Short Story: Knocks the P.I. – The Case of the Golden Engine (Conclusion)

The next day, just as Knocks was about to ring up Malory Towers on his portable phone, she swayed her way into his office. She was wearing an outfit to die for, and Knocks reflected that he almost did die just to see Malory in that dress. Malory sat down in the same chair she sat in the day before.

“Can you read minds, Ms. Towers?”

“Only those of the male gender. Of course, they are a bit easy to read. Unlike the Theory of Advanced Propulsion in the Upper Atmosphere.”

Knocks leaned back in his chair. “Funny that you mention that. Last night, as I was doing research, I stumbled upon a book. ‘Variable Geometries in Spacecraft.’ Talked about how these spacecraft can expand or contract upon entry into an atmosphere to either increase its descent velocity or decrease it. Mainly due to the amount of drag on its surface. All automated. Now that in of itself would not seem to be applicable to your engine, but it got me thinking. The main problem you laid forth was that due to internal shocks, your engines had to be designed with a specific area ratio to get them to operate properly. Yet, if the engine started in off-design conditions, it would fail. So then it struck me. Why not design an engine that had variable geometry? Allow the inlet to change its area depending on the conditions you want the engine to run at. It can then swallow any shocks and allow for operation over a wide range of altitudes. And you have this brand new engine that isn’t just an iteration on the old one, but a brand new design. One, might I add, that will have its own set of problems, but it will be bright and shiny.”

Malory smiled widely in the guest chair. She seemed to be bursting with energy. “Yes, that would work! And, as you said, it would open up a whole new field of research, one that I can tie my wagon to for a while and insure I can keep on working at Westview Aerocorp. There might even be a raise in my future because of the work you did!”

Knocks sat up in his chair, “Well then, Ms. Towers, what do you say you take me out to dinner with your future earnings? You can wear that dress, at least for the first half of the evening.” But Malory was already too far gone in her own thoughts to hear Knocks’s proposal. She kept on talking to herself as she got up from the chair and walked out the door. Something about heat exchangers and nozzles.

Knocks leaned back in his chair again. “Women. Why are the good ones always the ones who are thirsty for knowledge? Good thing I am an oasis in the desert of ignorance, so they come to me: Knocks, Principle Investigator.”

Berkeley looks up from the comic book with Knocks on the cover. “Boy, that Knocks! Wish I could emulate him!”


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