Tom Langenbach
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Two Girls, A Guy, And A Day Without Magnetism

     Well, to sum up the entire day, it would be rather simple, if you were a physicist or had taken a course or two on it. But in order to understand the full ramifications of what happened, it takes a bit more in-depth look to help explain it. Magnetism is a force that holds our society together. Not to make it sound too cartoonish supervillany, but, quite literally, he who could control magnetism, could control the world. Thankfully, the story of one man's attempt at this is relatively short, and, also thankfully, he did not succeed in taking over the world, a most unattainable dream. However, as many of you are probably quite curious as per how the day went, let it be told as it happened from one of the more important character's point of view....

     Even as Jonathan woke up, he realized that something was definitely most severely wrong. For one, he had been up late, and he was too well-rested, and for two, he could see light coming in from the window on the wall, where it never was until after nine, at least. It's not like he wasn't already late for classes, then. Quietly, he rolled over, and looked at his clock, before noticing that the display was blank. He returned the machine's stare for a moment, until he just shrugged, and looked at his watch, before noticing his watch displayed nothing as well. That was a strange coincidence, but not entirely impossible. Remaining silent, he got up, got dressed, and left his room, not even pausing as he slapped his hand on the door, pronouncing clearly, "Wake up," before moving downstairs. He passed into the kitchen, grabbing a package of pop tarts, and pausing to look up at the clock mounted on the wall as he noticed that it's constant ticking was no longer present.

     After a moment, he muttered, "But that's battery operated...." Without taking his eyes from the clock, he hefted his backpack more firmly over his shoulder, and took a few steps towards the door. He quickly leaped half way as he heard and felt the crunching under him, pausing to realize that the refrigerator magnets had all fallen, before he left the house, heading for school. He paused only once on the trip, to look at two different flocks of birds, flying in opposite directions. Another moment passed, and then he quickly ran off towards the school, bursting inside.

     There weren't many people here, but those that were in the hallway gave him a glance, before going back to what they were doing. Only one of them separated and headed towards him. Jonathan had no time for that. Quickly, he grabbed her hand, and pulled the girl along after, telling her over his shoulder, "C'mon, 'lizabeth! I think I get it now...."

     It took them only a few moments to get to the science lab, but once inside, Jon quickly dipped a cup into a sink that hadn't been drained the night before. He put the cup down on a table, and after some searching, found the rest of his supplies. He took the cork he'd found, and used scissors to make a little indent in it, where, after vigorous application of the magnet he found, he placed the needle. For several minutes, they waited, before Elizabeth looked at him and shook his head. "Nice homemade compass, but it doesn't work."

     "That's because magnetism ain't workin' anymore. Ships're probably lost, animals are lost, flying every which way, the city's generators are down, battery's aren't working, because they've got positive and negative poles that aren't working anymore. Cars're stalled in the street, and some people're stuck in them because of power doors and locks. Lights wouldn't work, even if we could figure a way around the powering problem. They use magnetism. The earth's field used it, but now we've got none, since magnetism's cut off. We'll all die of skin cancer, eventually."

     "Makes sense," a voice in the doorway replied as she nodded. Jonathan recognized her as one of the teachers he'd never the privilege of being a student to. And by privilege, he meant it. She was the object of every senior guy's attentions, when they weren't on the chains around their necks held tightly by their girlfriends. It was one reason Jon wasn't going out 'officially' with Elizabeth: he enjoyed his freedom, and while the teenage brunette was rarely seen to smile, she was still attractive. However, the fiery hair, winning smile, and the maturity of Dr. R (which is all anyone ever called her, since her actual name was all but impossible to pronounce) was severe competition to all that. "Though slightly depressing, I'll admit."

     "Beware, Captain Obvious has entered the building," Elizabeth muttered under her breath, idly starting to spin the compass around. She was quite aware of Jonathan's reasons... Or at least, she suspected.
     Without having heard the murmur of discontent behind him, Jon gave a nod towards the doctor, and questioned, "So how does this happen? How does the Earth suddenly loose magnetism?"

     "Well, for one, you're right in saying it's just the Earth. Some testing proves that there's still a magnetic field around the world, so whatever's causing it, it's down here, and it's not broadcasting all the way into space. It lacks the strength. But it could still be fatal to us, if it goes unchecked."

     "How do we check something that we don't know where it originates? There's no known way to stop magnetism flat like this, so where do we look? Iraq? They might be crazy enough to do it..."

     A shrug passed from the Doctor, before she motioned for them to follow, which Jon did immediately, and 'Liz following a few steps behind. "It'd be easier to go see some of the local specialists in the field. There's one just outside town, and there's some visiting scientists in the area, since they got permission to build a fusion reactor. We'll be the first to have one, if it's ever completed. They decided to put it here because there's such a sparse population, so if anything went wrong, it wouldn't be too damaging. Better than if they put it smack in the middle of New York City, right?"
     "In some sick, twisted fashion," Elizabeth interrupted, "That's actually comforting."
     "Only to those outside the blast radius," Jon couldn't help but add, chuckling quietly. "Now, where's this place we're going?"      "You'll see," Dr. R replied simply as she grinned.

