The memoir is written in a plain composition book, obviously kept as a private journal. The ink has faded. It is written in the deliberate, formal hand of an engineer, incredibly neat and with no corrections.
I should have known this would happen. History repeats itself time and time again. Of all people, governments are perhaps the most likely to ignore the past, thinking only of their future survival, at the expense of anyone that might get in its way.
My government has a monopoly on scientists. I was in the top 1% of my class at Princeton. In theory I could have gone anywhere and made anything. And I wanted to, God, I wanted to. I saw a world where I could save lives, even make life more meaningful for people. I saw a world where everyone could have clean water, electricity, and agriculture. I saw a world where science was the key to discovering just how much God loves us. For years I worked to create catalysts, things that would spur growth and create energy.
So when I got a call from a man named Paul, saying that I was specifically requested to work on a project that would save the world, and that I was uniquely qualified to do it, I couldn't turn it down. I learned quickly nobody used their real names in anything associated with what I did. I was told that they had discovered the fundamental nature of matter and that I could - personally - help save civilizations with the power they had found. But it had to be guarded closely, or someone else could use it to harm just as easily as heal.
I got on an airplane at an Army base. Just before, I was told that when I stepped on this plane there was no going back. They would have to blindfold me despite flying in the middle of the night. That was the first moment I thought this may have not been what was described to me. We flew for hours. I was given food and water and made otherwise as comfortable as they could. Once we landed and I stepped off the plane, they took me to a room where my blindfold was finally taken off.
Matthew was the name of my new guide. He explained how my engineering research was relevant to the Project. He made it clear what they needed from me - specifically, a way to make everything work on their gadget on command, and not before or after. I was explained the ground rules of working in a beyond-Top Secret environment. Whether I wanted to or not I had to follow them. They didn't have to say what the penalty for breaking them was, although I had quickly figured out they needed me more than I needed them.
As I worked sixteen hours a day to develop a trigger for what was obviously (in retrospect) a doomsday device I couldn't help but think I had been lied to. Their version of saving the world meant destroying those parts of it that they thought were incompatible with their own survival. More coffee, more and more light bulbs, and more and more guards every day as we grew ready to see if it all worked.The penmanship suggests the pen was being pressed down very hard, but written very quickly.
And then the day came. We had all been working day and night to get here. We knew that more people would die every day longer it took for us to do this. There were more soldiers here than ever. None of them knew about a damn thing we were doing, and most probably couldn't understand. If it went according to plan, they probably wouldn't know what had happened - they might have thought Armageddon had come or something. They wouldn't have been very far off.
Everyone stood in silence at the final countdown. Zero. It worked. Some cried, others cheered, but most stood silent. The sense of relief that we thought we would have didn't appear.
Nobody could really celebrate our success, but I took it worse than most. I was heartbroken. I knew this would only end in ruin. What could have saved the world appeared as though it would only destroy it. I could go on no more. I told them, no matter what it meant would happen to me, I couldn't go on. I would have to answer to God for what I had done, and I already had too much to answer for. I thought they might kill me then and there and not tell anyone what happened to me. I was prepared.
They didn't kill me. They sent me home, where I was told I would live out my days in isolation. I could no longer have any privacy. Any mail would be read first. I would be followed anywhere I go. They had to do this. My death would be too conspicuous, but they could not risk what I knew falling into anyone else's hands. My home is now empty, with my son not having come back from the war, and my wife gone long before.The penmanship gets shakier and less intelligible.
Now I all can think about my only son, who did everything right. He worked his tail off to become the best scholar, the best football player, and the best leader. He graduated from West Point with honors. I received a letter from him just before he left for the war.
The letter is taped to the page. It is written in a very deliberate, heavy hand, with blue ink and in block manuscript.
Of all people in the world you will understand this more than anyone. I have been selected for an assignment overseas that I cannot tell you any details about. I don't even know what I will be doing when I get there, but I have been assured that I may very well save the world doing it. From the Academy I learned most people don't come back from assignments like this, but I plan to. You have been a hero to me, building things that I know will save the world. I only hope I can follow in your footsteps, with the strength, courage, and wisdom you taught me. We leave from Manhattan with the dawn.
May the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost watch over us all.
Love, your son, Icarus
I never heard from him again. The Trinity... Oh God, what have I done.