[ The sound of wooden boards being nailed to the wall fades as we begin. ]
``There! How's that look?''
``Uncannily like boards nailed in front of a window.''
``Then I have succeeded.''
``In many things, only some of them board-nailing.''
``You're wondering why I boarded up all the windows?''
``But I trusted you would let the answer float down onto me, in time.''
``I didn't want to worry you.''
``You worried me no more than usual for when you're in a hammer and nail mood.''
``Thank you, my dear.''
``If you want to thank me for that, that's fine. Yet I still await that floated answer.''
``I told you, I didn't want to worry you.''
``You've succeeded admirably on that front, but show weakness on the don't-want-to-aggravate-me front.''
``There's to be a big nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System.''
``Granted, for the length of your explanation.''
``A simultaneous buzzing on all the television and radio stations, just to make sure they can produce a simultaneous buzzing on all the television and radio stations out there. The only way they can find out if they can do it is try to do it, after all.''
``A noble motive. Wasn't it the one that got you riding your bike off the shed's roof and into the woods?''
``I was young back then, and healed quickly.''
``Someone who looks just right knows where to find the divot in your head.''
``Which has served me well as an excuse whenever the mere mortals don't understand my plans.''
``But the alert test doesn't get you any closer to boarding up the windows.''
``What do you do you hear the Emergency Alert System buzzing?''
``I think much nicer the Emergency Broadcast System was by beeping. And reassuring me with message about how the authorities in my area had figured out this system to keep *me* informed in case of emergency.''
``They meant they were keeping you the whole audience informed.''
``They may have said you-everybody, but it sounded like you-me to me.''
``You liked all that attention.''
``The modest. But here's what I'm worried you'd do: panic.''
``Panic? Before even turning down the volume?''
``If every station has the same alarm? Doesn't that sound just like a major catastrophe would?''
``Might, but it takes more than that to make me panic.''
``You're a well of special calm, and grew up thinking the Emergency Broadcast System watched over you. But what about the average person? Get someone a little skittish and send alarming news and they just might form a panicked mob.''
``Now how could you get a proper panicked mob in the minute it takes a test to run its course?''
``They do things faster these days.''
``Especially thanks to the Internet. I bet within a minute of a panicked mob forming the panickers would be Photoshopping pictures with misspelled captions making fun of how much they looked like a panicked mob back then.''
``In time to joke about how ironically they're nostalgic about it.''
``Making your boarding-up sound like preemptive overreaction.''
``Remember the _War of the Worlds_ broadcast. That's why they've been warning about this test so much, they don't want a repetition of a panic like that.''
``The broadcasters *wish* they could get a panic like that going again. It'd show they knew how to scare people anymore.''
``If the test comes and goes and there's no rioting mobs outside, what have I lost but the cost of wood putty?''
``And your time.''
``I couldn't keep the time anyway.''
``I'll get you a metronome. You know the test was Wednesday, right?''
``This coming Wednesday?''
``No, two days ago. You missed it.''
``What's the cost of wood putty and time these days?''
``Not even anyone sitting up in bed worried they have a test that morning.''
``Probably was open-book.''
``There were some glitches. Apparently nothing got out to Oregon.''
``That's a shame. I never visited Oregon, but I liked knowing it was there if I wanted.''
``They'll probably fill in the space with another state at least as good.''
``I hope they broadcast about it when they do.''
Trivia: In 1913, Russia had 6,397 land surveoyrs and 9,935 local agronomists at work. Source: Russia In 1913, Wayne Dowler.
Currently Reading: Germany 1945: From War To Peace, Richard Bessel.