The wait while his computer downloaded the file was agony.
Finally, the DOWNLOAD COMPLETE window came up, and Ozark brought up the data. It didn't take him long to realize that they fitted in with his worst-case scenario. He swore under his breath.
His lab assistant, Jennie, heard him. "What's wrong, Nick?"
"I just got a data set from Geneva. It confirms my most pessimistic predictions."
"What, you mean about the electromagnetism effect? The one that's supposed to disintegrate people?"
Ozark nodded miserably.
Jennie swore too. "Nick, you've got to tell somebody!"
"Tell them what?" Ozark said with a helpless laugh. "Tell them that over two billion people are due to be disintegrated, and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it?"
"Well, if we can't stop it, can something be done to minimize the impact?"
"Not much." Ozark brooded. "If I'm right -- and the data from CERN back me up -- then every child under the age of twelve is going to be reduced to his component atoms, thanks to a freak synergistic effect caused by a combination of electromagnetic fields and that dose of radiation from the Russian attack on Israel. And probably a certain number of adults, too, depending on the circumstances."
"What sort of circumstances?" Jennie demanded. "If we know, we can at least try to do something about it."
"Well, judging from the data, certain metal objects can cause local intensifications of the field effect."
"What sort of objects?"
"Cruciform objects. Basically, certain types of pectoral crosses when worn next to the body."
"You mean, everybody wearing a cross is going to be killed?"
He shook his head. "Not everybody. Some crosses are worse than others. A plain cruciform shape would be the worst. A Catholic or Anglican crucifix with a corpus christi wouldn't be affected. Neither would a Cross of Lorraine or an Orthodox cross."
"Well, then, warn them!" Jennie insisted. "Tell them about it!"
Ozark laughed again. Even to himself, he was starting to sound hysterical. With a major effort, he forced himself to stop. "Are you serious? Tell half a billion Protestants that they have to stop wearing pectoral crosses or they'll all be disintegrated? You know what would happen as well as I do. They'd say I was delusional, or trying to destroy Christianity, or something. It would be useless."
"Well, you've got to do something," said Jennie.
Ozark sighed. "I'm open to suggestions."
| Next >