Kurt Stoltz ignored the rumbling of his stomach and continued his careful scanning of the pages of the newspaper. He well knew that they censored everything. So one had to read everything to detect the tiny inconsistencies that hinted at what they had removed. He knew there were censors about, especially in Grantville. There was no way that they would allow easy access to all the information from the future, no matter what they claimed.
He turned the page and started reading the advertisements.
The ad in the "situations vacant" column practically leapt off the page. Kurt stared at it in disbelief. The Gribbleflotz Spirits of Hartshorn facility in Grantville was looking for multilingual people with fluent English (preferably up-timer English), Latin, and German to work in the research department. He could do that. He was fluent in Latin and German, and had spent several years in England. As for up-timer English, he was a regular user of the various libraries around Grantville. Not that he was well known of course. Anybody growing up in the Stiefel-Meth sect learned the value of keeping his head down and being inconspicuous.
He placed a hand inside his satchel where his notebooks resided. His personal notebooks, with all his notes about the research being undertaken by the great Herr Dr. Gribbleflotz. The doctor was publishing information that Kurt couldn't find in Grantville's libraries. Did he have a source of information the censors hadn't gotten to? This advertisement suggested a way to find out.
A position as a researcher with his company, even if it was in Grantville rather than in Jena, was an opportunity not to be missed. Kurt copied the address for applications, then for the first time since he arrived in Grantville to see the truth of the Corona Conflagrens miracle nearly two years ago, he left a library early. He needed an early night if he was to get to the Gribbleflotz Spirits of Hartshorn facility before any other applicant tomorrow.
HDG Enterprizes, Jena, 1634
Dr. Phillip Theophrastus Gribbleflotz glared at his special aluminum pyramid with the strategically placed faceted gems. He picked up his pen and dipped it into the ink. The pyramid wasn't working, but the world's greatest alchemist couldn't just write "it isn't working" in his note book. That kind of comment lacked any hint of scientific credibility.
Phillip paused in thought, idly chewing on the wooden shank of his pen. Then he remembered how the Americans would record the lack of results. He dipped his pen again and wrote "No invigorations of the Quinta Essentia of the Humors were observed." It was nice. It described the lack of observed results in suitable language, but then, why couldn't he see anything? Phillip started worrying his pen again.
The obvious answer was that there was nothing to see, but that couldn't be right. Maybe . . . Phillip sat up straight. Of course! The changes in the Quinta Essentia were invisible to the human eye. What he needed was some method of detecting the invisible forces.
He'd found it. Photography. More specifically, Kirlian Photography. With Kirlian Photography one could record the image of a person's aura. All one needed was some simple electrical equipment . . . and some photographic equipment. That last brought Phillip back to earth. What was the availability of up-timer photographic equipment?
He went to the door of his office and called out. "Hans. I need you."
The normally reliable Hans Saltzman didn't answer. Phillip went searching. The first person he found was Ursula Mittelhausen, the housekeeper for HDG Enterprizes.
"Frau Mittelhausen, have you seen Hans?"
"He is in Halle helping set up the Oil of Vitriol facility, Doctor."
Phillip stifled an unsuitable exclamation. Just when he needed his personal assistant, Hans had to make himself unavailable. Well, when everyone else failed you, there was only one person left to do the work. "I need to make a trip to Grantville. Please book a seat on the train."
"Of course, Doctor. The evening train? Do you wish for me to also book accommodation?
Phillip considered the work he had backing up, and the expense of accommodation in Grantville. "At the Higgins. I don't know how long I'll be. I need to ask about 'photography.'"
Ursula perked up. "Michael's sister, Maria Anna, sent a photograph of herself that one of the up-timers took. Are you going to be working on photography now, Doctor?"
"I wish to investigate the application of photography to the detection of the invisible forces of the invigoration of the Quinta Essentia of the Human Humors."
"So you'll be taking photographs, Doctor?"
"Purely for science, Frau Mittelhausen."
