Monday, February 26, 2018


The Whiskies

The photograph shows a polychromatic blur in front of the old green couch. No details can be discerned, but somehow the impression of movement is inescapable.

The whiskies do not invariably come out in the late afternoon. That is a misconception too oft repeated by those who do not trouble themselves to learn the facts. Nevertheless, if one wishes to observe their quaint antics, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. would be a good choice of time. It was my daughter who named them the whiskies. The appellation’s frivolity is balanced by its aptness—the whiskies whisk.

Dad thinks he found ‘em but it was really me. He reads the paper every afternoon in the living room, and I play dolls on the floor behind him. He doesn’t mind if I am quiet. The sun shines in through the big window and I like to watch the dust motes dancing in the sunbeams. I imagine they are great lords and ladies at a royal ball. The whiskies like the sunbeams too.

The whiskies cannot be seen by the unaided human eye (though I hope to photograph them using a device that employs both infrared and ultraviolet light). Their gyrations disturb the Brownian trajectories of the floating motes of dust and so one may perceive them indirectly. They move forward and back in a repetitive fashion not unlike that of a small broom.

You can’t really see ‘em but you know they’re there. They sweep up the sunbeams and I don’t know what they do with them. I think they have very long hair, and they use their hair to do the sweeping. I’m not really sure, but I think they drink the sunbeams. They always seem thinner after it’s been cloudy for a few days.

My daughter thinks that the whiskies somehow consume sunlight. If this were true, it seems that the room would dim when they are here, but my radiometer indicates the opposite. The physical mechanism for any whisky-induced increase in light intensity is obscure, but I am confident that additional tests will allow me to determine how it is accomplished. It seems to me that the whiskies might respond to an influx of additional energy, and this is the focus of my current research.

When the sun gets real low late in the day, the whiskies cluster so thickly in front of the green couch that you almost can see them. That’s when their whisking seems so much like a dance that I want to join in. I’ve been afraid to, because I didn’t want to scare them, but yesterday I was sure they were inviting me, and I almost ran out on the old Persian carpet with them to dance. Today I will.

I am going to try a new experiment today. I will flood the area in front of the couch with infrared and ultraviolet light, while running a current through coils I placed beneath the floor only this morning. I have rigged my best camera to expose a plate for the briefest instant when the energy input is at its peak. I am hoping to see, and capture for posterity, something truly remarkable.

The house has long been deserted, and no one has been able to tell me the present address of Professor Carstairs. The old-timers agree that he took a westbound train two weeks after the mysterious disappearance of his daughter, and that is all they can tell me.

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