‘Fucking Einstein’ Nikola Tesla grumbled at the newspaper he had just read. He threw it at the pile of papers he had been reviewing, taken from the library just the day before. 1918, a war on and there was still news of the German genius on every page. He wasn’t that special. He sipped gain at his rough coffee and stared out of his basement window at the feet of a hundred people passing every moment; his New York home, his palace in the new world, his prison of obscurity. He managed another gulp before the bitter cud at the bottom of the cup touched his lips. He spat it back out and looked again at the paper. The maid he employed for an hour a day moved behind him, placing things in order, the pieces of the puzzles he created for himself, the papers and pieces of metal in tidy piles for Tesla to get cross about later and reorganise in a flurry.
‘Something in the paper’ she asked.
‘That blasted German’ said Tesla. ‘And his curved space’ he threw the paper down, ‘it’s nonsense, space cannot be curved, there’s nothing in it! It’s like saying that God has properties we can see and feel.’
‘Sometimes you can feel God’ the girl said meekly, ‘I go to church every Sunday and my mother says that…’ Tesla cut her off.
‘Not like that’ he said, ‘those aren’t properties, they aren’t length and width and weight, those are attributes that you feel, your interpretation of the words of the hymns, of the prayers of the priests sermon, that isn’t properties, you aren’t feeling God, someone is making you feel that way, not God.’
The maid gave up quickly and continued to scrub down the kitchen area of the apartment. Tesla went back to his notes. The pile of unfilled patent applications on his table. His inability to go forward was a crippling disability. He had arrived in the states years ago and now with the deaths of those closest to him he was alone again and tinkering in the basement of this building wit the ideas that had intrigued him as a young man before he had started to work for the Ford company. His income from the shares he had been given was enough to survive as a man of leisure, to a point, but his half formed plans and unformed ideas on the nature of the universe plagued him. He would be better to spend his final few years socialising, making talk, seeing opera or maybe returning to his homeland, but the pain in his mind, the gaps he wanted to fill were more of a draw. He yearned to be able to satiate the hunger he felt for those missing pieces. If only he had the confidence to push himself out of his building, maybe to the university. Maybe just to talk to someone.
He looked over the papers again. Plans for motors and coils, an interest in magnetic fields that he was sure could power greater amounts of energy, the ideas he had about wireless energy and field emission sat next to aborted plans concerning a hundred other ideas. He poured himself another cup of coffee. Today he would not think about these things, he would not regret, he would simply take solace in thoughts about his latest interest. He got up and walked towards the machine in the corner of the room. A small turbine using three magnetic fields as well as that of the earth itself it had been turning slowly for a week now. The power generation was feeding into the light bulb, glowing dimly atop the self directly above it. The energy field feeding directly into the element of the bulb. No wires. Tesla smiled.
He moved towards it and for a moment wondered. It was one of those ‘what if’ moments and Tesla made the adjustments to one of the Magnets and stood back. The maid came back in, bustling in her childish way, picking things up and putting them down. Tesla watched her as she cleared away the breakfast she had made him. He was filled with disgust at that point. She was young and innocent, able to do so much and yet she would accomplish, like him, so very little. He breathed heavily, trying to shake the melancholy from his mind. Wishing he wasn’t sat making wishes but rather doing something, pushing forward. She looked up and smiled at him, he eyes caught the bulb on the shelf.
‘That’s interesting’ she said.
‘What is?’ Tesla asked.
‘Your bulb’ she said, ‘it’s getting brighter.’