A Missed Opportunity – Sunday Photo Fiction

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. A story, about a great but lost opportunity, begins after the photo.

Genre: Steampunk/Humor

Photo by: Alastair Forbes

A Missed Opportunity

Little did young Wilfred Montague know it, but the fate of the world rested upon his narrow shoulders. The fellow’s extraordinary mind yet diminutive frame and rodent-like public speaking skills rarely served him well. Never more was this illustrated than on a chilly September day at the Boston Inventor’s Association Faire in 1888.

Wealthy patrons Holbart, Wooten, and Milton walked amongst the displays. Any of the obscenely wealthy men might turn a lucky inventor into a rich man overnight with manufacturing contracts. At each table they listened and watched all manner of demonstrations. They were dutifully impressed by each display, but nothing had fully enchanted any of the three. At last, they stopped at young Wilfred’s table.

They looked at Wilfred, who looked unimpressive, and they looked at his invention, which looked unimpressive, and they collectively sighed.

“Rather small for an inventor, aren’t you?” chuckled Holbart.

“Sorry, sir,” said Wilfred, staring at his shoes.

“Well, what does it do? What is it called?” said Wooten

“I haven’t a name for it yet.”

“It has to have a name!” chortled Holbart.

“It looks like a laundry mangler,” said Milton.

“Ah yes, that’s what I started with,” said Wilfred. “But, press this lever here, open this valve, and turn this crank…and there you are!”

Milton squinted. “Is it doing anything?”

“If you look carefully at this fluid you can see bubbling and a faint amount of light,” said Wilfred, avoiding their eyes.

“So…it makes light?” said Holbart.

“Yes, it could be used for that,” admitted Wilfred.

The three patrons sighed. Milton patted Wilfred on the head. “I’m afraid Edison’s already done that. Better luck next time, young fellow.”

As they three men walked away from a disconsolate Wilfred, another inventor patted his shoulder sympathetically. “So it just makes light?” he asked.

“No. It makes energy too. Lots of it by Liter.”

“Oh that’s good. You should name it something.”

“I was thinking…Cold Fusion.”

The inventor shook his head. “Too dull. Better to toss this out and get back to the drawing board.”

And so it was that cheap, unlimited energy failed to emerge on the world’s stage and would not again until 101 years later in 1989, and nothing nearly as viable as Wilfred’s would appear until 2013. It was a cold day for the entire world.

Authors Notes:
In 1989, Martin Fleischman and Stanley Pons reported that they had started Cold Fusion. Nuclear Power made with chemicals that did not require massive, expensive, dangerous Fission power plants. The whole world took notice as it seemed that cheap unlimited energy would now be available. Soon, their findings were publicly debunked and everyone had to back to the smelly gas pumps like usual. More details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Fleischmann

In 2013, with much less fanfare, Andrea Rossi reported starting Cold Fusion, and his findings have been verified. In quite a bit of secrecy, a new power company is starting up with Rossi’s invention. More details here: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/156393-cold-fusion-reactor-independently-verified-has-10000-times-the-energy-density-of-gas
And also here: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-01/15/cold-fusion-moves-into-mainstream

Each week, Alastair Forbes presents an original photo as a writing prompt. Join writers from around the world in writing flash fiction for this fun-filled writing challenge. The prompt may be found here: http://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/sunday-photo-fiction-march-2nd-2014/

About EagleAye

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
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10 Responses to A Missed Opportunity – Sunday Photo Fiction

  1. Al says:

    Fantastic as usual Eric (and you didn’t manage to kill anyone again 😉 )


  2. JosephDiskett says:

    Nice little story bite.. It’d be awesome to see more from the character.. explore how he developed his invention etc. A short but enjoyable read 🙂


    • EagleAye says:

      Thank you Joseph! My story ran little long as it is. I think I tossed out an additional 400 words while trying to keep it within the limits of the writing challenge. Still I agree that it would’ve been fun to get to know Wilfred better. I very much appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for reading and commenting!


  3. Indira says:

    Missed opportunity because of rodent-like public speaking skills. Nice story. Would love to read some more stories with Wilfred with more details.


    • EagleAye says:

      Poor Wilfred. He has a keen mind for technology, just not one for public speaking. I might work Wilfred into another story. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! 😉


  4. Shey says:

    An interesting read and open to a lot of possibilities.


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