Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Reaction Chamber

Gregor and Jolene sealed the Reaction Chamber. They approached the glowing computer monitors to review the parameters for the experiment that would begin shortly.

"This reading of the Jubal field is kinda low, isn't it?"

"Yes, but it has to be that low or else it'll disrupt the Krizkrang flow and throw the ion nozzle out of alignment."

"Gotcha. I think we're ready to get started then."

"Sounds great. Activating the experiment sequence."

Gregor hit enter on the keyboard, and they heard the walls hum with the raw energy flowing into the Reaction Chamber.

"Shall we head up to the observation bay to watch the fireworks?" Gregor suggested.

Jolene grinned. "Definitely."

Gregor and Jolene climbed the metal steps up to the observation bay. It overlooked the Reaction Chamber and separated the two with a transparent sheet of hardened composite that an artillery shell would've hit like a mayfly on a windshield.

Gregor turned off the lights in the observation bay and winked at Jolene as the darkened Reaction Chamber began to crackle with lightning. He reached behind a panel and produced a bottle of champagne and a pair of champagne flutes.

"Oh, Gregor!" Jolene said.

Gregor eased the cork out of the bottle and poured them both glasses of champagne as the bolts of electricity danced below, throwing staccato shadows on the walls.

"To science," Gregor said, holding up his glass.

"To science," Jolene said. The clink of the glass was audible over the low hum in the walls that grew as the Reaction Chamber drew more and more power. They sipped champange side-by-side, watching the fruit of their labor grow as its conductive roots sucked up megawatt after megawatt.

Gregor had just mustered up the courage to hold Jolene's hand when she suddenly stepped forward.

"What's that in the Reaction Chamber?" Jolene asked, horror creeping into her voice.

Gregor adjusted his glasses and peered through the indigo lattice of electrical arcs.

"It appears to be a ham sandwich," he said.

"That's an anomaly!" Jolene said.

"That's my lunch!" Gregor said.

Jolene's eyes strayed to the laminated sheet of paper hanging on the wall that described the emergency shut down procedure. To shut down the reaction would necessitate months of cleanup and possible years of delay in their careers.

"We can't. I won't," Gregor said. "What's one ham sandwich in the face of scientific discovery?"

The random, jagged bolts within the Reaction Chamber stopped their random leaps. Several coalesced near the ham sandwich, which was remarkably untouched in the maelstrom within the chamber.

Untouched, that is, until the lightning formed a disc floating in mid-air and disgorged a brown, scaled worm with giant, snapping jaws and long, wicked teeth. There were no other features on its body and it thrashed about blindly until it appeared to locate the sandwich. With one violent motion it bit the sandwich in one bite, taking off the corner of the metal that it was laid on as if it was biting through soft marshmallow. The worm withdrew into the portal and the lightning disappeared.

"You saw that, right?" Jolene asked.

Gregor nodded.

"What the hell was it?"

"I don't know."

The computer down the stairs dinged as the automated systems control unsealed the Reaction Chamber.

The shared sighting of the Pan-Dimensional Ham Sandwich Monster allowed Jolene and Gregor to overcome their mutual shyness. They were married two months later. Gregor quit his research to stay at home with the pair's children.

Jolene submitted the results for peer-review. They revolutionized her field of High-Energy Fictive Physics. She received a fellowship at a prestigious university and only committed a single act of academic dishonesty in her otherwise unimpeachable career when she deleted all instances of "SEND MORE HAM" from the results set of the experiment.

All delicatessens near Jolene's university would report strange ham shortages.

The Moral: not all pan-dimensional monsters are vegetarian.

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