by James Allen Starkloff
part 1 of 2
“Daddy, Tom is taking that online I.Q. test,” squealed Margie to her father.
Randy Mever was concerned about what his children viewed on the internet. He walked over to the computer. “Tom, I know that you’re old enough to make your own decisions, but why are you taking an intelligence test after I explained the dangers to you?”
“That’s exactly why I’m taking it. At best, I’m going to score a one-forty. The owners of amiagenius.com will be able to chalk me off their suspected genius list. As far as they’ll know, I have a high intelligence, but not too high.” Tom sat back in his chair. His computer screen illuminated his face.
“And you don’t think that they’ll be able to see through your results? What do you care what someone else thinks? Especially these bought-off boobs at amiagenius. I have kept us out of silly so-called genius organizations to keep us out of the limelight. Having an I.Q. of over one-eighty has its responsibilities and its dangers and very few perks.” Randy was worried that Tom might have tipped his hand.
Tom clicked the finish button on the screen. About a minute later a message popped up: Congratulations! You have an I.Q. score of 135. Judging from your score, you would do well in certain occupations such as a mechanic or as a linguist.
“See there, dad, now will you relax? No way will they suspect me now.”
“The results look a bit lopsided to me. I mean, what is a linguistic mechanic? I have asked you not to take I.Q. tests for a reason. Good can never come from letting the world know how intelligent you are. There are those who’d like nothing better than to see to it that only they are intellectually gifted.”
“You’re just being paranoid again, dad.”
“Maybe I am, but I have my reasons. There are people out there that hate intelligent people. They look down on them and want to destroy them. What leader would want a bunch of geniuses running loose throughout their country?”
“But academic achievement is encouraged in schools. If they don’t want us then can you tell me why schools are nurturing students with high marks?”
“Well, they can’t just come out and say it! The CIA, FBI and gawd knows what other controlling forces want to know who has how much intelligence. By taking an I.Q. test you’re registering yourself as a genius.”
“I’m not going to publish my true intelligence quotient. Do you not think that these controlling forces know of your own intelligence, father?”
“It’s true,” confessed Randy. “I scored a one-eighty-five on an I.Q. test that I took in college. They know about me, but that’s why I didn’t want them to know about you and Margie.”
You needn’t worry about me, father. I scored a one-fifty on an I.Q. test that I took last year,” said Margie.
“Okay Margie’s probably in the clear. One-fifty isn’t enough to alarm anyone. At least I don’t think so. I hope not. I don’t want any of us on the government’s genius list.”
* * *
“Enter!” shouted a bald-headed Colonel Brent.
Captain Condran entered the office. “Sir, you wanted to see me?”
“I’m interested in how operation brainpower is coming along. It’s ten hundred hours on Monday and I still haven’t received last Friday’s report.” Colonel Brent was getting irritated with Condran’s tardiness.
Captain Condran continued to stand. “Sorry, sir, I’m waiting for reports from all of our servers. A virus knocked out nearly half of them last week.”
“What kind of operation do you think we’re running here, captain? I was under the impression that we had the best computer engineers working for us. Don’t we pay them enough to insure a safe and reliable system?”
“Colonel, it was the cyber terrorists again.” Condran was getting irritated having to explain why the system went down again. “Our IS department has assured me that they should be up and running by the end of the day.”
“Good. I need that report, ASAP.”
“Yes, sir.” Captain Condran didn’t understand what the hurry was. The reports were always filled with boring stats regarding the people taking the online I.Q. test. He also knew better to ask why the U.S. government was interested in knowing the I.Q. of the USA. Why keep such a big budget in gathering intelligence on such a benign matter? One billion dollars per year. Where was all that money going? Certainly not to maintain a few dozen online servers.
* * *
General Niven was the military adviser to the director of the National Homeland Security Council. He was a man suspicious of everyone. He barely trusted himself. General Niven called his secretary from his office telephone. “Is Colonel Brent here yet?”
“He’s somewhere in the building, sir,” replied his secretary. The elevator door opened and Colonel Brent exited the elevator car. “He just stepped off the elevator, sir.”
“Good. Please send him in.”
Colonel Brent entered the office.
“It’s great to see you, colonel,” said General Niven. “Please have a seat.”
“Colonel, I hear we’re having a little computer problem?” Niven asked. “I want it cleared up by noon today. Oh, and find out where the virus originated. Well, if there’s nothing else you need...?”
“The cost, sir,” Colonel Brent extended. “Would you like to know how much this latest problem is going to cost us?”
“Is it more than one billion dollars?”
“Why, no, sir.” Brent ended with a chuckle.
“So fix it,” Niven’s eyes went hard into Brent’s eyes. “You’re dismissed.”
“Yes, sir.” Colonel Brent saluted then spun around and left the office.
