John Fish B.Sc.Publishers of Tenby in Wales
"It's based on a piece of reverse engineering from a component which was salvaged from an alien spacecraft which crashlanded in West Wales during the Second World War."
The President of the United States of America looked incredulously at the contraption, which lay on his desk, then at General George Baker the joint chief of staff of the American armed forces, and at Cleopatra Binns who was a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Harvard University. Then he checked the calendar to make sure it wasn't April first. He got up and stood in front of the Oval Office's window surveying the White House grounds then turned his head and spoke to Binns: "It doesn't look much like a computer to me."
"That's because it's not a digital computer, it's an analog computer." Then she added somewhat disparagingly: "I expect your wife would understand."
The President shot a glance at Baker who laughed nervously: "She's quite a girl, isn't she? Sometimes makes me feel so stupid too, ha, ha!"
A thought crossed the President's mind and he grinned seeming to agree with Baker's humour; in fact the pair of them had reminded him of the pair of robots in Star Wars: Baker tall and gangly, Binns short and squat.
Binns reacted angrily: "This wasn't my idea! I was asked to assess some photographs and this is my evaluation based on the so-called facts which for all I know could be a cock-and-bull story made up by some ... some ... somebody who's being silly;" controlling her temper she cast her eyes at the ground and bit her tongue.
Binns was an interesting character, salvaged by a social worker from the inner city streets where she ran wild as a child leading a gang of kids involved in selling drugs, she'd achieved World wide fame for developing as her doctor of philosophy thesis the solution to Albert Einstein's unified field theory and at the age of twenty-nine was a Harvard professor and a visiting professor at Cambridge in England, etcetera.
The President asked Binns: "But if George really made it all up then how come your computer emerged out of it?" The President and Binns found themselves staring into each other's eyes and he found himself wondering whether or not if Baker had not been present then would she be compliant. He chuckled as a thought crossed his mind: 'Would she understand if he told her that his wife didn't understand him?' That thought brought him back to something she'd said: "I know this might be a stupid question, and forgive me if it is, but what did you mean when you said that my wife would understand your computer?"
"A woman's menstrual cycle is related to the period of the Moon's orbit around Earth. As such her body acts as a kind of computer. Not a silicon chip digital computer but a flesh and blood analog computer."
Baker gaily interjected: "I'm glad I didn't say that, I always thought that you had a reputation for being a feminist!"
The President ignored Baker then spoke softly to Binns: "So what you are saying is that this ... this analog computer can actually do something. Tell me, what can it do?"
"It's not so much about what it can do, but what it enables one to do. It's a component, in the same sense that a wheel is a component. If we didn't have wheels we couldn't have automobiles, trucks, trains, planes. To all intents and purposes we'd be back in the Stone Age where if one wanted to go anywhere then one would do so by foot or on the back of another animal."
Baker eagerly interjected: "Mister President this gives us a strategic technological edge in maintaining American status as the World's number one military power. I suggest we set up a programme to evaluate the new technology and incorporate it into our defence plans. We'll need two maybe three hundred, no billion dollars!"
The President didn't seem to hear him. "Are you saying that we could be witnessing the dawn of a new age?"
Binns eyed Baker: "Certainly the end of an old one but whether mankind has a meaningful future will depend not only on our understanding of the new technology but how we exploit it."
The President's voice was grave: "Look guys I'm quite prepared to accept the premise that Life exists elsewhere in the Universe, perhaps forms of Life that are more advanced and intelligent than we are but ... and it's a big but ... the President of the United States of America can't ..."
Baker interjected: "Can't be seen as some science fiction nut who believes in little green men!"
The President nodded: "Precisely."
Baker attempted to exert control: "That's why it's doubly important to keep the project top secret: to maintain our technological edge and the credibility of the Presidency."
"What project?" Asked Binns.
"Err ... That's top secret, you don't need to know."
"You mean you don't know either!"
The President regained control: "Cut the crap guys. We're obviously in a situation where there are more questions than answers and soon I'll have to leave to greet the British Primeminister so we'll meet again at a later date. Okay?"
The office's door opened and the President's wife appeared: "You'd better hurry Bill, Tony's motorcade will be entering the grounds in two minutes ... Oh, Cleopatra, how lovely to see you after so long." The two women embraced and kissed. "Bill, why didn't you tell me that we had such a distinguished guest? Well now you're here I want you to stay. You haven't met Tony and Cherie, have you?"
As the two women walked arm-in-arm out of the office Binns glanced over her shoulder and grinned triumphantly at the scouring Baker.