     They ended up entering a small building in the outskirts of town, and immediately descended into the basement. After a moment, though, they ran into an obstacle: a metallic electronically locked door. Apparently, it had been locked at the time magnetism had stopped.

     "Dead end," Liz groaned.

     "No," the doctor replied, fishing around in her pocket with one hand. "I'll take a picture and see if I can't find someone up to the challenge of picking the lock..."

     Jon just looked at her blankly for a few moments, before she sighed and nodded. "Oh... Right... Can't take any pictures."

     "No problem. We'll just get a blowtorch," Liz replied.
     "Do you have or know where a working blowtorch is?" Dr. R countered.
     "Quiet, both of you," Jon interrupted as he finished inspecting the door. "I've got an idea on how to get inside. And I'm going to hope that your little friend in here is the cause of our problems..."

     "This is insane," the teacher muttered absently. "Think about all the challenges that now face us as a species! We could work around this, but you think we should hunt down the machine n' destroy it. I think we should be inventive and create new things -- "

     "Oh shut up!" Jon snapped back at her, glaring. "You make no sense! Were we to not find and destroy -- or at least turn off, assuming there's an off button -- the machine, we'd never make it. Videos, tapes, they use magnetism. Those are just conveniences, though. Trains as well. An MRI, that uses it as well, and that's for medical purposes. Phones, a vital part of our lives, now, because chemical weapons could be launched at any time, and communication would be the key to closing off the areas and, if we have a cure, using it. But worst of all, plants even use it a bit. They'll start to slowly die, they won't grow fast enough, they'll be eaten by animals, until they're all gone. And us? We'll all die of starvation. Now, I'm taking this door down and finding out if my guess is right!" He didn't hesitate as he whirled around, striking a match and raising the aerosol can at the same time, before he moved the light in front of the nozzle, and pressed, making his own personal blowtorch.

     Night was falling before they'd finally managed to get through. Most of the door was melted, but they could see the strange lab inside even as they waited for the outside of the door to cool so they could walk through. A man sat there, probably suffocated from the lack of openings to allow air into the room, and in front of him, a large machine whirled.

     "His computer's working," Jon noted through the door. "So unless he's got a fusion reactor down here, and since the new one isn't up yet, I'm betting this is the source of the problem."

     Liz nodded slowly as she looked in, while the doctor continued to pout off to one side. Soon, Jon entered the lab, unable to wait longer, by diving through the opening. Liz followed after, and lastly was the good doctor. She checked the man's pulse, and decided that he'd just passed out. He would be okay. Eventually. Meanwhile, Liz set to work on the computer, nodding absently while Jon looked over her shoulder.

     "He kept all of his stuff on computer. Here's all the blueprints. He also kept a journal of his work, like a good little boy. See these weird little towers next to the computer? They neutralize the effects the anti-mag generator -- that's what he named it -- created. Apparently, he'd forgotten to attach it to the door, and the generator wouldn't shut down..."

     "Does it say anything else?" Jon questioned. "Anything about which dials mean what?"

     "Even better," the girl replied, grinning as she made a few quick taps on the keyboard. "He patched it all into here, with easy to understand translations." She paused for a moment as one of the icons on the bottom began to flash red. They usually flash blue when something happens. "What's this?" she whispered under her breath, opening it, and widening her eyes as she saw what it said. "It's messed up, Jon! Look! The magnetic compensation thing is starting to overload -- it's trying to compensate for something in the earth. What's the core of the earth made of? Or the interior? It's gonna' overload! I'm not sure if we're gonna' implode, explode, or if it's going to, but it's certainly gonna' do one or the other!"
     "I dunno', I'm not good with actual earth stuff. But where's the plug then?" he asked quickly, moving towards the machine.

     "Nothing hooking it up to anything, and the off button's not working" she replied frantically. "But we've gotta' stop it some how!"

     "Shoot, shoot, shoot -- how do we.... Oh! I got it!" Quickly, Jon reached into his pocket, and pulled out a disk. "I forgot about this 'cause it wasn't working with magnetism out, but inside the field, it should still have the information!"
     "What information? What are you talking about?"

     "A nice little virus I found on the 'net. It turns off all programs, and then deletes them. Everything'll be destroyed, but, it'd be destroyed anyway if we don't do anything...."

     All through their conversation, the doctor had listened, but now, she leaped forward, and pushed him aside. "No! What's wrong with you! This is an important scientific discovery!"

     "Hey, I've got a scientific mind, lady, but I've also got this thing about life -- I like it!" Jon watched her, quietly, moving as if ready to fight. However, a swift blow from behind sent the teacher to the floor.

     "I knew I didn't like you," Liz muttered, before taking the disk from her companion, and putting it into the machine. A single sound came from the speakers, before the program took action.