Chrome Contact


The Chroma Comp system cobbled together by Dr. Crink included this special monitor for color discrimination and pattern recognition.


Rising early the next morning, Alec found his answer machine loaded with calls from his mother, Lenore, Jake, several local radio and TV stations, and a terse "Stop by my office when you come in for work this afternoon," from Monty.

Alec made quick calls to his parents, Lenore, and Jake—assuring them that he was OK and that he would be able to tell them more later. Then, he switched on the local TV news as he prepared breakfast. 

"…of the continuing standoff."

"Exactly Biff. We really have our hands tied at this point. The air space over the café has been declared out-of-bounds by the authorities, so the guys in our SkyNews chopper are still grounded on this story."

"Right, Elaine. And not just our guys, I might add. None of the networks have been allowed any overflights yet."

"With the general news blackout that was imposed shortly after this terrorist situation was first announced last Monday, we have very little hard information on this situation."

"Right Elaine. And Montgomery Sturm, the café’s owner, refuses to give us even a fast interview. We can’t even get our camera crews inside the café."

"So folks, all we can tell you at this point is that this is an ongoing, high-level investigation. We do know that certain areas of the café are now off-limits. And we know that police and military units are still deployed in the area. However, it’s not being called a terrorist situation as first reported…

"According to the last press release, it's only an official security investigation."

"Well that’s it for today’s edition of Good Morning Hawkins Falls. Stay tuned throughout the day, because we’ll break in whenever…"

Alec switched off the TV and finished his breakfast quickly. A few minutes later, excited about what the day might bring, he headed off to his History of Dynastic Chinese Culture class.

All through the day, eager to learn what Monty’s camera and mike had recorded, Alec could barely focus on his studies. Dr. Wong seemed to be more monotonic than usual. And his several hours of research in the library had produced little more than doodles in his notebooks.

Arriving at the café early, Alec picked his way through the reporters and camera crews that congested at the front door—ignoring their questions about who he was and what did he know and where was he going.

Almost running to Monty’s office, Alec found him sitting behind his massive desk, looking very pleased with himself and his fortunes in the world.

"Lock that door, please Alec, and come and look at this."

Monty swung around in his chair and open the Chinese cabinet. "They call it a 'Chrome' now," Monty announced.

"A Chrome?" Alec repeated.

"Yes, that’s Dr. Crink’s name for it," Monty said as he flipped a couple of switches. The closed-circuit TV monitor flashed and displayed a scene similar to what they had witnessed the day before. Only now, there appeared to be more people crowding around the computer and control consoles.

"But here’s the really big news, Alec," Monty said as they watched the monitor, "the general wants you to come back to the patio so they can run some more tests with you there."

"Why me?" Alec asked in surprise.

"Apparently, when we went up there yesterday, the, uh, Chrome became more active. And then, after we left, it became quiet again. Actually, it’s the general’s idea. I heard Crink commenting on the Chrome’s behavior while we were present—especially when you walked by. Well, when the general heard that, she said she wanted you to return for more tests this afternoon."

"Boffo luck," Alec exclaimed, excited that he would be able to see the creature up close again.

"Yes, boffo," Monty agreed. "Actually, Dr. Crink opposed the idea…here’s a replay—I marked the tape so you could hear it."

Monty made a couple of adjustments on his control panel. The TV monitor flashed to a scene of the general and Dr. Crink standing and talking only a few paces in front of the bird feeder.

"…just a coincidence," Dr. Crink was insisting. "It’s what we call a statistical residue, general. Happens all the time in EM signal processing. And besides, what could that kid have to do with anything? He’ll just get in the way of my people if he comes back here."

"Uhumm, maybe so Crink. But I have all kinds of people back at the Pentagon who want a report from me yesterday. They want answers, Crink, not mumbo-jumbo theories. We might have the biggest security breach ever in our history."

"But, but…general, there is no scientific basis for any difference that a snotty-nosed kid’s presence could make. He just adds an extraneous variable. I think we…"

"I know what you think Crink," the general interrupted as her white teeth glinted even on the TV screen. "But here’s the bottom line: If the thing wakes up when the kid’s around, I don’t give a flying frying pan why—as long as we continue to get responses and can keep testing."

"But general, I really must…"

"Enough Crink," the general said with a dismissive wave of her hand. "I’ll get the kid back up here tomorrow—unless this Chrome thing wakes up before then. If nothing happens when he shows up, that’ll be the end of it." The general put her hand on the doctor’s shoulder. "Look, Rand, I’ve got my orders to produce some answers on this fast. You understand, don’t you? We’ve worked together on many…"

Monty turned off the monitor suddenly and turned to Alec. "Well, there you have it, Alec. You might be just the guy the Chrome really wants to see!" Monty opened his pocket watch and furrowed his brow. "About time for you to go. The good general called me this morning...asked if I would send you up to the patio this afternoon to handle a few clean-up chores."

"I’m ready, Monty…I think," Alec said as Monty unlocked and opened his office door.

Monty grinned affectionately at the bright-eyed young man and made a thumb-up sign. "Break a leg up there, Alec."




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