And you wonder why there’s a budget crisis on . . .

“Ladies and gentlemen.

I, Doctor Phileas Foggwazzle, M.E., Ph.D., P.C., volunteer in the R.F.D. and esteemed member of the local rotary; hereby present to you all an invention, of my design and manufacture, to reverse pollution of all manner and kind.” He pointed the remote and a projected image lit up the faces of the board members.

THE DISSEMBLER DRONE

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“Alone, a single dissembler drone is capable of rendering any substance down to its basic constituents at the atomic level using the power of the electromagnetic force. Deployed as a swarm, the dissembler drones are able to quickly break down large quantities of pollutants, thereby guaranteeing future generations a world free from environmental hazards and irritants; ensuring that air and water will be clean, dirt will be as clean as it is possible for dirt to be, and that animal husbandry may continue unabated by concerns of undesirable greenhouse gas production. In addition, hippies will finally be able to stop protesting polluters and may subsequently find some time to take a shower.

The dissembler drones are nearly ready for full deployment. Unfortunately, the field testing did not go exactly as planned; it was revealed that a small oversight concerning the different textbook applications of the term ‘pollution’ might have caused the drone swarm to render my lab and factory down to an eight inch thick layer of atomic sediment. However, cleanup efforts are in full swing and we will be back in production at the end of the month – provided we are able to secure a small grant to supplement the insurance money.”

“Doctor . . . Fogsworth, is it?” The gentleman at the head of the table looked over the top of the thin pamphlet in his hand.

“Foggwazzle.”

“Doctor Foggwazzle.” He smiled as though he thought the old man senile. “This is an intriguing design and I’m sure it would be a huge benefit to the entire planet, but uh . . . why come to the Nevada State commission for a science grant? Isn’t there a more appropriate institution to fund your venture?”

“Oh, the answer is simple, Mr. Blume.” The doctor began to pace slowly as he spoke in measured tones. “Las Vegas is known for it’s wealth . . . of light, and sound. Some might even call those . . . pollutants.” He gave the board a sheepish grin.

Blume’s eyes narrowed. He was starting to make connections; the doctor continued. “My drone swarm is heading this way right now, and it will render all of the strip in less than a day. Seventeen-point-four hours, to be more exact. Now I have this remote -” he held it up. “It will turn the swarm away. But I can not do this without some . . . modest financial assistance.”

Blume spoke slowly. This had to be a joke. “How modest are we talking about?”

“Oh,” the doctor looked up at the ceiling. “Twenty billion should do the trick.” His gaze returned to Blume, eyes widely innocent.

“That sounds more like a ransom than a grant-”

“Ah!” The doctor threw his hands up. “You got me! This is a ransom.” He rolled his eyes. “I can’t fool you, can I?” His image fizzled briefly, then changed. The long white coat was replaced by jeans and a heavy, black turtleneck. The iron-grey hair rippled, turning black, and the scraggly, white chin stubble became the dark triangle of a neatly-groomed goatee. His eyes dark and heavy-lidded, his expression serene; he now resembled a cross between Perry Mason and Carl Sagan.

Every one of the board members recognized this man, doubtless from his picture in the papers and on the television news. Someone gasped loudly. “Doctor Malevski!” The older lady next to Mr. Blume shot up out of her seat, then smacked Blume smartly on the back of the head. “I can’t believe you fell for a stupid name like Foggwazzle!”

Blume shrank back from her, protecting his head with upraised hands. “How could I not?”

“My dear lady,” he had to hurry this up – things to do. “What matters is that my swarm of dissembler drones will gladly return Las Vegas to the desert. Now, you have approximately three hours before they arrive, so think fast or this will merely be the first stop on a cross-country trip to New York City. You’ll find an account number printed on the back of your pamphlets – deposit the money and Vegas will be spared.”

The room resounded with stunned silence. Malevski pointed to his watch.

“Three hours. Ish.”

Malevski vanished.


This post was prompted by today’s Daily Post prompt.

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