Niven waited for Brent to leave then said, “Did you hear that, Dr. Zeike?”
“Understood,” said Dr. Zeike’s voice from a telephone speaker.
* * *
The servers were brought back online the following day and the results of thousands of people taking the online I.Q. test were made available to the CIA.
“Someone scored a one-ninety,” said an intelligence officer to a fellow colleague. He continued to scan the results on his LCD screen. “It seems that they tried to fool the test. Fortunately, our upgraded grading system saw through that. Most geniuses are proud enough of their status; some are more reclusive.”
“What else do you have?” asked his colleague.
“We have a few more geniuses, but nothing to write home about.” He took a swig from his water bottle then made a call on his cell phone.
“Yeah,” answered a short slender woman.
“I’m sending you the information to your phone right now.”
She glanced at her small cell phone screen. “Got it!”
* * *
Tom Mever was a student at the University of Kansas. He was staring into his beer. The Rathskeller provided him time to think. His thoughts were surrounded by the memories of the recent fight with his girlfriend. He loved his girlfriend so much that he wanted to be with her as much as possible. But things had changed since the beginning of the semester. He wanted to pursue a degree in one of the sciences. She wanted him to continue on with her and earn a degree in sociology.
Tom had had enough of the malaise-filled classes that she had picked out. Every class was the same old grind, dished out by the tenured professors. They didn’t give a damn about anyone’s future but themselves. He was sick of hearing about Professor Smedley’s five-minute meeting with Jane Goodall. And if he had to listen to Professor Jeneve’s trip to Kenya again, he was going to vomit. It was twenty freakin’ years ago, for godsakes.
“Hello, Tom. You are Tom, are you not?” A fast-spoken woman asked, inviting herself to his table.
“Yes I am,” Tom perked up. “Are you in one of my classes?”
“I’m sorry that I can’t say I am. Your I.D. badge gave you away. My name is Natasha.” She extended her hand to shake his.
Tom gently shook her hand then removed his I.D. badge from his shirt. “One of these days, I’ll remember to take this thing off after work at the hardware store. So... what can I do for you, Natasha?”
“I’m doing a survey on student satisfaction and I was wondering if you’d like to participate. It’s only three questions.”
“What’s this all about? Don’t tell me that someone cares.” Tom put out a smile to go along with his remark.
“No. No one cares.” She smiled back. “It’s an assignment that I’m doing for my Research Methods class.”
“I’d be glad to participate,” said Tom.
“Thank you. You have no idea how uncomfortable it has been for me to ask people to participate.”
Tom couldn’t believe that such a cute woman would have any problem getting the guys to sit through a few questions. “Lay ’em on me.”
Natasha opened a notebook and began reading. “Question one: Overall, how satisfied are you with your educational experience at U of K? Are you very satisfied, satisfied, somewhat satisfied or unsatisfied?”
“I’m going to go with satisfied.” Tom smiled even though he knew that an honest answer would have been “unsatisfied.”
“Question two: In what field of study are you currently majoring?”
“Sociology.” It hurt Tom to even say it. Damn social-science crap. How am I supposed to feel comfortable with that? I’d trade it today for something in the sciences, Tom thought.
“Question three: Do you plan to acquire employment in your field of study?”
“Yeah right!” Tom said sarcastically. “You can put me down for no.”
“Thanks for helping me out. So... you’re not going to be a sociologist?” Natasha laughed.
“No, I’m on the verge of switching majors,” Tom felt relieved talking to someone about it.
“Oh? To what?” she asked.
“I’d like to become a scientist of some sort. Anything but a social scientist.”
“You should take an I.Q. test that tells you what you’re best suited as.”
“I took one online last week. Believe it or not, but it gave me a score of one-thirty-five and said that I could be a linguistic mechanic; whatever that means. It doesn’t really matter. I was just faking it, anyway. My real I.Q. is about one-ninety or so.”
Natasha clicked her pen closed and put it in her backpack. “Will you take a look at my car for me? It won’t start. Maybe the genius in you will be able to fix it.” She stopped herself and blushed. “I hate asking someone I just met to do anything for me. It seems so forward.” She touched his hand.
“No problem. I’ve always been a sucker for a damsel in distress,” said Tom.
They walked out to the parking lot where Natasha pointed to her mini-SUV. “I have some tools in the back.” She opened the rear door.
Tom noticed that the seats were folded down and a small tool bag sat in back of the front passenger seat. He climbed inside and grabbed the bag. Tom opened the bag and found a six-way screwdriver, adjustable wrench, socket set and a pair of needle nose pliers. “You come prepared.”
Natasha popped open the hood. “The engine turns, but it won’t start,” she said while turning the key.
Copyright © 2006 by James Allen Starkloff