"Since when did a ping-pong ball prove to be so interesting?" said Daphne. "Wow! Try asking Major Peach that", said Brett.Daphne and Brett are project technicians.
They are waiting in a room which, apart from them, is completely empty; except, that is, for a small black table in the centre of the room on which lays an ordinary table tennis ball.They hear footsteps coming nearer and the faint mutterings and sighings of Major Peach. He blusters in, frowning.
He is clearly agitated. Wearing a scruffy brown checked suit and scuffed brown shoes; a stocky, medium height man with the disheveled hair and wild moustache reserved only for madmen and brilliant scientists. But which one of those is Major Peach?.
Brett: "Major Peach, may I introduce?." "Sh! Sh! Sh!" says the troubled Major Peach.Silence. Daphne and Brett dare not utter a sound. They both stand side by side just to the right of the door that the Major has entered.
Then, the only sound to be heard is Major Peach's slow but deliberate footsteps towards the middle of the room. His face is ashen, concentrated. No flicker, and now there is no frown. Staring only at the ball as he nears to it.
At the edge of the table he stands quietly, as if meditating, still with eyes fixed on the white sphere. Moments, just seconds, seem to last for ages until, at last, Major Peach reaches inside his jacket pocket and produces a penknife. He swiftly turns his head 90 degrees and makes another 90 degree turn with his body ? all this in two quick movements startle the two technicians as the Major fixes on Brett. He says calmly and flatly: "You are witnesses.".
Daphne is puzzled. She had been drafted in to "help for a few minutes" by her colleague and friend Brett. She now stands by the wall, becoming more apprehensive with every second. She does not know what to make of this situation. A ping-pong ball? This weird Major Peach? She looks at Brett, expecting a shrug from him, but instead ? and now she is really scared ? she sees him open-mouthed and eyes bulging, staring at the back of Major Peach. The Major turns back to his task.
He gradually draws the penknife down towards the apex of the ball. As it gets nearer his hand starts to tremble. The major must keep himself together.
He knows that no one else can perform this task. He can't walk away now. In order to steady his nerves he simply freezes every muscle in his body. The knife remains suspended above the ball.Even though he is behind him, Brett can see that Major Peach has faltered.
He feels the urge to go up to him ? to put his hand on the Major's shoulder. Something.Daphne, meanwhile, finds herself staring just like Brett. She is somehow being drawn in. She is beginning to understand.
No, she doesn't understand. Yes, she does understand that something very big and important is about to happen ? that is if the major can continue ? but what it is, and why, is beyond her. She shifts very slowly to the right in order to see over the major's shoulder. Oh no! She sees the penknife. She now understands the magnitude of this day. She now knows that she has been called upon to witness a momentous event.
Major Peach remains totally still. By steadying himself, he has simply inverted the tension. Beads of sweat begin to form on his brow. He will explode from the pressure if does not act now. He MUST do it now or he never will. He lifts the knife slightly and then, with his eyes bulging with terror, with the sweat streaming into his eyes, he moves it down to within a fraction of the ping-pong ball.
He is now breaking up inside but his outer self stays fixed and solid. He is now fated to the conclusion. He will do it.The blade of the knife comes to rest on the ball. The knife is very sharp.
He is strangely becoming calmer now that he is at the point of no return. He moves his left hand towards the ball and grips it between his thumb and forefinger. It is now time.Daphne witnesses the act.
She sees Major Peach draw the blade of the penknife across the ball. Brett seems to see right through the major's body. He instinctively knows what is happening. Daphne stares. Her mouth opens slightly.
This is it. It is happening. She sees that the major has taken a full swipe across the ball and that already it is half cut open. He then slides the knife forwards again and readies himself for the final swipe. He cannot look. He closes his eyes tightly.
He does not want to witness his own actions. For that moment he does not want to be there. If he closes his eyes he can imagine that someone else is performing the act. Just for a few minutes he does not want to be human.
So, with his eyes firmly shut he finishes the job with a final terrifying swipe. At that moment the tension is overwhelming. He now has to emerge from his self-imposed mental exile.
He must come back to the scene and open his eyes. Face the truth and witness the result.In front of him he sees the inside of the ping-pong ball.
He stares in one semi-sphere then in the other.Daphne: "Well, what?is inside, Major Peach?".The major is drained.
He doesn't have an ounce of capacity to acknowledge anything but the sight before him.Daphne must know. She is firmer now: "Major! Are you OK?" This time Major Peach hears her words. He cannot take in or even accept what he has done, but he starts to take in his surrounding, or at least remembers his witnesses.The Major utters in a frail, quiet voice: "Inside the ball?".Daphne: "Yes.
Major, what is it like? What was inside?".The major stares down at the two halves. As he stares he speaks slowly and weakly but with composure: "The inside is not important.
It is what I found that is important".Daphne, perplexed: "What did you, er, find?" As she speaks she glances at Brett who returns an equally puzzled face."You see", said the major, "I found Crest, Valance and Portiere".
Brett: "Pallet Shrouds!" Daphne: "You found the pallet shrouds!" Major Peach: "Yes they have been found. So it was worth it." Brett: "But where, major, where are they? How do you know?" Major: "Nobody can see inside a ping-pong ball. They can only see inside half of a ping-pong ball. You see, we were totally safe after all, because it is impossible to describe the inside of a ping-pong ball.
That is why so many things are hidden in them, including the pallet shrouds that we thought had been lost to us."."Quantum Physics!" stammered Daphne, excitedly. Major: "Yes.
They were certainly there. I know it but I couldn't witness it. I think, that if you now check, you will see them at www.5es.co.
uk . You see, it's not named after the sound it makes, as you might have thought. No. This half is ping and that is pong.
When ping and pong are separate they are useless. But when they combine they are very powerful, but we can never know what is like inside a ping-pong ball."..Look after your pallet shrouds.
By: Vernon Stent