Year 9 Day 235

If I had a distort, I thought, I could take Songbird to watch the northern hunters without worry that they might see us. Provided I could convince her to be quiet.

Not that she couldn’t be quiet. That was something children of the People learned early, when stalking small animals. Songbird might not hunt large animals, but I’ve seen her capture enough fish and small rodents to know how silent she could be. But that wouldn’t top her from being seen, and I was certain the hunters had much better vision than most animals.

The computer had the instructions for making warnoffs, I thought, and I still had a number of un-programmed chips. Could a distort possibly be as easy to make as a warnoff was?

I tried asking the computer for “distort.” Nothing. I tried describing it. How do you describe something like a distort? Finally I remembered someone – I don’t even remember who – saying that the effect was caused by bending light rays around an object. The computer gave me an explanation of mirages, which I didn’t really need, but there was a footnote at the end of the article that referred to “artificial mirages.” It was a long shot, but I tried it.

Turned out that was it. Invisibility took two chips, with different programs. The first would cause electromagnetic radiation in a relatively limited band of wavelengths to bend around an object, producing a semitransparent effect. That would affect a recording device, but it wouldn’t confer complete invisibility – anyone looking (or an optical recorder) would see a rather wavery image with odd color fringes but there would still be something there. The second would be programmed similarly to a warnoff, but the message would be closer to “nothing there,” instead of “I’m harmless and I’ll make you sick if you try to eat me.”

It took several days but it worked. Somewhat more to my surprise, Rainbow took it for granted. Was I not a god?