“It’s the Possum Postulate.” The new applicant seemed promising, for such a young face. Cara had thought, at first, that he was going to be an intern, but the boy – Platya Perdido Proda – fresh-faced and with no beard to speak of, although that could have been ancestry rather than youth – was signing on to be their new point scientist.
(The Lab had no “lead scientist” except Liam; Point Scientist was more or less “person who gets all the attention,” and was always a newcomer.)
“Possum.” She and Alex had gotten stuck with doing the interviewing after Liam had killed off three candidates – two in a fit of pique, one when his test experiment threatened to blow up the entire Lab.
“Postulate.” Alex was no more thrilled about this than Cara was. He hadn’t even bothered to dress up, and was wearing old jeans and a shirt with, Cara thought, the bloodstains of a former Point Scientist still on the collar.
“Yes.” Proda cleared his throat. “It’s a probability postulate, designed to predict within ninety-nine point nine seven percent accuracy a range of events given a certain set of parameters. It’s immensely complicated, and thus I’ve programmed it into this piece of equipment-“
“Not into a standard lab computer?”
“Well, I did that first, of course, but a computer requires certain things to run. This, on the other hand, requires sunlight and liquid. You could run it on a dessert island.”
“You created a probability generator that works on piss?”
“Precisely.” Proda was un-fazed. “I needed something as simple as possible.”
“How do the possums come in?”
“Well, they’re a metaphor. No possums were harmed in the making of this machine.”
“Pity.” Cara was beginning to enjoy herself. “So…?”
“The machine has as it’s default, ‘everything dies,’ and as its secondary default ‘play dead until the threat is gone.'”
Cara and Alex shared a glance, and then looked back at Proda. “Let me get this straight.” Cara spoke slowly. “You made a machine to test the probability of different outcomes, given a series of inputs.”
“And its default answer is ‘everyone dies?'”
“Yes.” The boy was beginning to look nervous. Panicked, even.
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