready, and there’s only one thing missing” Snooty continued.
“Oh yes, what’s that then?” asked the Professor.
“It’s a project we’ve been working on, but nobody seems to be able to get it working” said Snooty.
He held out a folded piece of paper to the Professor, with “Top Secret” written on it in big red letters.
Professor Gertrude slowly unfolded the piece of paper. As he saw the intricate designs, maps and connections his eyes widened.
“I call it the Catatonic” said Snooty.
The Professor said nothing. He just nodded and opened the door.