Books written by Ray Sullivan

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Project: Evil - The Design Review part 2

Project: Evil Chapter Seven - The Design Review part 2
‘Is there anything else we need to get?’ asked Brian.
‘A klaxon,’ said public sector man, picking his toes through a hole in his sock, sandal discarded to one side. ‘They come in various sizes and styles, sounds and frequencies.’
‘Won’t any klaxon do?’ asked one of the engineers.  Public sector guy looked aghast at the suggestion.
 ‘Only if you don’t care about warning people!  If you do, what sound do you need?’  Brian tried to pull the meeting to order.
‘Come on, we’re just talking about an alarm, aren’t we?’ he asked, wondering why they would need one on a deserted island, alone with about ten thousand oppressed, under-fed and armed uninhabitants, fifty tonnes of rocket fuel, a weapons facility with half the world’s plastic explosive, an unknown amount of highly unstable antimatter and a workforce that was criminally insane as part of their job description.  He couldn’t foresee a single situation that would require a warning.  Public sector man peeled off his sock and started counting the reasons using his toes, starting with a hammerhead big toe.
‘Right, first, what about the joker in the dry suit that’ll be sneaking around, causing uninhabitants to spontaneously fall over railings set at a ridiculously low height?’  Nobody challenged him, but a few nodded sagely.  Brian interjected.
‘Couldn’t we just supply higher railings, say above knee height if more than six feet above ground level?’  Public sector man pulled a face.
‘You’re the project manager, it’s your budget.  I just think the cost of one klaxon over the cost of all the raised railings we’d need is a sensible trade off.’  Brian flushed as public sector man continued.
‘Second, what about letting people know that the launch sequence has been started prematurely, thanks to a total failure to deploy common sense precautions such as providing a hinged cover over the launch button?’ he asked, noting some of the engineers were scribbling down the suggestion.  One actually turned to a project drawing showing a launch button protector and used an eraser to rub it out.
‘And finally, what about the emergency destruct warning klaxon?’ he asked, smirking.  Brian reeled; he’d not factored in the need for self destruction.
‘Won’t one klaxon cover all of these?’ he asked, taking notes furiously.  Public sector guy laughed at the idea.
‘We need two klaxons just for the last point,’ he said, splaying his third and fourth toes to demonstrate.  ‘We need one klaxon to alert everyone that we’ve deliberately triggered the self destruct sequence and a separate klaxon to alert people that we’ve accidently triggered the self destruction, say if the cleaner unplugs the device that prevents it kicking in, or there’s a power dip,’ he shrugged.  He sat back, happy that everyone was confused.
‘So we need more than one klaxon?’ asked Brian, totting up the cost of a rocket, a launch pad, a mission control, an unspecified amount of antimatter.  He’d only budgeted for one klaxon, and had hoped to avoid using that money if he could help it.  Suddenly panic hit him as he realised he hadn’t factored in the cost of the sandwiches, either.
‘I make it about seventeen,’ said public sector man, ‘including two voice systems.’
‘Seventeen?’ exploded Brian.  Public sector man shrugged.
‘You can cut it down to sixteen if you’re prepared to risk not knowing that the sharks have escaped from the ornamental pool into the main flooded corridor.’
‘You’d want warning about that,’ agreed one of the scientists.
‘What flooded corridor, what ornamental pool?’ asked an incredulous Brian to an astonished meeting.
‘The ones you agreed to at the meeting you missed last week,’ replied the chief engineer.  ‘We always have ornamental pools with sharks in, very restful they are.  We just don’t seem to have the knack of keeping them out of the flooded corridors,’ he added.
‘Why would we flood the corridors?’ Brian asked, only to be surrounded by faces that clearly couldn’t comprehend the question.  The chief engineer decided it was his responsibility to answer.
‘Well, we wouldn’t, would we?  We’re mental, but we’re not mad,’ he said.
‘I’m a bit mad,’ volunteered one of the scientists.
‘So how would the sharks swim down the flooded corridor that’s not flooded?’ asked Brian, confused.
‘I didn’t say we’d flood them, but if a guy in a safari suit holding an aerosol and smoking a cigar entered the facility...’ suggested the engineer, interrupted by the Health and Safety manager.
‘Impossible.  The smoking ban applies, even in the South Seas,’ he stated.  Brian put his head in his hands.
‘Nobody takes any notice of the smoking ban here,’ he said, realising he’d just proven that he needed to factor in the seventeenth klaxon alarm as well.  ‘Anything else?’
‘Can we just go over the sandwich specification again?’ asked one of the scientists.

The characters, companies and places referred to in Project: Evil are fictitious and any resemblance to people, companies, businesses or places is entirely coincidental

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