The film projector stuttered fitfully, pulling miles of celluloid through the sprockets from a large, slowly turning wheel. The high-speed camera had captured hundreds of images per second, rendering the subject of the film an odd grace by giving the illusion of reduced speed. Projected on the screen the grainy figure of a man clad in the standard olive-drab uniform of the United States Army ran across the empty and isolated salt flats, his progress recorded by film with the distance traversed marked by painted, cement posts driven into the ground. Dr. Lane referred to the film time log on the clipboard in his hand, comparing the distance markers to the unbelievable running speed of the man on foot.
"The wings of Mercury." Doctor Lane muttered. Some technician with the initials 'JO' had scrawled a shaky exclamation point adjacent to the 15th mile marker annotation of the film log. General White motioned for the Doctor's attention. "Incredible acceleration, isn't it doctor? Yet as you can see either of Corporal Kent's feet sets on the ground only once every several hundred or so feet. Our look at the surface of the course shows soil disturbance consistent with that of a 210 pound man on a leisurely jog."
Corporal C. Kent, FN 786-889-098733, 8th Army Corps, Nevada.
Date: 53/07/09 Film ser. 34-007
Doctor Lane was surprised, and for a moment he paused in the nervous whittling of the broken pencil with his small pocketknife. "Amazing! Clearly there is some force being generated. Some form of propulsion that augments and increases the results of normal human activity far beyond the norm."
"Doctor, that man could be America's greatest asset against all enemies foreign and domestic. The President has charged us with finding out what makes him tick and how to make more of him using that space rock. We must do this before the Reds find out about it."
"I understand." Said Doctor Lane, continuing his efforts to sharpen his pencil. "But there is more, isn't there, General? According to these logs and the files I have read, he's lying to us."
General White stood and slammed his fist on the conference room table, scattering the neat
pile of wood-shavings and bits of lead that the Doctor had created. "Good catch, that's why we had an egg-head like you transferred to this base. We estimate Kent is intentionally under-performing by at least 10 per cent. The shrinks say that he does not trust us any longer and is keeping secrets for when he thinks he may need them."
The General paced to and from on the floor. "That any American could not put his faith in his country and the chain of command sickens me! Our man Kent is a soldier. Jeopardizing the project is tantamount to treason! I should have him arrested."
"I think that would be a mistake, General. If his deception is that serious then Kent would seize that opportunity to justify rebelling against orders. But his lying to us should not be our primary concern."
"No? You are the big brain around here now, I see. What is our concern then?" General White leaned forwards over the desk. He disliked all egg-heads and thought them little better then Communist sympathizers. General White was beginning to dislike Doctor Lane, his small knife and that foolish slide rule of his in particular.
The Doctor folded the small pocketknife and peered closely at the result of his attention to his writing stylus. He judged that the pencil would perform satisfactorily now when next needed and placed it and the knife in the pocket of his lab coat.
"We should not be worried that Kent is lying to us. No, General! We should prepare for the day when our Super Man decides we are no longer relevant or important enough to lie to!"
Tags: Pulp Comic Books Superman Astounding