Chrome Contact


At the base of the stairs leading up to the patio, the guard detained Alec until General Gomez arrived.

"Well, hello Alec," the general oozed. "I have a few chores up on the patio for you."

As the general opened the door to the patio, the Chrome came into view. Alec saw that it was still in an almost sleeping state, with only a few, slow colors drifting across its face. But as the general led Alec closer, the creature appeared to wake up and quickly became more active in its movements and color patterns.

"Umm, just sit here for a couple of minutes Alec—until I can attend to a couple of other matters." The general moved off, leaving Alec sitting in a chair that was positioned only a few feet outside the fence encircling the Chrome. In the background, Alec could easily hear the rising excitement as Dr. Crink barked instructions to his scurrying attendants. Turning around, Alec could see that Dr. Crink was working at a piece of equipment that he had not seen the day before.

"I need a time domain-reflectometry signal over here on the Chroma Comp," Dr. Crink shouted. "And I want a Gaussian filter on three."

Alec turned back to face the Chrome. The creature seemed to be looking directly at him, trying to tell him something. Just as when he first encountered the being, Alec noted that there were recurring patterns of color interspersed with what appeared to be random, morphing chromatic sequences. After a few minutes, the general returned.

"Ummhumm…we have taken care of those chores ourselves Alec. But I was wondering, would you be interested in just staying here for awhile? After all, you were the first one to see the Chrome. I’ve already received permission from Mr. Sturm—it’s alright with him." The general’s smiled brightly.

"Sure thing, General Gomez," Alec answered without hesitation. "But could you ask Monty…uh Mr. Sturm to send up his laptop so I can…uh, play some video games while I’m here?"

"That sounds very reasonable to me," the general cooed. "We’ll get right on it."

A few minutes later, an MP walked over and handed Monty’s laptop to Alec. "Here ya are kid," he said, dropping the device in Alec’s lap.

The MP drifted away and Alec was quickly ignored as people scurried about their instruments and gazed intently at computer and monitor screens that now littered the patio. Alec turned on the laptop and began taking notes on what he observed about the creature and what he was overhearing in the background. Various experiments and measurements continued, including some of the same object and number experiments that he and Monty had already seen via the hidden camera.

"Give me a cube," Dr. Crink called out, "Now two cubes…now three…"

In response to each new visual stimulus that Dr. Crink specified, the creature flashed different color patterns. To Alec’s keen eyes, it was obvious that the Chrome was responding with different color patterns that were often related in subtle ways. Alec took notes furiously as the Chrome continued to emit seemingly endless arrangements of color around the rings on its face.

A few minutes later, a small group of new people entered the patio, accompanied by two MPs. Alec listened intently as introductions went around. "…Dr. Wilhelm from Rand…Becky Whitsig from Mitre…Professor Johnson from the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois…Buck Adams from the Annenberg Center for Communication…and Professor Teela Benson from the Lüscher Color Institute."

"Ahhh, Teela darling, I’m so glad you could be here on such short notice," Dr. Crink said. "I’m especially eager to learn if there is any correlation between the color patterns we have been recording and any attempts at psychological manipulation."

"My dear Rand, so good to work with you again," The professor from the Lüscher Color Institute responded coyly. "I’m feeling quite…how shall we say…quite red about all this."

Turning to the rest of the group, Dr. Crink’s voice shifted into a business-like tone. "Now I know you have all been briefed on the situation here, so let me show you our setup. Here’s our monitoring system that I’ve cobbled together over the last two days…I call it the Chroma Comp," Dr. Crink said proudly as he showed the group his new equipment. "Real-time, full EM spectrum, image processing and pattern-recognition…90-frame-per-second feeds from the Omnivore 90s," Dr. Crink boasted as he demonstrated the system to the admiring coos from the group.

"What’s the kid doing here," Alec heard one of the new arrivals ask.

"He was the first to see the Chrome," Dr. Crink uttered with a thinly veiled contempt. "General Gomez has ordered that he be allowed to stay up here for awhile, even though I protested…an extraneous factor in our research."

"Yes, I should think so," one of the new voices responded.

"Highly irregular considering the gravity of this situation," another voice agreed.

"Yes, yes," Dr. Crink snapped. "But I have to humor the general a bit on this—we need to educate her about proper scientific protocols. After we collect a bit more data from the Chroma Comp, I’m going to have the kid removed so we can isolate all key variables."

"Wise move," one of the new voices agreed as Alec continued his note taking.

"So what is your current hypothesis Dr. Crink?" another voice asked obsequiously.

"What we are looking at, I’m fairly sure, is a cyber surveillance mechanism that has been superpositioned here in an experiment. We don’t have a clue yet about what country could be doing this. We’re still collecting data."

"Quantum superposition in a macrocosmic event!" one of the scientists exclaimed. "Why, that’s incredible!"

"Yes, yes, I know," Dr. Crink continued. "We don’t know why there has been no decoherence yet in its interactions with the environment. We’re working on it hard though."

"Just amazing," another newcomer’s voice shrilled. "We should call it Schrödinger’s monkey—it’s obviously not a cat!" Laughs erupted in the coterie of scientists still gathered around the Chroma Comp.

"It’s not a monkey," Alec suddenly said in a reproachful voice as he stood up and turned to the group. "I think it’s a messenger from some other world. It’s trying to tell us something—I know it."

The startled group of scientists stared at Alec in a brief silence. Then, signaling to a nearby MP to come over, Dr. Crink almost sprang toward Alec like a cat pouncing on a cornered mouse. "I think that will be just about enough disruption, young man. You have been watching too many Star Trek movies and don’t really know what you’re talking about."

"Take him away now. There has already been enough contamination of my tests," Dr. Crink said to the MP as he turned his back on Alec.

As the MP led Alec toward the door, Alec turned briefly to get one last look at the Chrome. The creature had started to emit a strange new set of chromatic patterns that Alec had not noticed before. "It doesn’t want me to leave. It’s saying good-bye to me," Alec said to himself with intuitive certainty.

"Good bye friend," Alec called out to the Chrome as the MP pushed him through the door.

The eight colors in the Lüscher color test were selected after years of testing by Dr. Lüscher. 




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© 2000 Centroid Communications.

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