The phone would not stop. I pawed around refusing to open my eyes and cursed myself when the phone kept on the incessant Brring Brring. Finally I cursed aloud and sat up bleary eyed searching in the direction of the sound. I saw the blue light winking at me from my lab coat pocket and stumbled towards it.
"Yeah." I was still half asleep.
"Alter I did it. It's working." It was Manny. Dr. Mandal Dasanth a wiry dark genius of Indian origin and my colleague.
"What? Manny, it's..." I looked at the time.
"I know it's 4 A.M. But this was too important. You need to get here ASAP." Manny's voice was breaking with excitement or tension, both probably. This could be scary, I thought
"What in the hell has happened? Is the lab OK? You are not drunk Huh?"
"NO! Alter. It's just.. Get here, I will show you...And get something to eat. Please."
"OK OK. I will be there in an hour." I disconnected and sat down on the edge of my bed and started my daily litany in my mind. Dr. Alter Patrick. ex-FBI, with a doctorate in Bio-Chem. Now living in a two room concrete box in Raleigh, North Carolina. Teaching college two days a week and employed by the Raleigh University Research Center the rest of the time. No friends, no family and no money. I have to make this work, forward is the only way.
It hurt, even after six months at Raleigh, I liked the research job, it hurt. Being sacked as the Deputy Chief of Forensics by FBI almost destroyed my life. I did manage to save three innocent lives but I got screwed. No severance, no pension and an unofficial shout out to all- keep away from Alter Patrick. Kim walked out weeks later and the house needed to be sold. After living for two weeks out of a single room serviced apartment which ate up almost half of the savings, this job was a god sent ray of hope in my dark world. At $300 a week and free housing I was glad of having something to do besides burn through my meager savings.
Manny greedily took the bag of sandwiches from me as soon as I entered the lab. I set down the extra large cups of coffee and waited for him to speak. After a few bites and a sip of the coffee Manny spoke.
"Thanks man. This is life saving." He took another bite while I consoled myself that he would actually have something to tell.
"Alter, you know the dromide-silica granules."
"Yes. They should be able to conduct electricity and hold the charge for a few seconds in case of a temporary break. A non-metal with some metallic properties."
"Yes, yes. I ionised some under 25 atm and the granules just fused into a plate and you know what? .. Come let me show you." He picked up his coffee and motioned towards the far corner. I picked up my coffee and followed him.
25 atm is 25 times the normal atmospheric pressure or the pressure on you when you are 250 ft under the sea. I saw the apparatus where the plate was held and recognized the discovery.
"It stores power- a battery powered by..."
"Powered by water. Alter this is big."
After ten minutes of explanation and demonstration I saw that Manny was right, this battery could work on water.
"Wait, Manny how many people know about this?"
"Only you, Why?"
"We need to patent this and before that there is a risk of being... robbed of the credit and the money."
"OK I thought of that. Dean Norman can handle it for us, the first thing in the morning."
"No Manny. We need to think ahead. Do you want to be stuck here while the Big Companies take this away from you to continue research in hi-tec labs."
"But this is mine."
"And we need to keep it that way... Let me think."
Manny was like a caged animal after keeping quite about the new "Green" battery . I gave him the contact information for meeting with a lawyer in New York who would handle all the patenting process. Manny was leaving tomorrow morning so I took him out for a celebratory dinner at the new swanky restaurant. I gave him a surprise present, an 'escort'; Mindy a twenty something Asian beauty.
"OK Manny, you have all your research papers and samples packed and ready?"
"Yeah. All packed and ready."
"The lab apparatus we dismantled. Anything else?"
"I erased the hard drive of the lab computer."
I was shocked. "WHY?" I growled at him.
But Manny had eyes only for Mindy now. "Oh! I have the data in my laptop. Don't worry. I will call you from NY."
He turned away and I stalked out of the restaurant, with nothing in my hand but the receipt for $200 Mindy handed me when she had arrived. So I was light on cash and with the principle research done by Manny, light on data. He had taken away all the data and samples away from the lab and out of my reach. Dr. Alter Patrick was screwed again.
Dean Norman gestured for me to sit. The office was all leather and wood with a wall dedicated to trophies and citations to Raleigh University. I sat and waited as he took his time to set aside his laptop.
"Dr. Alter I am surprised that you did not report this before."
"I acted for Manny- Dr. Mandal."
"But six days is a long time. I can not allow Dr. Mandal any more leeway. Also the computer has been wiped clean of all research. This seems deliberate. Still I have informed the police."
"It will be missing person investigation since none of us have any inkling where Dr. Mandal is."
"But police on the campus.."
"Dr. Alter, this is just the procedure. I spoke to the Chief, they are already drowning in work. I told them about the computer and asked them to check his apartment first. If his things are missing he just walked out on us. He was eccentric now that I think of it."
The police found his clothes and laptop missing. And nobody on the campus had any idea where Manny had gone. I shared vague details of the research projects going on with the investigators, it was the only time they came to ask. After a few days no one seemed to have missed Manny except me. I poured all my efforts into reconstructing the Green Battery.
I called a few research companies and and Washington lobbyists I knew of and gave them a hint of the direction of my research. Next I started to patent the process, I split it into four separate procedures as best as I could and proceeded to file the patents before starting to build a prototype.
The first call about the Green Battery was from Grand Oil, the multi-billion conglomerate. They offered to fund the research with a seed amount of $1 million and set up the lab all at their Vietnam facility. I declined the offer outright. For the next few days nothing new happened. I published some initial research with little data regarding the actual composition of the battery in the university journal and was ready to build my prototype when the second call came- this one from an automotive manufacturer.
I preempted the offer by stating my terms- One, the battery was almost ready and required refining for commercialization and Two, I wanted to cash out.
I negotiated the amount at $2.5 million and handed over all the data and the samples and signed the gag agreement and the titles to the four patents. The last thing I did to lay the Green Battery to rest was destroy Manny's laptop and the original samples. Now there was no one who knew what I had done, Mindy knew only little of it but since there was nothing in the news and the police had closed Manny's file I was safely home. Dr. Alter Patrick, ex-FBI, a Bio-chem doctorate, living in a plush apartment. Teaching college two days a week and employed by the Raleigh University Research Center the rest of the time. Enjoying freedom doing right by myself.
PHOTO CREDIT: PIXABAY.COM
This is a video of a REAL Battery powered by just WATER