(The story begins here.)
Dr. Fleming smiled at Darren’s bewilderment. “It isn’t magic, you know,” he whispered as he indicated Lassiter’s strange conveyance. “It’s controlled by radio or sound, and there’s a metal strip on the floor that probably powers and even guides it.”
“I am not a benighted heathen, Victor, but thanks for the explanation anyway. It just seems rather cold and mechanical compared to being borne along by one’s fellow men.”
“A modern hospital room is cold and mechanical compared to a witch doctor’s hut.”
An open door and the view through it interrupted the debate. A man with dark, shoulder-length hair sat at what Darren first took to be an organ. An image flashed through his imagination: Captain Nemo sitting at his organ following the destruction of the mysterious warship. Darren could not understand why that image; he could find no trace of the the overwrought, vengeful submariner’s pathos.
But Karel Dvorak turned to face them, and the image vanished, especially as Darren saw that it was not an organ at all, but some strange collection of keys or levers of unknown purpose. “You appear startled, sir,” Dvorak stated.
“I thought for a moment you were an organist, sir,” Darren replied.
Dvorak chuckled. “I can see how one could think so. I am not a musician, though I suppose you could say I am a composer. A composer of music might produce a symphony; the symphony I produce here is from the new world that my keyboard, here, makes possible. This device shall someday be famous along with me.” His gaze moved to Dr. Fleming. “Your patient’s vital signs are quite normal. Indeed, the only irregularity I find is that he has remained unconscious. The ride is scarcely lulling.”
“Mr. Lassiter is a man of many hidden irregularities. This, meanwhile, is Mr. Darren Christopher, who has some tedious irregularities of his own. Darren, Dr. Karel Dvorak.”
The two men bowed slightly in acknowledgement, and Darren said, “I take it that this device of yours is medical in nature?”
Dvorak chuckled again. “It is universal in nature, as is my own work. I meant what I said about creating a new world. If I survive long enough, I intend to usher in what the bumbling Soviet and German fools promise: a true technocratic paradise, free of the divisions that threaten the Czechoslovak Republic and the rest of the world.”
“Pardon me if I find that terrifying.”
“You aren’t alone. They are afraid that I shall succeed where they are doomed to fail; that’s why they are determined to kill me—that and the services I rendered to Masaryk’s intelligence efforts during the Great War. Some Germans still hold a grudge about that period.”
“But still, any technocracy is only as good as the supposed experts who tell everyone else what to do. Why are your experts better than the others?”
“Because my expert harnesses the inexorable, inevitable accuracy of the machine,” Dvorak answered, indicating his keyboard.
Next installment: Keeper of the Keyboard
1 year ago