Fifty words including Uncontrollable, solace, theory, mentor.
Marty, as your friend and mentor, it is my duty to tell you I just killed Einstein. In theory, he should have traveled back to the future, but the Delorean became uncontrollable when the remote control failed. If it is of any solace, he was well fed when he died.
AN EPHERMERAL GLOW
By Carl Kjellberg
Tim switched on the kitchen light. There was a brief flash followed by an ominous ping.
"Damn. I only replaced that bulb a couple of weeks ago. Why can't they make things that last?" said Tim, as he began rummaging through the kitchen cupboard.
"Phoebus," said his grandad from the table.
Tim pulled his head out of the cupboard and frowned. "Phoebe, what's she got to do with it?"
"No Phoebus, as in the god of light. Quit fussing about and come and sit down. You might learn something."
Tim rolled his eyes and sat down beside his grandad. He knew better than to argue.
"Now, years ago when I was growing up in California, I had a hard time at school and wanted to drop out. My dad took me down to the fire station in Livermore, which was near to where we lived, and he showed me this lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. 'See that light bulb?' he said. 'Although it's not very bright it's kept going in this fire station since 1901. It never gives up.'"
"So, you went back to school?" said Tim.
"No, I left and joined the fire department!"
They both laughed.
"Anyway, it turns out what my father said about that lightbulb was true. Mind you, he was an electrical engineer. According to the fire chief, some guy donated the bulb to the original station back in 1901 and it's been going well ever since. Imagine that, a light bulb that's kept working for over a hundred years. They call it 'The Centennial light'. Check it out on your computer phone thingy."
Tim fingered the i-phone in his pocket. Although his phone was only five years old, it had become rather temperamental lately.
"What was this bulb's secret?" said Tim.
"Nothing. It was simply better made than the ones we have today. My dad told me that shortly after the lightbulb was invented, the manufacturers got better and better at making them. A group of manufacturers realized that if this kept up then people would soon no longer need to buy new lightbulbs."
"So, what did they do?"
"They formed a group called the Phoebus cartel. On paper, the group was formed to standardize the lightbulb industry and make better and brighter kinds of lightbulbs."
"And did they?"
"Yeh, some of the new bulbs were brighter than the old ones but they lasted only half as long."
" Why was that?" said Tim
"As part of their standardization procedure, the leaders of the cartel decreed that no manufacturer could make a bulb that lasted any longer than a thousand hours. Any manufacturer that did so was fined heavily."
"Sounds like planned obsolescence," said Tim.
"Yeh, the guys at the station said the same thing about me when I was forced into taking early retirement and given a gold watch. At least the watch still works."
For a long moment the pair sat together in silence. Suddenly Tim's grandad leant forward and opened a drawer.
"Here, make yourself useful," he said, pulling out a lightbulb.