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Kenton

Kenton

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Published by Benjamin Trayne
The point of origin of mankinds destruction could be...anywhere.
The point of origin of mankinds destruction could be...anywhere.

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Published by: Benjamin Trayne on Feb 02, 2013
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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04/09/2013

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Kenton
 
 byBen Trayne
To his students, the instructor looked just a bit crazy. “This evening, I'm actually goingto teach. It will be a lesson you may not recall for...very long.” The sociology professor smiled,an odd, convoluted smile. It was an early fall class at a university in Nevada.His smile was the first any of his students had ever seen from him. Usually somber andalways hopelessly unattractive, the balding, middle-aged man had an uncommonly highforehead, a pug nose, a receding chin and the scar from a harelip. His eyes looked like theywere set too close-together and his eyebrows were practically non-existent. All of this wastopped off with thick wire-rimmed bifocals that were grossly oversized for his face. Thecombination produced a countenance of unearthly appearance that bordered on the grotesque.The professor's voice was medium in pitch, but nasally and cracked as he spoke. Hecontinued, “I have a scenario to describe, upon which our discussion this evening will be based.”Immediately a young woman in the front row raised a hand.“Yes?” The professor was obviously annoyed by the early interruption.“Dr. Richter, will there be a test on this?”The professor actually smiled again, this time exposing tiny, yellowed teeth. “No,” heresponded, simply. “Let's just listen, discuss, and learn.”He began.“Kenton was an electronics engineer, and a damned good one. In fact, Kenton was agenius. But like many people of his extensive talent and high intelligence, he was, in fact, alittle different. Some would have said he was socially maladjusted, while others wouldn't have been that kind about it. To Kenton, he simply didn't fit in, and that was all.If only people might have learned to '
live and let live' 
. If only they could simply haveagreed to coexist. Of course, they didn't. Humanity has warred against itself since there wereenough humans to carry it out.Kenton's high level of expertise earned him a position working in tactical nuclear defense communications. His first day on the job, he was like a sixteen-year-old trying to drivea car for the first time. Like a kid, he couldn't believe he suddenly had so much capability at hisfingertips. In fact, he was never supposed to have it. But Kenton only had to look to see an easyway through all of the fail-safes. Eventually, all of the key switches, lockouts, and code entrystations admitted an authorization to the same, single point. Once the signal had reached that point, a launch would still be prevented by the absence of triplicate confirming entries fromanother source. If those coded entries were in place, the strike would be initiated. Of course, astrike by the United States would bring about a rapid response. In all probability, if there were
 
survivors, it would still be a very long time before there would be any more warring.So Kenton set about wiring up his own little system. It certainly wasn't because heintended to use it. He simply did it, because he could. Essentially, the connections he madehop-scotched the lockouts and were capable of feeding an instruction to launch, directly tomissile silos. At the other end, however, the confirmations needed to be in place for the systemto actually be deployed. And to prevent tampering, the system had been hard-wired separately.There was no access to it via Kenton's system. But for Kenton, who understood intuitively theobjective and therefore what would be used to accomplish it, it was just another puzzle to besolved. In the event that a strike had already occurred, there had to be a way to launch from asingle location, since the confirmation codes might never be forthcoming. Ergo. It was nothingmore than another lockout.So, one day while carrying out his routine checks, Kenton ran a test of his system, andwas able to confirm that he could indeed initiate a full-bore, full-scale nuclear strike, launchingnearly everything that was ground-based. He wouldn't do it, of course. The result would be, tomost, unthinkable.”The professor strode from his lectern to the whiteboard at the front of the classroom.“So let's assume that Kenton has had a bad week, and he comes to work heavilydepressed. Remember that he's a social outcast. He realizes that his emotional condition, withthe wrong stimulus, could be dangerous. He resolves to remove and to destroy his system toeliminate any possibility of having an accident with it. An appropriate cautionary move, is itnot? But then, as he is preparing to remove the first of the twelve connections, a co-worker comes by and begins hurling insults and epithets at him. Instead of removing that firstconnection, Kenton throws a series of three switches, and initiates a nuclear holocaust.”“Now let's examine Kenton's motivations. What could have driven him to carry out this project of his, to begin with?”A young man spoke up. “You noted that he did it, just because he could.”“True. But it's never that simple. Somewhere in his subconscious there had to have beensomething more. A system like he built, doesn't just fall together. And it had to be undetectable.Otherwise, if discovered, he might have been imprisoned for a very long time. Probably for life.”One young man, a football player, was seated near the center of the classroom. Helooked very concerned, his chin resting on a fist, and he was frowning. He said nothing. Dr.Richter was drawing a chart on the whiteboard.“Let's investigate. On this side we have a list of human characteristics that are generallyconsidered positives. On this side, are all of the stimuli that might have caused the subject toact, and to react as he did.”“I don't understand.” Another young woman in the class, looking on, seemedincredulous. “None of the stimuli you've listed are positives. Nobody receives all negatives. Nobody is that unfortunate. Nobody is treated like that.”Dr. Richter whirled. “Oh! But they
are,
missy!
 I 
can attest to that!” The professor's

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