"Oh!" Ursula was crestfallen. "I was hoping that I could have my photograph taken so I could send it to my sister in Leipzig.
Phillip had the choice of talking to the dreaded Frau Kubiak, or to Maria Anna. It wasn't that difficult a decision to make, so he caught the bus to Grays Run. He easily found the property where Frau Mittelhausen said Maria Anna worked. There was a sign declaring the house to be the head office of Brennerei und Chemiefabrik Schwarza. He looked around. It was vaguely similar to the property of Frau Kubiak—a large house on a few acres of land with a number of outbuildings. Obviously it was only a small company.
The door was answered by a little old lady, an up-timer.
"I am Dr. Phillip Gribbleflotz. I believe Maria Anna Siebenhorn works here?"
The little old lady shook her head. "Oh dear, I'm sorry, but Maria Anna's not in at the moment. She's in charge of the new explosives division at the Schwarza Gewerbegebiet and won't be home until late . . . Gribbleflotz did you say? The Aspirin King?"
Phillip grimaced. "The Aspirin King" was not something the world's greatest alchemist wished to be known as. They could at least get the name right. "Yes, I am the Gribbleflotz behind Gribbleflotz Sal Vin Betula."
"Do come in, Doctor. Your people were most helpful when Celeste and I wrote asking about photographic chemicals."
They were? Phillip hadn't seen a letter from this company. "You wrote asking about photographic chemicals?"
"Yes, and we got such a nice letter back from your Mr. Saltzman."
Phillip made a mental note to remind Hans just who was in charge in Jena. So, the next question was, had they done anything with the information? "Did you take Maria Anna's photograph?"
"Oh, yes." The woman fluttered a bit. "Would you like me to take yours?"
Well, it seemed he'd come to the right place. "Yes please, Frau . . . "
"Sebastian, but everyone calls me Lettie. Come on in."
Several days later, the Spirits of Hartshorn Facility, Grantville
Dr. Gribbleflotz was doing what he did best, pontificating on his latest hobbyhorse. Michael Siebenhorn glanced over at his sister. She smiled back and shrugged. When one worked for the doctor, one learned to put up with his little foibles. He didn't force them on anybody, and the open disbelief of most of his senior laborants only made him work harder to prove his theories.
Michael shuddered. One of the consequences of the doctor's continued failure to invigorate the Quinta Essentia of the Humors in test subjects was Kurt Stoltz being authorized to work on artificial cryolite so he could make pure aluminum. Dr. Gribbleflotz had theorized that the impurity of the materials might be why his experiments weren't producing the results he expected. Well, Kurt was welcome to the task. Even the stink of ammonia that hung around the Spirits of Hartshorn facility was preferable to being around hydrofluoric acid.
"I have been unable to observe anything happening when I use my pyramid to invigorate the Quinta Essentia of the Humors in test subjects. I believe the reason I can't see anything is because the actions taking place are not detectable by the human eye. However, a special photographic technique I have read about should allow me to observe the otherwise invisible forces at work and help me progress my research. The diagram you are looking at is taken from a reputable up-time source, and both Frau Sebastian and Frau Frost believe that such a device should produce the Kirlian images I desire."
Michael dragged his attention back to what Dr. Gribbleflotz was saying. At least this wasn't going to be anything as dangerous as hydrofluoric acid. The diagram was a simple electronic circuit, easily understood by anyone with knowledge of the up-timer science. Of course, actually making the device needed a level of expertise he knew the doctor lacked. For that matter, so did he. What was needed was a specialist, someone who knew how to make a transformer. Fortunately, such people were relatively easy to find in Grantville. "Where are you intending to use this . . . " Michael paused to think up a suitable name the doctor would enjoy. "Kirlian Imager, Doctor?"
We're really sorry, but this is only available to up-to-date paid subscribers.
Our columns and editorials are free, along with a few other items, but almost all stories and all downloads are paid only.
- The Grantville Gazette Staff