Fabrications

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“Could you put this on please?” said Alice, fishing the beige jumper out of her backpack and handing it to Bob.
“Do I really have to?” said Bob, holding the garment at arm’s length.
“You said you’d help,” said Alice, unfolding the laptop. “This is helping.”
“Are you sure it won’t electrocute me?” said Bob. “Or burn me?”
“You’re perfectly safe,” said Alice. “It’s low power. Just put it on, please.”

Bob pulled the jumper over his T shirt.

“It’s not very colourful,” said Bob.
“I haven’t turned it on yet,” said Alice. She typed at the keyboard. “Here we go.”

The jumper flashed brightly and changed to a muted fawn.

“That’s certainly different,” said Bob. “But it’s hardly a quantum leap. You can buy jumpers this colour everywhere.”
“Just wait!” said Alice, clicking the buttons.

The jumper swirled to a multi-coloured Paisley pattern.

“Whoa!” said Bob.
“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” said Alice, stroking the touch pad.

The jumper morphed to Mandelbrot.

“Whoa!” said Bob, again. “That’s amazing.”

The jumper faded back to beige.

“What just happened?” said Bob.
“It ran out of power,” said Alice. “Could you take it off, please.”

Bob pulled the jumper up over his head.

“That’s so cool!” said Bob, muffled in micro-miniature mohair.
“I told you it would be,” said Alice, helping Bob extricate his arms.
“How does it work?” said Bob, folding the jumper. “Is it all done with mirrors?”
“Fibre optics,” said Alice. “Here. Pass it over.”

Alice took the jumper and returned it to her backpack.

“So how do you get the fibres to glow?” said Bob, sitting down on the sofa. “Tiny little bulbs?”
“That’s right,” said Alice, snuggling up next to him. “The bulbs are at the end of the fibres, and they need to turn on and off really quickly to make the colours. That’s what chews up the power.”
“You’ll need to do something about that,” said Bob
“We have,” said Alice. “We’re finishing a new model. It’s much lower powered and it can store far more patterns. We’ve a user trial tomorrow.”
“How have you improved it?” said Bob.
“You’ll just go to sleep if I try to explain,” said Alice. “You always do.”
“No I won’t!” said Bob, indignantly.
“We’ve spun the bulbs into the fibres,” said Alice. “And there’s a qbit with every bulb.”
“Qbits?” said Bob, thoughtfully. “Oh, right. Those are the gizmos that can hold lots of different values at once, not just ones and zeros.”
“That’s a pretty good explanation!” said Alice, in mock surprise. “That’s how we can store loads of patterns in the fabric.”
“I’m not just a pretty face,” said Bob. “But didn’t you say that you need a much better lab than yours to make really stable qbits? How can you possibly produce thousands of them?”
“That’s for computers,” said Alice. “But we don’t need really stable qbits, just mostly stable ones. No one notices if a pattern isn’t exact. Especially not if it’s changing all the time.”
“You sound convincing,” said Bob.
“Don’t I always?” said Alice.

*****

“I’m totally whacked,” said Alice, coming into the kitchen “I could really do with a cuppa.” “I’ll get you one,” said Bob, standing up. “The kettle’s not long boiled.”
“Thanks!” said Alice, sitting down at the table. “Phew. That’s better!”
“How did it go?” said Bob, switching the kettle on.
“Good and bad and good,” said Alice.
“So what was good?” said Bob, taking a mug off the shelf above the sink.
“For starters,” said Alice, “the new model works really well. The power lasts much longer.”
“That’s great!” said Bob, taking a tea bag out of the packet next to the kettle and dropping it into the mug. “And what was bad?”
“Most of the users don’t like the changing patterns,” said Alice. “They say it makes them queasy. They want to choose a pattern and stick with it.”
“That sounds reasonable,” said Bob.
“For sure,” said Alice. “But we thought that was our unique selling point.”
“Aye well,” said Bob “So what’s the second good thing?”
“We’ve a new industrial user,” said Alice. “And they want garments that change regularly, but not frequently.”
“Sounds intriguing,” said Bob. “Who are they?”
“I can’t tell you yet,” said Alice. “But I’ve got a surprise for you.”
“I hate surprises,” said Bob.
“You’ll like this one” said Alice. “Where’s that tea?”

*****

“This is amazing!” said Bob. “The Executive Box!”
“I knew you’d like it,” said Alice, taking the laptop out of her backpack and firing it up.
“But how did you get tickets?” said Bob. “It’s the final. They’ve been sold out for months.”
“I told you,” said Alice. “It’s a freebee. From the client.”
“Who did you say the client was?” said Bob.
“I didn’t,” said Alice.
“I bet it’s the military?” said Bob. “Changeable camouflage.”
“Cloaks of invisibility?” said Alice. “That’ll be right.”
“So who is it then?” said Bob.
“Hush,” said Alice. “They’re coming out.”

The two teams ran onto the pitch. The visitors were resplendent in orange and black striped jerseys. The home team were a drab beige.

“AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR HOSTS!” blared the anonymous voice from the speakers.

A small man in a dapper suit stepped forward to the microphone to the left of the couple.

“Are you sure it’ll work?” said the small man, anxiously.
“Normally,” said Alice, “there are only two possibilities: yes or no. But this time I’m pretty confident there’s a high probability of success.”

“Ladies and Gentleman, ” said the small man, into the microphone, “as patron of this proud club, I’m delighted to unveil our new season’s colours.”

He nodded at Alice. Alice typed on the laptop keyboard.

The crowd roared with laughter. The home team looked bemused: their jerseys now matched their opponents.

“Oh well,” said Alice. “That’s a no then. Back to the drawing board.”

About the Author: 
I'm an Edinburgh based writer and I've been publishing fiction, mainly short stories, since 2001. I like to write about how things aren't and how they might be.
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