Spoiler – The Eternal Now

The problem with Cable’s mass nullifier was almost trivial. Brett’s original model had been operated by a switch attached to a flexible cord, but Cable had attached the switch directly to the device’s case. This interfered with its operation by changing the case’s capacitance, but by restoring the cord Brett was able to make the device work in both directions.

Brett mixed ammonium chloride and sulphuric acid in a test tube and used the resulting chlorine gas to temporarily incapacitate Cable when the latter came into the workshop. He and Hunt made good their escape, taking the altered nullifier with them. But Cable, firing wildly with a pistol, hit and wounded Brett.  The pair made their way across the frozen Hudson River and took refuge in a tugboat.

Although they could return to normal time and be reasonably confident that Cable could never find them, there were two problems. The first was the need to rescue Cable’s followers, who were effectively hostages; the second was the possible devastation that Cable could cause even with an unmodified mass nullifier. If radioactive materials such as radium or uranium were brought into accelerated time, the consequences of their greatly reduced half-lives would be devastating and would render a city the size of New York uninhabitable (it is worth noting that the story pre-dates the atomic bomb by one year, and concepts such as nuclear fission and chain reactions were not widely in the public domain).

Brett recuperated from his injury and constructed two further mass nullifiers, using tools and other materials on the tugboat he brought into accelerated time. In operation, these new mass nullifiers would counteract any attempt by Cable to bring them back into the accelerated time state. He added the same refinement to Cable’s mass nullifier. He and Hunt returned to the shore where Brett suggested sending Hunt back while he goes on to tackle Cable. Hunt refused and said that she would stay with Brett.

They returned to the apartment used by Cable and found his followers tied to chairs, with all the candles extinguished and the room left in ghostly gloom. Enraged at being thwarted by Brett, Cable had taken out his frustrations on his former followers. Brett and Hunt freed the captives and used Cable’s modified mass nullifier to send them back to normal time, with instructions to destroy it immediately upon their return.

Returning to the workshop, they found scrapings of rubber insulation and bits of clipped-off wire. Brett realised that Cable had figured out how to make his mass nullifier work in both directions. As he digested this development, he heard the sound of a car. Cable had brought the vehicle into accelerated time and was returning to the apartment to collect the loot he had distributed earlier to add to a pile he had accumulated in the car. He would then drive away from New York and return himself to normal time.

Armed with a revolver, Brett went out to the car, where Cable had left his mass nullifier. Brett removed and destroyed it, then went after Cable with the intention of taking him prisoner. But after a gunfight, Cable escaped and fled in the car – unaware that his nullifier was gone, and unlikely to notice until he needed to stop for fuel.

Realising that nothing further could be done for Cable, Brett and Hunt returned to the office building on Forty-second Street, used their mass nullifiers to return to normal time, and (from the point of view of those present) just seconds after being introduced, announced their intention to rush off to City Hall to get married.

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