In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “First!.”
‘Is this going to work?’ Chloe pushed her way to the front, stretched out her mike. ‘I mean, it’s not going to cause a problem, right?’
‘Problem?’ The scientist turned a bemused expression towards her. ‘What do you mean?’
‘I’ve read that there’s a chance,’ said Chloe, ‘that it might… some sort of chain reaction? Sort of go horribly wrong.’
‘Oh, no,’ the chief scientist said. ‘You’ve been reading the press, I think.’
‘We are the press,’ said Chloe. ‘That’s why you invited us.’
‘Yes, of course.’ He shuffled awkwardly, fiddling with the buttons of his coat. ‘What I mean is there’s nothing to worry about. If we weren’t sure, we wouldn’t do it. The amount of energy released couldn’t cause a puff of air, let alone destroy the universe.’
‘But this has never been done before, right? It’s the first time.’ Chloe took a step closer. ‘I have an eight-month old son at home. I’d like you to tell me that I’m going to see him again.’
‘Ha! Ha!’ The scientist waved a hand dismissively. ‘Of course you’ll see him again. But you’re right, it’s the first time in the history of mankind we have a chance to see how the universe came about. It’s a project we’ve been working on for thirty years. It’s called on the skill of over a thousand researchers and engineers, at a cost of billions of euros. Dark matter, anti-matter, the Big Bang – the secrets that have eluded us so far will now become apparent. Are we ready?’
Expressing no doubt the majority view, ‘Yes, of course!’ was heard loud and clear. But a sizeable minority of those present eyed each other worriedly. Chloe thought of her son, suffering from a bout of otitis. She hoped he’d be feeling better when she got back.
Beaming with delight, the scientist pulled the lever.
‘Is this going to work?’ Deena pushed her way to the front. ‘I mean, it’s not going to cause some dreadful chain reaction, is it?’
‘There’s been speculation of that nature, I know.’ The scientist fiddled with the buttons of her coat. ‘But the world’s top researchers have been working on this for decades. If we weren’t sure, we wouldn’t do it. I have a small daughter at home and I have every intention of seeing her again this evening.’
‘But I’ve read a theory that this is precisely what led to the destruction of the universe. That it’s taken fifteen billion years to get us back to the same point.’
‘Ha! Ha!’ The scientist waved a dismissive hand. ‘An amusing idea, but no. This is the first time in the history of mankind that we have a chance to see how the universe came about. Are we ready?’
And beaming triumphantly, she pressed the button.
‘Is this going to work?’