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Wedge
The weather could not have been better. The view from the top would be great. I had been to the Wedge Restaurant once before, about eight years ago. That was about three years after the restaurant was built, which was about two years after the Wedge had fallen from the clear blue sky.
It is known as the Wedge. Almost a half-billion kilo-tonnes of high-grade tungsten carbide. Exactly one kilometer from knife edge to top, the top a perfectly flat 500 meters by 250 meters. Every dimension exact to a micron, each surface flat to the same. It fell knife edge first into the center of the interchange between the Long Island Expressway and the Cross Island Parkway, on a perfectly clear August afternoon. It wiped out the interchange, many cars, many trucks, and many motorists. There were many witnesses to the impact, but no witnesses to its appearance in the sky high above the interchange.
Predictably, the official response was panic, seal off the area around the Wedge. The military poured in, closing off the highways, evacuating the surrounding area. The media went berserk. Spectators flocked to the area. The air filled with news helicopters, bumping up against the restricted airspace above the restricted zone around the Wedge. The Experts arrived, poked, prodded, measured, pondered. They analyzed samples. "Tungsten Carbide," they said. They probed into it with ultrasound. "No internal cavities," they said. They tunnelled down to see how deep it went. "Eight hundred meters down," they said. They measured. "It is perfect to within a micron," they said. "Inert," they said. "No danger."
Eventually the politicians and the military got bored with it. They rebuilt the interchange around it and turned it over to private enterprise. It is now a thriving tourist attraction. The north face got the elevators and the parking lots. The top surface got observation platforms, a memorial park, and a restaurant. The area around it was leveled off, hotels built. Shops full of souvenirs sprouted.
The restaurant was a three story tall glass and metal web cylinder. The view extended from New York City off in the distance to the west, the Atlantic to the south, and the Sound and Connecticut to the north. The memorial park was filled with people playing Frisbee. Some kind of tournament. The observation decks were busy. There were many tourists having their picture taken, doing what tourists do. Twenty-till. The message said to meet here at two.
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Graknill was puzzled. He poured through the logs and the telemetry. Somehow the transport stream had dropped out at 18763, only one tenth the way into the transfer. He could not figure out what had caused the glitch, nor could he determine what had happened to the payload. The company was not going to be happy about this.
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Copyright 2005, David Scott Coburn


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